Scott Paton

Paul Petersen on the Perils & Protection of Hollywood’s Child Actors

Business Employment News Network - April 29, 2015

As a child actor, Paul Petersen was a fixture in American living rooms —at least the ones with TV sets–portraying Jeff Stone, the irascible son on “The Donna Reed Show.” And like his television peers, Ricky Nelson and “The Rifleman’s” Johnny Crawford, Paul became a recording star, landing hits like “My Dad” and “She Can’t Find Her Keys” near the top of the pop music charts. Teen idol mania ensued. But when “The Donna Reed Show” ended its eight-year run in 1966, opportunities for the boy-actor-now-turned-man quickly evaporated. Within three years, jobs offers were non-existent. Petersen slipped into depression and drug and alcohol dependency. “I can assure Justin Bieber that I know what the experience is like. Reality and proportion become distorted.”