1. Born September 23, 1945, Paul Petersen started out at age ten as a Mousketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club. (He was fired – by Disney himself – apparently for punching a casting director who kept calling him “mouse.”)
2. He gained much more attention playing Donna Reed’s son, Jeff, from 1958-1966 on The Donna Reed Show.
3. The teen heart throb also had a singing career, scoring as high as #6 on the pop charts (“My Dad,” 1962-1963).
4. Not satisfied with acting and singing, Petersen has also had success as a published author. He has published sixteen adventure novels, as well as an autobiography.
5. But what Petersen is better known for today is his work on behalf of current and former child stars. In 1991, he created A Minor Consideration, a non-profit that gives guidance and support to young performers (“past, present and future”).
6. Petersen started the organization after a rash of former child actor suicides (Rusty Hamer of The Danny Thomas Show, Tim Hovey of The Private Way of Major Benson, Trent Lehman of Nanny and the Professor). The original aim was to reach out to former child performers who were thought to be in trouble and try to prevent further tragedies.
7. Much of the foundation’s work has focused on making the entertainment industry conform to child labor standards and on making sure that earnings of child performers are safeguarded and kept for the performer’s adult years.
8. Petersen has college degrees in English and history and was advised by Mickey Rooney to go to college after his childhood star dimmed in Hollywood. (Good advice, Mr. R.)
9. Petersen’s first wife married fellow actor Bill Bixby after her divorce from Petersen.
10. He was a U.N. delegate to the World Safety Organization.