November 30, 1945
Life and career
Although born in Burbank, California, she was discovered by accident while on vacation. When Descher was about five years old, her family had travelled across country to New York City where the girl fell in love with the theater after seeing The Red Shoes ballet on Broadway. On the way home, they stopped at Jackson Hole, Wyoming where coincidentally a film was being shot. The director saw her, and needing a child for the film, approached her parents. However, as they had to return home, they contacted the director later. Within six months, Sandy appeared in her first movie, It Grows on Trees, which was released in 1952.
Next she appeared in a brief, but key role in the classic science-fiction film, Them! (1954). She played a catatonic child whose parents have been killed by gigantic ants. Unable to speak, she can only scream "Them", giving the film its title. The movie's cast included Edmund Gwenn, James Arness and James Whitmore.
That same year, she appeared in her favorite film, The Last Time I Saw Paris. Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's famous short story Babylon Revisited, she played Vicky, the daughter of Van Johnson and Elizabeth Taylor. After her mother dies, Vicky is adopted by her mother's sister, played by Donna Reed. The movie called on her to speak French and to dance ballet. In 1954, she also played a crippled child in a Martin and Lewis film.
Then in 1955 she was in The Prodigal with Lana Turner and then played Gregory Peck's ten-year-old daughter in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. She also played Susan Walker in The 20th Century-Fox Hour remake of the 1947 film classic, Miracle on 34th Street, opposite Teresa Wright, who played her mother Doris, and Thomas Mitchell, who played Kris Kringle.
In 1956, she played June Allyson's daughter Debbie in The Opposite Sex, a musical remake of The Women (1939). She also, at Van Johnson's request, appeared in another movie with him that year, The Bottom of the Bottle (1956). About this time she guest starred with Ann Doran in the CBS western series My Friend Flicka, set on a ranch in Wyoming, and on the CBS Cold War drama, Crusader, the first Brian Keith series.
Her last movie at the age of twelve was the cult favorite Space Children (1958), wearing, to her embarrassment, a bathing suit. In 1959, she appeared with Bette Davis and Leif Erickson in the episode Dark Morning of CBS's anthology series, The DuPont Show with June Allyson. She guest starred on the ABC sitcom, The Real McCoys, starring Walter Brennan. In 1961, she appeared in the first season of another ABC sitcom, My Three Sons, as Elizabeth Martin, a love interest for Robbie Douglas (Don Grady) in the episode the "The Musician." Descher also appeared in a recurring role as Judy Massey, a daughter of the Loretta Young character, Christine Massey, in the CBS family drama, The New Loretta Young Show (1962–1963), with co-stars Beverly Washburn, Carol Sydes, Dirk Rambo, and Dack Rambo.
From February to June 1964, Descher was cast as Susan, the daughter of Elena Verdugo's character of Audrey, in CBS's sitcom The New Phil Silvers Show. This program was an unsuccessful attempt by Phil Silvers to return to weekly television in a revised form of his former The Phil Silvers Show, formerly known as You'll Never Get Rich. Ronnie Dapo appeared as Descher's younger brother, Andy. Her final television role was in 1966 when she appeared on Perry Mason as Sherry Lawler in "The Case of the Avenging Angel."
Her memories of her acting years are almost all pleasant, except she did receive a number of kidnapping threats. She was even interviewed by the F.B.I. after one obsessed woman stalker became convinced she was her long-lost daughter.
- Alex McNeil, Total Television, New York: Penguin Books, 1996, 4th ed., p. 598
||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2007)|
- Parla, Paul; Charles P. Mitchell (2000). "Sandy Descher: Child Star and Space Child". Screen Sirens Scream! Interviews with 20 Actresses from Science Fiction, Horror, Film Noir and Mystery Movies, 1930s to 1960s. Jefferson, N.C. and London: McFarland. pp. 41–57. ISBN 0-7864-0701-8.