Looking at the list of child actors from the 1960s is like taking a long walk down memory lane. Some of these actors you vaguely recall, others you remember like you had just seen them yesterday. They were the children who made America laugh, sigh, and sometimes made television viewers cry. Here are a few of those memorable child actors.
Ron Howard is now well known for his producing and directing accomplishments. But before Ron ever set foot behind the camera he had made a career in front of the camera. His first, and most unforgetable role was that of Opie Taylor, the cute redheaded son of Sheriff Andy Taylor. Though his part in the series was relatively small he made a big impression on viewers. His sweet and toothless smile found its way into the hearts of every one who watched the show.
Jay North was the cute little blond who played Dennis the Menace, from week to week he kept his neighbor Mr. Wilson riled up and exasperated and audiences hung on for the moment that Mr. Wilson would discover another one of Dennis mischievous acts and shout out DENNNNIS!
Butch Patrick is not a name even fans of 60s television readily remember, but they certainly recall his character of Eddie Munster in the hit comedy the Munsters. Dressed in black shorts and a matching waist length black jacket this talented youngster was able to deliver straight lines in the most humorous and ridiculous situations.
Lisa Loring was Butch's counter part playing Wednesday in the Addams Family. Like Butch she too was straight man or rather woman to the antics of the adults who played her parents. She too always dressed in black in keeping with the dark humor of this comedic monster spoof.
Jon Proust was another young man like Ron Howard whose character as Timmy Martin on Lassie melted the hearts of the viewing audience. This adorable young man could reduce even grown men to sniffles when he worried over his beloved Lassie who had gone adventuring or gotten hurt.
Luke Halpin who rose to stardom in the series Flipper, was not only a talented actor during his teen age years, but kept girls in the sixties tuning in to see this handsome young man in bathing trunks. More than one 15 year old girl had her room coated in Luke posters during the run of the series.
Paul Peterson was another teen age heart throb. His role of Jeff Stone on the Donna Reed show had girls, putting away their romance novels and diaries and sighing for a half an hour each week. Paul now runs an organization that helps other child stars make the transition from being an American idol to be just another American.
Shelly Fabares played Paul's sister Mary Stone on the Donna Reid Show, and drew the attention of many young boys during the series run. Shelly is the only child actor from the sixties other than Ron Howard whose acting career continued into a new decade. After the Donna Reid show ended she made several beach movies, had small parts in other series, and as a middle age adult played on Coach.
Patty Duke Played identical cousins, Patty and Cathy on the Patty Duke show. Her dual role kept people laughing and she was beloved by both the teenage and the adult viewing audience. After fighting some very personal battles after the series ended, Patty returned to television in her forties and did some fine adult work before disappearing from the public eye again.
These are just a few of the talented youngsters who came onto the television screen and into the hearts of America during the 1960s. Their acting abilities and their roles, made watching television a richer and more rewarding experience.