Jun 29, 2009

Retro Book Review--Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: And Don't Have Sex or Take the Car

As I read Elizabeth Taylor’s heartbreaking statement about Michael Jackson’s death, I was reminded of a great book about child stars in classic Hollywood: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: And Don’t Have Sex or Take the Car. It is essentially a collection of interviews with commentary, compiled by former child star Dick Moore (who is perhaps most famous for giving Shirley Temple her first screen kiss, a traumatic event he describes in the book). Because he understood much of what his subjects had experienced, and was even acquainted with some of them as a child, Moore was able to elicit frank revelations from stars such as Donald O’Conner, Natalie Wood, Jackie Coogan and Mickey Rooney. He captures the anxiety, confusion and occasional joy of being young breadwinners and working with adults in a challenging industry. There are also a few reminisces about Taylor, who possessed a very adult beauty as a child, but struggled with shyness. Many of these child stars found solace in each other, just as Taylor and Jackson did. In fact, Moore fell in love with one of his interview subjects, Jane Powell, and they are married to this day.

The book is out of print, but I’ve seen affordable used copies around the web. It’s an occasionally heartbreaking read, but Moore is a compassionate and intelligent storyteller. If you have any interest in classic Hollywood child stars, I highly recommend it.

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