Freddie Bartholomew Overview:

Legendary actor, Freddie Bartholomew, was born Frederick Cecil Bartholomew on Mar 28, 1924 in London, England. Bartholomew died at the age of 67 on Jan 23, 1992 in Sarasota, FL and was cremated and his ashes given to family or friend.

Early Life and Career

Frederick Cecil Bartholomew was born on March 28th, 1924 in Willesden, Middlesex, London, England. His father, Cecil, was a World War I veteran who worked as a miner bureaucrat following the war while his mother, Lilian, remained home. Unfortunately for the young Bartholomew, his parent proved quite disinterested in raising a child and abandoned him quickly after his birth. He was first sent to live with his paternal grandparents for a short time before being send to his aunt "Cissie", Millicent Mary Bartholomew. Cissie proved more than willing to take care of the child, raising little Freddie as her own and effectively becoming his surrogate mother. It was only when Bartholomew hit it big did his estranged parents try to claim custody on the child actor.

Under the care of his aunt, Bartholomew received his earliest education at Lord Weymouth's Grammar School in Warminster. It was there that aunt Cissie discovered her nephew's talent for the arts when, at age three, he already began performing. By age five the talented young Bartholomew was already a local attraction with the ability to recite poems, prose and even selections from Shakespeare - earning him the unofficial title of the "boy wonder elocutionist." At the age of five Freddie made his film debut in the short Toyland and followed that with three more British titles, Fascination, Lily Christine, and Strip! Strip! Hooray!!! Or (Fun with the Sunbathers) over the next two years. During this time he also enrolled Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London where he furthered his studies into acting. He was eventually spotted by George Cukor and David O. Selznick who took quick notice of Bartholomew while talent scouting in London. They offered the young actor a seven-year contract and soon after Freddie and his aunt headed west for the states.


Upon his arrival in Hollywood, Bartholomew was cast as the titular character in David Copperfield, opposite Basil Rathbone, Maureen O'Sullivan, Lionel Barrymore and W.C Fields. The film was great critical and commercial success, earning almost two million at the box office. Critics praised the young Bartholomew's performance and professed their amazement at the level of sophistication a nine-year-old child could bring to the classic literary role. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Editing and Best Picture. The success of the film helped Bartholomew career bud overnight, with Freddie reaching instant stardom. For the next few years Freddie would reign as the child prince of Hollywood, acting in some of the most popular films of the mid-1930s.

In 1935 he once again worked with Maureen O'Sullivan and Basil Rathbone in the historical romance Anna Karenina as Sergei. The next year he starred in yet another historical drama, this time as Ceddie in the big screen adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett novel Little Lord Fauntleroy. In the film Bartholomew starred as the American boy who is discovered to be the long lost heir of a British fortune. The film was hit, making a profit of $447,000 at the box office - the largest profit made by Selznick International Pictures' until Gone With the Wind three years later. That year he also graced the screen with two more movie appearances in The Devil is a Sissy and Llyod's of London. In 1937 he starred in his most popular and now signature role as Harvey in Captains Courageous. In the film Bartholomew plays an over-privileged, spoiled son of an absentee father, who ends up going overboard on an ocean liner. He is then saved by a fishing boat leaving the coast for the season and thus must learn to live, work, and survive with fisherman while adapting to the world he's never known. The film was major hit, earning over three million at the box office and gaining four Academy Awards. Although the young Bartholomew was not nominated, critics everywhere agreed that young star brought a maturity and professionalism to the role equal to that of his co-stars Spencer Tracey, Lionel Barrymore, and Melvyn Douglas. At this point in his career, Bartholomew's naturalistic acting skills, angelic face and strong onscreen presence made him the second highest paid child star in the business, trailing only Shirley Temple. Unfortunately, however, his past would come back and all of that would change.

Legal Woes and WWII

By 1937 Bartholomew reached the peak of career and only then did his long-estranged parents came out the woodworks, attempting to gain custody over him to gain control over his fortune. Bartholomew then entered a seven-year legal with his parents. Thanks to the high financial cost of Bartholomew's legal battles, his Aunt Cissie requested a pay raise from MGM. Leveraging Bartholomew's success, she threatened to leave MGM for the highest bidder. The legal lasted a year, keeping Bartholomew out of work. Because of this he lost a few prestigious roles in films Kim and Throughbred. He returned to the screen in 1938 with the Twentieth Century Fox's Kidnapped. He returned to MGM to star with Mickey Rooney in the film Lord Jeff and A Yank at Eton. He next teamed with Judy Garland and Mary Astor in Listen, Darling. In 1939 he starred with fellow child star Jackie Cooper twice in The Spirit of Culver and Two Bright Boys. The next he starred in the big screen adaptation as Jack Robinson in Swiss Family Robinson.

He continued acting in the early 1940s with films like Tom Brown's School and Junior Army. He took a hiatus from acting in 1943 when at the age of 18, Bartholomew enlisted in the United States Army Air Force. During his time in service he worked as aircraft maintenance. He was eventually injured during training, resulting in a seven-month hospital stay. He was eventually discharged on January 12th, 1944.

Later Career and Life

After his discharge from the army, Bartholomew returned to acting with the film the low budget comedy The Town Went Wild opposite Jimmy Lydon, and Edward Everett Horton. The film was fairly forgettable and Bartholomew would not be seen on the big screen again for three years. During his time away from the big screen he attempted to resurrect his career on the stage, unsuccessful acting regional theaters and vaudeville circuit. He returned to the big screen with a small role in the otherwise all black musical Sepia Cinderella. The cameo would be his final big screen performance. Bartholomew continued act in small theatres for the rest of decade, eventually touring in Australia.

By the 1950s Bartholomew had moved behind the camera and began working on the growing medium of television. He began working under a new professional name, Fred C. Bartholomew and began working at WPIX as a television director.  By the mid1950s he become a directing producer at the advertising agency Benton and Bowles, working on shows such as The Andy Griffith Show, As the World Turns, and Search for Tomorrow. He continued to work behind the camera in to the late 1980s, until illness forced him to retire. Freddie Bartholomew died in January 23, 1922. He was 67 years old.

(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).



He was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. Freddie Bartholomew's handprints and footprints were 'set in stone' at Grauman's Chinese Theater during imprint ceremony #29 on Apr 4, 1936. Bartholomew was never nominated for an Academy Award.

BlogHub Articles:

Wednesday's Child: (1)

By Beth Daniels on Feb 19, 2014 From Mildred's Fatburgers

Frederick Cecil Bartholomew: March 28, 1924 - January 23, 1992 Biography : Complete Biography of the 1930′s MGM Child StarBy Cliff Aliperti, 8/18/2012, If Harry Potter Were a Hufflepuff I mean no disrespect to Hufflepuff or Freddie Barth... Read full article

Wednesday's Child: (2)

By Beth Daniels on Feb 19, 2014 From Mildred's Fatburgers

Frederick Cecil Bartholomew: March 28, 1924 - January 23, 1992 Biography : Complete Biography of the 1930′s MGM Child StarBy Cliff Aliperti, 8/18/2012, If Harry Potter Were a Hufflepuff I mean no disrespect to Hufflepuff or Freddie Barth... Read full article

2012 tcm SUTS Blogathon Day 18:

By ScribeHard on Aug 18, 2012 From ScribeHard on Film

Knock knock. ?Who’s there? ?. ? who? Exactly. If you are unfamiliar with the child actor’s oeuvre, here are some bloggers to help you along! Joel Williams leads off with Freddie in?Captains Courageous and his thoughts on?When Men Cry at the Movies. ... Read full article

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By Jill Blake on Aug 18, 2012 From Sittin' on a Backyard Fence

The Summer Under the Stars spotlight is on the great child actor, . If you aren’t familiar with his films, today is your chance!... Read full article

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Freddie Bartholomew Quotes:

Barkis: No sweethearts I believe?
David Copperfield as a child: What?
Barkis: No person courting?
David Copperfield as a child: Oh. No, no.
Barkis: Ahhh. Well, when you is talking to her private, perhaps you'd tell her that Barkis is willing.
David Copperfield as a child: That Barkis is willing. Is that all the message?
Barkis: Well, y... y... yes. Barkis is willing.
David Copperfield as a child: Very well, Mr Barkis. I'll tell her.

read more quotes from Freddie Bartholomew...

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Freddie Bartholomew on the
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Freddie Bartholomew Facts
He was considered for the dual roles of Prince Edward and Tom Canty in The Prince and the Pauper (1937).

British-American child actor of the 1930s.

Retired in the 1980s due to emphysema.

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