History of Cute Kids at the Oscars, From Shirley Temple to Jacob Tremblay (Photos)
Young child stars Tatum O’Neal and Anna Paquin would go on to win Oscar gold
Brian Welk | February 26, 2017 @ 1:30 PM
Last Updated: March 2, 2018 @ 12:26 PM
Every year, a lot of actors win awards on Oscar night, but the ones who most often win the evening are the young stars and starlets who get to walk the red carpet. Sometimes they even win Oscar gold, too. With any luck, the young star of "The Florida Project" -- Brooklynn Prince -- will make a splash at this year's ceremony, but here are some of the cutest kids of years' past.
Jackie Cooper – “Skippy” (1930)Jackie Cooper was nominated for Best Actor for his role in 1930s movie “Skippy.” To date, he’s the youngest boy to ever be nominated in the Best Actor category. He lost to Lionel Barrymore, who thanked Cooper in his acceptance speech -- but Cooper had already fallen asleep on Marie Dressler’s arm during the ceremony and no one wanted to wake him.
Shirley Temple – (1934)Shirley Temple was the biggest box office star of the day in 1934, cranking out seven films that year, including the special tailored “Bright Eyes.” The following year, she was awarded the first ever Academy Juvenile Award, all at just six-years-old. In 1939, she would present an honorary Oscar to Walt Disney.
Margaret O’Brien – “Meet Me In St. Louis” (1944)For playing the feisty Tootie Smith opposite Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, 8-years-old at the time, won a juvenile Oscar in 1945 and had it presented to her by Bob Hope. However, she told Vanity Fair back in 2014 that she was always treated like an adult on set.
Patty McCormack – “The Bad Seed” (1956)“The child star of ‘The Bad Seed’ who killed the critics and most of the cast, Patty McCormack!” Jerry Lewis introduced the 10-year-old as such before backing away in fear, reluctant to shake her hand. McCormack was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her sinister role in the horror-thriller and presented for Short Subject (Cartoon). Astutely, she noticed that Stephen Bosustow was the producer behind all three nominated cartoons. Spoiler: He won.
Mary Badham – “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962)Mary Badham had never even seen a movie before making and being nominated for the beloved classic “To Kill a Mockingbird.” At the time, she was the youngest actress to ever receive one. But Badham told The Huffington Post on the film’s 50th anniversary that she had no recollection of how she found out, adding that at the ceremony she gave up her assigned seat to a family and hadn’t prepared a speech.
Tatum O’Neal – “Paper Moon” (1973)“All I really want to thank is my director Peter Bogdanovich and my father [Ryan]. Thank you.” That was all a truly humbled Tatum O’Neal had to say upon accepting her win for Best Supporting Actress in “Paper Moon.” She stuck to her tomboyish character in the film and wore a tuxedo to the ceremony beneath a mess of short brown hair. At age 10, she still holds the record for the youngest winner ever in a competitive category.
Justin Henry – “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979)Most Oscar kids are just thrilled to be here, but 8-year-old Justin Henry took the ceremony seriously -- and took it even harder when he lost to Melvyn Douglas. He took the awards circuit by storm back in 1980, reportedly bursting into tears after losing the Golden Globe. In this nomination video, you can see him throw his head back in an adorable fit of anxiety, then disappointment.
Anna Paquin – “The Piano” (1993)You don’t have much time to deliver an Oscar speech but Anna Paquin spent the bulk of it almost entirely short of breath. It’s a precious moment of a young actress stunned to have beaten out such heavy hitters. She held it together and delivered a confident, brief speech, but was quoted later saying, “I was a very shy, very, very young 11. I don’t think I had ever seen so many people at one time, and to have them all sitting there waiting for me to say something was awful.”
Abigail Breslin & Jaden Smith – “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006)Abigail Breslin, then 11 and nominated for “Little Miss Sunshine,” and Will Smith’s son Jaden Smith, then nine appearing for “The Pursuit of Happyness,” were asked to present the Best Short Film Oscar in 2007 because, get this, they weren’t very tall. Clever writers. Of course, they made the moment cute anyway, with Jaden unable to pronounce the name of one winner and almost forgetting to announce the other.
The Kids of “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008)After a 26-hour flight to get them to L.A. for the Oscars, the whole cast of “Slumdog Millionaire” mobbed Billy Bush on the red carpet. They couldn’t have been more excited to be there, as director Danny Boyle plucked some of them straight from the Mumbai slums. Controversially, those like Rubina Ali still lived in slums up to two years after the release of the film.
Quvenzhane Wallis – “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (2012)Quvenzhane Wallis earned the distinction of being the youngest acting nominee in any category, but her real achievements were getting people to pronounce her full name and acting sassy as she sported a purse shaped as a dog on the red carpet. She made quick friends with Halle Berry and Samuel L. Jackson, among others. Most adorable was when she flexed her muscles as they announced her name.
Jacob Tremblay – “Room” (2016)For those segments of the internet who weren’t distracted by 9-year-old Jacob Tremblay’s surprisingly hot dad, they admired the star of “Room” for humbly boasting he’d be attending Oscars after parties despite his bedtime being 8 p.m. He even joked to Ryan Seacrest that he punched Sylvester Stallone in the face because Stallone stole his spot in the Best Supporting Actor category.
Sunny Pawar - "Lion" (2017)
The eight-year-old star of “Lion” charmed voters by getting hoisted up by Dev Patel throughout awards season and telling audiences he wants to portray a superhero. He even got to meet Andrew Garfield on the red carpet.