Forties child star Margaret O'Brien, now 84, was one of the little queens of MGM, a big draw who appeared in such hits as Journey for Margaret (1942), Thousands Cheer (1943) and Jane Eyre (1943).
Her most famous role wound up being as Tootie Smith in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), an all-time classic, and one that allowed her to show off her acting abilities to such great effect that she was presented with a special juvenile Oscar ... which was promptly lost.
Now, she tells Fox News of that period:
"We had a maid at the time and she had taken it to her house to polish. Well, somehow she disappeared. I don’t know what happened, but my mother knew. For years, I’ve always dreamed of finding that Oscar again. I always look wherever I could. I never gave up on hope."
Luck was on her side, if a bit slow in coming. In the '90s, the maid died and her family sold her belongings, including the strange little Oscar, which they assumed was a novelty. An auction house realized it was legit, but before they could sell it for tens of thousands of dollars (it would be worth more today), the Academy intervened and insisted it be returned, which it was.
"I’m one of the few people that was represented with the same Oscar twice! The Academy gave me a little ceremony."
O'Brien's charming story reminded me of the following outstanding meet-up between O'Brien, Jane Withers (about to turn 95), Darryl Hickman (90 this summer) and the late Dickie Moore (1925-2015), a truly unique document of their experiences as consequential child actors of the '20s-'40s. Don't miss this if you've never seen it:
How wonderful that 15 years later, we still have three of them from that clip!
O'Brien is still very active — she attends autograph shows and acts, including in the upcoming film Love Is in Bel Air, co-starring 44-year-old TV star Joey Lawrence ... himself a famous former child star!