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Donald Thompson

Donald Thompson

American child actor
Donald Thompson
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American child actor
Is Child actor Actor
From United States of America
Type Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
The details

Biography

Donald Thompson is a former American child actor known for his appearance as "Donald Peters" in Sidney Meyers' 1948 documentary The Quiet One. 

The Quiet One was the only movie in which Thompson appeared. He was not a professional actor and the documentary was shot after school and on the weekends because his father would not allow him to miss school to shoot for the film.

The Quiet One

For a long time, due to prejudice and racial segregation, African American actors and actresses were offered only strongly stereotyped roles. This also applied to child actors, employed exclusively as servants or in comic or musical interludes. Only in the very particular context of The Little Rascals (Hal Roach's Rascals series), between 1922 and 1944, few African American child actors — such as Ernie MorrisonEugene JacksonAllen HoskinsMatthew Beard, and Billie Thomas — were able to emerge with the prestige of co-stars.

In the new climate following the end of the Second World War, the African American community began to openly rebel against this stereotypical view. The first Disney film to involve an African-American child actor, Song of the South with Glenn Leedy(1946), was the subject of bitter controversy for promoting a sweetened and patronizing image of interracial relationships. 

In 1948, director Sidney Meyers showed that a different path is possible by calling a non-professional child actor, Donald Thompson, to play the lead role of a child in his neo-realist-inspired documentary film The Quiet One.

The film was narrated by Gary Merrill and the still photographer Helen Levitt was one of the film's cinematographers and writers, along with the painter Janice Loeb. The neoclassical composer Ulysses Kay wrote the score for the film. The film's principal cinematographer, Richard Bagley, also photographed the critically acclaimed New York semidocumentary feature On the Bowery.

For the film, Meyers won the "International Award" at the 1949 Venice Film Festival. It was also nominated for "Best Documentary, Features" at the 1949 Oscars and "Best Writing, Story and Screenplay" at the 1950 Oscars.

Other stars of the documentary include Estelle EvansClarence Cooper, Paul Baucum, and Sadie Stockton. The film was shot during the summer when Thompson lived at Wiltwyck, New York. Cooper, who played the counselor in the documentary was an actual counselor at a school in Wiltwyck, and Baucum, who portrayed the stepfather, was a Wiltwyck musician. The only two professional actors in the film were Estelle Evans and Sadie Stockton.

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Article Title: Donald Thompson: American child actor - Biography and Life
Author(s): PeoplePill.com Editorial Staff
Website Title: PeoplePill
Publisher: PeoplePill
Article URL: https://peoplepill.com/people/donald-thompson-2/
Publish Date: 14 Sep 2020
Date Accessed: 20 Oct 2020
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References
https://web.archive.org/web/20200915053240/https://www.nytimes.com/1949/02/14/archives/the-quiet-one-documentary-of-a-rejected-boy-arrives-at-the-little.html
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