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Paul Petersen Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trivia (10)  | Personal Quotes (6)

Overview (2)

Born in Glendale, California, USA
Birth NameWilliam Paul Petersen

Mini Bio (1)

He's been through practically the worst that can happen to a former child star when the Hollywood tide suddenly turns and one is no longer a part of the neat elite. Unlike others, however, such as Anissa Jones, Rusty Hamer and Dana Plato, he survived. As a result, actor Paul Petersen, today, is THE most dedicated advocate in protecting both present-day child stars and shunned one-time celebrity tykes, alike. Paul formed "A Minor Consideration", a child-actor support group back in 1990, and it has had a tremendously positive and profound effect in Hollywood.

It started out much differently for Paul back in the 50s. Born in 1945 in Glendale, California, he had an enthusiastic stage mother who pushed him into the business. He began performing, as an eight-year-old, as one of the original "Mousketeers" on The Mickey Mouse Club (1955) in 1955. He also appeared in such movies as The Monolith Monsters (1957) and Houseboat (1958), opposite the likes of Cary Grant and Sophia Loren, before scoring big, at age 12, as Donna Reed's son on her popular sitcom, The Donna Reed Show (1958). With Carl Betz as his highly practical doctor dad and Shelley Fabares as his older pretty sister, the foursome became the ideal nuclear family for late 50s/early 60s viewers. Paul and his alter-ego, "Jeff Stone", literally grew up on the show. By his teens, the good-looking, dark-haired lad had become a formidable heartthrob. Fan clubs sprouted up everywhere. So popular were both Paul and Shelley that they spun off into recording careers, groomed to become singing idols despite their modest voices. She scored with the #1 hit, "Johnny Angel", and he had a few minor hits with "She Can't Find Her Keys", "Keep Your Love Locked", "Lollipops and Roses" and "My Dad".

The fun ended, however, after the show's demise in 1966. His All-American teen typecast didn't fit the bill as the dissonant Vietnam counterculture took hold. His acting attempts as a serious young adult also went nowhere. Audiences still saw Paul as "Jeff Stone". Roles in A Time for Killing (1967), Something for a Lonely Man (1968) and Journey to Shiloh (1968) came and went. Guest parts on The Virginian (1962) and The F.B.I. (1965) did nothing to advance him. What he could scrape up were such outdated roles, as "Moondoggie" in a revamped Gidget TV movie, Gidget Grows Up (1969).

Lost and abandoned, Paul eventually was forced to give it all up and went through a period of great personal anguish and turmoil. Wisely, he enrolled at college and started writing adventure novels (penning 16 books in all). For 10 years, he ran his own limousine service. His biggest accomplishment to date, however, has been to give back, selflessly, to an industry that unceremoniously dumped him. In essence, "A Minor Consideration" is an outreach organization that oversees the emotional, financial and legal protection of kids and former kids in show business. Among the issues Paul deals with are better education, and stricter laws regarding a 40-hour work week. For those who have "been there, done that" and are experiencing severe emotional and/or substance abuse problems, he offers a solid hand in helping them find a renewed sense of purpose. Today, Paul is rightfully considered "the patron saint of former child actors".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (3)

Rana Jo Platz (27 December 1992 - present)
Hallie Litman (1974 - 1988) ( divorced) ( 2 children)
Brenda Benet (27 June 1967 - 1970) ( divorced)

Trivia (10)

He has one daughter born in 1987 from a brief affair.
Was allegedly fired from The Mickey Mouse Club (1955) by Walt Disney himself for "conduct unbecoming"--for bad behavior. One incident included punching the casting director in the stomach for being called a "mouse" one too many times.
Mickey Rooney was the main influence on Paul to get him to leave Hollywood after his career crashed and burned and getting an education. He eventually earned college degrees in English and history.
Served the United Nations as a delegate for the World Safety Organization, and represented 300,000 film workers as Vice President of the Hollywood Entertainment Labor Council.
He, Shelley Fabares and James Darren recorded a "Bye Bye Birdie" album in the 1960s.
In addition to playing siblings "Jeff" and "Trisha" on The Donna Reed Show (1958), he is the real-life big brother of Patty Petersen.
Board Member for the Donna Reed Foundation, and works at the Donna Reed Festival in Denison, IA, the third week in June every year.
As of Decemer 2001 he was heading up the growing advocacy group A Minor Consideration, protecting young professionals.
In March 2011 he attended the annual Williamsburg (VA) film festival.
Profiled in the 2016 book "X Child Stars: Where Are They Now?" by Kathy Garver and Fred Ascher.

Personal Quotes (6)

They say children in [the Hollywood acting] industry are protected. Bullshit. Hollywood would save Bosnia before the life of a single child actor.
[on being fired from The Mickey Mouse Club (1955) for punching a casting director] I was rambunctious and confrontational and undisciplined. Heck, my third-grade teacher said that "while Paul was one of the smartest boys in his class, his behavior is abominable". And that pretty much explains why I was fired. I didn't know that kid actors aren't supposed to be children.
I became a child actor because my mom was bigger than I was.
[on his work with A Minor Consideration] People on the "outside", people who have not lived the life . . . "civilians", as we call them . . . are not equipped to deal with the masterful deceptions of former kid stars. For God's sake, when you don't know what to do with a former child star, call on the only group of people who DO know. We never say, "I told you so". We never seek retribution. We do not judge lest we be judged. We simply help.
[on losing wife Brenda Benet to Bill Bixby] I was so angry I couldn't see straight, and what doubled this pain was that Bill was really visible. You know, he was going great guns and I was going in the toilet.
[on the 1982 suicide of ex-wife Brenda Benet] In Hollywood, people make a great pretense at understanding the human condition. Particularly people on the soap operas. And they themselves are so poisoned by false values that they cannot, even with a co-worker, see the pain and [loneliness] and suffering.

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