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The Light in the Forest: Additional Information from the Disney Pressbook

James MacArthur Lives Up To His Theatrical Heritage In Disney's The Light in the Forest

James MacArthur, who plays the role of Johnny Butler in Walt Disney's multi-million Technicolor production, The Light in the Forest, gives a sensitive and exciting performance in the film and lives up to his heritage as a member of one of the foremost theatrical families. His mother is Helen Hayes, the first lady of the American theater, and his father was the late, famed playwright-journalist, Charles MacArthur.

In the film, James portrays the difficult part of a white boy who has been brought up by the Delaware Indians. He is brought back to live among the whites and encounters many trying situations. His differences are finally resolved in an electrifying fight with one of the leaders of a group of Indian haters.

At nineteen, James MacArthur considers acting a part-time profession. He is enrolled at Harvard University, and pursues his theatrical career between semesters at the university from which he is presently on leave of absence.

He first attracted attention with his work in television. James did the TV "live" play Strike a Blow [sic] and when the movie version was made under the title of The Young Stranger he was called to Hollywood at the suggestion of director John Frankenheimer to portray the same role of the misunderstood adolescent. MacArthur was an immediate hit in the motion picture. Walt Disney, who had been seeking a new, young actor for the part of Johnny Butler for two years, saw him in the film and, at once, realized that his quest was over. Disney gave him star billing along with veterans Fess Parker, Wendell Corey and Joanne Dru.

For his role as the young man who was brought up by Delawares, James MacArthur had his hair sheared to conform to the Indian hair-do of the period. He permitted his head to be shaved except for a strip of hair across the center of his skull. His arrival at Harvard, after filming the motion picture, produced gaping and unbelieving stares as his fellow students viewed his partly shaved head. However, they soon got used to have an "Indian" around the campus.

MacArthur does not limit his activities to acting only and going to college. He was the associate publisher of Teen-Age Review, a national monthly magazine devoted to the activities of teenagers. He writes well and occasionally sells to national magazines. MacArthur takes the acclaim and adulation in his stride. He is on leave of absence from Harvard to star on television in Walt Disney's forthcoming Alpine adventure drama, Third Man on the Mountain.

Harvard's MacArthur, The Well-Dressed Indian, In Disney's The Light in the Forest

Nineteen-year-old James MacArthur left his Ivy League suit in his closet at Harvard University when he reported for his role in Walt Disney's newest live-action, full-length feature, The Light in the Forest.

Playing the part of a white youth raised by Delaware Indians during the 18th Century, MacArthur wears authentic tribal duds. His costume consists of a wampum-bead armband, buckskin breechcloth decorated with beadwork, woven belt, buckskin leggings with Delaware woven ties at the ankle and moccasins. His Delware-style haircut ends in a braided pig-tail adorned with scalplock and honor feathers. He is, indeed, the well-dressed Indian.

MacArthur, who is enrolled at Harvard and does his acting chores on leave of absence, holds a top role among a stellar cast that includes Fess Parker, Wendell Corey, Joanne Dru, Jessica Tandy, Joseph Calleia, John McIntire, Rafael Campos and Carol Lynley. Filmed in Technicolor, The Light in the Forest, is adapted from Conrad Richter's compelling adventure novel. It is a Buena Vista release.

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