Where Are They Now? Child Stars of the ‘50s

on September 15, 2013

Elizabeth Taylor

This legendary Oscar-winning actress got her start at age 12 alongside Mickey Rooney in the 1940s movie “National Velvet.” She went on to become one of the most notable early Hollywood actresses, starring in such classic films as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” “Giant,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “A Place in the Sun.” Her much-publicized personal life included eight marriages and several life-threatening illnesses. She died March 23, 2011, at the age of 79.

Jerry Mathers

Forever cherished as Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver from the classic 1950s sitcom, “Leave It to Beaver,” Jerry Mathers had a number of lesser roles — including reprising his role in the “The New Leave It to Beaver” in the 1980s — over the years. He also received a Bachelor of Art degree in philosophy from University of California at Berkeley, served in the U.S. Air Force National Guard during the Vietnam War and worked in both the banking and real estate industries in the 1970s.

Debbie Reynolds

This veteran actress began her career at age 16 before earning her breakout role in 1952 in “Singin’ in the Rain” alongside Gene Kelly. Sixty years later, after a successful career in film, TV, and music, Reynolds is still acting frequently and has amassed a broad range of roles into her repertoire, including everything from voicing characters in “Charlotte’s Web” to contributing music in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

Patty McCormack

Born in Brooklyn in 1945, Patty McCormack entered the acting world at an early age with an Oscar nomination in 1956 for her performance in “The Bad Seed.” McCormack went on to have moderate success over the years, appearing in everything from “Dallas” to “Murder, She Wrote” and “The Sopranos.” She continues to act, and in 2008 she starred as First Lady Pat Nixon in “Frost/Nixon.”

Tommy Kirk

This Kentucky-born actor was one of America’s child sweethearts, with some of his most famous roles coming in the 1950s “Hardy Boys” TV series and in the 1961 Disney classic “The Absent-minded Professor.” Later in his career, Kirk’s private life came under public scrutiny until he retired from show business in the 1970s. He continued to act occasionally, but his main occupation for the next 20 years was as the owner of a carpet cleaning business.