Bartholomew, Freddie

Freddie Bartholomew

Freddie Bartholomew

Obituary: January 25, 1992, Los Angeles Times, by Myrna Oliver:

Freddie Bartholomew, child star whose portrayal of curly-haired English boys in “David Copperfield” and “Little Lord Fauntleroy” was held up as a standard of proper behavior to a generation of youngsters, has died. Bartholomew, who never acted in films as an adult, died Thursday in Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Sarasota, Fla., of emphysema. Various reports list his age as 67, 69, or 70. Born in Britain, Bartholomew was taken to various film studios in England where he got bit parts, and was brought to Hollywood by the doting aunt who raised him and finally adopted him, Mylicent Mary Bartholomew. MGM signed him when he was 10, and the title role in the studio’s “David Copperfield” made him an instant star when the film opened in 1934. Subsequent roles as a poor Brooklyn boy who goes to England to claim his title in “Little Lord Fauntleroy,” and as Kipling’s spoiled son in “Captains Courageous” endeared him to mothers everywhere who wished that their sons looked and behaved as nicely. When he had his golden curls cut off as “too sissified” in the late 1930’s, the haircut made headlines. Little Master Bartholomew earned up to $2,500 a week and became the highest paid child star except for Shirley Temple. The boy’s parents, Cecil and Lillian Mae Bartholomew, went to Los Angeles Superior Court in an attempt to regain custody of the child. But they finally agreed to let his aunt retain custody, in exchange for a living allowance from his salary. The litigation, he said years later, “drained dry” my fortune he earned. Bartholomew’s fame withered as he reached his mid-teens. After service in World War II, he attempted to re-establish his career by performing in vaudeville nightclub shows, and summer theater. But he never caught on as an adult entertainer. For a time, he was host of a daytime television show, and eventually made his career with a New York advertising agency. Bartholomew is survived by his wife, a son, daughter, stepdaughter and three grandchildren.


Obituary: Star, January 25, 1992:

Los Angeles (AP) – Freddie Bartholomew’s superb acting skills rightfully earned him fame as the child star of such 1930’s films as “Little Lord Fauntleroy,” colleagues said Friday after his death. But his talent failed to propel him into success as an adult actor in Hollywood, which can be unforgiving when childhood charm doesn’t flower into classic film good looks, said Mickey Rooney, one of Bartholomew’s childhood co-stars. Bartholomew died Thursday of emphysema in Sarasota, Fla., said his wife, Elizabeth. He was 67. “He was one of the finest, if not the finest child actor that we had on the scene at that time,” said Rooney, who appeared with fellow child stars Bartholomew and Jackie Cooper in “The Devil is a Sissy,” around 1936. But, said the 71-year old Rooney, “his handsomeness as a child just didn’t translate into adulthood. Cooper, 69, who like Rooney went on to enjoy a long acting career, said Bartholomew also lacked good career advice. “In some cases, kids were taught to be doing the same cute thing, just being cute. Some of us were made to develop as actors and were exposed to better directors,” Cooper said. He said he and Bartholomew both were rejected by their studio, MGM, as they reached adolescence. “They thought Freddie and I were getting too big and they let us go,” he recalled. Cooper went on to rebuild his career on the New York stage and in the new medium of television. Bartholomew did not. “Fred turned around one day and no one gave a damn if he lived or died,” Cooper said. Bartholomew was born Frederick Llewellyn on March 28, 1924, in London. He first performed at age 4, when he recited a poem at a church social. His first movie work was in two British productions, “Fascination,” 1930, and “Lily Christine,” 1932. After moving to America with his aunt, he was hired at age 10 by MGM. He played the title role in “David Copperfield,” a production that also included W.C. Fields, and became an overnight star after the film opened in 1934. Other films included “Little Lord Fauntleroy” in 1936, in which he played an American boy who discovers he is heir to an English dukedom and ” Captains Courageous” in 1937. He also played Greta Garbo’s son in “Anna Karenina,” 1935. Of the 24 films he made, Bartholomew said he most enjoyed making “Captain Courageous” in 1937. He also played Greta Garbo’s son in “Anna Karenine,” 1935. Of the 24 films he made, Bartholomew said he most enjoyed making “Captain Courageous.” The movie, about a spoiled, rich boy who falls off a cruise ship and lives for a time among fishermen, took a year to make, with long shooting stints in coastal Florida and Catalina Island off California.

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