Y is for Youth
Hollywood during the Golden Age at times could seem like an adventure playground filled with children. Child stars were a staple of most of the studios; and a huge draw. At one point Shirley Temple was indisputably The Biggest Star in the World. And many of her peers were also highly successful, and the 1930s and 1940s were marked by a succession of adorably cute – sickeningly so, in some cases – pre-teens singing and dancing (and crying; there was often a lot of crying).
Off-screen there were tears, too, in many cases – usually because of a terrible combination of pushy stage mothers and studio bosses who treated the kid players appallingly (most notably Judy Garland, who was under such huge pressure to lose weight that she developed eating disorders, and whose workload was so intense she lived in an endless cycle of amphetamines and barbiturates).
Once some of these kids grew into gawky adolescents, their appeal would wane. Few managed to stay popular playing teenagers, or ‘juvenile parts’ as they used to be called, and fewer still were able to have successful acting careers as adults.