Top 5 Forgotten Child Stars
Posted on Nov 14, 2011

5. Justin Henry

Life is rough when you’re getting Dear John letters from your mother at six years old. She runs out on you and your dad can’t even make a decent plate of French toast. Justin Henry has to play through a gamut of emotions in Kramer vs. Kramer as a child of divorce. A lot of pressure for a kid actor in his first role ever.

One of the most memorable moments in Kramer vs. Kramer is the ice cream fight scene (see video) that was improvised by Dustin Hoffman and Justin Henry. Hoffman’s own daughter pulled the stunt on him and he suggested it to his young co-star.

Where is he now?

Henry reappears as Molly Ringwald’s obnoxious brother in Sixteen Candles. If you don’t blink you can catch him all grown up in guest spots on TV shows like Brothers & Sisters and ER.

4. Quinn Cummings

Quinn Cummings wasn’t the only precocious child actor to come along in the ’70s. Tatum O’Neal was smoking cigarettes and running scams with her dad in Paper Moon while Jodie Foster was playing a child prostitute in Taxi Driver. Cummings was just a regular kid making the best of life with her single mom in The Goodbye Girl, but her performance was no less brilliant. She was even nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Lucy McFadden, but lost to Vanessa Redgrave for Julia.

Where is she now?

She didn’t go on to win any Oscars, but she did invent the HipHugger baby sling. She also released a book in 2009 called Tales from the Underwire: Adventures From My Awkward & Lovely Life, and has a blog called The QC Report.

3. George “Spanky” McFarland

It’s hard for us Our Gang fans to believe, but most people nowadays who hear ‘Little Rascals’ think of the cloying ’90s movie with its “o-tay!” catchphrase rather than the classic film shorts of the ’20s and ’30s.

Still more remember Spanky’s real-life rival Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer as the leader of the gang, but when McFarland became a “rascal,” it wasn’t long before he was running the show – along with a whole bevy of forgotten child stars who gave their childhoods over to the silver screen.

Where is he now?

McFarland died of a heart attack at 64 years old in 1993. Of his Our Gang experience, he said, “I wouldn’t take a million dollars for the experience…and I wouldn’t take a penny to do it again. As a kid I had everything I wanted, we had a good life but when it was over… it was over.”

2. Edna May Wonacott

Edna May Wonacott: not exactly a name that rolls off the tongue, but it was good enough for her film debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (at 7:28), a movie filmed in her hometown of Santa Rosa, California.

Hitchcock wasn’t fond of using children in his films – in fact, he was afraid of them – but Wonacott manages to appear often and always brings a laugh with her, whether she’s making a wry comment about the adults or trying to offer a tidbit of useless information. All the intelligence of the Newton family seems to funnel through right to the brain of young Ann, who can’t wait for her age to catch up with her mind.

Where is she now?

After Shadow of a Doubt, Wonacott had a few uncredited film roles before fading out of the industry for good.

1. Patty McCormack

 

Platinum blond pigtails and razor-sharp eyebrows framed the decidedly un-childlike face of Rhoda Penmark (McCormack) in The Bad Seed. The scariest thing about Rhoda was that she was just a child. She wasn’t possessed. She wasn’t the ghost of some forgotten child out for revenge. She wasn’t abused or abandoned. She was just born bad. A bad seed.

Rhoda understood the necessity for playing the part of the good girl to get what she wanted. For her, emotions were tools – things to put on and take off as easily as her precious shoes. And you don’t want her to take off those shoes. Just ask Claude Dagle.

Oh, yeah, he’s dead. (

Where is she now?

McCormack has an extensive history of playing bit parts in TV shows, spanning classics like Three’s Company, Magnum P.I., and Dallas to modern favorites like The Sopranos, ER, and Desperate Housewives. She’s slated to appear in the film Soda Springs in 2011.


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