Figure 1.--George Minifer, the main character in "Pampered Youth" was depicted as a real terror as a boy--of course outfitted in a Fauntleroy suit, lace collar, and ringlet curls. He is seen here with his adoring mother. The actor, Ben Alexander, was 14 years old.
The first film production of Booth Tarkington's, The Magnificent Ambersons
was a 1925 silent film, Pampered Youth. The child star, Ben Alexander, who was
not a little boy at the time, wears a very elaborate Fauntleroy suit and long
Many Americans film viewers are familiar with the Hollywood films made on classic novels
during the 1930s. This was, however, not an inovation of the 1930s. The idea
of using classic and contemporary novels was well established in the 1920s. These
earlier films, however, are not as well know to today's late night TV movie
viewers because they were silent films. Many of these films are now lost and the
ones which survived not commonly shown.
The first film production of Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons
preceeded Orson Wells' masterpiece by 15 years. It was producd as Pampered
Youth in 1925.
The role of the pampered George Minifer was played by popular child star Ben
Alexander. Americans will recognize him in his later television role, both as
Seargent Friday's sidekick on Dragnet and Colonel Potter in Mash.
He was born as Nicholas Benton Alexander in 1911. He first appeared in films
at age 4 in 1916. He was directed by both Demille and Griffith. Few actors had such a
long running career. He appeared in another Tarkington-inspired film, Penrod and
Sam in 1923. Pebrod was of course the quinenscencal American boy, sort of
an American Just William.
I have no details on how Ben was dressed as a boy or on what he thought about
his costume. You might think that at 14 he might have had some misgivings.
The Magnificent Ambersons is based on ther Booth Tarkington novel. Tarkington's novels are some of the best portrayals of America's "Age of Innocence". The story of The Magnificent Ambersons is one of decline and
darkness and sadness, a family unwilling to
change with the times. The novel centers around a wealthy Midwestern
family, the Ambersons, and how it disintegrates towards the end of the
19th century. George raised as a single child who is spoiled
beyond belief. Because he's an Amberson
George feels that it's his right to do whatever takes his fancy. Everyone
in town can't wait until George gets his comeuppance.
Figure 2.--George Minifer, the main character in "Pampered Youth" was depicted as a real terror as a boy--of course outfitted in a Fauntleroy suit, ringlet curls, but a rather strange hat. He is seen here beeing scolded by a neighbor after fighting with some other boys.
I have not seen the film. Stills show, however, that the main character, George, is pictured in a very fancy velvet Fauntlroy velvet suit with a huge elaborate lace collar and wrist trim with long ringlet curls. He also wears a large light-colored sash. He wears a rather
strange velvet hat with a small brim--rather a strange looking hat. I do not have any derails on other costumes he might havde worn.
This is probably the most elaborate Fauntleroy suit worn by any boy, especially a child star, in a Hollywood film. Not only was the Fauntleroy suit elaborate, but he wears exceedingly long ringlets. I assume they were a wig. Ben was not a small boy when he made Pampered Youth. He would have been about 14 years old. I
assume that he was chosen because of his child star status because 14 was beyond the age at which Fauntleroy suits were normally worn.
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