Clothing and Costumes Worn by Child Actors: R

Figure 1.--Daniel Radcliffe is delighted about getting the Harry Potter role which will undoubtedly make him the most famous boy in the world. He is seen here in the kind of casual clothes English boys common wear.

Information about child actors also provodes a great deal of fashion information. Both clothes these children wore as well as the costumes they wore in their films and shows provide much valuable information. These childrens often dressed very fashionably so information about them provides insights into contemprary fashions. The costumes they wore in films also provides useful information--although it must be treated more cautiously. HBC is preparing an alphabetical listing of child actors in movies, plays, and television.

Radcliffe, Daniel (England, 1989- )

Daniel is the English boy chosen to playing Harry Potter in the upcoming, much anticipated movie. Although casually dressed in most pictures I have seen of him, he always wears long pants, even in the summer or at what goes for summer in Britain. I can only wonder whether this is due to the English climate or that he doesn't like short trousers. Also I still cant be sure whether those are his his actual glasses or not- they're perfect for Harry, but he's wearing them in every out-of-character pic I've seen of him. The boy chosen from thousands of hopefuls to play the role of Harry Potter faced the world's media for the first time and admitted to being a "tiny bit" like the young wizard he will portray. A shy Daniel Radcliffe said he was delighted to get the magical part, despite only reading two of J.K. Rowling's books and was the envy of his classmates who he said were obsessed with the series. "I cried when I got the part and was really excited," he said at a news conference in London, adding that the prospect of being famous was "cool." "A long time ago I read the first two books and have forgotten everything about it," said 11-year-old Daniel. He added, quickly, though that he was now reading the other two. "A lot of the other boys in my class knew I had only read the first two books and they are fanatics... they have read all the U.S. versions and everything and I think they were angry." Daniel previosly took on the role of the young David in the BBC's David Copperfield and recently returned from Panama where he was filming John Boorman's The Tailor of Panama. And if he had Harry's magical powers, Daniel said he would "turn my dog into a wolf."

Ray, Andrew (England, 1939-2003)

Andrew Ray was a popular English child actor in the early 50s. Andrew Ray was born in North London. His father was the popular radio comic, Ted Ray. His mother Sybil Ray was also involved in show business. Andrew was cast in the title role in "The Mudlark" (Englamd, 1950). This was a 20th Century Fox film which starred Alec Guinness and Irene Dunne. Andrew played a street urchin.. "Mudlarks" were the name given to poor London street children who survived by scavenging along the banks of the River Thames which flows through London. The poor London boy winds up meeting Queen Victoria who in her grief over her husband's death had with drawn from society. The film proved quite popular in Britain and was chosen as the Royal Command Performance in 1950. Andrew became an instant child star in Britain. His other important film ws "The Yellow Baloon" (England, 195?). It was an English Film Noir. One fan writes about Andrews as an adult, "Andrew was a great man. A really lovely gentle guy who cared passionately for the underdog."

Reno, Kelly (U.S., 19??- _

Kelly played the boy in the two Black Stallion movies, "The Black Stallion" (1979) and "The Black Stallion Returns" (1983). I have little information on his acting career and how he dressed.

Figure 2.--Tommy is seen here in the stripped "T"-shirt that he wore for his part as Jeff in the U.S. TV version of "Lassie". Countless American boys dressed this way in the 1940s and 50s.

Rettig, Tommy - (US, 1941-96)

Most Americans will forever associate Tommy Rettig with Lassie's faithful companion Jeff. Tommy was born December 10, 1941 in Jackson Heights, New York. He played in stage, radio television , and movie roles. He started his career at age six, touring with Mary Martin in "Annie Get Your Gun." He played Little Jake for some 22 months. He was offered a part in stage plays ("Member of the Wedding" and "Peter Pan"), but his mother decided on the movies. Tommy wore a the dress as called for in the younger brother role in "Member of the Wedding." He made his screen debut when he was 9 years old. During the 1950s he appeared in 17 films, usually only small bit parts. I've seen a few and he never appears in short pants--even when he wears a nice suit in "For Heavens' Sake" and was young enough to do so. Perhaps his most memorable role was the boy with a vivid imagination in the "5,000 Fingers of Dr. T" (1953). Tommy recalls "By the time I was 9, I'd done everything--movies, stage, radio, TV. Everybody thought it was real cute for a kid my age to be so sophisticated--but it was murder on my emotional development. More than anything else, I wanted to be normal. I wanted to have friends, go out on dates--just lead a normal life. But things were always going to fast. Then too, I was spoiled as a kid--and still am. I was an only child, and that was about 80 percent of the problem." He gained wide popularity in the "Lassie" TV show as Jeff, Lassie's first master from 1954-58. He had never read the books or seen the movies, but clicked in the part and became very popular. Later, Jan Clayton, who played his mother on the "Lassie" television series, recalls "In a sense I became his mother at the studio as well as in the series. We could relate. He needed a real mother, not a business manager." Clayton says that Mrs. Rettig "was the classic stage manager--always on the set, always too ambitious." During vacations from the television set, Tommy continued to make movies. They included big-budget films such as "The Egyptian" (1954), "River of No Return" (1954), and the "Last Wagon" (1956). Of all the movies I've seen, the only one I thought he performed well in was "River of No Return" with Marilyn Monroe. Tommy was quite short, as an adult he only reached 5 ft 4 in, which didn't help his efforts to win adult roles. Failing in his bid for adult roles, he retired to a California farm where he was arrested for growing marijuana. He was sentenced to 2 years probation. In 1975 he was arrested for smuggling cocaine and sentenced to 5 years in the Federal prison. His cocaine smuggling conviction was overturned on appeal. Tom finally began to get his life under control in the mid-1980s and he achieved some success as a software developer. He died of a heart attack in Marina del Rey, California on February 15, 1996. He was survived by his ex-wife and two adult sons.

Richardson, Jason James (1980?- )

Jason stared in "Free Willy" (1993), an unexpected box office surprise. He has signed a $1.0 million check for a sequel and $1.5 million for a third film. He wore shorts, but the longish baggy ones there were popular in the 1990s.

Riesner, Dean (UK/US, 1918-2002)

Dean Riesner was born in England, but much of his career was associated with America. "Dinky" Dean Riesner is a child star not widely remembered today, probably because he worked in silent films. He was a child star of the 1920s and later found success as a popular screenwriter. His best known scripts were for the Clint Eastwood classics Dirty Harry (US, 1971) and Play Misty for Me (US, 1971). It was Riesner who created one of the best known lines in film history, "Go ahead, make my day." Dean was born in 1918 to a silent film editor, Chuck Riesner, and an actress Miriam Hope. He therefore had a good entry as a child actor. He toured the United States in 1921 when he was only 3 years old as part of a comedy boxing skit with professional boxer Jack Dempsey--who was at the time was the heavyweight champion of the world and as a result attracted large audiences. Charlie Chaplin noticed Dean when the Demsey tour reached Los Angeles. Chaplin cast Dean and the horrid brat in The Pilgrim (1923). He billed Dean as "Dinky Dean". Dean became a fixture on the silent screen. The films were mostly made in Hollywood, but because the script could be easily changed, silent movies (especially Hollywood films) were widely circulated in other countries. Because of the parts he played, Dean became known as "The Boy's Boy of the silent screen". Dean as "Dinky Dean" appeared in a string of shorts in which he received star billing. He was also in important films. He played "Gigi", the prince in Prince of a King (US, 1923). He even played himself in the silent extravaganza Hollywood (US, 1923). He spent so much time at the studio that his mother was concerned that he would develop "klieg eyes"--an eye disorder caused by extended exposure to the bright lights (called "klieg lights") used on a movie set. Dean's child movie career was cut short by his father. One day he asked his father, "How was I in the rushes?" Dean explained years later, "My father spent his days with stars. He was not about to come home to one! He hated big egos." Dean was not allowd to return to acting until he entered high school. After staying in London as a teenager and playing a role as a lover to much older women, such as Everybody Dance (UK, 1935). Riesner then returned to Hollywood and became as he called 'a drunk with an avocation for screenwriting'. He got a job as a screenwriter for Warner Brothers and his first screen credit was for 'The Code of the Secret Service (US, 1939) which starred Ronald Reagan. It was not until the early 1970s that Riesner became more widely known for his screenplays. It was he who wrote such lines as "Do you feel lucky? Well, do you punk?" and "Go ahead, make my day". He had been brought in as the fifth screenwriter on Dirty Harry' His best known television credit was as the author of the mini series Rich Man Poor Man (US, 1976). Riesner had developed a reputation as a script doctor, writing on such titles as The Enforcer (US, 1971), High Plains Drifter (US, 1973), Blue Thunder (US, 1983) and The Sting Part II (US, 1983). His last film was Fatal Beauty (US, 1987).

Rooney, Mickey - (US, 1920- )

Born Joe Yuhl, Jr., on September 23, 1920 in Brooklyn, N.Y. The pint-size son of vaudevillians, and claims to have been "born in a trunk". He made his first stage appearance at 15 months, when he climbed out of the orchestra pit and began beating on a drum. The audience roared their approval and before long became an indispensable part of the family act, singing, dancing, mimicking, and telling jokes. When his parents separated, his mother headed for Hollywood with her son in tow. He made his film debut at six, playing a midget in the short "Not to be Trusted" (1926) and in the following year appeared in the silent feature "Orchids and Ermine". He then had a long run starred in some 50 two-reel comedies in the "Micky McGuire" series (1927-34), in which he played a then-popular comic strip character, a tough kid, brash and gruff with adult-sized misadventures. This role led to film roles with the major studios. He was one of the few silent stars to make the transition to the talkies. One of his most memorable roles was in Tom Mix's "My Pal the King" (1932). He legally adopted the name, Mickey McGuire, changing it to Mickey Rooney in 1932 when he began playing small roles in Universal features. His mother wanted it to be Mickey Looney. He was signed to MGM in 1934 where he played Clarke Gable as a boy in "Manhattan Melodrama" (1934) under David O. Selznick. Teenage Mickey who still was quite young filled the gap between fading child star Jackie Cooper and British import Freddie Bartholomew. The following year, on loan to Warner Brothers, he accomplished on of the most remarkable acting feats by an adolescent on the screen, playing a memorable Puck in "A Midsummer's Night's Dream" (1935). He had an important part as the younger brother in "Ah, Wilderness" (1935), wearing nice boyish knee length pants. It would be interesting to know what Mickey thought about wearing knee length pants and playing a much younger boy. The studio set up a school for him and other child actors, but it was designed to meet state requirements which it really didn't and according to Andy did not really provide a reasonable education. Next he played with Jackie and Freddie in "The Devil is a Sissy" (1936). I haven't seen "The Devil is a Sissy," but I think Mickey's character makes fun of Freddie's character who wears short pants and knee socks. Freddie who was only about 11 and just arrived from England probably didn't understand how many American boys (probably including Mickey) viewed shorts as sissy clothes. It would be interesting to know what the boys thought of the costuming, especially as their next film together was "Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936)." Mickey apparently got on quite well with Freddie who he described a very nice person. He was upset to learn, however, how much more Freddie was making. With Freddie again he did "Little Lord Fauntleroy" and "Captains Courageous" (1937). Again Freddy was in short pants and Mickey played a rough boy. A major turning point in Mickey's career came in 1937 when he was first cast as Andy Hardy, a cocky, wisecracking small town judge's son in a "A Family Affair" (1937), a modest B programmer which spawned 15 highly popular sequels. In a many ways the role suited him nicely. Freddie and other M.M. stars considered him to be a bit on the wild side. Ironically, he was not the studio's first choice for the role and finally selected only at the last minute to fill in for the part. He also some dramatic roles, "Boy's Town" (1938) and "Young Tom Edison" (1940). If I remember right he gets an off stage licking in "Young Tom Edison." It was Mickey who finally knocked Shirley Temple out of first place as the number one box office draw in 1939. Mickey, the Brooklyn bantum, came for many to symbolize all that was fictionally wholesome in the American way of life. He earned $5,000 a week at the peak of his career and had his picture on Time's cover. All this when he was 18 years old, well past the prime of most child actors. Mickey, however, continued to page boyish and teenage roles. His short stature did not alienate movie goers, at least until he got older. The Andy Hardy series earned M.M. huge profits, many new stars got their start, and the series earned Mickey's place in cinema history. His popularity climbed steadily, even through adolescents, thanks to the series, a memorable experience in "Boy's Town" (1938), and several hectic musicals in which he co-stared with Judy Garland, a fortunate pairing. They appeared together in some Andy Hardy vehicles and some song and dance affairs like "Babes in Arms" (1939), "Strike Up the Band" (1940), "Babes on Broadway" (1940), and "Girl Crazy" (1943). His career was interrupted by World War II during which he served in the Army. The studio cried, "Gable's back." after the war, but there was no similar mat put out for Mickey who by 1945 was 23 years old. M.M. tied one more Andy Hardy movie, "Love Laughs at Andy Hardy" (1946) and another musical "Summer Holiday" (1948) but found the public's tastes had changed. His declining popularity and incessant demands resulted in a break. He continued to make movies and later appeared on TV guest roles, but generally passed out of his star role, until a comeback late in his career. He had to file bankruptcy as a result of eight unsuccessful marriages. Has an adult, the public was more interested in his off camera escapades and not his performances. In recent years though he has made a comeback on both stage and film.

Russell, Johnny - (US)

I don't much about Johnny Russel. He was born in Brooklyn (1933). He was in a number of films from 1937-40. He was in several films I am unfamiliar with. Some of the better known films were "Jesse James (1939) in which he played Jesse James Jr. and "Sabatoge" (1939) in which he played Matt. The best known film was the Jimmy Stewart film "Mr. Smoth Goes to Washington" (1939) in which he played Otis Hooper. He was also in the Shirley Temple film "Blue Bird" (1940) playing Tyltyl. One of his last films was "I Married a Nazi" (1940). He played an American boy taken to NAZI Germany. He didn't make films after 1940. I'm not sure why.

Russell, Kurt - (US, 1951- )

He was born on March 17, 1951, (St. Patrick's Day) in Springfield, Mass. His dad, Bing Russell, moved the family to southern California when Kurt was small. Bing had a number of bit parts on TV shows like Twilight Zone. Kurt has a brother, Brian, who has also acted in films. (Brian and Roddy Mc Dowell acted together in the Disney film, Bullwhip Griffin.) Kurt became a staple in Disney films during the 1960s. His first film was It Happened at the World Fair (1963) where he appeared with Elvis in which he was a cute blond 10 year old. Played in movies Follow Me Boys (1966). I think his best film as a boy was Follow Me Boys where Fred MacMurry and the Boy sCouts turn his life around. Many of the boys in the film wear knickers or shorts, but he wears long pants. There were a host of other Disney films, such as (I think): Shaggy Dog (1959), Swiss Family Robinson (1960), Pollyana (1960), and the Absent Minded Professor (1961). Tommy Kirk played his older brother in several of these films. He had an uncredited role in 1962's "It Happened at the World's Fair". Elvis Presley falls for a nurse at the First Aid station, and asks a boy, played by Kurt, to kick him in the shins so he can seek the nurse's attention. Other Disney roles include The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, The Barefoot Executive, and others. Kurt's TV career was launched in 1963 on the ABC show, The Travels of Jamie Mc Pheeters, in which he played the title role. It was set in 1849 America and followed the wagon train journey of Jamie, and his widowed dad, a doctor, on their way from Paducah,KY to California, where they sought their fortune in the gold rush. An underrated family adventure, which had only one or 2 years' of a run, this show was also one of Charles Bronson's earliest TV roles. He played the wagon master of the group on their way west. A film, Guns of Diablo (1964) is an episode of "Travels" turned into a short film. His television credits included Daniel Boone, Gilligan's Island, and Lost in Space. He was reportedly a super little kid and not the typical spoiled Hollywood brat. One account indicated that in between takes he would go outside the studio and look around for anyone to get together a ball game. He is one of the few child stars to go on to become a big leading star, although I can't say I care much for his grownup acting. His most successful adult film was probably Stargate which has some imaginative scifi costumes for children.


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Created: October 19, 2000
Last updated: 8:14 AM 11/28/2017