The Everett Collection

Danny Thomas said he worked with ''Hollywood's finest child actor'' on The Danny Thomas Show

It seems as though working with child actors can either be a hit or a miss for many seasoned actors. Luckily for Danny Thomas, working with the child actor on The Danny Thomas Show was his favorite part.

The Danny Thomas Show, also known as Make Room for Daddy, premiered in 1953 and featured Thomas in the leading role of Danny Williams. His fictional son, Rusty Williams, was played by the five-year-old, Rusty Hamer. 

In the series, Rusty Williams can be remembered for his curly hair, witty remarks, playful antics and his close bond with his on-screen father.

According to a 1959 interview with The Buffalo News, the close bond and playful antics didn't stop once the cameras stopped rolling.

"There's no question about it," Thomas said. "Rusty Hamer is the finest boy actor in Hollywood."

"Do you know that he has been in every episode of The Danny Thomas Show - even when it was known as Make Room for Daddy?" Thomas added. "That's a total of 177 shows, quite a record for a lad who is only 11 years old."

According to the interview, Hamer's real father passed away during the first few months of filming The Danny Thomas Show. Gradually, Thomas started becoming more like his real father off-screen. Hamer even began calling Danny "dad" when the two weren't filming.

Not only did Hamer win over the hearts of America, but he won over the heart of Thomas, who said he took the young boy under his wing.

Besides The Danny Thomas Show, Thomas worked with Hamer to get him roles alongside him on other series that include Desi-Lucy Playhouse and The Dinah Shore Show. The two became an inseparable package.

Thomas said during the entire 11 seasons on-air, many scripts were written around what was happening to Hamer in his real life as a growing child. 

"It's not a challenge for the writers to create situations around a growing child - especially when they are as active as Rusty," Thomas said. "One of our best shows, I think, was about Rusty losing his long, curly locks. And the writers had a ball when he was snaggle-toothed."

According to the interview, Hamer was discovered by Thomas' secretary when she saw him in a local theater production and suggested that he would be an ideal child actor for the series. He instantly became Thomas' favorite.

Thomas said he had no worries about the young actor's future. Thomas thought Hamer had a bright future ahead of him, and was willing to do what it took to help out his on-screen son. 

"He's got a natural knack for believability and he never overplays," Thomas said. "He'll have no trouble bridging 'the awkward years of adolescence' as we refer to them."

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