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Billy Chapin

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The Resume

    (December 28, 1943-December 2, 2016)
    Born in Los Angeles, California
    Birth name is William McClellan Chapin
    Late-1940's/Mid-50's Child Actor
    Brother of Lauren Chapin and Michael Chapin
    Made his stage debut on Broadway's 'Three Wishes For Jamie' (1951-52)
    Acted in 'Affair with a Stranger,' 'The Kid from Left Field,' 'Tobor the Great,' 'Naked Alibi,' 'There's No Business Like Show Business,' 'A Man Called Peter,' 'Violent Saturday,' and 'Tension at Table Rock'
    Best known for portraying John Harper in Charles Laughton's classic horror film, 'Night of the Hunter' (1955)

Why he might be annoying:

    His first role was at several weeks old as a Baby Girl in 'Casanova Brown.'
    He lived in his brother's and - mainly - his sister's shadow (who had a popular following from her role as 'Kitty' on Father Knows Best.).
    He struggled to make a name for himself as a television actor (likely due to the onset of puberty).
    In her autobiography, his sister hinted at his having alcohol problems for years into his 20s and 30s.
    Its not clear specifically as to why he decided to stop acting, but it can't have been encouraging that his first starring vehicle ('Night of the Hunter') flopped critically and commercially.
    There are conflicting reports as to whether or not Charles Laughton had difficulty directing him and co-star Sally Jane during the more demanding 'Hunter' scenes.
    Popular legend has it that Laughton frequently lost his temper and patience with the children to the point that Robert Mitchum had to take over directing duties for the kids (but contemporary sources and footage would seem to debunk this).

Why he might not be annoying:

    His mother was an alcoholic stage parent and his father sexually abused his sister.
    He received the N.Y. Drama Critics Award for Most Promising Young Newcomer for 'Three Wishes for Jamie' (1952).
    By the age of 12, he had attained the professional status of 'acting technician' among his adult peers.
    He had made a strong impression as Dan Dailey's cute-as-a-button 'Diaper Manager' son in the baseball film 'Kid from Left Field.'
    He was selected by Laughton for the coveted 'Hunter' role after a private meeting at his home (he wrote the original author 'what I want is a flexible child, and the boy is exactly that').
    Laughton - for all the rumors of discord - continued to praise his ability after the film's release, praising 'the strength of his innate ability to understand the construction of a scene, its impact and its importance.'
    He had a very promising career as a child actor - and eventual star - that was stunted for unclear reasons.
    One of his last memorable roles was in an episode of Leave it to Beaver as a garbage man's son who becomes friends with Wally & the Beaver ('Grass is Always Greener').
    Actually, based on 'Left Field,' he probably would have been perfect for the part of Lucas McCain's son in The Rifleman (had it only aired 3 - 4 years earlier when he was 'of age').
    With all the acclaim 'Hunter' has since garnered, he's still largely ignored by film historians (the plot completely revolves around him, and his stoic delivery contrasts perfectly with Mitchum's wild theatrics).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

Featured in the following Annoying Collections:

Year In Review:

    In 2021, Out of 7 Votes: 42.86% Annoying
    In 2020, Out of 115 Votes: 43.48% Annoying
    In 2019, Out of 54 Votes: 48.15% Annoying
    In 2018, Out of 2 Votes: 0% Annoying
    In 2017, Out of 6 Votes: 66.67% Annoying
    In 2016, Out of 70 Votes: 75.71% Annoying