Hamer and Sherry Jackson in 1955
|Born||Russell Craig Hamer
February 15, 1947
Tenafly, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||January 18, 1990
DeRidder, Louisiana, U.S.
|Cause of death||Self-inflicted gunshot wound|
Russell Craig "Rusty" Hamer (February 15, 1947 – January 18, 1990) was an American actor best known for his role as Rusty Williams in the popular ABC/CBS situation comedy The Danny Thomas Show (also known as Make Room for Daddy).
Born in Tenafly, New Jersey, Hamer grew up on television as Rusty Williams, Danny Thomas's freckle-faced son on Make Room for Daddy. The series ran for a total of 351 episodes until its demise in 1964.
After the series ended, Hamer appeared occasionally in bit parts on television shows such as CBS's Green Acres, starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, but roles became increasingly sporadic. Hamer attempted a brief return to show business in 1970 as a married medical student in the ABC series, Make Room for Grandaddy, a sequel of Make Room for Daddy, but the program was canceled after one season. Hamer eventually moved to southwestern Louisiana where he worked on an off-shore oil rig and later as a short order cook.
On January 18, 1990, Hamer died at the age of forty-two of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in DeRidder, the seat of government of Beauregard Parish, Louisiana, where Hamer had relocated in 1976.
The weapon was a .357 Magnum revolver. John Hamer, the actor's brother, explains the tragedy:
He was a very unhappy, very confused young man. No one does something like that if he isn't confused. I've heard of a lot of child actors who have become unhappy with their lives after they've left the industry.
Hamer's suicide raised awareness of the potential mental fragility of child performers and inspired fellow former child actor Paul Petersen, formerly of ABC's The Donna Reed Show, to establish the support group "A Minor Consideration," which seeks to improve working conditions for young actors and assists former child stars in making the transition from past fame to adult life.
|1953||Fort Ti||Jed's Nephew||Uncredited|
|1953 to 1964||Make Room for Daddy||Rusty Williams||323 episodes|
|1954||Four Star Playhouse||Dickie||Episode: "Vote of Confidence"|
|1954||Shower of Stars||Rusty||Episode: "Entertainment on Wheels"|
|1956||Dance with Me, Henry||Duffer|
|1958||The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour||Rusty Williams||Episode: "Lucy Makes Room for Danny"|
|1958||Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse||Rusty Williams||Episode: "Lucy Makes Room for Danny"|
|1958||The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford||Himself||Episode #3.13|
|1961||The Red Skelton Show||Guest drummer||Episode #10.12|
|1965||The Joey Bishop Show||Rusty Williams||3 episodes|
|1967||The Danny Thomas Hour||Rusty||Episode: "Make More Room for Daddy"|
|1969||Green Acres||Alfred||Episode: "Oliver's Schoolgirl Crush"|
|1970 to 1971||Make Room for Granddaddy||Rusty Williams||24 episodes|
- Mossman, Jennifer (2001). Almanac of Famous People: Biographies (7 ed.). Gale Research Co. p. 844. ISBN 0-7876-4793-4.
- Largo, Michael (2007). The Portable Obituary: How the Famous, Rich, and Powerful Really Died. 0-061-23166-5. HarperCollins. p. 121.
- Kubey, Robert William (2004). Creating Television: Conversations With the People Behind 50 Years Of American TV. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. p. 387. ISBN 0-8058-1077-3.
- Associated Press. " Rusty Hamer, Actor, 42", The New York Times, January 20, 1990. Accessed December 17, 2007.
- "Child television star dies in DeRidder", Minden Press-Herald, January 19, 1990, p. 7A
- "In Ten Year's Time". minorcon.org. Retrieved 2009-10-03.