Legendary child actor Dickie Moore, like many child actors of his day and since, struggled with substance abuse, failed relationships, and other difficulties during and after his career. However, Moore — who passed away last week at the age of 89 — was able to turn things around and live a long and successful life after his days as a child star.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Dickie Moore died last week after battling dementia. In his day, Moore was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, child actors of his time. In the handful of Our Gang shorts he appeared in, he was considered something of a “leading man” well before he was old enough to shave. At 16, he raised eyebrows by kissing the other biggest child star of his day, Shirley Temple, on-screen (even though it was just a quick peck on the cheek).
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But even as the cameras were shining on him, Dickie Moore was showing early signs of trouble. His father, whose unemployment led to young Dickie being pushed into acting in the first place, couldn’t get work due to his son’s celebrity status. As the principal breadwinner for his family, Dickie felt enormous pressure to succeed. And, as the L.A. Times reports, he was never fully comfortable in front of the camera.
“Every time I got in front of the cameras, I felt like it was an X-ray machine, like I was ashamed of or embarrassed about what was revealed to everyone who was watching me.”
After his career waned, Dickie Moore would find himself struggling with substance abuse, failed relationships, even a suicide attempt. It would be a sad story repeated by several child stars since him: Todd Bridges (Diff’rent Strokes), Danny Bonaduce (The Partridge Family), Matthew Garber (Mary Poppins).
Writing in Cracked in 2013, former child star Mara Wilson (Miracle on 34th Street), who was fortunately able to escape the pitfalls of being a child star, talked about how the pressure placed on child actors and how so many of them have difficulty dealing with life once the cameras stop rolling.
“Adults know that infatuation is fleeting, but kids don’t understand this. A year in a kid’s life seems like an eternity, and they think anything happening now will happen forever. Years of adulation and money and things quickly become normal.”
Fortunately for Dickie Moore, he was able to learn some valuable life skills in the Army — he worked as a journalist for armed forces magazine Stars and Stripes, then studied journalism after World War II thanks to the G.I. Bill.
“I had learned how to do something. I could edit a magazine, work on a newspaper.”
In his later years, Dickie Moore developed a long, successful, and varied career, with projects both inside and outside the movie industry. He wrote, he edited, he served on the board of the actors’ union, and even opened up a talent agency.
Dickie Moore’s happy and successful life shows that it is indeed possible for a former child star to overcome the difficulties that come during and after their time in front of the cameras.
[Image courtesy of: Getty Images / General Photographic Agency]