The List: child actors, then and now

As a 10-year-old, Mary Badham was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Scout Finch in the 1962 film adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird. She quit acting in 1966 after appearing in The Twilight Zone and is now an art restorer. In the run up to the film’s 50th anniversary, later this month, she has given lectures around the world about its message of social justice. Charlie McCann lists six more child actors who pursued careers outside Hollywood.

1. Shirley Temple: The subject of one of Salvador Dali’s paintings satirising the film industry, Temple symbolised Hollywood like none other. As a teenager, though, she found it difficult to maintain the success she had enjoyed as a seven- and eight-year-old in Bright Eyes (1934) and Curly Top (1935). Temple officially retired from acting when she was 22 and later decided to go into politics. She became US ambassador to Ghana in 1974, and to Czechoslovakia in 1989.

2. John Howard Davies: Best known for his quivering “Please sir, I want some more” as Oliver Twist in the celebrated 1948 adaptation by David Lean, Davies stopped acting in his teens, believing he didn’t have the talent to be a character actor or the looks to be a star. He made his career in television instead, producing and directing comedy programmes such as Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers (when he read the first draft of the latter, he giggled so much he fell out of bed). He was promoted to BBC head of comedy in 1978, where he was involved with Yes, Minister and Not the Nine O’Clock News, and later helped launch Mr Bean. He died in 2011.

3. Jaroslaw and Lech Kaczynski: Indistinguishable, except for the mole on Lech’s cheek, the twin brothers from Warsaw first came to prominence in Poland, aged 12, when they starred in a 1962 film adaption of The Two Who Stole the Moon, a popular Polish children’s story. The double act continued. Both became politicians and worked to replace communism with their nationalist brand of conservatism. When Lech was elected president in 2005, he appointed Jaroslaw prime minister. After Lech died in a plane crash in 2010, a special election was called and Jaroslaw ran for president in his brother’s place. He narrowly lost.

4. Michel de Carvalho: Achieved fame for his role as orphan boy Faraj in David Lean’s classic Lawrence of Arabia (1962) before quitting acting to study business at Harvard. When de Carvalho wasn’t making his fortune as an investment banker, he competed in the Winter Olympics three times as a skier and then a tobogganer. He is married to Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, who inherited the Heineken brewing empire in 2002. The couple’s fortune is estimated at £5.49bn, according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2012.

5. Danica McKellar: As a teenager, Danica McKellar was Winnie, the doe-eyed love interest in the late 1980s US comedy series The Wonder Years. While an undergraduate at UCLA (from which she graduated summa cum laude), she co-authored a paper on thermal equilibrium and percolation called the Chayes-McKellar-Winn theorem. Since then, she has encouraged young girls to pursue maths with cheekily-named books such as Kiss My Math and Hot X: Algebra Exposed.

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