Sandy Descher

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Sandy Descher
Phil silvers show 1964.JPG
Ronnie Dapo, Descher, Elena Verdugo and Phil Silvers in a publicity photo from The New Phil Silvers Show (1964).
Born Sandra Descher
(1945-11-30) November 30, 1945 (age 71)
Burbank, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1952-1966
Spouse(s) Donald White

Sandra Descher (born November 30, 1945) is an American former child actress of the 1950s.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Burbank, California, she has a younger brother, Michael. She attended North Hollywood High School.[1] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

In 1954, a news item reported that Descher was "the only long-term contract child in Hollywood," having been signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[2]

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. In 1955, she was in The Prodigal with Lana Turner. Then she played Gregory Peck's ten-year-old daughter in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.[citation needed]

In 1956, she played June Allyson's daughter Debbie in The Opposite Sex, a musical remake of The Women (1939). She appeared in another movie with Van Johnson that year, The Bottom of the Bottle (1956). Around this time she guest starred with Ann Doran in the western series My Friend Flicka, and on the Cold War drama series, Crusader.

Her last movie, at the age of 12, was the cult favorite Space Children (1958), wearing, to her embarrassment, a bathing suit. In 1959, she appeared in the episode "Dark Morning" of CBS's anthology series, The DuPont Show with June Allyson. She guest starred on The Real McCoys. In 1961, she appeared in the first season of My Three Sons, as Elizabeth Martin, a love interest for Robbie Douglas (Don Grady) in episode 22, "The Musician," and in 1964 again as Robbie's love interest in season five as Marjorie in episode 13 "You're in My Power."[citation needed]

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 (1962–63).[3] She played Susanna in The Donna Reed Show,[3] and 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 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.[4] Her final television role was in 1966 when she appeared on Perry Mason as Sherry Lawler in "The Case of the Avenging Angel".[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sandy Descher Has Been Busy". Lewiston Evening Journal. April 13, 1963. p. 4-A. Retrieved 12 August 2016. 
  2. ^ "Child Actress Under Long Term Contract". The News-Chronicle. Pennsylvania, Shippensburg. November 30, 1954. p. 4. Retrieved August 11, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  3. ^ a b Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7. P. 276.
  4. ^ Alex McNeil, Total Television, New York: Penguin Books, 1996, 4th ed., p. 598

Sources[edit]

  • 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, NC/London: McFarland. pp. 41–57. ISBN 0-7864-0701-8. 
  • Best, Marc. Those Endearing Young Charms: Child Performers of the Screen (South Brunswick and New York: Barnes & Co., 1971), pp. 68-73.

External links[edit]