Best Case of Nerves
The first thing I remember about Veronica Cartwright is getting oomphy with friends who confused her with her sister, Angela Cartwright, of The Sound of Music, Make Room for Daddy, and Lost in Space. Not at all the same kid! Veronica is the elder, edgier sister, the Twilight Zone girl, the kid with the lovebirds in The Birds, the tormented klepto in The Children's Hour. She could play troubled, anxious, and lonely.
Which brings me to the second thing I remember about Veronica Cartwright: being really happy to see her appropriately freaking out in Alien and the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers in the late 70s, and popping up in the oddest places ever since, from Witches of Eastwick to Will & Grace.
She made her first film appearance in a Robert Wagner vehicle called In Love and War at the age of nine, made a bunch of commercials, and was recurring bossy pants character, Violet Rutherford, on Leave It to Beaver. Between 1958 and 1963 Cartwright made a number of films in addition to appearing on popular TV shows. By the mid-1960s, she was mostly on television, working regularly until the end of the decade. There were a few lean years in the early 70s, but by and large, Veronica Cartwright made a graceful, successful (and I hope lucrative) transition from child star to adult actor.
The woman is only 65 (or will be this week) so I expect we'll have many more years to be surprised and delighted by her work.
In the meantime, if you haven't seen it in a while, here she is in one of those Twilight Zones that hits you right between the eyes.
"I Sing the Body Electric," Twilight Zone (5/18/1962)