I read an article entitled “The Disturbing Plight of Child Performers” by Marc R. Stanberg, Esq. and Daniel K Stuart, Esq. Their article led to my presumptions and beliefs that those child actors and actresses who made a big name in the entertainment industry at a young age have mostly suffered some emotional setbacks, personal and psychological problems, and developed disturbing patterns of severe coping difficulties when they grow up.

Macaulay Culkin, River Phoenix, Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges, Danny Bonaduce, Rusty Hamer, Shirley Temple, Jackie Coogan and many others who ended up dead, addicted, depressed, in financial distress or in trouble with the law.

The deaths of teenage film star River Phoenix in drug overdose and former child actor Rusty Hamer of "The Danny Thomas Show" in suicide are extreme examples. The arrests of Danny Bonaduce of "The Partridge Family" for assault, Todd Bridges of "Diff'rent Strokes" attempted murder at a crackhouse and his co-star Dana Plato in robbery.

Others are victims of their own parents. They are victims of a parental squandering of a child actors’ earnings. Child actor Macaulay Culkin of “Home Alone” was the money maker of the family and yet parents spent Culkin’s earnings to a custody court battle between his two parents for who’s going have the right and custody of Macaulay and his brothers and sister. The Court transferred Culkin's finances from his parents to his accountant because the custody battle had caused the family's financial situation to deteriorate so much that "there is a real possibility of this millionaire and his family being evicted and left without any home."

Gary Coleman of "Diff'rent Strokes" sued his own parents to recoup millions of dollars of earnings.. Coleman successfully sued his parents and managers for $3.8 million.

Lee Aaker ("Rin Tin Tin") earned hundreds-of-thousands of dollars during his stardom. When he stopped acting, there was only $20,000 remaining, and his mother "doesn't know" what happened to the remainder. Beverly Washburn ("Old Yeller") was worth only $250 when she became an adult. When her mother sold the house she had purchased with Beverly's earnings, she gave Beverly fifty dollars to buy some new clothes.

What a story, the reason why there is law now in the US made to help and protect child performers.
Shirley Temple supported a household of twelve, including her parents, throughout her film career. When that career wound to a close, her only assets were a few thousand dollars and the deed to her dollhouse in the back yard of her parents' Beverly Hills home.

2 comments

  1. Anonymous // February 28, 2008 at 9:47 AM

    Shirley Temple did not end up dead, addicted, depressed, in financial distress or in trouble with the law. She went on to have a successful TV show, ran for congess, was the first female Chief of Protocal, a delegate to the UN and a US Ambassador to 2 foriegn counties. She is alive and well and working on part 2 of her autobiography Child Star.

  2. Suplado // February 28, 2008 at 5:02 PM

    Shirley Temple supported a household of twelve, including her parents, throughout her film career. When that career wound to a close, her only assets were a few thousand dollars and the deed to her dollhouse in the back yard of her parents' Beverly Hills home.