Billy Chapin, a child actor who was born William McClellan Chapin in December 1943, has died at the age of 72, according to Variety.
His sister, Lauren Chapin, also a successful child actor, revealed the news on Facebook December 3, writing, “It is with a saddened heart that I say ’Good Bye’ to my precious brother Billy Chapin, wonderful Star of Movies, Television and Radio. He passed away last night after a long illness but now is in the arms of his Savior. Billy was a wonderful brother to both Michael and me. And he made us proud of all the great films he was in… He will be greatly missed.” (Michael was also a child actor during the 1940s and 50s.)
Mr. Chapin made his Broadway debut in 1952 in the original musical comedy Three Wishes for Jamie, which cast the actor in the role of Kevin. It was on screen, however, where the young actor would make his biggest mark. His first big role on the silver screen was in the 1953 film The Kid from Left Field, which also featured Anne Bancroft, Dan Dailey, and Lloyd Bridges.
His numerous other screen credits include Naked Alibi, There’s No Business Like Show Business, A Man Called Peter, The Violent Saturday, The Kid from Left Field, Tobor the Great and such TV series as Dragnet, The Loretta Young Show, and Topper.
Mr. Chapin is, perhaps, best remembered for his work in the 1955 film Night of the Hunter, which cast him in the role of John Harper. Directed by Charles Laughton, the film also featured Shelley Winters, Robert Mitchum, and Lillian Gish. His film career declined after this motion picture, and his career in Hollywood came to an end in 1959. Among his final credits are such series as The Californians, Leave It to Beaver, and Fury.