Betsy Hale was one of the Sixties’ most enthralling child stars

The often-forgotten child star wowed in Westerns

“The Kite” remains a memorable Gunsmoke episode largely because of the child star at its center: Betsy Hale.

In the episode, Hale played Letty, a young girl whom Festus finds hiding on the prairie after she watches her mother get brutally murdered by a complete stranger.

Throughout the episode, viewers watch as Letty wanders Dodge, knowing at any moment she may recognize the murderer among those dismounting their horses or tossing back drinks at the saloon.

For Hale, 1964 was the most sensational time in her short career.

Not only did she feature prominently on Gunsmoke, but also in episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, Ben Casey and Wagon Train.

Hale started acting at the age of 6, snagging a small part at 7 as a little girl in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. From there, she featured steadily, taking small roles through the early Sixties, appearing on TV more than 50 times before she turned 11.

She told the Hartford Courant in 1964 how she got interested in acting:

“When I was little, I used dolls to act out plays, taking all parts myself. My parents are both actors and when they asked me if I wanted to get into the business, I told them that I did.”

Supporting their daughters’ dreams, Hale’s parents got her an agent and then Betsy said she had to push herself not to feel “impatient” when trying to land roles.

Her patience paid off. She wowed on Westerns like Have Gun – Will Travel, drew laughs on sitcoms like My Three Sons and appeared twice on Perry Mason.

By 1964, newspaper critics described her a serious child star who was better than most, predicting big things for the tween.

However, the child star promptly shut down her career in 1965, giving her final appearance in an episode of Gomer Pyle: USMC where she got to ride in the very same truck that the Darlings first rode into Mayberry.

After sharing the screen with Jim Nabors and Dabs Greer, Hale retired from acting in 1965, never appearing on TV again.

Not much is known about Hale after she stopped acting.

However, we can probably assume that accepted her fate of not becoming a big star and found a new career to love, based on how open-minded she was as a child star just starting out:

“I don’t want to become a big star unless it just happens,” Hale said. “I’m interested in doing some writing, and I also want to train animals. Train them and love them, that is.”

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vonBeavis 22 days ago
Child star Dawn Lyn is on a number of MeTV programs and forgotten. Although she is best remembered as Dodie Douglas on My Three Sons, she also appeared in Gunsmoke, Emergency, Adam-12, and many more on IMDB. Dawn pals around with many of the child stars from MeTV shows. In March she spent a couple of days with her TV sister "Katie" at an autograph show in Burbank and she's having lunch today with her TV brother "Chip". Our house guests have included Johnny Whitaker and Butch Patrick. She did a localized "Watch me on MeTV" commercial in Hawaii around 2007. Please feature her.
ducatimatz 23 days ago
IMDB Shows her being Born Aug 10, 1952 and her last Acting Appearance Gomer Pyle: USMC (TV Series)
Laura Mae Caldwell
- Home on the Range (1965) ... Laura Mae Caldwell She is Still Living!
JHP 24 days ago
did she have a minor role in the Dawn of the Dead - the movie as a zombie?
bagandwallyfan52 24 days ago
Three Good Mysteries:
1 Whatever Happened To child
actress Betsy Hale!
Whatever Happened To child actor
Joey Scott who played Bengie a couple of times on Leave It To Beaver?
Whatever Happened To Rory Stevens
Who played Chuckie Murdock on
Leave It To Beaver?
I just finished reading an article that says that Rory Stevens (Chuckie Murdock)
And Rusty Stevens (Larry MONDELLO) are real life brothers .
Well they spell out in the article Betsy Hale how she finished in acting. The phrase:
" Not much is known about Hale after she stopped acting," applies as well to Joey Scott and
Rory Stevens. Probably as those actors don't wish their personal life outside of acting publicized. Good for them.
I am sure that those 3 child
actors are living a happy life
when they retired from being
actors out of the limelight.
Good luck to them in their
Now private lives away from
acting.
Zip 24 days ago
The first thing I thought of, was she related to Alan Hale Jr.(The Skipper). I'm guessing not, or they would have mentioned it, right?

I do love that episode that she was in. With Gomer shuttling the family around trying to find them a place to stay while their truck gets fixed.
Runeshaper 24 days ago
You gotta love an animal lover! (-:
harlow1313 25 days ago
She had an interesting face. A bit serious. Raccoon circles around her eyes.
Andybandit 25 days ago
Nice story. Even though I never heard of her.
I haven’t either.
Pacificsun 25 days ago
What a beautiful story! And 50 roles in less than 5 years is 𝒂𝒎𝒂𝒛𝒊𝒏𝒈! She must've had a very hard-working agent, so few of them are ever credited.

My father, born and died as a writer, absolutely loved Westerns. We watched every single one, no lie. And it wasn't until being an adult that my appreciation is equal to his own. I hope Betsy found peace and happiness in her life, in gratitude for what she contributed to the screen.

Thank you for this story, MeTV Staff Writers!
harlow1313 Pacificsun 25 days ago
My father enjoyed Zane Grey novels.
texasluva 25 days ago
I have done searches as to Betsy Hale whereabouts and life after cinema appearances. A couple ended up in a dead end. One showing her passing away in 2007 though I sort of doubted that one when her husband was referred to as Tony Hale which of course does not seem right.

The one deemed most likely is this one below. Which you will not get much info since she was a very quiet person about her personal affairs. She is 69 if still living as this article suggests. If one can find out more detail it would be nice.

https://celebseek.com/betsy-hale-wikipedia-bio-age-husband
Pacificsun texasluva 25 days ago
Any number of things can happen to these people along the way. Hollywood is absolutely unforgiving about aging. Except for the minority of those who stand out among our classic TV consideration.

But even in anonymity, I hope she might be reading this to know that memorable classic TV actors are always appreciated. And the best ones, never forgotten. I prefer to think of them as who they were. Unless very happy endings can be assured.

Isn't that like how most of us want to be remembered; as in being the best of who we are!!
Lantern texasluva 25 days ago
Maybe she just wanted to do a "Lisa Gerritsen" - leave show business and live an anonymous life in adulthood.
Michael Lantern 25 days ago
I thought Lisa Gerritsen was a most enthralling child star. But of course, I was about her age when she was on. Welcome to my world.
daDoctah Michael 25 days ago
I see what you did there.
Debra Michael 23 days ago
I liked that show " Welcome to my World". I thought it was cute and still don't get why it was canceled.
harlow1313 25 days ago
I can understand a desire to act, a desire to create art, but I don't much understand those who wish to be public figures with no escape. I value my privacy too much. Imagine being Beyonce or Johnny Depp. I am reminded of the Emily Dickinson poem:

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one's name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!
Pacificsun harlow1313 25 days ago
I acknowledge your comment as a personal reaction, no worries 😉 And love the clever poem; gotta love Emily!

The problem isn’t so much the recognition factor. And am not so sure people should be forced into living under a rock. The question is whether what they bargained for, is a fair enough price to be paid. A subjective call. Because the craft of being a successful actor can’t be achieved without identity. Some crave it. While others ungratefully turn their back on it once achieved. All depending on their motivation.

I wrote a post once regarding the experience of one who’s privacy was robbed, because fans never saw it that way. The problem isn’t in the hands of those inconvenienced. But regarding any profession, are the people who simply can’t respect boundaries. Is it human nature, or a life lesson, hard to tell. 😉
harlow1313 Pacificsun 25 days ago
I like to think about the psychology of it all, our neediness, our insecurity. I very much like the idea of creating art, and that fame may be a byproduct, but I have difficulty relating to someone who is motivated to be a "celebrity." Perhaps it is the minority. I don't know. But I wonder about the thinking of a person who craves celebrity. As you might notice, I engage in mental masterba****. It's fun!
Michael Pacificsun 25 days ago
Some of the problem is conflating "movie star" with fame. The industry has traditionally pushed that, but so.ebody coukd just like acting without wanting the fame. Cree Summer was kind of famous for "A Different World", but other than voicing animated shows, she's stopped acting.
Pacificsun Michael 25 days ago
IMO, you're correct. Movie Star and Hollywood are synonymous, and actors 𝙣𝙚𝙚𝙙 recognition to progress. And 𝒏𝒐 𝒆𝒔𝒄𝒂𝒑𝒆 isn't part of their equation, unlike we mere mortals can't imagine (as Harlow suggests). In terms of practicing their craft however, it's my hunch that the dedicated choose the theater. The problem there is, it doesn't pay as much unless it's a Broadway smash. And stints are shorter with more auditions necessary. So the question becomes, are these souls out for recognition or compensation? No doubt, both would be nice.
LoveMETV22 harlow1313 25 days ago
Yes Artwork is fun to ponder and fascinating for some:

As far as celebrities go , some are probably motivated by 💲💲, others the fame or simply they truly enjoy the medium. As always your view and comments are appreciated.
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