Edith Fellows

Boston, Massachusetts, USA


Edith Fellows was born on May 20, 1923, in Boston, Massachusetts. When she was a year old, she and her father and grandmother moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. As a toddler, Edith was pigeon-toed and had trouble walking, and one doctor suggested that dance lessons might cure this condition. At age four, Edith entered Henderson's School of Dance, where she was spotted by a man claiming to be a talent scout, who told her grandmother that he could get Edith into show business for a fifty-dollar fee. The dance school raised the money, but when Edith and her grandmother arrived in Hollywood, they discovered that the address the man had given them did not exist, and they realized he was a fraud. Stranded in Hollywood with no means to return to North Carolina, Edith's grandmother began doing housework to earn a living. While she worked, she left Edith with a neighbor and her young son. One day Edith was taken along when the neighbor's son had an audition for the film Movie Night (1929), and she ended up getting the part. Although she never become a child star, Edith appeared in many popular films of the 1930s, most notably Pennies from Heaven (1936). She also proved herself to be a very versatile actress, playing roles ranging from a spoiled rich girl, as in Heart of the Rio Grande (1942), to a poor orphan girl, as in Pennies from Heaven. Edith was even given her own series, The Five Little Peppers, while under contract to Columbia, and she made four of the Pepper films (the first was Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (1939)) in two years. Between 1929 and 1954, Edith appeared in some fifty films, mostly in juvenile roles due to her short 4' 10" stature. But her career suddenly slowed down in the mid-1950s. Between 1955 and 1980, she appeared in only one film, Lilith (1964), in which she had a bit part. During this time, Edith chose to focus on her family life; she had married producer Freddie Fields in 1946, and their only child, daughter Kathy, was born in 1947. But Edith and Fields divorced in 1955, and the end of her marriage, coupled with other factors, caused Edith to have a nervous breakdown. She recovered, and in 1981, she returned to acting in numerous supporting roles on television. In 1985, fellow former child actor Jackie Cooper announced plans to make a TV movie based on Edith's life, but this project never happened.