In The Boy With
Green Hair, Hollywood Has Turned Out A Really Stirring Antiwar Picture. The Star Is 12-year-old Dean Stockwell, And He's
For reasons probably best known to our
psychiatrist, we've never quite been able to look a child actor squarely in
the eye. There he is on the screen, trying hard to get through to Grumpy Old
Us, and there we sit concentrating on some spot on the brat's forehead,
wondering if when he grows up he'll
have more wives than Mickey Rooney. Boy actors have a way of acting too manly; and Junior Bernhardts with dyed permanents
are always being sued by their parents for
non-support. Often we get an urge to spank
them on their little fat egotisms.
This doesn't go with young Dean Stockwell,
though. After watching his haunting, competent job as The Boy With Green
Hair, a touching realistico-fantasy about a one-boy crusade for world peace,
we dub the lad: Hamlet, Jr. We believe he's twelve, as he says.
Possibly it's the Stockwell home influence.
Dean was born in North Hollywood on March 5, 1936, of theatre folks, and
practically brought up backstage.
However, Mama Betty Veronica Stockwell, a former George White's Scandals gal, has raised Dean and his older brother Guy from
a small-town viewpoint. She wants them
to be just two other kids in the neighbourhood.
When traces of hambone appear in her young genius, she showers him with psychological vegetables.
When he was seven, Dean debuted on the stage
in a Theatre Guild flop. After
some radio, Dean wound up in Hollywood in Anchors Aweigh, making only the infant bobby-soxers squeal.
But from there on it's been a breeze. Possibly
you caught Dean in Gentleman's Agreement, among others. Dean's now about four
ten, weighs 70, has brown
hair and eyes, and a serious, sensitive face.
Despite a tendency toward moving into the
upper brackets, the Stockwell’s cling to
a five-room bungalow in Culver City, hard by the M-G-M studios.
M-G-M owns Dean's contract. Dean attends the
M-G-M studio school. He's a 90 student.
We are also informed, reliably, that inside
the home Dean is like any other boy. He hangs his clothes on the floor; has
drawerfulls of boyhood treasures, pieces
of string, hunks of metal, marbles, and yoyos that whistle.
Three movies a week satisfy Dean, so long as
they're Westerns and whodunits. When he isn't wrestling with brother Guy,
playing ball, or being left half on the neighbourhood Tigers, Dean will
engage you in fact-crammed gab on such topics as sports, movies and politics.
Like many others, he thought it would be Dewey.
Though he'd like to make a career of flying,
he's more likely to put it this way: "Gee, Mr. Phillips, I've given it a
lot of thought, but I don't know if I want to be an actor all my life. I know
one thing for sure. I want to go to college and play football."
Now that he's twelve, Dean has discovered
Girls. From time to time there is a sound of revelry by night issuing from the
modest Stockwell living room. Dean's pretty serious about his polka. Later
he'll speak casually of the tall fat girl, the small fat girl, and of Joyce.
Joyce is a blue-eyed blonde who lives near
by. We hope we're violating no confidences when we add she's about Dean's
age, and has what he points out as a
"very pleasing personality."
Dean likes to play the drums (to the
neighbourhood’s unhappiness), and there are
two Stockwell dogs: Thug, a cocker, and Thief, a dachsie.
Such being his talents and home life, it was a
dead-beat cinch for Dean to be
tapped as The Boy With Green Hair.
Here's how the story goes: The police in a
small town pick up a sullen, mute runaway boy with a completely shaved head.
The lad refuses to identify himself until a police psychiatrist wins his
confidence. Then he reluctantly
tells his story.
The boy's parents had gone to England years
before and he'd been shuttled from
relative to relative. Finally he had come to live with Gramps, an old circus
performer, now and a singing waiter. Pat O'Brien, the Irish Gable, plays Gramps.
With Gramps, the boy begins to feel the first
security he has known in his pushed-around life. He becomes an un-scared,
One day, however, he overhears some women
talking about a new war. This upsets
him very much.
Later, during a clothing drive his school is
putting on for war orphans, the boy accidentally learns that he, too, is a
war orphan. His parents were killed in a
The next morning he wakes up to find that his
hair has turned a brilliant green. At first he thinks it is one of Gramps'
sleight-of-hand tricks and he's pleased. But
soon he finds that Gramps is
disturbed, too, as is the town doctor, who can't explain the phenomenon. The townies begin to stare; and the other kids won't
play with him.
His security vanishes - and he runs away.
Stumbling into oblivion, he unexpectedly comes on a clearing in the woods,
and there stands a pathetic group of battered war orphans - miraculously come
to life just as they appeared on the posters used in the school drive. One of
them explains why Peter's hair had turned green: "We did it, Peter, so
it would attract attention. Go back, and when anyone asks you about your
hair, say that war is bad for children and it
Peter goes back -- and what happens then makes
up into as moving and unusual a
preachment as we've ever seen. Not once does it get preachy, however. The scriptists have concealed their message in everyday
terms. They've also included some useful tips
on how to raise children. On his first
night with Gramps, young Peter reveals he's afraid to sleep in the
dark. "Lad," says O'Brien,
"there's nothing in the dark that wasn't there when the light was on." Pete believes him -- but sleeps
with a baseball bat alongside the bed,
nevertheless, for insurance.
Playing the out-of-date mush-hearted ham, Pat
O'Brien gives the performance of his life. But it is to young Stockwell that
the picture goes. After their first scene together, in which Stockwell did
what was asked of him in an effortless way, O'Brien cried tragically:
"I'm sunk. The kid's murder -- he'll steal every scene."
The only false note is the green wig worn by
Dean. The Boy With Green Hair
should be flashed on every screen in the world -- including the Iron Curtain!