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Monday, January 09, 2006

Mary Badham (b.1952) was outstanding as "Scout", the daughter of Gregory Peck, in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962). This was her first film role and she was so good that she was nominated for the "best supporting actress" Oscar, losing to another child actor, Patty Duke. Unlike many others before and after her, she showed no real interest in the Hollywood life and after making one more movie and a few TV appearances retired from show business. Today she is an art restorer and college testing coordinator. She also travels extensively recounting her great experiences during the making of "To Kill a Mockingbird". She lives near Richmond, Virginia with her husband and two children and says she is open to give a good script a try if one comes her way.
Although Temple, O’Brien, and Badham were able to adjust to adult life, that has not always been the case with child actors. There is the tragedy of Bobby Driscoll (1937-1968) who was a renowned child star with Disney in the 1940's and 1950's through such hits as "Song of the South", "So Dear to My Heart", and "Treasure Island". When his child star years ended and Disney dropped his contract, he was unable to cope with the disappointment. He wanted to prove that he was a serious actor and moved to New York to try stage work. When that failed he resorted to drugs and alcohol which led him to his demise in a New York tenement at age 31. He was so forgotten by that time that he was buried as a "John Doe". A year later through a chance checking of fingerprints, it was discovered that the body was that of famous child star Bobby Driscoll.

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