Child Stars: Studio Contract

Figure 1.--These are some of the important child stars under contract to Paramount in the 1930s. It's another case of child stars in their normal clothing, posing for a publicity shot unrelated to a movie. The photograph was taken in 1934. The children left to right are Baby Le Roy, Betty Holt, Billy Lee, Virginia Weidler, David Holt, and Lois Kent. Notice that David is wearing an emaculate white sailor suit.

The studios in the Golden Years of Hollywood put their stars under contract rather than sign individual contracts for specific films. Paramount had one the largest and most impressive group of film stars under contract. Paramount stars included Rudolph Valentino, Mae West, W.C. Fields, Mary Pickford, Clra Bow, Gary ooper, William Powell, Cludette Colbert, Alan Ladd, Marlene Dietrich, and many more. Each of the studios had a number of children under contract to play the many child parts required by films. If one of the studio stars wanted to work on a film for another stydio, they would have to get permission from the studio that had their contract. Billy was, for example, loaned out to MGM for a film. This system was dominate in the 1930s, but began to decline after World War II (1941-45).

Individual Studios

Here are the child stars under contract to specific studios.


One of MGM's primary child stars was Scotty Beckett.


Pramount was one of the major Hollywood studios of the 1930s. They made large numbers of films in the era before television. As a result quite a number of children were needed for the child roles. Often the child roles were very small, but having a number of children available was very useful. An early Paramount child star who made silent films was Philippe de Lacey. The child starts that worked with Paramount included: Baby Le Roy, Betty Holt, Billy Lee, Virginia Weidler, David Holt, and Lois Kent. The studio had to run a school for the children and there were many birthday parties.


Republic Studios was a low budget studio known for it's low budget, quick-shoot Westerns and movie serials during the 1930s and 40s. Republic normally churned out one movie per week. There major child star was Sammy McKim.


Bobby Breem who got his start on radio was one of RKO's most important child stars.

Tentieth Century Fox

Fox added English child actor Roddy McDowall to their star roster in 1941.

Child Stars

The boys that appeared in movies, especially during the Golden Age of Hollywood were often smartly dressed, especially for publicity photographs. In some cases, parents and guardians liked to dress them in juvenile fashions so as to prolong their child movie careers. Others were dressed in clothes approapriate for their age. Thus they reflect popular styles for boys from well to do families. Many affluent mothers often dress their clothes in very conservative fashions. Generally speaking the child stars did not wear the more conservative styles. The images depicted here will eventually be the costumes worn in movies, unless they were movies set in contemporary periods. Temprarilly, HBC will use a movie still as most of the available images are from movies. As photographs of these boys in their non-costume roles become available, these will be used as much as possible.


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Created: 12:21 PM 11/20/2004
Last updated: 2:59 AM 1/24/2006