Sunday, November 8, 2015

To Absent Friends - Charles Herbert

Well, now it's time for another of those oddball obituaries that may appeal only to me.  This time it is to note the death of actor Charles Herbert, who died of a heart attack in Las Vegas  last week at the age of 66.

Charles Herbert

Charles Herbert Saperstein was a child actor who, according to IMDB, had sixty-six acing credits over a career that spanned 1954 to 1968.  He appeared in TV shows like The Donna Reed Show, Twilight Zone, 77 Sunset Strip, Playhouse 90, My Three Sons, and Wagon Train.  He appeared an a number of feature films and can include co-stars the likes of Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Lucille Ball, Vincent Price, Doris Day, David Niven, Sophia Loren, and Cary Grant.  Pretty good stuff, but now for the bad part.

At his height, young Mr. Herbert was earning $1,600 per week (the equivalent of $13,000 in 2015 dollars), but when adulthood came, he career as an actor was pretty much over.  And as is often the case, Herbert found that for all that he had earned in his young life the only money that was put away for him amounted to about $1,700.  A downward spiral into addiction issues followed.  After battling those demons for most of his adult life, Herbert claimed to be clean and sober since 2004, and he turned to the world of nostalgia and appeared at various Fan Fests, Comic Cons, and SciFi conventions to sustain himself.  He had no family of his own, and was survived only by one brother.

Through the magic of Facebook, I have become Facebook Friends with a couple of former child stars who could be considered contemporaries of Herbert's.  Fortunately, their lives did not follow the pattern of Charles Herbert and so many other child stars.  One of Herbert's former co-stars from both The Donna Reed Show and the feature film "Houseboat", Paul Petersen, runs an organization called A Minor Consideration that provides both financial and emotional support to both present and former child actors who were victimized as Charles Herbert was. 

RIP Charles Herbert.

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