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Paul Peterson — Protector of Child Actors

posted by Nell Minow

Paul Peterson was one of my first celebrity crushes when he appeared on The Donna Reed Show. He was briefly a Mousketeer at age 8 and played Cary Grant’s son (with Sophia Loren as his babysitter) in the affecting romantic comedy Houseboat. But his greatest success in show business was in the classic suburban sitcom with Donna Reed, Shelly Fabares, and Carl Betz.
He had trouble finding work as an actor after the show ended and his difficulties led him to become the leading advocate for child performers, founding the non-profit group A Minor Consideration. He has been an outspoken critic of Hollywood’s exploitive treatment of young actors and has been at the forefront of providing support and guidance for them and their families. Peterson’s decision to file suit on behalf of Nadya Suleman’s children has, along with recent concerns about the Gosselin children, underscored the importance of closing a to a troubling loophole — the very strict rules protecting child actors do not apply to children who appear in “reality” shows. I applaud Peterson for stepping in when child protective services have failed to make sure that Suleman’s eight infants and her older children get the care — and privacy — they need and deserve.



  • jestrfyl

    I remember him well! I had a crush on Ms Fabares and was thrilled to see her in “Coach” many years later – my crush was still functional. Hooray for Mr Peterson and I wish him well. He’ll have quite a legal tangle when it comes to protecting children in unscripted (“reality” has no real role in TV) programs.

  • smalltownmama

    Good for him. Someone needs to be the voice for these children because it is obvious the parents, managers, agents, network are all overtaken with greed all to the exploitation of these babies.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, smalltownmama. Beautifully said.

  • Carol

    Thank you for your input into the Octuplets affairs. Someone had to come forward to protect the interests of these children. The mother seems to be an uninterested party since she gave birth. Very shallow appearing from all the shopping and out and about sans child or children. Grandparents estranged. So thanks again for your interest in these unique children’s lives. None asked to be part of a science experiment but are here and look to be thriving. Keep up the good work……

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    I so appreciate your support, Carol. Many thanks. I hope that the courts will insist on protection for these children and that medical groups will develop standards that will prevent fertility treatments that create these kinds of risks for the mother and the babies.

  • KIDSat RISK-karen Lee

    HAD OCTO-incubator BOUGHT 14 beagles because she was lonely … State & Local laws would NOT allow her to keep them. Rules are in place to PROTECT ANIMALS from harm.
    14 beagles would HAVE TO BE RAISED ON CONSIDERABLE ACREAGE, where ALL would have ROOM to thrive.
    INSTEAD: She’s brought FOURTEEN Sentient HUMAN BEINGS into this world with NO THOUGHT and UTTER DISREGARD for THEIR well being — WHAT THEY NEED TO FLOURISH.
    If this was STAR TREK, entire galaxies would go to WAR — to protect the SENTIENT (conscious) BEINGS.
    It was the PRIMARY DIRECTIVE: Do NOT adversely affect SENTIENT BEINGS; they have inalienable rights to exist & NOT BE HARMED.
    NOTHING can make it RIGHT for these 14 kids. LOVING THEM IS NOT ENOUGH. They must be nurtured; loved without remorse — & be the “center” of their parents’ universe.
    With OCTO-LEACH … they are only a COMMODITY to help HER exist.
    Every earth human has “STANDING” where these 14 sentient beings are concerned.
    CPS: ACT IN THE KIDS’ BEST INTERESTS –BECAUSE OCTO-LEACH NEVER WILL. EVERY adult human being has an obligation to ACT on behalf of those kids; ANIMAL CONTROL certainly would!
    LEGISLATORS: PASS LAWS TO PREVENT THIS NEW FORM OF SLAVERY.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thank you, Karen. I blame the doctors who created this pregnancy. It should be illegal to put the mother’s and babies’ health and even lives at risk with these kinds of fertility treatments. I am hoping that Child Protective Services will take whatever steps are necessary, even extinguishing her parental rights if they must.

  • Sean

    Here is a kid actor who simply was not good enough to make the transistion from child actor, to teen then adult. He simply did not have the talent to make it, his new found “career” is very sad. A watchdog for other child stars? To bad Paul has to live in the past, the prehistoric past at this point. What has this guy done with his life since the Donna Reed Show, that show has to be 35 or 40 years old, get a life buddy!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    I see it differently, Sean. I see it as someone who is spending his life doing good for others based on the experiences he had. I think he’s done much more with his life than many people who have continued to act and far more than most former child actors.

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