Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here today to show and tell about the two child performers discussed in our “Who Are They…” quiz.
We gave them the benefit of considerable doubt in qualifying them as “big child stars.” (They weren’t all that big.) And we gave you, faithful readers, the benefit of several clues as to their identities. Like so many network television programmers past and present, we underestimated the smarts of our audience.
Almost as soon as our blog went up, in came this from Patricia Nolan-Hall, aka Caftan Woman: “The boy is Skip Homeier. I believe the little girl is Joan Carroll. She’s big around here at Christmas what with The Bells of St. Mary’s and Meet Me In St. Louis, perennial faves.”
There you have it. Patricia, we award you our honorary child-star-sleuth-of-the-year citation. For those of you still scratching your heads, some backround on these two — not necessarily household names even back in their days. (And, yes, that is the young couple in the above photo.)
Both began their professional careers at the age of six (isn’t there a law against that somewhere?).
Joan Felt — changed to Joan Carroll later on — was born in 1932 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and made her movie debut in Fox’s 1938 show biz drama Walking Down Broadway starring Claire Trevor.
George Vincent Homeier (the “Skip” also came later) was born in Chicago in 1930, and began his career in the daytime radio soap, Portia Faces Life.
At 14, he recreated a role he’d played on Broadway, a former Hitler youth member, in his first movie, United Artists’ 1944 drama Tomorrow, The World. Frederic March, the star, portrayed a kindly American uncle who tries to reform the ideologically misguided youth who has come to live with his family. It was in Tomorrow, The World, that the paths of the two child stars crossed for it was Carroll who wound up playing March’s very young daughter.
In 1940, Carroll garnered attention as Ginger Rogers’ younger sister in director Gregory La Cava’s melodrama, Primrose Path costarring Joel McCrea. In 1942, she played the key role of the young daughter caught in the crossfire of her divorcing parents in RKO’s Obliging Young Lady, costarring Edmond O’Brien and Ruth Warrick.
Carroll had the rare good sense for a child performer to get out of movies while she was still way ahead.
In 1944, she played the middle sister, younger than Judy Garland but older than Margaret O’Brien, in Vincente Minnelli’s musical classic, Meet Me In St. Louis. The next year saw her in another classic, director Leo McCarey’s The Bells of St. Mary’s, costarring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman. After those two films, Carroll was gone.
Homeier’s career has lasted longer, although most of his later work has been in television. He logged solid supporting parts in westerns — eg. 1956’s Stranger At My Door starring Macdonald Carey opposite Patricia Medina — and in crime dramas, including 1954’s Cry Vengeance, directed and starring Mark Stevens as an ex-con seeking to right old scores.
Perhaps Homeier’s movie high water mark came in 1951’s Halls of Montezuma, about U.S. marines exploits in the Pacific in World War II.
The cast was star laden — Richard Widmark, Karl Malden, Jack Palance, Reginald Gardiner, Robert Wagner, Richard Boone, Jack Webb — and Homeier played “Pretty Boy ” Lewis Milestone, who five years before helmed A Walk In The Sun (another World War II movie, which we like a lot), was the director.
Montezuma was one of Fox’s bigger releases that year. When we last checked, both Carroll and Homeier are still with us.