Lauren Chapin is a former child star that rose to prominence playing the character of Kathy Anderson on the hit 1950s television series Father Knows Best. Of course, Lauren’s character on the series better known by the nickname of “Kitten”. Lauren’s two siblings were also child actors, and Lauren’s role as Kitten made her the most successful of the three. Sadly, this early success didn’t mean that the actress had a pleasant childhood. In fact, Lauren had a fairly traumatic upbringing. And that traumatic upbringing would lead to her having a hard time after coming of age. Following her time on Father Knows Best, Lauren’s work dried up and she hit rock bottom as a result of substance abuse, though she has since recovered. Join Facts Verse as we explore ugly details that still trouble Lauren Chapin to this day.
Does Father Know Best?
If you only knew former child star Lauren Chapin based on her appearance on the hit 1950s sitcom Father Knows Best. You might assume that the actress had a fairly happy childhood. The show has come to be iconic for it’s picture-perfect depiction of the nuclear family, with Lauren playing that family’s youngest daughter. That daughter’s name Kathy Anderson, though she known more affectionately by the nickname of “Kitten”. In addition to Lauren, the series also starred actor Robert Young as her on-screen father and actress Jane Wyatt as her on-screen mother.
Father Knows Best premiered on the TV in 1954, and Lauren said to have beaten out several hundreds of girls that had auditioned for the role of Kitten. The role ended up being one of the most popular on the show. And which apparently led to young Lauren developing a bit of an ego on the set. However, if the young actress seemed as if she was eating up the attention that she was getting from both her peers and the audience. She had actually pushed into child acting at the behest of her abusive mother. Or, more accurately, their mother had pushed Lauren’s older brother into acting and Lauren ended up wowing the producers instead.
Lauren Chapin’s Parents Were Abusive
According to Lauren Chapin, both of her parents were monstrously abusive in different ways. The crimes of Lauren’s father were perhaps the more criminal. As it seems that the young star’s father molested her routinely during her childhood. Lauren claims that her father would sneak into bed with her during the night and pleasure himself. Lauren’s mother and father divorced while she was still young. She forced to decide whether she wanted to go and live with her mother or her father. Though one might assume that she would’ve easily chosen her mother if that’s how she’s being treated by her father. It seems that Lauren actually liked the way she treated by her mother even less.
Lauren’s father was sexually abusive. The young star’s mother was a neglectful alcoholic that encouraged Lauren’s siblings to be physically abusive towards her. Though Lauren would find more success than either of her siblings in the entertainment industry. Lauren’s mother had always had higher hopes for the young star’s older brother. Lauren’s older brother Billy Chapin, who was the male child star featured in the classic film The Night of the Hunter.
Lauren Wasn’t Supposed to Be a Star
It was while accompanying Billy and their mother to an audition that Lauren Chapin ended up being noticed. She subsequently started acting herself and got the role of Kitten in Father Knows Best. While the aforementioned The Night of the Hunter is perhaps just as notable. And even more so, than the sitcom Father Knows Best is today. The film wasn’t a big hit upon it’s release and Billy didn’t end up finding much continued success in the industry. Comparatively, Father Knows Best was a massive commercial success and it made Lauren a ubiquitous cultural presence.
When Lauren Chapin came of age, her mother added insult to injury by suing her daughter for her earnings from Father Knows Best. Surprisingly, Lauren’s mother actually won the lawsuit and Lauren was forced to pay up! Lauren was already going through a hard time as she was entering into her adult years and this only made things worse.
When Lauren Chapin began performing on Father Knows Best. She got two new parental figures in the form of her on-screen mother and father. Regrettably, these new parental figures weren’t much better than the last ones! By the time the series was over in 1960, Lauren had experienced enough pain and suffering for an entire lifetime. And it would only get worse from there. 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!
Lauren’s On-Screen Family Wasn’t Much Better
When Lauren Chapin joined the cast of Father Knows Best, she didn’t find many great role models amongst her new peers. The aforementioned Robert Young played her on-screen father. And he was said to have pretty much been drunk the entire time that he was on set. Meanwhile, Lauren’s on-screen siblings included fellow child actor Billy Gray, who was known for consuming recreational drugs during filming. Another of Lauren’s on-screen siblings was played by Elinor Donahue. And who became pregnant over the course of the series’ run. And had to hide the pregnancy from the cameras at the behest of producers.
Lauren Snapped After the End of the Show
Lauren was said to have gotten a big head over the course of filming Father Knows Best. And this was perhaps part of why the actress had a hard time finding work after the series came to an end. With her mother essentially stealing all of the money that she had earned from the series and no new money coming in. Lauren soon found herself hitting rock bottom. She was involved in numerous drug-fuelled escapades. Including one that saw her getting married in Las Vegas to someone she barely knew while under the influence of LSD, and another one that saw her attempt to cut her own arm off. Thankfully, Lauren failed in her attempts to cut her arm off and still has both of her arms today.
Lauren Chapin Hit Rock Bottom
Rock bottom truly came for poor Lauren Chapin when she was forced to begin prostituting herself to pay for her addiction to illicit substances. At first, Lauren found that she was able to command a fairly high price given her history in the entertainment industry. However, the more years that Lauren spent on the street. The smaller of a fee that she was able to finagle for her services. Eventually, Lauren was run-of-the-mill street meat selling to dozens of men a night for a mere couple of bucks a ride. During this period of Lauren’s life, she was also in and out of both rehab and jail.
Lauren Chapin could’ve easily succumbed during her darkest years. But she thankfully managed to prevail long enough to find the light. Many stories like Lauren’s don’t end happily, but today Lauren seems to be doing okay for herself. In her 50s, Lauren apparently found God and she hasn’t looked back since. She’s subsequently dedicated her time to becoming both an evangelist minister and a motivational speaker. While the majority of Lauren’s work nowadays directly involves the Lord. The former child star also started up a one-woman show around 10 years ago that saw her sharing with the audience many of the traumatic experiences that had haunted her since her child-star days.
That one-woman show was named Forever Kitten. With it’s name, of course, alluding to the character that Lauren played so many years ago on Father Knows Best. Lauren doesn’t have very fond memories of her career in the entertainment industry. It seems that she doesn’t have many hard feelings against the show itself. Lauren holds the rights for the show’s first six seasons and keeps it’s memory alive on her website. However, the former child star is certainly more passionate about her religious work than she is about the series. Not only has Lauren been able to set aside her differences and appreciate Father Knows Best. But she also reconciled with her older brother Billy before his death.
Lauren Chapin Forgave Her Older Brother
Billy Chapin passed away in December of 2016. And he was in relatively dire straits at the time of his passing. Although Billy had tormented Lauren during their childhood years, the two were able to get along as adults. They were allegedly in communication towards the end. And Lauren helped Billy’s surviving loved ones fundraise for a funeral when they couldn’t afford a proper service. Lauren Chapin is currently 76 years old and has only been married once in her lifetime. However, she has two children from an unknown father.
Lauren Chapin Partied with Elvis Presley
While much of Lauren Chapin’s childhood was poor, there were moments during the filming of Father Knows Best when she had a good time. Once such moment came when the producers set up a meeting between 12-year-old Lauren and hero Elvis Presley on her birthday. The meeting came as a surprise, as Lauren simply thought that she was going to an amusement park. Around a decade later, Lauren would come to know the singer in a different capacity when she became romantically involved with one of his friends and started doing drugs with their posse. According to Lauren, she partied with Elvis at the Red Velvet nightclub.
Lauren Chapin can accurately claim to have been the most successful of her siblings when it came to their respective careers in the entertainment industry. This isn’t saying much! Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Lauren Chapin did drugs with Elvis Presley and slept with one of his friends. And that the former child star became a prostitute during the darkest years of her life? 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!