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Scotty Morrow

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Posted: Monday, January 26, 2009 12:00 am

“It Was All Good”

An Interview by Michael Barnum

Born in Los Angeles, California, little Scotty Mora (later billed as Scotty Morrow) spent the better part of the 1950s and ‘60s on stage and in front of a camera in a variety of memorable films and television productions. His film work ranged from Academy Award nominated productions like Peyton Place and An Affair to Remember to B programmers with titles like The Cosmic Man, Toughest Gun in Tombstone and The Heart Is a Rebel. Whether it was a high profile project or another guest appearance on a TV western, Scotty always gave it his all and came away doubly blessed with a paycheck, and life experiences he will remember forever.

Michael Barnum: Let’s begin at the beginning. You were born in the right place for a film career, weren’t you?

Scotty Morrow: My family was moving to California and I was born about an hour after they stepped off of the train in Los Angeles.

MB: Was your brother Brad the first of the Mora family to have a show business career?

SM: That’s correct. My older brother, Brad, was discovered in a local talent show that my folks had entered him in when he was about five years old. A talent scout from the Mickey O’Day Variety Children’s Show liked what he saw in Brad and arranged for him to become part of the weekly production. A couple of years later my parents obtained an agent for my brother. He was able to arrange a screen test for him at MGM for the role of “Little Jake” in the musical film Annie Get Your Gun. He got the part and his show business career took off. Afterward, he proceeded to do several more feature films and went on to become a cast member of Disney’s original Mickey Mouse Club and the Spin & Marty series.

Eventually, my brother’s agent realized that I had reached a good age to give acting a try, too. My parents then decided to get me started in the business as well.

MB: And how did you feel about this?

SM: Well, at that age you don’t make too many choices for yourself, but I thought it was cool. I had already seen a few of the films that my brother had been in so I thought, “Hey this is going to be fun.” I didn’t know what to expect at only three years old. My career got kick started in television commercials.

MB: Were you comfortable in front of the camera?

SM: Not at first. My parents had warned me that it was one thing to see my brother on the big screen and another for me to actually work on a film set. My first couple of experiences in front of the camera weren’t pleasant. I was a little shy at that age. My first commercial was for One-A-Day Vitamins. Several takes had to be done because they couldn’t get me to look straight into the camera or hit a certain cue mark. My mother would make all kinds of hand gestures off stage like when you are working with a baby to try and help [laughs]. But we did get through it and that first commercial was followed by another for Borax Hand Soap, about a month later.

My first experience working with Marilyn Monroe was in a commercial. She did a couple of laundry detergent TV ads around the time she was trying to make a name for herself as Norma Jean Baker. She had been modeling and appearing in some commercials and small roles in a film or two. The first detergent commercial she did had her holding a baby and talking about how smooth the diapers were from having washed them in the laundry soap. The second installment which began airing a few months later, showcased her with a three-year-old boy, played by me, sitting on her lap while she talks about the shirt I am wearing. I think I did seven or eight commercials altogether. One was for Malt O’Meal hot cereal. I did one for Kellogg’s Sugar Pops too, and something for an orange soda beverage I believe was called Nesbits Orange Drink. The very last commercial I appeared in was for a UNO Chocolate Bar advertisement.

MB: When did your career move into television?

SM: The first TV show I believe I appeared in was The United States Steel Hour, which was a live show similar to Playhouse 90 and Kraft Theatre. It was just as small role. I did a lot of television during my career. There was a ten-year span of time where I was featured in more than 70 TV programs and series. I’d be working one month and then a month later I’d be working on another show. My agent used to promote me as “Kid Television” because of all the TV programs I had done. I was a recurring cast member on the Donna Reed Show in the role of “Pee Wee.” I had another recurring role in the Buckskin series playing the part of “Floyd Worthington.” By the way, I had a crush on Donna Reed.

MB: What did you think the first time you saw yourself on TV?

SM: I guess I was a little bit embarrassed at the time, even though I was watching at home with my parents. I didn’t really lose my shyness until I was about 10 and had become a little more experienced. Finally, I came out of my shell and realized that I could do this. I got used to the cameras and the lights and people talking to me and hustling from here to there, and I really felt I was part of the business. It became fun.

MB: Tell us about working in live television.

SM: If you flubbed a line or missed a cue or weren’t standing in the correct spot, well that’s the way it aired on national television. It gave you something else to think about besides learning your lines. Pretty scary and quite stressful for a kid. Fortunately, I was able to weather the storm and get through it. I acted in four or five live TV programs.

MB: Were you treated well on the sets?

SM: The production staff treated kids pretty much like kids in those days. They were protective as much as possible. The studio heads and production crews usually watched what they said around you and they kept an eye on where you were going in between scenes. My mother was on the set with me and sometimes my agent would show up if it were convenient for him.

My mother typified the “stage mom” in those days. She would work with me on reading scripts. I’d go home at night and have some dinner and then go over my script lines where she would have me say them several different ways until they sounded natural to her. My father, on the other hand, would jump in and say, “Hey, let him say it the way he says it . . . he’s a kid!” I never went to acting school. In those days you didn’t have all of the choices that actors have today, so for a six or seven year old in Hollywood you didn’t really get much training. When I auditioned for parts in front of casting directors, they would put a script in front of me and I would have 60 seconds to become that character. There were no second chances to make a first impression. At that young age I had a hard enough time comprehending what I was reading let alone trying to understand the character (laughs).

MB: Evidently you did, as you certainly weren’t lacking for work.

SM: Well, my agent joked that I worked cheap so I got a lot of parts (laughs). I remember when I interviewed for Peyton Place which was my first major acting role in a film, there were about 50 or 60 well-known child actors sitting in the lobby waiting to audition. My background at the time entailed maybe eight to ten TV shows and a handful of commercials. I had zero motion picture experience. Having film credits was usually considered to be a cut-above television and a definite advantage. I wasn’t sure I could compete with better known and experienced movie kids.

MB: Peyton Place was certainly one of your biggest films.

SM: Absolutely. My agent said it was going to be my breakthrough role. The picture had been in the planning stages for a few years before filming ever began. They started casting six months before the film went into production. The screenplay changed so many things around from the original novel that the author had a real problem with the screenwriter which caused quite a delay in getting the film started. The author, Grace Metalious, wanted the screenplay to follow her novel 100%. John Hayes, who was adapting the story for the film disagreed on several areas of the book. They finally found a happy medium and we began filming in 1956, but it took just short of 87 weeks to complete. That’s why the film was released towards the end of 1957. I was close to 10 when it started and I was probably pushing 12 when it ended. I grew up fast from one scene to another (laughs). Actually, I looked about 4 years old which is why they hired me in the first place. I was supposed to portray a boy who was about 7 or 8. Growing up, I always looked about three or four years younger than I actually was. My agent kept telling me that this was my big chance to make a name for myself in a big epic film. It was an important role and I was going to be playing opposite some very big movie stars. He just told me to give it my all.

MB: Where was it filmed at and how did it affect your attendance at school?

SM: Most of the film’s exterior scenes were shot in Camden, Maine. As for my schooling, child actors receive private tutoring anytime they’re away from public school. When I was working either on a film or a TV show during a normal school year, the Board of Education’s child labor laws came into play and dictated that I would be privately tutored for three hours of schooling a day by a certified teacher and only be allowed to work on the set for no more then six hours in front of the camera. So basically, I worked a nine-hour day as a child actor. Once you reached 16 you were allowed to work as many hours as deemed necessary in addition to the three hours of private tutoring.

A funny thing, Peyton Place had a very adult storyline for its time, so whenever a scene was shot that was in the least bit suggestive my tutor would haul me off the set. Of course by today’s standards the movie would probably be rated PG at best. But in 1957 a young woman getting raped and pregnant by her stepfather was a taboo subject.

MB: Were you allowed to see the finished film?

SM: Actually, I did. There was an elaborate Hollywood world premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. NBC covered the event. It was a lot of hype and glitz. I was there with my parents. The commentator for NBC picked me up in his arms and talked to me on live TV and asked how I liked being at such a glamorous affair. I still have the original brochure and media guide from that event. Getting to watch the film in the theater was the first time I had seen the fully edited version. I believe they did chop out a few scenes due to some strict censor laws back then. I remember that Mamie Van Doren attended the premiere. Jayne Mansfield was there with husband number whatever [laughs]. Elizabeth Taylor and Natalie Wood made their presence known. Many other show business celebrities were in attendance as well. The theatre was packed, [and] lots of camera flash bulbs lit up the lobby as people entered.

MB: Did you ever meet Grace Metalious, the author of Peyton Place?

SM: She was on the set a few times and she actually is credited as a consultant. I saw her once or twice. She was friendly and always seemed willing to talk to most anyone.

MB: The film had quite a cast.

SM: I appeared in a lot of my scenes opposite Hope Lange who played my sister “Selena.” Selena’s best friend “Allison” was played by Diane Varsi with whom I also had scenes. Diane was an up and comer who was under contract to 20th Century Fox. She passed away at a fairly young age. Unfortunately, Hope Lange also died recently. That was a sad moment for me. Russ Tamblyn was also advancing his career at this time and I believe that right after Peyton Place is when he co-starred in the film version of West Side Story. He also appeared in the Broadway production. Betty Field played my mother. She was a well known character actress. In the movie she’s married to Arthur Kennedy. His role of “Lucas Cross” was a major part of the film’s storyline. Lucas was a deviate who rapes my sister. We were the family from the wrong side of the tracks who were befriended by a family of stature. David Nelson also appears in the film and is one of the few people connected to the movie that is still alive. I ran in to David about five or six years ago at a local deli.

Recently, Terry Moore commented in a magazine article that only about four cast members of Peyton Place were still alive: herself, David Nelson, Russ Tamblyn and little Scotty Morrow. And she was wondering what had ever happened to the little kid who played “Joey Cross?” Well, Terry, I’m alive and well and living in Sherman Oaks. I had a crush on her when I was 9 and she was 28 . . . one of those coming of age things [laughs].

MB: Peyton Place was up for quite a few Academy Awards.

SM: The picture was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. Unfortunately it only won a couple in the technical categories. It was up against some major competition that year like Bridge on the River Kwai which cleaned house. Of course the censors had gone through our film with a fine-tooth comb because of the theme and storyline. The producers felt that the Academy members penalized the movie.

MB: As a youngster, did you pay much attention to things like The Academy Awards?

SM: Well, I did watch them that year. I knew our film was up for best picture, best actor and best actress and other major categories. It was also up for best film adaptation and I think composer Franz Waxman did win for best music score.

MB: How much do you recall about An Affair to Remember?

SM: An Affair to Remember I recall quite well. It started filming right after Peyton Place. 20th Century Fox had signed me to a contract for a three-picture deal and within one week of wrapping up Peyton Place I started filming An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. It was a much smaller role than what I had in Peyton Place. I play one in a group of kids at an orphanage that Kerr runs. In the film there are segments where we had to sing as a group in a couple of scenes. The reason this film stands out for me is because I had a solo singing part. As I had mentioned, I didn’t have an acting coach but my brother had been taking some singing lessons so my folks decided to have me spend a couple of hours with his coach for some quick lessons. Apparently, it worked out all right as my infamous solo came across fine in the movie.

MB: What are your recollections of the cast in this film?

SM: Cary Grant was extremely nice and he seemed to like kids. The way he portrayed himself on screen was pretty much the way he handled himself in person. He would crack jokes and seemed to enjoy himself around us. Deborah Kerr was a little less friendly, but pleasant. I had a crush on her, too [laughs]. The kids weren’t the featured players in the movie. But usually when you are on a movie set and perform scenes with major film stars, overall, they’re pretty friendly to their fellow actors and especially kids.

MB: Perhaps she looked at the kid actors as a bunch of potential scene stealers?

SM: Could be. I’d like to think so, but I doubt it. Like I said, I had a crush on her too, so anything she said or did was fine with me [laughs].

MB: Prior to working in An Affair to Remember were you familiar with Kerr or Grant?

SM: I was more familiar with Cary Grant than I was with Deborah Kerr. I had seen Grant in a couple of his films, and I knew that he was a big star.

MB: When working with famous actor, were you nervous?

SM: Perhaps. But you learn to get over that quickly once the cameras start rolling.

MB: Did working with famous legends impress you?

SM: I was too young to look at it that way, but it does hit me now that I’m able to sit back and reflect on it.

MB: Were your friends or school mates impressed by your career?

SM: Yes, I had my little clique in the public schools I attended. But my biggest fans were my family and relatives. My cousin, Star Marco, who lives in San Diego, was and still is my most dedicated and faithful fan. We’ve remained very close ever since growing up together. She started a fan club for me many years after my acting career ended. I think at first it had all of two members. Maybe there are four now that she has two grown married daughters who have jumped on the bandwagon [laughs].

MB: What was the third film in the three-film deal with Fox?

SM: The third film was written and produced to be a three-part mystery trilogy starring Marilyn Monroe. Unfortunately, it never made it to the screen due to problems and disagreements with the producers and Marilyn’s agent. This sadly was happening during her decline and towards the end of her life. She wasn’t showing up for work and displayed an overall bad disposition with the production crew. The project already had about three weeks worth of film in the can of Part 1 before the entire project was “shelved” as it was referred to back then. I was contracted to be in Part 2 of the three stories. In it, I play Marilyn’s young nephew. It was a very interesting and dramatic storyline from the little I remember. What I do recall is reminding Marilyn that I actually sat on her lap in a commercial when I was a toddler. She vaguely remembered. “Why couldn’t I sit on her lap now when I would appreciate it?” I thought to myself [laughs].

MB: So this second time around what did you think of Marilyn?

SM: There was never any doubt that she was great around kids. She was stereotyped and typecast as the dizzy blonde but she was not like that at all in person. She was actually quite literate and knowledgeable. Marilyn’s life was a complete paradox. She may have been this sex goddess object on screen, but inside the audience saw this little girl looking out with that kind of openness children have. If she were around today I’d bet that she could still light up a crowded room.

MB: You had a nice lead role in the film The Heart Is a Rebel.

SM: And an interesting film it was. It was produced for religious audiences with Billy Graham eventually picking up the distribution rights to it. I was able to purchase a consumer copy of the film not long ago from his website store. The general storyline centers around my character. I play a young boy with a serious medical condition. As my condition worsens, my mother, [played by Broadway singer and stage actress Georgia Lee] finds and accepts God by attending local Billy Graham sermons. She starts to believe that her prayers will help heal me. My father on the other hand, doesn’t believe in miracles from prayer and reading the Bible, and objects to his wife’s new-found belief in God, prayers and faith healing. Billy Graham actually makes a cameo role in the film.

The producers agreed on two separate endings for the film. One in which I die after emergency surgery, and the other where I live. In short, I die in the film version released to theaters for general audience viewing, and I live in the version shown on Christian television and to church congregations or other religious assemblies who would rent the film for showing to their parishioners. The purpose of the film was to send a message to both believers and non believers. I always thought it was cool that I got to live and die in the same film.

MB: The wonderful Ethel Waters co-stars with you and you have many scenes together.

SM: Working with Ethel Waters was an absolute treat. She was phenomenal. She was so well known and recognizable with all of the acting credits attached to her resume. Playing my nanny was the perfect character role for her. She was a very spiritual individual to begin with and a talented religious singer too. She sings one of the songs in the film. She and I had several emotional scenes together. The make-up artist kept using various gimmicks and tricks of the trade to make me appear deathly ill in certain scenes. After a couple of weeks of filming I started to believe that I truly was sick and Ethel Waters was my personal caregiver [laughs].

MB: In Toughest Gun in Tombstone you play George Montgomery’s son.

SM: He played Matt Sloane, the Marshal of Tombstone, Arizona. I play his young son, Terry. The whole town gets caught up in a renegade take-over by the infamous Clanton gang. They kidnap me for a brief part of the movie. Jim Davis played Johnny Ringo, the head of the gang. He was another great character actor to work with. He always played tough guy roles with his low voice and rugged looks. He snatched me up on a horse in one scene and had me riding up on the saddle horn after kidnapping me. Good thing I was still young, or I think I might have had some serious groin problems! After several film takes you could see pain etched on my face. The director thought I was acting the part quite well. If he only knew the pain was real [laughs].

MB: The beautiful Beverly Tyler had the female lead opposite George Montgomery.

SM: Yes, she played his love interest later in the film after it was revealed that my mother had been brutally murdered by the Clanton Gang. She was just gorgeous to look at. And of course, when you are a precocious young kid, those pretty blonde actresses all looked great. Yep, you guessed correctly . . . I had a crush on her, too!

MB: How was George Montgomery to work with?

SM: He was a little bit on the quiet side. His wife, Dinah Shore was on the set a couple of times. She was very nice. In fact, I think I got closer to her than I did to him. He was all business once the cameras started rolling and would do whatever it took to make a scene authentic. He was a real professional. After the film was completed he gave me a new pair of children’s cowboy boots complete with genuine silver spurs attached. My dad later tried to sell them for cash [laughs].

MB: In this film you get shot.

SM: Yes, I do get wounded in the upper shoulder. The manner in which Hollywood created special effects in those days was interesting. They would rig areas with special firecrackers in strategic places set to explode while kicking up dust emulating bullets hitting the ground. Later, the sound editor would create excellent ricochet sounds.

The movie was filmed in black and white so chocolate syrup was used to look like blood. The prop people kept pouring Bosco brand chocolate syrup on my wound area. In between takes I recall scooping up some of the syrup with my finger and licking it off. It tasted great! Having to lay on the hot desert ground and brush for long periods of time [a body double wasn’t used] while the production crew made adjustments, the chocolate syrup on my shirt attracted a bunch of red ants. Before I knew it there was a swarm of about 100 or so attacking the syrup on my shirt [laughs]. After trying to get someone’s attention some prop assistant came over and helped me remove my shirt and then sprayed something on it to remove the ants. It worked, but it smelled like insecticide which made for a wonderful rest of the day. That’s show business.

MB: Do you recall where the location shooting took place?

SM: A good portion of the exterior scenes were filmed out at Vasquez Rocks in the Santa Clarita Valley while other scenes were shot in Box Canyon. The Vasquez location has been used for countless westerns and a host of other films as well.

MB: The Cosmic Man had another lead role for you.

SM: Today, that film is considered a Sci-Fi classic and one of the most memorable acting experiences of my career. Made in 1959 and shot in black & white, the film also featured Bruce Bennett and Angela Greene. Every so often I pop in the DVD copy I have and watch it.

MB: What was the space globe made of?

SM: It was a lightweight combination of special plastic material and painted with a variety of coatings to look smooth and shiny and to appear outer-space like. It appeared huge in person suspended from a crane with a transparent rope.

MB: What do you remember about the actress who played your mother, Angela Greene?

SM: I remember she liked to smoke. A couple of her scenes in the movie called for her to puff away so she appeared right at home. Angela played in a lot of B pictures and she was another one of those performers who was friendly and pleasant. I worked closely with her in the film and we had some goofy scenes together. There is one where I am lying in bed and thinking about the Cosmic Man whom I befriended. Meanwhile, Army Intelligence is desperately trying to hunt him down and destroy him. I look at my mother and say, “Gee, things don’t look so good for the Cosmic Man do they, Mother?” In a serious tone, she says, “No they don’t Ken.” [laughs].

MB: Herbert Greene was the director and had worked on many films.

SM: He worked on quite a few as an assistant director or “A.D.” as they like to call themselves. However, other than Cosmic Man, I believe he’s only credited with one other film as the head director, and that was Outlaw Queen made in 1957.

To me, the real hero of the film was Arthur Pierce who wrote the screenplay and played an integral part in getting the movie produced. Although not a household name himself, Arthur was a genius who had a keen vision for science fiction and the world beyond. He wrote for several Sci-Fi television shows during his career. He was a man ahead of his time before passing away tragically in 1987.

MB: As a kid did you notice much difference between working on a big budget film as compared to the low budget films.

SM: After Peyton Place, I did recognize the difference. Of the dozen or so feature films I appeared in the majority were in the second tier category. I feel I was blessed to have acted in [both] films of epic proportion, and those of independent status.

MB: The fascinating John Carradine had the title role of The Cosmic Man. What did you think of him?

SM: He was fascinating. He would actually offer the other cast members acting tips during the shooting. He was a methodical, slow speaking actor and a true gentleman. He had a certain swagger about him and spoke in a unique way, almost as if he really were from another planet. I can see why he was cast as the Cosmic Man. In the scenes I had with him he was nice enough to make some suggestions as to how he would like to see me react to certain things, and the director liked [his suggestions].

MB: When you finally saw the finished product what did you think?

SM: I felt proud to have been a part of it. I was impressed with the way it was made, and I could brag to my friends that I was featured in a real science fiction movie. Science fiction flicks were extremely popular back in the 1950s especially watching them in Drive-In theaters which were the rage. Looking back, I have to confess that The Cosmic Man may have been the most enjoyable film I ever took part in.

MB: Were you a fan of the science fiction genre?

SM: I was. And I did some of the science fiction television shows such as One Step Beyond, Twilight Zone, and Science Fiction Theater to name a few.

MB: One of your other forays into the world of the fantastic was an obscure film titled The Jolly Genie.

SM: [Laughs] It was released as a film but it was actually created as a pilot for a TV series which was going to be filmed partly in animation. The pilot was about an hour long and was released as a children’s matinee feature. It is one I have been searching for on DVD or tape for years, but with no luck. Aside from the pilot we filmed eight other episodes. Only the first three aired on TV before it was canceled by ABC for unknown reasons, finances most likely. The series was tailored to educate children about world history. The concept was excellent. For instance the pilot episode was titled The Night of Paul Revere’s Ride. The show had cast a dwarf actor [Buddy Douglas] made up to look like a genie. He played an integral role in the show. The plot centered around me and my sister played by Dana Dillaway. One day we are suddenly surprised by this little genie who appears out of nowhere and into our lives as we are arguing about some historical moment. We all travel back in time on the genie’s magic carpet and experience an historical adventure as it happened in real time. Each episode offered a new history lesson for kids. Then after each visit into time we would return and nobody would know we had been gone because [we returned] in about five minutes. The animated segments were cartoon-like scenes of us flying around on a magic carpet through outer space and back into time. It was very surreal. That show could possibly be successful today and popular among young school age children.

MB: The beautiful Angela Stevens played your mother.

SM: She was another delightful actress to work with. She was tall and had short blonde hair. Duncan McLeod who played my father, and Robert Nash who played my grandfather, were both cast appropriately as well, but I don’t recall much about either one. Their character roles in the show were brief. Oh, and did I have a crush on Angela Stevens? What do you think?

MB: Any recollections of your work on Alfred Hitchcock Presents?

SM: I got to meet Alfred Hitchcock in person once or twice. Hitchcock would visit the set and sometimes meet the cast.

MB: You and your brother worked together on a few projects, didn’t you?

SM: We actually played brothers on two Wagon Train episodes and in the film Red Sundown. But the most memorable experience as brothers was in a military series called Navy Log. That was some ordeal. The director was a German fellow. One scene in particular stands out in my mind. Our father enters our room to tell us about the attack on Pearl Harbor. For some reason my brother and I started to laugh uncontrollably. We had to keep doing this scene over and over again because each time we would start laughing. The director became very irate. These shows had a certain budget and every time we’d do a retake it would cost money but we just couldn’t stop laughing. Our agent was representing both of us, and it was not making him look too good. The director would lash out with some very colorful adjectives directed towards us [laughs]. And well, we laughed at that, too! You know we were just two kids being kids. I believe the director got to a point where he wanted to replace us. Finally, we were able to do the scene without laughing, but I think I still had a bit of a smile on my face during filming. Fortunately, that experience didn’t hamper any future work that came our way.

MB: Along with the western films you worked on you also did your fair share of western television, including the Guy Madison show Wild Bill Hickok.

SM: I remember Andy Devine, the guy with the distinct raspy voice. He was a regular cast member on The Roy Rogers Show [too]. Oddly enough, I remember him more than Guy Madison. Devine was a roly-poly fellow and he looked like he belonged in a circus. He had those unmistakable facial features when he made funny faces. Hard to forget him. Of course, there were so many western TV shows on the air back in those days. I did The Roy Rogers Show, Buckskin, Maverick, Gunsmoke, Death Valley Days, Wagon Train, Restless Gun, Shotgun Slade, Tombstone Territory and others.

MB: And any memories of working on The Jack Benny Program?

SM: Not really. My first television experience was The United States Steel Hour which was a live show. That was followed very quickly with work on the Jack Benny show, Milton Berle show, Red Skelton’s show and even a young and not-so-well-known Johnny Carson Hour. On most of these programs I was cast in their Christmas holiday program as part of a group of kids. Sometimes we’d get a few lines here and there, but this was very early in my career.

Johnny Carson was the perfect gentlemen. It was very early in his career and he didn’t have much fame at the time. He was substituting for someone else on a variety show. He was a young guy who had just recently migrated to Los Angeles from Nebraska.

MB: You had a recurring role on one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1950s, The Donna Reed Show.

SM: I was Pee Wee. I was a tiny kid so I guess that was a good character name. I appeared in about a dozen or so episodes. Donna Reed was really wonderful to be around. She treated everyone on the show as an equal. It really was a good family show in that anyone who came on as a supporting cast member felt right at home. I really liked doing that show. In fact, it is probably one of my favorite TV shows to have worked on. Paul Petersen was a couple of years older, so we didn’t have too much in common. But he was still a kid, so we would ride bikes together on the studio lot and things like that. I used to think of Shelley Fabares like others thought of Annette Funicello, you know, every teenage boy’s dream. Both Fabares and Petersen presented themselves like everyday normal kids. They were comfortable to be around.

MB: Paul Petersen seems to have some issues with having been a kid actor.

SM: In those days, lots of child actors dealt with personal issues after their acting careers ended. I guess I was one of the lucky ones. Paul Petersen, however, had some serious problems to overcome. The last I heard, he was back on track and enjoying life.

MB: Your older brother Brad had a very nice acting career of his own and was even a Mouseketeer for a while on the Mickey Mouse Club.

SM: Yes, my brother was a Mouseketeer for about six months. When Disney’s Spin and Marty serial began he was cast in the role of Louie. Henceforth, they removed him from the Mouseketeer line-up.

MB: Were the two of you close?

SM: Very. We really enjoyed reminiscing about our acting days and growing up together. I would have never had the opportunity to become a child actor had it not been for my brother paving the way. Sadly, he passed away in 1997. I miss him very much.

MB: Your late significant other was also an aspiring actress.

SM: Yes, Debbie was an up and coming young talent. She was my soul mate. Her unexpected and untimely passing nearly 20 years ago was a tragedy to all those who knew and loved her.

MB: You went from acting to photography. How did that come about?

SM: Photography had been a hobby of mine since I was a young boy. My father gave me my first real camera when I was about 11. It was a Keystone 35mm Rangefinder. I was self taught. After experimenting with a thousand rolls of film, I was able to learn how to use it. Back then, all cameras operated manually. There were no automatic settings to assist you.

I also got an assist during my hitch in the Air Force. I was a military photographer. After boot camp I spent the majority of my enlistment in the Far East including places like Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan and South Korea. I also saw action in Vietnam. Upon returning to civilian life I freelanced for a while as a commercial photographer in the fashion and glamour industry. Some of my work had been published in a few trade magazines.

MB: How do you keep busy today?

SM: These days I enjoy video production. I have a small independent business, Questar Videoworks, specializing in high end digital cinematography and editing. It started out as a hobby. Additionally, I’ve been an executive recruiter for many years catering to client companies in the entertainment and high technology industries. I enjoy the diversity of the two crafts that I earn a living at.

MB: If you had to narrow it down, what would you consider your most memorable experience?

SM: There have been many. But I’d like to think that the most memorable hasn’t occurred yet.

MB: Do you look back on your acting career with fondness?

SM: Yes, for the most part. Being a child actor during my era was unique. It was both demanding and stressful but has left me with a multitude of fond memories. You know, I got started in show business at such a young age that by the time I was 14 my life had endured more subplots than a Shakespearean farce. Looking back now . . . it was all good.