Freddie Bartholomew and Adoption
Also known as Frederick Llewellen
Irish-American actor, television producer, and advertising executive
Bartholomew was born in Dublin but abandoned by his parents to the care of an aunt, Millicent Mary Bartholomew. In 1930 he began his film career as a child star with Fascination, and another 23 films followed, including David Copperfield, Little Lord Fauntleroy, Anna Karenina, Kidnapped, Swiss Family Robinson, Tom Brown's Schooldays, A Yank at Eton, Captains Courageous and St. Benny the Dip. At one time he was the highest-paid child star in Hollywood, after Shirley Temple.
When he became famous, his birth parents surfaced and tried to regain custody (and control of his income), and the legal fees used up a large part of his fortune, but his aunt won the court case and formally adopted him.
The acting parts dried up when he became an adolescent, and he returned to a more normal life, avoiding the despair and psychological traumas that afflicted many other child stars. He joined the US Air Force during the War, and after the War he did try to return to show business and a performer and director, but was unsuccessful, although he produced the CBS soap opera As the World Turns in the 1970s. Instead, he went into advertising and eventually became vice-president of the large Benton and Bowles agency in New York.
"Freddie Bartholomew [Obituary]," The Times [London], 25 January 1992, p. 14 Macmillan International Film Encyclopedia. New edition, edited by Ephraim Katz. (London: Macmillan, 1994)