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Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins

Jackie Butch Jenkins
from the trailer for the film The Human Comedy (1943).
Personal information
Birth nameJack Dudley Jenkins
Birth dateAugust 29, 1937
Place of birthLos Angeles, California, USA
Date of deathAugust 14, 2001, age 63
Death placeAsheville, North Carolina, USA

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Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins (August 29, 1937 - August 14, 2001) was an American child actor, who had a brief film career during the 1940s.

Born Jack Dudley Jenkins in Los Angeles, California, the son of actress Doris Dudley, Jenkins made his film debut at the age of six in The Human Comedy (1943) as Jack Jenkins after an MGM talent scout saw him playing on a Santa Monica beach and admired his high spirits. His performance as Mickey Rooney's younger brother (The Human Comedy) was well received and Jenkins was cast in a succession of films.

He was given star billing for the 1946 film, Boy's Ranch. Inspired by the real-life ranch in Texas, which provided a home and education to underprivileged boys, MGM promoted the film as a successor to Boy's Town (1936). It co-starred James Craig who also appeared in Jenkins' next film Little Mr. Jim. Jenkins' other films included National Velvet (1944), Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945), The Bride Goes Wild (1948) and his final film Big City (1948).

Jenkins was one of several popular child actors at MGM during the early 1940s, and was educated at the studio's school along with other youngsters under contract to the studio such as Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret O'Brien, Claude Jarman Jr. and Darryl Hickman. He was regarded as a "scene-stealer" and was notable among the studio's child stars for not being conventionally "cute". He was described by film writers Sol Chaneles and Albert Wolsky as "an audience favourite as an all-American boy [with a] space between his teeth, freckles and a tousled mop of hair - a marked contrast to the pretty children who usually appeared on screen." Pauline Kael wrote approvingly of his effectiveness as a performer, saying that his appearance as a five year old who enjoys waving at trains in The Human Comedy helped elevate the film, while his performance in National Velvet made him "the little brother of everyone's dreams".

He retired from acting at the age of eleven, after he developed a stutter, and as an adult recalled his film career fondly but without regret; he said that he had not particularly enjoyed acting and had never expected to make a career of it.

He established a successful career away from showbusiness and lived for many years in Texas. He died in Asheville, North Carolina.


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