Special Report

Amazing Child Actor Performances of the Past 100 Years

Source: Courtesy of First National Pictures

Jackie Coogan
> Role: The Child
> Movie: “The Kid” (1921)
> Director: Charles Chaplin

Jackie Coogan became the first movie child star in his eponymous role in “The Kid.” In the film, Charlie Chaplin reprised his Tramp character, to raise a street waif played by the 7-year-old Coogan. Later, Coogan would gain television fame as the lovably cranky Uncle Fester in the series “The Addams Family.”

Source: Courtesy of Superfilm Distributing Corporation

Edmund Moeschke
> Role: Edmund Köhler
> Movie: “Germany Year Zero” (1948)
> Director: Roberto Rossellini

Edmund Moeschke, a non-professional actor, played a boy facing the challenges of post-World War II Germany. Critics and film fans lauded his performance. It would be Moeschke’s only film.

Source: Courtesy of Arthur Mayer & Joseph Burstyn

Enzo Staiola
> Role: Bruno
> Movie: “Bicycle Thieves” (1948)
> Director: Vittorio De Sica

In postwar Italy, a boy (9-year-old Enzo Staiola) and his father try to recover his dad’s stolen bicycle. “Bicycle Thieves,” directed by Vittoria De Sica, is one of the classic neorealism films made by Italian filmmakers after World War II. Staiola had few roles afterward, including an appearance in the 1954 film “The Barefoot Contessa,” starring Humphrey Bogart and Ava Gardner.

Source: Archive Photos / Moviepix via Getty Images

John Howard Davies
> Role: Oliver Twist
> Movie: “Oliver Twist” (1948)
> Director: David Lean

John Howard Davies’ film debut at 9 years old was as Oliver Twist in the film of the same name, directed by the renowned David Lean. Davies appeared in three more films and became an accomplished producer and director, whose credits included the comedies “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” “Fawlty Towers,” “Mr. Bean,” and “Blackadder.”

Source: Archive Photos / Moviepix via Getty Images

Brigitte Fossey and Georges Poujouly
> Role: Paulette and Michel Dollé
> Movie: “Forbidden Games” (1952)
> Director: René Clément

Brigitte Fossey was 6 years old when she played a French girl orphaned during a German air raid who befriends a farm boy played by 12-year-old Georges Poujouly. Fossey left acting to return to school and then resumed her career, with an appearance in Francois Truffaut’s “The Man Who Loved Women.” Poujouly would appear in the well-received suspense film “Diabolique.”

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