Eddie Hodges came to prominence in 1957 when he played lisping Winthrop in The Music Man on Broadway. (Tonnie Howard got the role in the film.) He was the perfect cute freckled faced boy. Was also on the "$64,000 Question" with Patty Duke. A scandal erupted when it came out that the two had been coached. He then costarred in the heady company of Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker and Edward G. Robinson in Frank Capra's A Hole in the Head (1959), in which he and Sinatra introduced the popular Jule Styne-Sammy Cahn tune "High
Hopes"--which became the Kennedy theme song in the 1960 presidential election. 1960 was perhaps the high-point in Eddie's acting career. The now 13-year-old Hodges in addition to starring in MGM's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, headlined his own hour-long TV special. His performance in Summer Magic with Hayley Mills was rather disapponting. Like most juvenile peformers, his popularity faded as he grew older, and by 1968 he was out of show business. But before disappearing from public view, Eddie delivered a hilarious performance as a lovestruck teenager in love with Mary Tyler Moore in a 1964 episode of TV The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Eddie was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi during 1947. Just as his show business career got underway , his father described him as a "typical American lad" with an instinct for hunting, fishing, camping and horsemanship.
We have no information at this time as to how Eddie dressed as a boy when not in a costumed role. Here we see him in a tie and corduroy jacket, but we are not sure if this is a costume or not (figure 1).
Eddie Hodges came to prominence in 1957 when he wonderfully played lisping Winthrop Paroo in the original production of "The Music Man" on Broadway. He was 10 years old at the time. (This was a bit older than the age that Ronnie Howard played the movie role.) Eddie was the perfect cute freckled faced boy. Eddie sang to notable songs, "Wells Fargo Wagon" and "Gary, Indiana."
Eddie won $25,000 on the TV quiz show, "Name That Tune". It was this appearance that led to the role as Winthrop in the original Broadway production of the "The Music Man". Eddie also appeared on the "$64,000 Challenge" with Patty Duke. Unlike other quiz contestants at the time, Eddie tells me that he and Patty were not coached. Eddie appeared with John Glenn just before he was selected for the Mercury astronaut program. This was depicted in the film The Right Stuff. I don't know if the clip in the film was Eddie merged with actor Ed Harris or an actor playing him.
I had thought that Eddie also appeared in advertisements. I thought sure he was in a Carnation instant milk. Eddie tells me, however, that he was not the boy in the ad. [Hodges] It sure looked like him, complete with red hair and freckles.
Eddie began his career on the Hollywood stage and then appeared on television. He was too old to play his Broaway role of Winthrop in the film version of the "The Music Man". Ecen so, he made his way to Hollywood. Eddie co-starred in the heady company of Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker and Edward G. Robinson in Frank Capra's "A Hole in the Head" (1959), in which he and Sinatra introduced the popular Jule Styne-Sammy Cahn tune "High Hopes". This became JackKennedy's theme song in the 1960 presidential election. The year 1960 was perhaps the high-point in Eddie's acting career. The now 13-year-old Hodges starred in MGM's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1960). Certainly for an American boy actor, this was a prize role. Eddie might have been a bit clean cut to lay Huck, but he did a good job. He appeared in Otto Preminger film Advise anbd Consent (1962). His performance in "Summer Magic" (1963) with Hayley Mills was rather disapponting.
There as a two-part made-for-TV Disney film, "Johnny Shiloh". It was shown on television in America and released theatrically in Europe. Incidentally, Johnny Shiloh was Johnny Clem, a real life drummer boy in the Civil War. Eddie also had a small part in the Disney film "The Happiest Millionaire" (1966) where he had a duet with Paul Peterson, another child star from the "Donna Reed Show". The two sang "Watch Your Footwork".
Eddie also headlined his own hour-long TV special in 1960. I don't know much about the show. I don't recall seeing it at the time. Perhaps a HBC reader will recall it.
Eddie was a very competent singer. Besides all those freckles, that was a reason he got the Winthrop role on Broadway. He sang in children's choir of the Methodist Church back in Hattiesburg. He was chosen as Junior Mr. Gospel Singer of the Year at a convention of 59,000 Baptist gospel singers in Montgomery, Alabama. He made some hit records besides his Broadway recordings for "The Music Man". There were four singles which appeared on Billboard's Hot 100 chart during the 1960s. The Cadence recordings were: "I'm Gonna Knock on Your Door" (1961 peaked at 12th), "Bandit of My Dreams" (1962, peaked at 65th), and "(Girls, Girls, Girls) Made to Love" (1963 peaked at 14th). He also had a popular record with Aurora Records: "New Orleans" (1965 peaked at 44th)
Like most juvenile peformers, his popularity faded as he grew older, and by 1968 he was out of show business. But before disappearing from public view, Eddie delivered a hilarious TV performance as a lovestruck teenager in love with Rob's wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) in a 1964 episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Hodges, Eddie. E-mail, May 30, 2003.
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