Sunday, April 29, 2012

Best soap child actors of all time

If bad soap parents are plentiful, then good child actors on soaps are practically non-existent.

Don’t get me wrong, the little girl who plays Emma and the little boy who plays Cameron on ‘General Hospital’ are cute as can be – but they can’t carry their own storylines.

In fact, very few soap kids are capable of carrying storylines – that’s usually why they’re aged so fast.
GH’s Kimberly McCullough is an example of the rare child star who not only carried her own storylines but actually stole scenes from the adults around her.

So who are the best soap child stars of all time? Take a gander below. Oh, and I opted for child stars under the age of 13 – since it’s easier for a teenager to act (all that pent up drama). Some of these stars might have grown up and continued portraying the character in their teens – but they all started out as children and stole our hearts.

5. Amber Tamblyn (Emily, General Hospital) – At first, I wasn’t sure saddling Alan and Monica with an orphaned child was a good idea. I didn’t actually see the point. A.J. and Jason had been raised largely in the attic – so I wasn’t sure how the duo would do with a traumatized girl. It’s a commentary on Tamblyn’s talent that she not only charmed viewers but all of the Quartermaines when she moved into the mansion. Tamblyn had heavy storylines through her teen years before ultimately leaving for greener pastures. The character was later recast and killed off – but most fans will always remember Emily as the soul of the Quartermaine family -- at least before they were decimated by the Port Charles mob.

4. Kristen Alderson (Starr, One Life to Live) – Alderson gets made fun of because of her character’s tendency to break into song whenever the mood strikes in recent years – but that’s not her true legacy.  Starr Manning – the daughter of super couple royalty – stole our hearts from the minute she stepped her bratty self into Llanview. Starr was a mouthy conniver who played with snakes, plotted with her father and was disrespectful to her elders. Through the years, Starr grew up into a solid young woman who tried to be a good person. Personally, the character of Starr (and Alderson as an actress) will always get a pass from me – despite the weird singing – because of the scenes between her and Asa back in the day. Pure gold.

3. Camryn Grimes (Cassie, Young and the Restless) – When she was introduced on the soap she was all smiles and freckles. That innocent façade didn’t last long. Young Cassie was thrust into heavy story – and the adult actors that surrounded her thankfully didn’t have to carry her. Grimes anchored a bevy of stories during her tenure on the CBS sudser – but her greatest legacy is probably her portrayal during the characters death a few years ago. This was a case of a soap killing off a legacy character and it working – because Cassie’s death is still affecting her parents to this day. I thought we might see more of Grimes after she left the show, but I guess she’ll always be able to live on as Cassie Newman to her fans.

2. Jonathan Jackson  (Lucky, General Hospital) – When GH super couple Luke and Laura returned to the soap in the 1990s they made waves. Who would have thought they’d be upstaged by a 10-year-old with a shaggy haircut? From the minute he smiled, Jackson stole the hearts of GH fans everywhere. Not only was he portraying the beloved son of soap royalty, but he was also holding his own with two powerhouses. Jackson clearly had a close relationship with onscreen father Anthony Geary – and that relationship showed on screen. When Jackson returned to the role a few years ago, that chemistry between the two actors was still apparent and palpable. Jackson carried heavy storylines from the minute he stepped into Port Charles. A less capable actor would have buckled under the pressure, but Jackson seemed to thrive.

1. Kimberly McCullough (Robin, General Hospital) – She gets the top spot because she started at such a young age. From the minute she came on the screen she was playing heavy stuff. From finding out who her mother and father were and being kidnapped not long after, McCullough embodied Robin and made us believe all of her emotions were true. It helped that she had sparkling chemistry with her onscreen parents, too. McCullough grew up on screen, graduating from trite kid and teenage stories to grown up fare like Robin’s battle with HIV. McCullough was “killed” off GH earlier this year (at her request). We can only hope Robin will ultimately get her happy ending down the road. The character – and her fans – deserve it.

Honorable mentions:

Erin Torpey (Jessica, One Life to Live) – She wasn’t given a whole lot to do as a child – besides from being trotted out for holidays and funerals – but Torpey still managed to make Jessica a recognizable character. Torpey’s biggest claim to fame is Jessica’s teenage pregnancy story, but the truth is, even as a child she managed to shine with her adult counterparts. Torpey's true talent shined most with onscreen mother Erika Slezak and onscreen grandfather Phil Carey -- but she never shrank next to anyone.

Lindsay Lohan (Alli Fowler, Another World) – Even though she’s known as tabloid fodder now more than anything else, as a small child Lohan stole the hearts of viewers and Jake McKinnon as young Alli Fowler. Lohan’s tenure wasn’t long, but it was clear – even at that young age – that she would be a force to be reckoned with. Viewers – like myself – are probably sad to see that she’s torpedoed her career -- especially given the promise it started out with.

Hayden Panettiere (Lizzie Spaulding, Guiding Light) – Before she was an indestructible cheerleader, Panettiere was an adorable sprite that charmed her onscreen parents into doing just about anything that she wanted. She also anchored a heavy and depressing cancer storyline. Panettiere is also recognizable for her role as Sarah Roberts on One Life to Live – but Lizzie was a stronger character for her. Panettiere would go on to steal scenes in ‘Remember the Titans’ – but the actress (now an adult) still talks about her time on soaps fondly.

Robyn Richards (Maxie Jones, General Hospital) – Richards may not have grown up to be the best actress, but she’ll always be the center of the best soap story in history – the tragic tale of Maxie getting cousin B.J.’s heart after a bus accident. Richards was young at the time of the story, but she showed gravitas when playing opposite of the adults that surround her. Maxie has been recast a couple of times since Richards' day – but child Maxie will always leave an indelible mark on our hearts – mostly because she took cousin B.J.’s.

What do you think? Who are the best child soap stars of all time?


Blogger Jennifer DePaul said...

How could you left off Kimberly McCullough who played Robin from the age of 6 to adulthood and won 2 Emmys on GH?

Also check out Brooklyn Rae Silzer who plays Emma, Robin's daughter-she is a star in the making.

Another mention of a different soap-what about Camryn Grimes who played Cassie Newman on Y&R and won an Emmy for her portrayal at age 9?


August 13, 2013 at 8:05 AM 

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