Child stars from the 60s include many of the names and shows that we still know and love. Yes, you still see Ron Howard and Sally Field popping up here and there around the industry. They are both known, well-regarded and, yes, inspiring for all that they’ve accomplished in their careers. Take a look at the juicy details of where they came from, and what they became after those iconic shows were over.
Hayley Mills (Pollyanna)
You may recognize her for her role on The Parent Trap (1961) and Pollyanna (1960), for which she won an Academy Juvenile Award. In all, she was with Disney for six years, and was one of the most popular child actresses. She received the Disney Legends Award in 1998.
Betwixt and between her Disney appearances, though, Mills branched out, appearing in The Trouble With Angels (1966), Sky West and Crooked (1965), The Family Way (1966), Pretty Polly (1967), Twisted Nerve (1968), Endless Night (1972), and numerous other roles for TV and film. In her personal life, she has battled breast cancer, with her diagnosis happening in 2008. She tried and then abandoned chemo, and told Good Housekeeping she was fully recovered in 2012, after undergoing alternative treatments.
Ron Howard (Opie)
Ron Howard is an American actor and filmmaker, who first catapulted to fame with his role as “Opie” on the Andy Griffith Show (1960-68), and then with his role as “Richie” on Happy Days (1974-84). His parents were both actors, and his father was a director, so he seemed born to act (and direct).
Few child actors have achieved the huge blockbuster status of Ron Howard, though, with his biggest films including: Apollo 13, Cinderella Man, A Beautiful Mind, and The DaVinci Code, and many others. He’s a monumental film icon, never afraid to push outside his comfort zone to create epic flights of the imagination.
Patty Duke was a famous American actress, who’d appeared on stage, in films and on TV. She played Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker (1962), a role for which she won the Academy Award for “Best Supporting Actress.” She then went on to star in The Patty Duke Show (1963-66). For her many roles through the years, Duke received three Emmy Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards.
In 1982, Duke was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and she used her experience to become an advocate for mental health issues. She also wrote about her experience in Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke and A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-Depressive Illness. Her accounts detail the ups and downs, including three failed marriages, suicide attempts, rages, delusions, and so much more. She once said, “Reality is hard. It is no walk in the park, this thing called life.”
Marc Copage (Corey)
Marc Copage was five years old when he played Corey on the groundbreaking Julia sitcom (1968). “He was so lovable,” Diahann Carroll said of Marc. He appeared on TV, film and even became a recording artist. His father, John Copage, was also a famous actor, known for The Killers (1964), Repossessed (1990) and Simon, King of the Witches (1971).
He went back to school to study Jazz improv. He’s an L.A.-based singer and dancer with a Facebook page as a “social dance instructor.” It’s all so spontaneous. As he told Jet: “To be a good jazz artist you have to be living in the moment as the notes you play are inspired by the music that’s being played around you. It’s quite exciting.”
Mary Badham (Scout)
Mary Badham is an American actress, known for her role as Jean Louise “Scout” Finch in the award-winning film version of Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). This was her debut appearance in film, after that original, unforgettable starring role, she went on to play parts in This Property Is Condemned (1966) and Our Very Own (2005).
Badham became an art restorer, and also a college-testing coordinator, leaving her acting days behind her. She married Richard Wilt in 1975, and they had two children. Beyond her work and home life, she still has ties to her appearance on To Kill a Mockingbird. She travels around the world, speaking about the book and its message of tolerance, and she also was in attendance for the 50th Anniversary screening of To Kill a Mockingbird with President Obama, in 2014. The following year, she also defended Harper Lee’s just-released Go Set a Watchman, not long before Lee’s own death.
“Mockingbird came at the perfect time for our country,” Badham explained. “It allowed us the ability to discuss subjects rationally and intelligently without getting way up here,” she paused to wave her hand above her head, “and now that things are way up here with our country, I think this will help a lot.”
Jerry Mathers (Beaver)
Jerry Mathers was really unforgettable in his role of “The Beav” on Leave it to Beaver (1957-1963). He’d actually started acting when an employee came up to his mother in the Broadway Shopping Mall (when he was 2-1/2), and said he’d be perfect as a model for children’s clothing in the Christmas catalog. Right from the start, it was obvious to the producers that Mathers was perfect for the role of Theodore “The Beav” Cleaver, when he showed up dressed in his Cub Scout uniform.
Beyond his appearances on the reunion Leave it to Beaver shows, Mathers Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Vengeance Unlimited, Diagnosis Murder, and Married with Children. He also played Wilbur Turnblad in the Tony winning best musical Hairspray. He’s now married to his third wife, and has become a spokesperson for Jenny Craig and diabetes causes, after
Sally Field (Gidget)
Sally Field is now a famous, even iconic actress, but she started out as “Gidget” on the ABC TV Series Gidget (1965-1966). Then, she went on to star in The Flying Nun (1967-1970). Her career has been non-stop from there, and she has starred in some of the greatest movies of her tune, so it’s no wonder she has won the multiple Academy Award for “Best Actress” in both Norma Rae and Places in the Heart.
The award-winning actress has also been crushed with loss, tragedy and disappointment, with her mother’s passing after a battle with cancer, which affected her deeply. She was also devastated when reports surfaced that her Emmy-Award winning role of “Sybil” was based on a hoax.
Tommy Norden (Bud)
Tommy Norden became well-known as “Bud,” the co-star with a dolphin, on the NBC series, Flipper (1964-1967). He also took on a minor role in Five Miles to Midnight (1962), and parts on the police-drama series, Naked City (1961-62). He even appeared on Broadway, in Greenwillow (1960) and The Music Man (1960-61). Yep, he was all over the place!
A few years later, he was still acting. This time, he played Dr. Gary Walton on the CBS soap opera, Search for Tomorrow. He went on to own an executive recruiting company in New York City, but he’s never really forgotten his roots on Flipper. Norden celebrated the 40th anniversary of Flipper, with a media event at the Miami Seaquarium celebrating, in 2004.
Keith Thibodeaux aka Richard Keith (Little Ricky)
If you’re a big fan of Andy Griffith Show (1960-68), you’ll also remember Keith Thibodeaux as Opie’s friend Johnny Paul Jason. Early on, he’d also played “Little Ricky” on I Love Lucy (1951-57), as sidekick to Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz). In 1969, he also joined David and the Giants, a rock band.
In his autobiography, Life After Lucy, he burned through the money from histrust fund in two weeks on a sports car, clothes, drugs, and just about anything else he wanted. His drug use was a problem, and the band broke up, but that troubled time turned around when he became a Christian. Nowadays, Ballet Magnificat! is his wife’s Christian ballet company.
Lauren Chapin (Kathy)
Lauren Chapin was chosen out of 78 other child actresses to take on the role of 9-year-old Kathy, or “Kitten” as she was called by her dad (Robert Young), on Father Knows Best (1954-60). But, the opportunities largely dried up after that role.
In 1983, she told a reporter: “I couldn’t get a job. I’d been typecast as Kathy Anderson. The more I didn’t work, the more my mother drank and the more belligerent I became. I started running away from home. I became an incorrigible child.” She worked as a flight attendant, dog groomer, insurance claims examiner, carhop and waitress — whatever she could find to do. Her personal life wasn’t much more cheery. She divorced three times, started using drugs, sold drugs, forged checks, was in and out of jail, and eventually got clean and sober. Chapin co-authored Father Does Know Best: The Lauren Chapin Story (1989), and even became an evangelist.
Jay North (Dennis the Menace)
You’ve gotta know (and love) him for his role on Dennis the Menace (1959-63). If you’ve never watched that favorite sitcom, you’d get the gist just from looking at the popular comic strip, created by Hank Ketcham. As a teen, he also starred in feature films, Zebra in the Kitchen and Maya, as well as the TV series, Maya.
He also gave voice to popular animated series adaptations like The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, The Pebble and Bamm-Bamm Show. He also joined the Navy.
After admitting to (and going public with) some of the many trials and tribulations he’d encountered as a child actor, he joined forces with Paul Peterson to found A Minor Consideration, which offered counsel to child actors.
Angela Cartwright (Brigitta/Penny)
Angela Cartwright is an English-born American actress. She was Brigitta von Trapp in The Sound of Music (1965), but she was also Penny Robinson in Lost in Space (1965-1968). She appeared in episodes of My Three Sons, Adam-12, and The Love-Boat. She took on the role of Theresa Mazzetti in Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979).
After all that, Cartwright married Steve Gullion in 1976 and had two children. She also became a photographer, with her art on display in Studio City, California. She explained, “Photography has been a passion of mine since I was 15. After my kids were born I found myself incorporating my photography into different art endeavors and from there it just blossomed.”
Cartwright also has her own line of jewelry and clothing. As a throw-back to that long-past sitcom, she made a cameo appearance as a reporter on Lost in Space, the 1998 movie remake.
Johnny Crawford (Mark)
John “Johnny” Crawford is an American actor, singer, and musician. You probably remember him as “Mark,” the son of Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors), on The Rifleman (1958-63). Prior to his role on that famous ABC western series, though Crawford was an original Mouseketeer.
When he was asked about what it was like to be a child actor, Crawford replied, “I always say that life is not easy for anybody. People hear about the young actors who have a rough life, but there are plenty of other kids who aren’t actors who have a rough time, too, and I don’t know if the ratio is any different.”
Crawford drew from his the musical roots of his family to perform in cocktail lounges until he finally put together The Johhny Crawford Dance Orchestra, a 16-piece 1920s-period band, in 1990. The same year, Crawford also reconnected with his childhood sweetheart, Charlotte, and they married in 1995. (The couple is now separated.)
Erin Murphy (Tabitha)
Erin Murphy is famous as the young American actress who starred as Tabitha Stephens in the Bewitched sitcom (1964-72). Initially, she famously shared the role with Diane, her fraternal-twin sister. But, the duo grew order, and started looking “different,” so it became a solo role.
While so many child stars appear to experience major personal issues as they grow up, Murphy seemed to avoid much of those negative side-effects. She’s acted in commercials and also did some modeling, but then became a fashion, beauty, and luxury lifestyle writer, as well as a motivational speaker. She’s also a passionate autism advocate and speaker (her son was diagnosed with autism).
Jon Provost (Timmy)
Jonathan Bion “Jon” Provost is an American actor. You’ll likely remember him from his role as Timmy Martin on Lassie (1954-73). He joined the show in the fourth season, and that famous series ran for an amazing 19 seasons (591 episodes). Not only was it critically acclaimed, it also won two Emmy Awards. Lassie was the 4th longest running Primetime TV show!
Provost had made his first on-screen appearance at the age of four, on The Country Girl (1954). He played the part of “Timmy” from 1957 until he decided not to renew his contract in 1964. The show went on without him. He did continue acting on TV and film, until he went off to college and eventually began to sell real estate. Young Artist Foundation presented Provost with their Former Child Star “Lifetime Achievement” Award in 1990.
Kym Karath (Gretl)
Anthea Kym Karath is an American actress, who took on the part of Gretl von Trapp, the youngest of the von Trapp children on Sound of Music (1965). She later appeared in episodes of Family Affair, The Brady Bunch, Lost in Space, as well as All My Children, Lassie, and Spencer’s Mountain.
When Carrie Underwood took on Sound of Music, Kym entered the famous fray/debate, admitting via Twitter, “Must admit some scenes are actually painful to watch.” She would know, after her own role on the original. She further explained: “She is lovely her voice is beautiful but acting is wrong.” Still, good or bad, the special drew 18.5 million viewers.
Tony Dow (Wally)
Tony Dow had never acted before in his life, when he joined the cast as “Wally” on Leave it to Beaver (1957-1963). He was a he was a champion diver and he was only there, on the lot, as a favor to a friend, but it quickly became apparent that he was the perfect actor for the job.
After his stint on Leave it to Beaver, he appeared in other roles, but he also became a director for Manhattan, AZ, the sitcom version of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5. He also spoke out about his clinical depression, explaining that he’d inherited it from his mother but that Leave it to Beaver (being a child star) also had “something to do with it,” because they are “treated differently.”
Maureen McCormick (Marcia)
Maureen McCormick is famous as an American actress, recording artist and author. You probably know her best as the Brady’s oldest daughter, Marcia, on The Brady Bunch (1969-74), but Maureen McCormick had already appeared on My Three Sons (1960), Bewitched (1964), and Camp Runamuck (1965). She also starred in commercials for Barbie and Kool Aid.
Like many child actors, she struggled with her personal life, including her addiction to cocaine and quaaludes. She also battled bulimia, paranoia and depression, which also affected her acting performance and career. She published her bestselling autobiography, Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice, in 2008. She also appeared on reality TV: Celebrity Fit Club and Gone Country, as well as some spin offs. Her other reality-TV stint involved a family dispute on Dr. Phil, where she accused her brothers of elder abuse.
Butch Patrick (Eddie)
Butch Patrick is an American actor, and you probably remember him best as the werewolf, Eddie Munster on The Munsters (1964-66) and the feature film, Munsters, Go Home (1966). His first acting role had been on The Two Little Bears (1961), a comedy-fantasy.He also appeared on Lidsville (1971-73), along with innumerable guest-starring roles.
He later explained, “I owe my career to my sister. She was the one who got me started and gave me all the encouragement.” Like many fellow child actors, though, he also struggled with drug addiction, and he went into rehab in 2010. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer a year later, and told Star, “I went 41 years trying to kill myself. And then finally got to the point when I want to live I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. My first thought when I was told this was ‘Isn’t this a kicker?’ I get clean, my life is together, and now God is going to punch my ticket.”
Lisa Loring (Wednesday)
Lisa Loring is the famous American actress, chosen to play Wednesday Addams, on The Addams Family (1964-66). She had started modeling at three-years old. After her role as Wednesday ended, she joined the cast of the ABC sitcom The Pruitts of Southampton, and later became “Cricket” in As The World Turns (1981-83).
Loring’s mother had died in 1974, from the effects of alcoholism. Her first marriage ended the same year as her mother’s death. She was married and divorced three more times, with scandal, heroin addiction, porn and TV interviews marking the ensuing deterioration of her life and relationships. She got clean and sober in 1992, and she reportedly resumed acting in 2011. Loring also makes appearances at the conventions.