Rusty Hamer rose to prominence as a child star on Make Room for Daddy, which was a sitcom that came on the air in 1953. Despite the success that Rusty found on the show at a young age. He went on to lead a miserable adult life and stands today as a cautionary tale for parents who want to get their kids into the industry. Join Facts Verse as Rusty Hamer’s life only got worse after Make Room for Daddy.
Rusty Hamer Was Forced Into Acting
Rusty Hamer was born on February 15, 1947, in the borough of Tenafly, New Jersey. Upon his birth, Rusty was known as Russell, though he would come to be known by his more cutesy stage name upon his entrance into the entertainment industry. Rusty was the youngest of three boys born to Arthur and Dorothy Hamer. Arthur and Dorothy were aspiring actors that worked together in amateur theater productions. And they got their kids into the act as soon as they could. Because of this, there was never really a time during Rusty Hamer’s childhood where the child wasn’t performing.
Rusty’s older brothers were named John and Walter, and they were forced into the family business just the same as him. However, it would be Rusty that would be the one to go on to become the much more prominent of the three thanks to his subsequent role on Make Room for Daddy. The Hamer family moved to Los Angeles in 1951 and continued trying their luck in amateur theater. Meanwhile, Rusty’s father paid the bills by working as a salesperson selling shirts for men.
Arthur and Dorothy never managed to strike it big as a result of their amateur theater endeavors but Rusty Hamer did. One night, while Rusty and his brother John were performing alongside their parents in a production. The two children caught the attention of a talent scout. The brothers then signed to a film contract, with Rusty being the one that ended up getting more work out of the two. Still, it would be John that would have the better fate in the long run.
Rusty Hamer’s First Role Was Uncredited
Rusty Hamer’s first role in a feature film came via the 1952 movie Fort Ti, which was a 3D Western. The film starred George Montgomery, and Rusty played the nephew of George’s character. Although Rusty played the nephew of the film’s main character. The child star’s role was minimal and he wasn’t even credited in the feature. Following this screen debut, Rusty could be seen in similar small roles in a few features starring the beloved comedic duo Abbott and Costello. Despite this film work, it ended up being once again on the stage that Rusty caught the attention of the man that would go on to get him his role on Make Room for Daddy.
How Rusty Got His Role on Make Room for Daddy
The man who got Rusty Hamer his role on Make Room for Daddy was star Danny Thomas’ personal secretary. Make Room for Daddy was a starring vehicle for the actor and comedian. And Danny’s secretary thought that Rusty would be the perfect child actor to play the role of his son. This secretary went on to secure Rusty an audition, which the young actor ended up knocking out of the park! From that point on, Danny Thomas knew he had found his on-screen son! However, the victory wouldn’t be all that it was cracked up to be. When Make Room for Daddy premiered, Danny Thomas was only six years old. The premiere occurred in late September of 1953. And the show would last for many years before finally coming to an end over a decade later.
Despite the fact that Make Room for Daddy moved networks three seasons in and underwent a name change to the more commercially viable The Danny Thomas Show. The series ended up incredibly successful in the long run. And wound up lasting for 11 seasons before coming to an end in 1964. Rusty Hamer stayed on the series for it’s entire duration. And he was 17 years old by the time that production had wrapped. Given that child actors didn’t make nearly as much money back during the 1950s and 1960s as they do nowadays. Rusty didn’t have all that much money saved up by the time Make Room for Daddy was over.
When Make Room for Daddy ended, Rusty Hamer was optimistic about his future in the entertainment industry. First, however, he wanted to finally get the experience of being a real kid in a real school. Something he had deprived of as a result of growing up on the set of the series. Sadly, neither Rusty’s high-school escapade nor his future career would turn out quite the way that the nearly adult child actor had planned. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
17-Year-Old Rusty Was Optimistic About the Future
Following the end of Make Room for Daddy’s production run. Rusty enrolled himself at Palisades Charter High School, located in the city of Los Angeles. Rusty envisioned himself finally living out the childhood that he had missed out on, but his visions tragically misguided. Instead of making friends and living out his fantasy of being a real kid. Rusty found himself isolated from his peers as a result of his strange upbringing. Rusty’s previous experience with schooling had consisted of him. And one other child in a studio classroom on the set of Make Room for Daddy. Despite Rusty’s best intentions, he couldn’t quite make things click with the other kids at his new high school.
Although Rusty’s high-school escapade ended up being a bust in terms of fulfilling the star’s desire to live the life of a real boy. The now-of-age child actor still had the entertainment industry to fall back on! At least… he thought he did. Following the end of Make Room for Daddy, Rusty could seen in the press talking about his great career prospects. With the teenaged actor claiming that he was in talks to star in Walt Disney pictures and numerous other lucrative film properties. Whether or not Rusty was bending the truth about this is uncertain. But what is certain is that Rusty’s career in the entertainment industry following Make Room for Daddy ended up being essentially nonexistent.
After Make Room for Daddy, Rusty Hamer’s only notable work in the entertainment industry consisted of a guest appearance on the series Green Acres. As well as a reprisal of his Make Room for Daddy role on the reboot series Make Room for Granddaddy. Rusty’s appearance on Green Acres came via the season-five episode “Oliver’s Schoolgirl Crush”. Meanwhile, Rusty asked by Danny Thomas to come back and take a starring role on Make Room for Granddaddy. Sadly, Make Room for Granddaddy didn’t prove nearly as successful as the original series and cancelled after only one season. This came in spite of the fact that Danny Thomas had used every ounce of his credibility to secure numerous high-profile guest stars for the series. With such Golden Age luminaries as Milton Berle, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, and Lucille Ball all appearing over the course of the show’s first and only season.
Rusty Hamer Couldn’t Make It in the Real World
The dismal returns of Make Room for Granddaddy meant that Rusty Hamer finally forced to accept the fact that he’s going to have to find work outside of the entertainment industry. Sadly, the former child star had next to no practical skills that he could utilize to secure a real-world career. Instead, he ended up moving through various menial-labor jobs before eventually passing away tragically in his 40s.
In the mid-1970s, Rusty Hamer moved to the town of DeRiddler, Louisiana. This is where his mother was residing with his aforementioned older brother John. John had never found the success that Rusty had as a child in the entertainment industry. Which meant that John had grown up quite a bit better adjusted. John was taking care of their mother, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Rusty moved both to be close to his mother during her twilight years. And to get some secure footing alongside both her and his brother. While Rusty in Louisiana, he offered a job by Exxon working on offshore oil rigs. Rusty didn’t end up liking the work very much, and returned to DeRiddler in the early 80s.
He worked as a cook at a café just outside of DeRiddler for a period of time following his exit from Exxon. Though the former child star’s mental and physical state began to significantly worse around this time period for reasons that remain mysterious. Rusty ended up falling into a significant depression. And his older brother would later claim that the former child star began suffering from extreme back pain.
Rusty’s Tragic Death Occurred by his Own Hand
Rusty kept to himself for the most part in the years leading up to his suicide in 1990. It seems that the former child star simply couldn’t go on living. And he ended up shooting himself in the head with a .357 Magnum. The powerful firearm certainly got the job done, and Rusty no more. The former child star’s suicide ended up being the first time that he made headlines in a long while. And anyone that was still around that had worked with him in the entertainment industry certainly felt the need for a moment of silence.
Rusty Hamer only 42 years old when his body was discovered passed away in the former child star’s trailer. Rusty’s tragic death inspired another former child star to create a foundation to ensure that no future child stars share the same fate. Paul Peter Petersen of The Donna Reed Show created this foundation in honor of his late contemporary. And he named it A Minor Consideration.
Rusty Hamer’s life is a cautionary tale for parents who want to get their kids into the entertainment industry. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Rusty Hamer was only 42 years old when he passed away. And that fellow former child star Paul Peter Petersen of The Donna Reed Show started up a foundation in his honor after his death? As always, like this video to show your support. And subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!