Movies Depicting Fauntleroy Suits: Ricky Schroeder

Figure 1.--Ricky Schroder's portral of Little Lord Fauntleroy was one of the better costumed versions. He wore a moderate collar, but it was lace rather than a white ruffled collar. Here he is pictured with his grandfather.

The British 1980 version of Little Lord Fauntleroy staring Ricky Schroeder is probably the best costume version up to the time. There was even an attempt to have a somewhat accurate hair style which certainly was not the casevin the Freddy Bartholomew version. Alec Guinness played his grandfather. All in all, it was an excellent TV remake of the 1936 classic film about the impoverished New York boy who inherits an enormous estate. The superb photography won an Emmy Award.


I do not yet have information on the making of this version of Little Lord Fauntleroy. Some films of course are first conceived and the producers and directors then go looking for the actors. Other folms are conceived as vehicles for stars. This may have been the case for this version of Little Lord Fauntleroy. Boys in the 1920s-60s had short hair and established child stars, like Freddy Bartholmeu, would probably have objected to wearing ringlet curls or even uncurled long hair. In addition, this might not have been inkeeping with the somewhat surprising, but consistent desire of many directors to "desissify" Cedric in the film. Popular hair styles changed in the 1970s and many boys were now wearing long hair. Ricky Schroder had bangs and longish hair and it was thus not much of a streach to have him grow it a big longer, making him the perfect selection for the role of Cedric.

Ricky received generally good reviews for his performance. One reviewer wrote that "... he's a natural--boyish, engaging and almost believeable." Other reviewers were ctitical. Another commented that he made an appealing Little Lord Fauntleroy. Not all the critics, however, were so complimentary. One wrote:

Little Lord Fauntleroy was never much to begin with, but Freddy Bartholomew, the child stars of the 30s, certainly stood head and shoulders above icky Ricky Schroeder (of The Champ, another remake), who plays the hero of the new CBS version. Schroeder is one of those Tinsel Town tikes who would bring out the misenthrope in anybody. In pageboy blond tresses, and twinkling to beat the band, he looks a lot like a young Doris Day.

Figure 2.--This is another image from the Ricky Schroeder's portrayal of Little Lord Fauntleroy. He wore kneepants and long black stockings.

Ricky Schroeder

Ricky Scroeder, the American boy who played Cedric Erol (Little Lord Fauntleroy) had quite a career both in movies and televison. HBC has developed information on Ricky's career, the roles and costuming in other movies and television hows. Ricky was the sweet little blond boy who first drew everyone's attention in the remake of "The Champ" (1979). Many of his subsequent movies were disappointiong. They were laregely set in contemprary times with geneally poor or at best mediocre scripts. These films along with his TV show give a good idea of the clothes and hair styles worn bu American boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The one exception was, of course, was the flawed but still quite good remake of Little Lord Fauntleroy.


This version of Lottkle Lord Fauntleroy was generally well costumed. These did not seek like in the Freddy Bartholomew version to put Cedric in clothing that Mrs. Burnett would have considered wholly unsuitable. Rather Ricky as Cedric Erol wears velvet suits with lace collars just like in Birch's Little Lord Fauntleroy drawings.

Cedric's Fauntleroy suit

Cedric's velvet suit is a dark blue and the costuming is relatively accurate. The suit looks black in these images, but I believe it was actually a very dark blue. He wears a large, but not a typically enormous lace collar. It has several classic features, including matching sleeve wrist lace and a silk sash. The suit is not, however, like the classic Fauntleroy suit which had a small jacket worn open to reveal a elaborately filled blouse with lace trim and ruffles.

Figure 3.--Cedric also wore sailor suits in the Ricky Schroeder version of the classic story. His middy blouse, however, was not exactly the classic style. Sailor suits were one of the the other popular style for boys in the late 19th Century. Click on the image for a better view of the sailor suit.

Sailor Suit

Cedric also wore a silor suit. His was a blue stripped, summer sailor suit (figure 3). The middy blouse on his sailor suit was not the classic "V" front, but not all sailor suits had the classic styling. We have seen many images from the late 19th century with sailor suits styled like the one worn by Cedric in this production. The "V" collar was the most common, but there were many other styles employed in boy's clothing. The suit worn by Cedric here does have the classoc three white stripes. He wore a plain white dickey except for the blue neckband.

Other outfits

Cedric wore several other outfits in the film. He wore a tweed Norfolk suit in several scenes. His tweedy Norfolk knicker suit was commonly wiorn by boys.

Costume Conventions

I an a little unsure about the conventions involved with the other clothes involved in Cedric's other outfits. I know from the literature of the day that a boy might wear a sailorsuit for everday wear, but have a Fauntleroy suit for his part suit. I am not positive that he would have has a Norfolk suit. That might have been an outfit for an older boy. The Birch drawings illustrating Mrs. Burnett's first edition of Little Lord Fauntleroy does show Cedric in a riding habit, but this was not quite like the Norfolk-style suit Cedric wears in the Ricky Schroeder film.

Cedric's Opinion

There is no indication in Mrs. Burnett's book that Cedric disliked his outfits. Certainly Mrs. Burnett who was enamored of these fancy velvet suits would not have written any such criticism. The movie versions, however, often change the costuming or have scenes to demonstrate that Little Lord Fauntleroy is no sissy. There is one interesting scene in the Rickey Schroeder version where his mother holds up the suit which she is sewing and exclaims how much Ceddie is going to dislike it.

Figure 4.--The lace collar worn by Ricky was sewn onto the jacket rather than part of the blouse. I'm not sure about the matching wrist trim. Note how his hair was parted.

Hair Style

Cedric has long hair blond hair in Mrs. Burnett's famous book. There is, however, very little reference to his hair in the book. Much of the popular conception of appropriate hair styles came from the Reginald Birch drawings that illustrated the original editions of Mrs. Burnett's book. He showed Cedric with long hair--but not ringlets. Many boys, especially Amercan boys, did wear ringlets with their Little Lord Fauntleroy suits, but a majority of boys wore a variety of short hair styles. In fact, Ricky's hair in the film was longr than was the hair of most late-19th cenyury boys who wore Fauntleroy suits--except for thois boys who did wear ringlets. Ricky did not wear ringlet curls, but this version up to the time I know of that has Cedric in such long hair--of course excluding the Mary Pickford version. His hair was similar to the bangs style he had been wearing, but he apparently let it grow out to shoot the film. He did not normally wear waer his hair that long. The hair style, however, is less accurate than his suit. It is a bangs cut with hair down almost to the shoulders. I have seen few 19th century boys wearing anything like that with a Fauntleroy suit. Now at the turn of th cntury it was a popular hair style with Buster Brown tunic suits. I'm not sure what Ricky thought of his hair style. Presumably Ricky he wouldn't have put up with ringlet curls.

Ricky's Attitude

Ricky was an establish child star at the time he made the movie. I think he was about 10 years old. I'm not sure what he thought about the idea of making Little Lord Fauntleroy or indeed if he had ever heard of the book before. I do recall several years later on his television show Silver Spoons that he objected to the idea of wearing lederhosen. You would think that at 10, he would have been a bit dubious about some of his Little Lord Fauntleroy costumes.

Figure 5.--Ricky wore a black wide-brimmed hat with his Fauntleroy suit. I think this was more of a British than American style. I don't remember seeing pictures of American boys with such hats. Click on the image for a better view of the hat.

Reader Comments

I greatly prefer the Ricky Schroeder version of Little Lord Fauntleroy over the Freddie Bartholemew one, because the original book (which I read at age 11) was about an American boy! Cedric Errol would not have had a British accent! So for that reason I never could "buy" Bartholemew in the role. Also.... Schroeder conveyed, far more convincingly than Bartholemew, the "manly" attributes so emphsized by the author. You can dress him up in all the lace collars you want, and he's still a "manly" little boy, whereas I'm afraid Bartholemew was a bit on the "pretty" side even without the long hair. Just my opinion. -- Meg

I've seen the 1980 version of Little Lord Fauntleroy and the costuming was spot on except Cedric should have had ringlet curls. If the period portrayed really had little or older boys wearing ringlet curls I can't for the life of me understand why the can't get it right in period dramas maybe HBC should consult these film makers concerning correct clothing styles. There are many films that are soy on cncerning period costuming, like Fanny and Alexander. Ricky could have worn a wing with ringlet curls or he could have had it done by any true professional hair stylist. If the wouldbe Cedric is to be played spot in a future flick then the boy should sign a contract saying he has to wear and have his appearance changed or hairstyled how the producer wants it. If the boy won't do it then don't give the job to him. Gosh they are trying to create the correct period and correct clothing worn in the period then suffer you will because it is annoying to see the wrong type of clobber in a film like this. -- Pat

Later Career

Ricky must have enjoyed is boyhood film and television career. Unlike some child stars he stayed a away from drugs and other problems. He has established a career as an adult actor. Dropping the "y", he is now known as Rick Schroeder. He's been in some interesting movies along the way. The most notable was the TV-miniseries, Lonesome Dove. In another film, Too Young the Hero, he wears a sailor suit again--this time as a sailor. One of his more recent films was a made for TV movie, A Son's Promise. His most high-profile adult role has ben the TV series, NYPD Blue, in which he proved very popular. He left, however, as he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: April 17, 1999
Last updated: November 6, 2002