Freddie Bartholomew (U.K. 1924- )

Figure 1.--This still comes from Freddy's apparance as "David Copperfield" in 1935.

Freddie Bartholomew was born Frederick Llewelyn on March 24, 1924 in London. The curly-haired, dimpled, angelic boy star was destined to make a real mark in Hollywood. Handsome, impressive and very English, well-bred Frddie was a sensitive, royal figure among the children of the sound stages. Most child stars have relatively short careers ending when they reach the teen years. Of all the major child stars, Freddy had perhaps the shortest career. His brief, but stellar reign lasted only about 7 years, before audiences lost interest in him as he grew up. Most of his films were made in a 3-year period from 1935-37.


Freddie's father was a professional soldier. He was raised by his grandparents and an aunt from whom he borrowed his surname. He called her Aunt Cissy and she became his stage mother. He was involved in court fights during 1937. In one his parents were trying to wrest him from his aunt's guardianship. His aunt tried to have him released from his MGM contract. Both attempts failed.

Film Career

Aunt Cissy immersed Freddie in dramatic training and rushed him on the London stage. He first appeared on the London stage at 3 years of age. and later in a few British films. Aunt Cissy brought him to New York, supposedly on a vacation in 1935. He established himseld as aajor child actor by his peformance in "David Copperfield". Freddie stayed in Hollywood to become one of the most popular child stars of the 1930s. Refined and gentle mannered despite a humble background, he used his good breeding and excellent diction to advantage in playing boy heros in Hollywood adaptations of adventure classics.

Major Films

Freddie is best known for his performances in Hollywood productions of several classic novels. Interesting most of his best films were made in a 3-year period from 1935-37.

David Copperfield (1935)

A talent agent advised Aunt Cissy to have him try for David O. Selznick's "David Copperfield." She rushed him to Culver City California, dressed him as David, and took him to Selznick. "I am David Copperfield, sir," announced the very proper Freddie when he entered Selznick's MGM office. "Right you are," replied the director. Freddie was a hard working actor, he was given a real whipping by Basil Rathbone during the shooting of "David Copperfield (1935)." Apparently Basil Rathbone was concerned that the scenes where he beats Freddie would destroy his career. He made friends with the boy and made sure the studio publicized pictures of the two having fun together.

Anna Kerenina (1935)

Freddie also played an angelic role as ???, Anna's darling son in Garbo's "Anna Kerenina" (1935).

Figure 1.--This still comes from "Little Lord Fauntleroy" in 1936. In the book Cedric was never pictured wearing an Eton collar with his velvet suit.

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936)

He is most readily remembered for his sissy role in "Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936)," although the costumes were very disappointing. Only the sailor suit was of any great interest. The 1936 version of Little Lord Fauntleroy is perhaps the classic version of Little Lord Fauntleroy. In part because it was bade during the classic period for studio child stars. However, the film was far from accurate in terms of costuming and hair style. Freddy Bartholmew played Little Lord Fauntleroy in this black and white film. The producer clearly sought to downplay the hero's sissy reputation. Freddy was an extremely popular child actor and probably had some say in the costuming. The studio was also probably concerned with Freddy's image. If he acquired a sissy image it might have adversely affected his future box office appeal.

The Devil is a Sissy (1936)

Freddy played a British boy who came o mAmerica in "The Devil Is a Sissy" (1936). He wears a British short pants school uniform and gets teased about it by he american boys who all wore long pants.

Captains Courageous (1937)

One of his best films was "Captains Courageous" (1937). This was the classic novel by Ruyard Kipling. It was written at the turn of the century. For the film, Freddy's costume is updated to a contemporay short pants school uniform. Freddy at the time was about 13 years old.

Listen Darling (1938)

Amusing little film about two younsters trying to marry off a widow so they can have a mother and father. Scotty Beckett plays Billie Wingate. The 9-year old Scotty wore an American Indian style suit for much of the film. The character he played must have liked stories of the frontier. Toward the end of the film, though, as his mom is on her way to remarry, Scotty appears in a grayish short pants suit. Also featured is Judy Garland and Freddy Bartholomew.

Tom Brown's Schooldays (1940)

A boy deals with bullying at a British public school. Includes implications of corporal punishment that was common in the British public schools. Freddie played with Jimmy Lydon.

Boyhood Clothes

We have few details on the clothes Freddie wore as a boy. Apparently in England he wore short pants suits as he did in America for a while. I have noted pictures of him showing up in shorts for one of the LB Meyer MGM birthday bashes, although I'm not sure about the year. We also note photographs of Freddy wearing a short pants suit working at the studio. This was not a costume, but his own clothes that he wore from home. I have no details at this time on who chose Frddy's clothes and thoughts Freddy may have had on his clothes. We also do not know to what extent his attitude toward clothes may have changed when he moved from England to America. I do not know when he got his first long pants suit.

Adult Career

After his acting career faded, he became an advertising executive. He never was able to make the transition to teenage/adult roles. Some speculate that he was just too pretty of a boy to be believable. It was just right for little boy roles, but not sufficiently masculine for more mature ones.


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Created: January 2, 2000
Last updated: April 16, 2004