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TV Star Parade (March 1957)

"Helen Hayes' Pride and Joy"

James MacArthur, a contender for TVSP’s King of Hearts crown, ought to be pretty thrilled with himself. A star at 19, he’s got the appeal of a young John Wayne -- strongly attractive, rugged, all male. And, as he proved first on TV, the boy can act! After his sensational debut on CBS’ Climax, RKO hired him pronto to repeat the role in the movie, The Young Stranger. Now that’s turned out so exciting they’ve signed him to a five-year contract.

Which isn’t surprising. Jamie’s been acting in summer stock with Mom -- Broadway’s first lady Helen Hayes -- off and on since he was eight. And his father -- the late playwright Charles MacArthur -- must have imbued Jamie with some of his own passion for the theater. What is surprising: Jamie’s as nice and normal, as unimpressed with his importance, as if he weren’t the son of celebrities and himself a blazing talent. “The best summer job I ever had,” he calls his title role in Stranger. Planning to study Economics, he’s a college student first, a star second. “I may change my mind about my major, but one thing I’m sure of -- I’ll finish school.”

Jamie came into the MacArthurs' lives in 1938 when he was a year old. Their daughter, Mary, then 9, had begged for a baby brother, and they’d always wanted a son too. So they adopted Jamie. Helen’s great love for him, and his for her, has been her prop through two terrible losses -- Mary’s tragic polio death at 19, and Charlie’s passing last May.

Jamie says tenderly, “Mom is a great actress, but she’s awfully impractical .... I have to sort of watch out for her.” For her part Helen, with a new movie of her own -- Anastasia -- puts her son first. During filming of his movie she ran to L.A. to keep house for Jamie. She’s so proud of him she glows.

James MacArthur

Whit Bissell, James MacArthur

Helen Hayes, James MacArthur

James and Gloria Stewart, Helen Hayes, James MacArthur

Helen Hayes, James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Joyce Bulifant

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