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Rusty Hamer was a precocious child actor, famous for starring in the television series "Make Room for Daddy" for 11 years.
Born in Tenafly, N.J., Hamer had appeared in several Abbott and Costello films before landing the leading role in "Make Room for Daddy" at the age of 6. On the series, Hamer played the bratty but lovable boy whose father was a nightclub singer and comedian. The show was a reflection of star Danny Thomas' own life, and it dwelt on the problems generated by the many times entertainers are forced to be away from their families.
When the show ended in 1964, 17-year-old Hamer had to go from a film lot school to a public one. He attempted a brief return to show business in the 1970s, appearing in bit parts for television series such as "Green Acres," but never landed any steady roles.
By the time he was 20, he was working for a Los Angeles messenger service and was bitter and depressed, his brother said. After moving to southwestern Louisiana, his jobs included delivering a newspaper, working offshore for Exxon and occasional work at his brother's restaurant.
Hamer's suicide raised awareness of the potential mental fragility of child performers, and inspired fellow child actor Paul Petersen to found A Minor Consideration, a support group for young actors.
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