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Chapin in 1977
|Born||Lauren Ann Chapin
May 23, 1945
Los Angeles, California
Lauren Chapin (born May 23, 1945, Los Angeles, California) is an American former child actress, most remembered for her role as the youngest child "Kathy Anderson" (nicknamed "Kitten") in the television show Father Knows Best, which was produced between 1954 and 1960. Chapin was awarded five Junior Emmys for Best Child Actress. Two of her older brothers were also child stars, Billy and Michael Chapin.
Before, during and after Father Knows Best was in its original broadcast run, Chapin had a troubled childhood. Following the series' cancellation in 1960, Chapin later told a reporter in a 1983 interview:
I couldn't get a job. I'd been typecast as Kathy Anderson. The more I didn't work, the more my mother drank and the more belligerent I became. I started running away from home. I became an incorrigible child.
Earlier, in 1981, another newspaper reported, "when acting roles failed to materialize, Chapin found work as a flight attendant, dog groomer, insurance claims examiner, carhop and cocktail waitress."
Chapin married at age 16 and was divorced at 18. (An article published January 2, 1981, in The Washington Post says that she "separated from her husband within two years. They divorced five years later"). She became a drug addict, turned to prostitution to support her habit, and was sent to a psychiatric institution after she attempted suicide. In addition to using drugs, she sold them in San Francisco, California, and was arrested for forging a check in Hollywood, California. She acknowledged, "That was the beginning of several years in and out of jail."
In the early 1980s, Chapin taught natural childbirth and worked for a brokerage firm. In 1989 she co-authored with Andrew Collins the book Father Does Know Best: The Lauren Chapin Story. Currently, she manages singers and actors and performs in a live, interactive version of Father Knows Best for cruise lines, conventions, and other events. She is a licensed and ordained evangelist as well.
- Newcomb, Horace (2004). Encyclopedia of television. CRC Press. pp. 856–. ISBN 978-1-57958-411-5. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
- Lauren Chapin, with Andrew Collins, Father Does Know Best: The Lauren Chapin Story (Nelsonword Publishing Group, 1989)
- "Lauren Chapin climbs back from downfall". Reading Eagle. August 14, 1983. p. 13. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
- McLellan, Dennis (January 2, 1981). "America's Kid Sister". The Washington Post. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
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