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Friday, April 10, 2015

A Portrait of the Child Star As a Young Man (Part Two of Harlen Carraher Interview)

As Part One of this two-part post on an interview with former child star Harlen Carraher of the Unreal TV reviewed '60s fantasycom "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" promises, this conclusion to this series follows up the coverage of Carraher's "Muir" years with a focus on his life in the years following that experience.

The awesomeness that is Carraher fully comes across in his sincerely ensuring that anything that he shares that can be interpreted as being critical was not intended as such.

Family Matters

The aforementioned discussion of the "Muir" years includes Carraher explaining that his father being an advertising executive facilitated the acting career of the younger Carraher man. A related aspect of this is that the older Carraher being an alcoholic prevented him from working, thus making Harlen the sole supporter of the family.

Carraher stated very clearly regarding this that "my father was a loving, caring, wonderful father who just drank a little too much." Carraher further emphasized that his father never became violent or abusive in any manner.

The wonderful father-son memories that Carraher shared included the two of them riding a promotional old-style Global Van Lines truck that his father had designed to be displayed at Disney Land right out of that park.

Carraher acknowledged that the financial dependence of his family on him was "a big burden" that became more stressful when "I was no longer in demand." Carraher elaborated by stating that his voice changing when he was 13 or 14 and his beginning to lose self-confidence during that period effectively ended his acting career. This ever-cheerful man further clarified that "the whole acting experience was wonderful" until he reached that point.

Advice to Child Stars

Carraher candidly stated that the only money that he personally received from his work on "Muir" was the money, which he believed was 15 percent of his earnings as a child actor, that the child actor protection act known as Coogan's Law required placing in trust for him. He added that that money financed the education that he received in the engineering program at the University of Southern California.

Citing the drug-related death of '60s sitcom "Family Affairs" former child star Anissa Jones, Carraher strongly advocated that Coogan's Law prohibited distributing any money held under it until the actor reached the age of 21. He explained that most people are too immature to properly manage those funds at 18.

Related advice was that the family of these children save the money that these offspring earned.

On an associated note, Carraher responded negatively when asked if any current child star mentored him when he was cast in "Muir." However, he stated that such a support program was a good idea.

Carraher further praised the work of the non-profit organization A Minor Consideration. The website of that organization stated that its purpose included providing "young performers" "guidance and support." Fellow '60s sitcom star Paul Petersen of "The Donna Reed Show" helms this charity.

[A subsequent Unreal TV interview with Petersen did not go so well. He already was stressed and takes his work VERY seriously.]


A discussion regarding Carraher's children began with the surprising news that his acting career and "Muir" itself did not interest his 14 year-old son Rory, who is heavily into the Call of Duty video game, and the younger sisters of Rory. Carraher and I agreed that having a father who starred in a sitcom would have excited us.

Things took a more serious note in Carraher discussing Rory being diagnosed with a high-functioning level of Asperger's Syndrome. This proud and loving father further shared that Rory attends a traditional school.

This conversation regarding autism encompassed the book titled "Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism" that actress Jenny McCarthy wrote about her experiences as the mother of an autistic child.

Carraher stated both "I love her book," and "I really related to it." He added that he came very close to having an opportunity to have McCarthy autograph a copy for him.

Carraher went on to very calmly express that he considered the claims of McCarthy regarding a link between autism and a child receiving immunization shots "outrageous." Carraher further explained that he loved and respected McCarthy but that (like him) she was an actor rather than a scientist." He added that "I don't think that actors should talk about things that they do not know about."

Righteous Dude

Directing some of the love that Carrraher lavished on the people whose names came up in our conversation his way is the only apt ending for this abbreviated recap of his life. He did not let an experience that very few seven year-olds have go to his head, showed exceptional maturity when his career ended far sooner than it should have (he would have made an awesome Butch on "Nanny and the Professor"), built a terrific professional career, and became an awesome parent.

Anyone with any questions or comments regarding this interview is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.