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Former child star: 'I've mislaid my Oscar' PLUS watch the movie
Buy this photo » Former child star: Dr Jon Whiteley
FOR most actors, winning an Oscar is the pinnacle of their career.
But for North Oxford resident Dr Jon Whiteley it was less of a highlight.
In fact, the 68-year-old Ashmolean Museum curator isn’t even sure where his famous golden statuette is.
His appearance in the 1953 film The Little Kidnappers won him an Academy Juvenile Award, the Oscar which used to be given to performers aged 18 or less.
He said: “It is at home somewhere but I don’t think it is a particularly attractive object. It has no great charm.
“The Oscar itself came through the post because my parents weren’t keen on breaking the school term.
“They weren’t that excited about going to the States for a jamboree.”
The film that won him an Oscar tells the story of two young brothers sent to Canada to live with their grandparents and who end up looking after an abandoned baby.
- Watch The Little Kidnappers - further parts of the movie are below
In total Dr Whiteley appeared in five films over the course of four years. His movie career started after a talent scout heard him in a school broadcast and convinced his parents to let him become a child actor.
Reluctantly they agreed on the condition that he would eventually give it up in favour of his education.
But this was not before he appeared alongside Dirk Bogarde twice, in Hunted and The Spanish Gardener.
Dr Whiteley, who lives in Southmoor Road, said: “When I was 11 my parents said ‘no more’ and that was the agreement, but I was sorry when it ended.
“I missed the habit of having a chauffeur and being served on hand and foot.
“Going back to the grey life of a schoolboy was not something I relished.
“But I would have fallen flat on my face like a great number of child actors. It never does come up in conversation.”
Dr Whiteley admits to not having the time to go to the cinema anymore.
Born and raised in Aberdeenshire, he was the middle of three children born to a headteacher who stressed the importance of his education from an early age. Going to university, he said, was always expected.
And while he might have been reluctant to return to school, he did not waste the opportunity, winning a place at Pembroke College in Oxford to study modern history. After graduating he completed a doctorate then became a curator at the Christ Church Picture Gallery.
Not long afterwards Dr Whiteley moved to the Ashmolean, where he has stayed for 35 years.
“I wanted to be a painter and the reason I ended up looking after them was because I realised I couldn’t paint,” he said.
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- Part 6