Where Are They Now? Child Stars Gather for 1st Guiding Star Gala (Photos)

Rachel Lindsay Greenbush, Jeremy Miller, Erin Murphy, Alison Arngrim, 
Kami Cotler, and Keith Coogan. Photo Credit: Bill Dow Photography
On August 30, A Minor Consideration, a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives and working conditions of child performers, held its first friend-raiser entitled the “Guiding Star Gala.” Over 40 former and current actors and child stars attended the event, which also featured special guest Jen Lilley (Theresa, Days of our Lives).

Attendees included Alison Arngrim, Paul Peterson, Erin Murphy, David Bloch-Mandel, Jeremy Miller, Scott Schwartz, Katie Kurtzman, Darby Hinton, Sarah Monahan, Johnny Whittaker, Randal Whipple, Geri Jewell, Tony Dow, Radames Pera, Jeanne Russell, Liane Curtis, Samantha Stanton, Kami Cotler, Ellen Latzen, Leif Garrett, Dawn Lyn, Sarah Em, and Coogan's grandson, Keith Coogan, as well as many others, who gathered to share, support and speak out.

An evening of fun, food and bowling with some of your favorite child stars at the famous Lucky Strike Live at Hollywood & Highland offered an impressive silent auction (put together by the events organizer, Scott Schwartz) with proceeds going to the charity.

Since before Mickey Rooney made his silent screen debut in 1926 or Baby Rose Marie (now Rose Marie) first made her appearance in 1929 on stage in NY or even Shirley Temple dawned her blond ringlets for the first time in 1932, the debate over child actors and their safety has been an issue of concern in the industry. A subject brought to the publics attention when Jackie Coogan, who began his career in 1917 and became a fan favorite as The Kidd opposite Charlie Chaplin, took his parents to court for the $4 million he had earned during his childhood, to discover it had been spent (Although he was eventually awarded $126,000). The result was that the CA legislature passed the Child Actors Bill, also known as the Coogan Act.

However, this only dealt with one small issue surrounding the often mind boggling scenarios that young performers face. Situations that, if not dealt with, have all too many times resulted in physical abuse, sexual harassment, drug use and even death.

To that end, “A Minor Consideration” (aminorconsideration.org), the non-profit, tax exempt, 501 (c)(3) organization founded by actor Paul Petersen, (“The Donna Reed Show”) has been dedicated to improving the lives and working conditions of child performers. They have successfully changed laws regarding child actors' working hours, benefits, and trust fund protections. In addition, they have made themselves available and offered guidance to all child performers past, present and future, in any type of crisis, personal or professional.

"No one understands the experience of being a child performer like an adult who worked as a child actor," said Kami Cotler (Elizabeth, The Waltons). "We are uniquely positioned to advocate for better safeguards and to educate parents so they can protect their children. When we come together to support 'A Minor Consideration,' it's because we want to equip young people with the skills and information they need to navigate the entertainment industry so their experience is safe and even wonderful."

"What an uplifting, inspiring event!" added Alison Arngrim (Nellie, Little House on the Prairie). "To see all of my lifelong friends, our gang of grown up child actors, together with the new generation of child performers, standing together to make the industry a better place for children. And all of us just laughing, bowling and having a blast!"

Other still recognizable faces and voices included:

Jen Lilley, David Bloch-Mandel and Erin Murphy.
Photo Credit: Bill Dow Photography
“I'm so happy I could be part of A Minor Consideration's first Guiding Stars Gala. What a wonderful, fun evening with former child actors and current child actors supporting a cause near and dear to our hearts.” - Erin Murphy (Tabitha, Bewitched), who reunited with TV brother, David Bloch-Mandel (Adam, Bewitched) for the event.

“It's always amazing to get together with other folks who acted as children. We share experiences that people outside of us can't always understand. It's why we are so eager to support AMC. We know how amazing acting as a kid can be, but we also know that without protection and understanding of our government, the industry and families, it can be a really dangerous. We celebrate our experiences with each other, and we also have cautionary tales to share.” - Kami Cotler

"Last nights event was the vision the old guard of AMC had 25 years ago. How wonderful to see it happen, current child actors mingling with former child actors. A Very gratifying for me to see that become a reality." - Jeanne Russell (Margaret, Dennis the Menace)

"I could not have asked for more as the first-ever fund-raiser for AMC came to an end last night. The newer, younger generation of former kid stars put on a whale of an event...and managed to surprise me with an honor that means the world to me. Little did they know that THEY are my "Lifetime Achievement." AMC is certain to continue in the hands of Scotty and the Gang." - Paul Petersen (Jeff, The Donna Reed Show)

"Several of us were pioneers of sorts helping to usher in the era of color television. Technology has made extraordinary advances since then, but unfortunately the system has made far too little progress to protect child performers. In many respects, we're still facing the very same destructive practices that harmed many child actors of our generation. Last night's event marked a milestone for our group, A Minor Consideration. I'm thrilled that so many of us are linking up with the current group of young performers, their parents, guardians and managers to better position these kids for a lifetime of success; whether their futures are in front of the camera or not. I applaud Paul Peterson and am grateful for his efforts over the past twenty-five years to raise awareness of the abuses in the system and to help those struggling. I'm now excited that I can be a part of this new drive to help make the landscape a safer one for current and future young artists. My own post-acting career has included professional experience as a financial adviser, broadcast journalist and real estate broker. I've developed some valuable life and professional expertise that I'm more than willing to share and we now have a forum in which to do so. My colleagues in the group feel the same way and I'm confident we're going to make some positive things happen." - Randal Whipple (Randy, My Mother the Car)

"A Minor Consideration's 1st Guilding Star Gala was a smashing success. About 60 former and current child stars were joined by almost 100 others to not only raise funds for our wonderful charity but enjoy a night of bowling and great food at Lucky Strike Live Hollywood. We can't be any more happy and thankful for all those that attended and we can't wait for next's year's gala!" - Scott Schwartz (Flick, A Christmas Story)

A Minor Consideration's aim was much narrower in the early days…to aggressively reach out to those former child stars they knew to be in trouble. In years past, the Industry and the Screen Actors Guild had not been very helpful, but in January of 1991 there was a great sea-change. The news was simply too compelling to ignore, and entities like The Actors Fund, the Motion Picture Health Fund, Permanent Charities…and most importantly…Screen Actors Guild became welcome partners in an effort to help youngsters touched by early Fame and now grown old to put their lives in order.

A Minor Consideration works much like A.A., but with a significant difference; they do not pretend to be “anonymous.” There is a long history of difficulty in the curious world of Young Performers, much of it distasteful, and by sharing their experiences with each other and providing financial and emotional support, they encourage their “classmates” to put their past behind them and create a solid future. Former kid stars are automatic members, whether they like it or not … and some do not.

Over the years their mission has grown significantly. They support an aggressive educational program, both public and private to share their personal knowledge of the way things really work in the world of juvenile Hollywood. They are a clear-eyed bunch, and they do not put up with propaganda and distortions that have so colored the actual experience. They also support a legislative program to bring order out of chaos (see “Kids and the Law”), seeking to make Industry child labor laws uniform throughout the nations and to make the Coogan Law a part of every kid actor’s work life. They want money saved for the kids from Day One and Dollar One.

Their greatest triumph was in taking over the Young Performers Committee at Screen Actors Guild which had been moribund for almost twenty years, packed as it was with Managers, Agents, and Stage Parents. Simply put, they eased them out by showing up en mass, former kid stars all, and forcing their way into the game. Former kid star and former President of SAG, Barry Gordon, made that possible by appointing them to the Committee. Since that time their progress has been incredible by any measure, as the recent National Conference on Yung Performers proved. The $110,000 grant from the Industry Advancement Cooperative Fund to hold their Conference is dramatic proof of their progress.

Check out more photos from the Guiding Star Gala below:

Dawn Lyn, Randal Whipple, Rachel Lindsay Greenbush, Scott Schwartz, Alison Arngrim, Keith Coogan, Sarah Em, Pinky Coogan and Jeremy Miller. Photo Credit: Bill Dow Photography
Bob Schoonover, Alison Arngrim, Danny Sanchez, Rachel Lindsay Greenbush, Anne-Sophie and Radames Pera. Photo Credit: Bill Dow Photography
Paul Petersen, Jeanne Russell, Randal Whipple, Alison Arngrim and Steve Wishnoff. Photo Credit: Bill Dow Photography
Tony Dow, Paul Petersen and Alison Arngrim. Photo Credit: Bill Dow Photography
Jeanne Russell, Dawn Lyn, Jeremy Miller, Alison Arngrim, David Bloch-Mandle, Ellen Latzen, Erin Murphy, Moosie Drier, Rachel Lindsay Greenbush and Randal Whipple. Photo Credit: Bill Dow Photography

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing! Great to see so many faces and names I remember.

    ReplyDelete