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BADGLEY, Helen
(The Thanhouser Kidlet)

Thanhouser Career: Actress (1911-1917)

Advertisement from The Moving Picture World, September 18, 1915 for HELEN'S BABIES, featuring Helen Badgley ("The Thanhouser Kidlet"), THE TWINS OF THE G.L. RANCH

Thanhouser Career Synopsis: Young Helen Badgley, popularly known as The Thanhouser Kidlet, appeared in many films and was among the best known Thanhouser players of her time.

Biographical Notes: Helen Badgley, born in Saratoga Springs, New York in 1910, made her film debut in the title role of Thanhouser's December 8, 1911 release of Brother Bob's Baby. She became known as The Thanhouser Kidlet (an appellation coined by Bert Adler in February 1912 and first used in connection with The Guilty Baby, released February 27th of that year) and played in many films.

An article in The Louisville Herald, February 13, 1916, told of little Helen's beginning in motion pictures: "'They're not as superhuman as some of the fans like to believe,' said a director of the Thanhouser company the other day in talking of the babes of the film drama. 'Everyone of them take extreme delight in getting their dresses soiled, stealing jam and making mud pies,' just like any ordinary child.

"'One day,' said the director, 'a proud mother brought Helen Badgley to the studios and asked that she be given a tryout. Helen, who had never seen a camera, disturbed me considerably by pulling my ears, trying to take off my shoes and even biting my arm to see if she could make a hole in it. 'Madam,' I said, 'You'll have to take this child out. If you care to make anything of her bring her to the studio tomorrow and leave her under my sole care until I send for you? Now Helen is the pride of the Thanhouser studios, and one of the best child players in the films."

The World's Best-Known Baby: In 1914 a biographical sketch in the Photoplay Arts Portfolio of Thanhouser Movie Stars noted: "A star at five years of age! That is the record of Helen Badgley, The Thanhouser Kidlet, the 'best known baby in the world.' This dainty and intelligent little lass displays ability and enthusiasm in playing her parts, often lacking in one of more advanced years. She has had only two years' experience in filmdom, both of which were spent with the Thanhouser Company.… Miss Badgley will be a star of the first magnitude long before she reaches maturity."

Her Later Career: In autumn 1916, the young actress' activities were curtailed, for reasons outlined in The New Rochelle Pioneer, October 14: "Helen Badgley, the studio's Kidlet, is in a cast supporting Vincent Serrano, who is to be starred in A Modern Monte Cristo. Actresses before have been retired for various reasons—to be married, to travel, etc.—but Helen has a new reason. She has lost her front teeth and had to stay out of the pictures until new ones grew in."

She was among the last players at Thanhouser in the declining months of the firm's business, and she was seen in the 1917 releases of The Candy Girl, Fires of Youth, A Modern Monte Cristo, and The Heart of Ezra Greer.

Helen Badgley was educated by private tutors, whose bills always seemed to equal what Helen received in salary from Thanhouser, and no real profit was shown, according to her parents. Her tutors came and went with frequency, as several aspired to become actresses and went on to pursue their ambition. In later life, Helen Badgley married R.J. Coar, who lived in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. and who was director of U.S. Capitol Radio and Recording. They subsequently moved to Phoenix, Arizona. One of their daughters, also named Helen, was Miss Scottsdale in 1962, and later became Miss Phoenix. Helen Badgley died on October 25, 1977.

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