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Teenage Review (June 1957)

"Jim MacArthur Talks to You"

What happens to the children of thespians? Are they apt to follow markers left by their elders, or wander off on their own tangents. In many cases, the parents wisely stave off all theatrical ambitions until their offspring have passed through their childhood and have had their education, and then offer no resistance in this choice of a career.

Such is the case of James MacArthur. Jim is the young son of Helen Hayes and the late Charles MacArthur, the well-known playwright and producer. Jim’s dad once said to him: “Never be an actor, and even worse, a playwright.” In accordance with this dictum, his parents never allowed him to become a child actor. But they did not interfere when Jim became of college age and entered the field.

Today, at nineteen, Jim stands on the threshold of an illustrious future in this medium of entertainment. His performance in The Young Stranger has everyone at RKO Studios ecstatic. In more concrete form, they signed Jim to a contract for one picture a year for four years, all to be made in the summer between his terms at Harvard.

As the furor over his ability grows, Jim is quietly pursuing his education. “As to my future,” he says, “I am not completely sure. I suppose success is what I want as does everyone else. More specifically, success in the theatre and success in business ... investments and real estate, etc. Most important I want to be as free as possible to follow my interests which include archeology and reading and traveling.”

Besides the aforementioned objectives, Jim has another one which could hardly be classified in the archaic category. She is a young, vibrant, pretty blonde girl by the name of Joyce Bulifant, who at the present time is studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.

Jim and Joyce have been “going together” since their high school days. Their tastes are similar and when Jim comes in from college, they attend football games, a play, movie, or a rock and roll show.

In all aspects, Jim is a natural easy-going young man with a level head. And for his youth, he has some pretty mature ideas. On the subject of the advantages and disadvantages of being a teenager, Jim stated:

“Being a teenager today offers shelter and a certain place in society for a small time. One gets certain privileges and is expected to act accordingly. The main advantage of being a teenager is having someplace or something to be a part of and the main disadvantage is that you can’t get out of the group. Thus the rebel and nonconformist. However, I would say that most kids accept and enjoy this part of their lives. Someone once said that happiness was better to chase than to have. Perhaps being grown up is the same. Most of us being optimists feel that something better is coming. Yet this is not always so. Was life better when you were young and had no responsibility, or is it better now when you have to worry about flunking out of college? It is hard for me to become accustomed to the hardness of life.

“Being now 19 and nearly not a teenager in the eyes of the adults, my advice to younger kids is enjoy it while you can -- let your parents make a fuss because it gives them something to do. I don’t mean to be cynical, but kids must go halfway with their parents if the relationship is to be good. And some parents think they know it all which makes it doubly hard on the kids because they have to always take the sometimes not applicable advice given by their parents.

“I had to overcome the fact that I was young and not allowed to do certain things. This irked me to no end as my parents were always saying you are a big boy now. I thought that if I was such a big boy I should be allowed to do certain things. However, it was not a major problem and even a little funny in retrospect. I cannot think of any major problem that I had to solve with my parents.”

Now that Jim has reached young manhood, it is logical to wonder why, when he could leave school for the footlights, he prefers to continue at Harvard.

“I could possibly have a fairly successful career in the theatre at this time,” he explained, “but I feel that I am not yet ready to take a place in society and hold my own. I still use the word “grown up” but I don’t feel that I belong in this category yet. I do feel much closer all the time, though. Education to me is what enables one to live in the security of his own doings.”

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

Joyce Bulifant, James MacArthur

James MacArthur, James Daly

Whit Bissell, James MacArthur

James MacArthur

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