TWINKLE, TWINKLE, LITTLE STAR: But Don't Have Sex or Take the Car by Dick Moore

TWINKLE, TWINKLE, LITTLE STAR: But Don't Have Sex or Take the Car

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Having interviewed 31 onetime child-actors, Moore--himself a 1930s star as ""Dickie""--offers a collage of musings on the child-star phenomenon, mixing his own reminiscences with quotes from famous and not-so-famous colleagues. In a chapter on parents, Moore nicely sketches in his own (sour father, cheery mother)--followed by ambivalent memories of stage-mothers from Roddy McDowall and Jane Powell, in contrast to the total loathing of Peggy Ann Garner. Gene Reynolds and the late Natalie Wood talk about crying on cue; Darryl Hickman, the most dour/psychological of the testifiers, contemplates the pervasive fear of child-stars, the damaging emphasis on role-playing and pleasing. There are recollections of the pressure to look young, to avoid illness. Two chapters present conflicting opinions of assorted grownup colleagues: most hated Wallace Beery, Hickman found him ""a kindred spirit""; there are anecdotes about Spencer Tracy, Ella Kazan, Lionel Barrymore, and others, some of them numbingly trivial. (""Margaret O'Brien learned that Marjorie Main was funny, really nice, but that she was afraid of germs."") And later chapters turn to the darker issues of misappropriated childactor earnings, sexual/emotional problems in later life, and the trauma of suddenly faded careers--with Moore last seen, together with Jane Powell and Donald O'Connor, at a show-biz gathering. (""Why did I want to cry? Was it the pressure of unbearable, still buried feelings, feelings of being nobody now because I was somebody once?"") Similar to Diana ""Baby Peggy"" Cary's Hollywood's Children (1979) and several other recent child-star books: too fragmentary as autobiography, too humdrum as analysis, but sometimes brightened by the interview-bits--especially when no-nonsense Jane Withers is out front.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1984
Publisher: Harper & Row