Got In and Got Out.
Finally. A kid with good parents.
If you've seen a picture with Jackie "Butch" Jenkins in it (and you have), you'll remember him as the most natural child on the screen. In my (and Pauline Kael's) opinion, he's the best thing about The Human Comedy and the only thing that makes me want to watch Margaret O'Brien* at all, but especially in Our Vines Have Tender Grapes.
He was funny-looking, completely unaffected, and believable as the bigger name's younger brother, even if one of those stars is Elizabeth Taylor and the other is Mickey Rooney, because yeah, they could be related. By the time he was 11, Jenkins had made 13 pictures -- four of them with James Craig -- then up and quit after he developed a nervous stutter. His mother, actress Doris Dudley, took him out before the business further screwed him up and invested the money he made for him, so that he was quite well off by the time he was in his thirties.
Jenkins lived happily in Texas for many years and became a successful non-show-businessman. He said that he never regretted leaving films and was "very grateful to my mother for taking me away from it...There may be a better way to live than on a lake with a couple of cows, a wife, and children but being a movie star is not one."
"Butch" Jenkins died August 14, 2001 in his sleep at his home in Asheville, North Carolina just a few weeks before his 64th birthday.
A pretty happy ending.
* Before people start bugging me for picking on poor little Margaret O'Brien, I just want to say she's never been my cup of tea. She's a perfectly lovely woman who is very generous with her time and I enjoyed hearing her speak on the TCM Classic Movie Cruise last year. But I'm not a fan of her work.
I'll do just about anything a movie tells me to do. Unless it tells me wrong...
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