Musicals Blog

Child Stars of Movie Musicals

When I watch an older movie musical that features children, I often wonder what happened to the children. Did they go on to continue working in films and theater or did they leave show business? This week, I'll feature children from the movies Oliver, Annie, Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Next week will be for the Von Trapp children from The Sound of Music.

Oliver - Jack Wild and Mark Lester

Mark Lester started acting professionally at the age of only 6, first in movies and then on British television. After "Oliver," Lester continued to work in movies in England and Italy, but in 1977, he left the business to become an osteopath. [read more ...]

Annie - Aileen Quinn

Aileen Quinn of Annie fame, like Mark Lester of Oliver, did not continue in movies as a young adult. At the age of 9, Quinn was chosen over 8,000 other girls for the lead part in the movie version of Annie. She had previously been an understudy for the orphan girls in the original Broadway production. [read more ...]

Willy Wonka - Peter Ostrum

Peter Ostrum had probably the shortest film career of any successful child star. Although he had acted in a local children's theater before being selected to play Charlie in "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," Ostrum chose to leave acting after the movie was completed. He was offered a contract to make additional films, but Ostrum just wanted to go back to being a regular kid again. [read more ...]

Mary Poppins - Matthew Garber and Karen Dotrice

Matthew Garber's story is a sad one. He began working in Disney films at the age of seven, when he appeared in "The Three Lives of Thomasina." This was followed by his role as Michael Banks in "Mary Poppins," and three years later, in 1967, with a role in "The Gnome-Mobile." [read more ...]

Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang - Heather Ripley and Adrian Hall

Both of the child stars of "Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang," Heather Ripley and Adrian Hall, had very short film careers. Ripley's only film was "Chitty" and she disappeared from the film industry after the movie was completed. As a teenager, she modeled and acted for a short time, but then she left the business again to study to be an optician. Today, Ripley is an environmental activist in Scotland. [read more ...]

Sound of Music - Angela Cartwright

Even though she was only 11 when she appeared in "The Sound of Music" as Brigitta von Trapp, Angela Cartwright was already an established television actress. She began her acting career at the age of three and by the age of five she had her first major recurring role on a television series. For seven years, Cartwright played the adorable young daughter on the Danny Thomas hit comedy series, "Make Room for Daddy." [read more ...]

Sound of Music - Kym Karath

Kym Karath played Gretl, the youngest of the von Trapp children, in the film version of "The Sound of Music." Although she was only seven at the time the film was made, Kym was already an experienced movie star who had completed three previous films, her first one at the age of three. [read more ...]

Sound of Music - Debbie Turner

Debbie Turner, who played Marta in "The Sound of Music," came from a family of child stars - her two older sisters and younger brother also appeared in television shows and commercials when they were young. One older sister, Michele, still works as an actress. [read more ...]

Sound of Music - Duane Chase

Duane Chase, Kurt von Trapp in "The Sound of Music," began his short acting career in commercials at the age of 11. Four years later, he appeared in "The Sound of Music," and afterwards acted for only a few more years. Chase decided, instead, to pursue a career in geology and technology and today he is a software developer in the Seattle, Washington area.

Sound of Music - Nicholas Hammond

Nicholas Hammond, the son of an actress, began his acting career at the age of 10 when he appeared in the movie "Lord of the Flies." His first major role, however, was as Friedrich von Trapp, the oldest son in the singing family. [read more ...]

Sound of Music - Charmian Carr

Although she played a 16 year old in "The Sound of Music," Charmian Carr was, in fact, much older and she was attending college part-time and working when she got the part. Carr grew up in a family of performers, with an actress mother, a musician father and siblings with acting careers. [read more ...]

Sound of Music - Heather Menzies

Heather Menzies began studying acting at the age of 11 and two years later she appeared on the television comedy series, "My Three Sons." Her next acting job was as Louisa von Trapp in "The Sound of Music." [read more ...]