Child of Divorce

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Child of Divorce
VHS cover
Directed byRichard O. Fleischer
Screenplay byLillie Hayward
Based onWednesday's Child
1934 play
by Leopold Atlas
Produced byLillie Hayward
StarringSharyn Moffett
Regis Toomey
Madge Meredith
CinematographyJack MacKenzie
Edited bySamuel E. Beetley
Music byLeigh Harline
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • October 15, 1946 (1946-10-15)
Running time
62 minutes
CountryUnited States

Child of Divorce is a 1946 American drama film directed by Richard O. Fleischer. It was the first film that he directed. RKO had adapted the play to film before as the 1934 film Wednesday's Child.[1][2]

Plot summary[edit]

Young Roberta "Bobby" Carter, only eight years old, catches her mother Joan as she kisses a man who isn't her father in a park. She is especially embarrassed, since her friends are present and recognize her mother.

Bobby's father Ray is away on a business trip, as he so often is, but comes home all of a sudden, bringing a small toy piano as a gift to Bobby. Joan tries to collect enough courage to tell her husband about her affair, but backs out in the last second.

Bobby is bullied for her mother's antics and romantics and ends up asking God to make her parents fall back in love. Unaware of her daughter's discovery, Joan continues to see her lover, Michael Benton.

Soon Ray becomes suspicious because of Joan's frequent absence from their home and asks her about it. Joan confesses that she is seeing another man and that she wants a divorce.

Bobby watches from a hidden position how her parents talk, and how her father slaps her mother in the face. Joan flees the house and is followed by the desperate Bobby. Joan tells her daughter that she is leaving the house and her father immediately and that she is taking Bobby with her. Bobby is crushed.

Months later, Bobby is asked to the stand in her parents' divorce trial, as a witness of her mother's infidelity, but she refuses to leave any information. Her parents divorce and a judge grants Joan custody of Bobby for all year except summer. Later, Joan marries Michael but Bobby refuses to accept Michael as her stepfather.

Michael grows tired of Bobby's behavior and tells Joan that the girl is breaking their marriage apart. When Bobby returns to her father in the summer, she is introduced to his new fiancée, Louise Norman, and gets even more upset.

A psychiatrist tells Joan and Ray that Bobby needs stability and continuity in her life to cope, and strongly suggests that only one of them should have sole custody over her. None of the parents feels up to this task, and instead Bobby is sent away to a boarding school.

Bobby is eventually visited by her parents, one at a time, and one of her schoolmates tells her that she will be used to being alone. To the sound of church bells playing the same tune as on her toy piano, Bobby vows to herself that she will never leave her own children when she grows up, and tuck them to bed every night.[3]




The film was the first feature directed by Richard Fleischer (credited as Richard O. Fleischer), who had directed the This is America documentary series and been signed to a long term contract with RKO. Fleischer says the film was conceived as a vehicle for Sharyn Moffett, "a ten year old actress that the studio hoped would turn into a Shirley Temple or a Margaret O'Brien, a metamorphosis devoutly to be wished. Actually she was a good little actress, better than most of the adults around her. The chrysalis, however, stubbornly refused to turn into a butterfly. She never did fly."[4]

Fleischer was assigned the job in August 1945.[5][6]


According to Fleischer, "the movie turned out remarkably well."[4] He was then assigned to another Moffett vehicle, Banjo, which did less well.


  1. ^ CHILD OF DIVORCE (RKO Radio) Picture Show; London Vol. 51, Iss. 1322, (Aug 23, 1947): 10.
  2. ^ Obituary: Richard Fleischer: Reliable Hollywood director with a penchant for crime thrillers Baxter, Brian. The Guardian 28 Mar 2006: 32.
  3. ^ "Child of Divorce".
  4. ^ a b Fleischer, Richard (1993). Just Tell Me When to Cry: A Memoir. Carroll and Graf. p. 31. ISBN 9780881849448.
  5. ^ Producer Seeks Famous Russians for Musical Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 30 Aug 1945: 9.
  6. ^ Of Local Origin New York Times 7 Sep 1945: 21

External links[edit]