FORGOTTEN child actors and animals

Oh sure, we all remember cute little Puff. Yeah, Puff had it made. Puff was driven to the set each day where he was groomed, fed, and played with. He went out to stud later in his life and then retired to a lap of a librarian somewhere outside Boston. But what of Fuzzy? Nobody knows what happened to Fuzzy. He never gets mentioned with fondness by people tripping down memory lane. That's Fuzzy above acting his little heart out.

Children's readers from the 1930s until the 1970s starred Dick and Jane. They're famous. Each made a tidy little sum which was invested by their parents so they could retire early. Dick has a nice place in Boca, Jane lives near Mt. Hood, Oregon where she runs a successful organic jams and jelly company. 

But what of the child stars Bill and Susan? Bill and Susan you ask? Who are Bill and Susan? Well, they're the two forgotten tykes of publishing history.

Bill and Susan_pg22_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

Just as cute and obedient as Dick and Jane, Bill and Susan starred in the 1945 production of "Bill and Susan" produced by the Silver Burdett Company. Unfortunately they both had lousy lousy agents. Bill's money was squandered by an accountant who left on a steamer for Pago Pago sometime around '52. By then Bill had lost his cute childlike quality and was having trouble getting work. Around '56 he enlisted and served a few years in the Army on the border between North and South Korea. When he returned he bummed around the country and wrote a book entitled "Bill On the Road" but could never find a publisher. He eventually worked as a short order cook in Laramie and then just seemed to disappear. He could never get over having people ask him if he was Dick. When he'd say, "No, I'm Bill" people would just shrug and say, "Never heard of ya."

Bill and Susan_pg23_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

Susan did have it slightly better. Her folks had wisely invested her earnings, but Susan didn't handle her teen years well. She married at 17, had two children, and was divorced by 20. By then her ex-husband had managed to gamble away all of her money. Susan was last seen in a small town out near the Salton Sea taking orders at a greasy donut shop, reading glasses dangling from a chain around her neck. No matter what anyone says to her she only responds with, "Order please. Fast. Fast. Order order." She has few friends because most people are a bit turned off by her speech pattern.

It's a tale as old as showbiz. The little tykes get used and thrown aside. The Coogan bill was designed to safe guard the funds child performers earned, but the stars of Primers weren't part of the deal. No, those tykes were forgotten. 

And then there's Perky. Well, Perky met Spot on a cross-country junket when they were both heading to New York to do some promotion work. Let's just say Perky wasn't as perky after meeting Spot. She had 6 puppies with all but one looking like Spot. Her career was over. She was labeled a bitch and never worked again. 

Bill and Susan_pg20_tatteredandlost

Bill and Susan_pg21_tatteredandlost
Click on either image to see it larger.

Okay, here's the truth. "Bill and Susan" was published in 1945 by Silver Burdett Company as part of their "Learning to Read: A Basic Reading Program" by Nila Banton Smith. The illustrations are by Janice Holland.


  1. LOL!!! What a funny and sweet post! Thanks for coming to see me and following at Bear Swamp Reflections. I love your blog! I actually do remember Bill and Susan and wanted that to be our readers (wonder why?). I'm putting you on my bloglist.

  2. I saw you over at Willow's and checked out your little universe and liked what I saw. Knew the minds were a similar wavelength. I'm glad you dropped in.

  3. I am not familiar with Bill and Susan [probably because I am in England!] but laughed like mad when I got to the end of your post. Now you have me confused - was your entry a spoof until the end?

    When I went went to school in 1955, I learned English from Janet and John books, but they weren't half as much fun as Bill and Susan look to be from the marvellous illustrations you put up. Fantastic!

  4. People of a certain age in the US grew up with Dick and Jane. They're almost shorthand for so many jokes. There was even a spoof book put out about them in 1986 called "More Fun with Dick and Jane" published by Penguin. It purported to be an update about what happened to all of the characters.

    I found "Bill and Susan" at a flea market. I'd never heard of them or seen the illustrations. Occasionally I see the book for sale on ebay.

    And yes, it was all done with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

    I do wish I could find information about the illustrator, but so far nothing.