The Academy Awards have been honoring cinematic achievements since its first banquet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in 1929. Hollywood players, young and old, strive to be recognized by the Academy as it is an honor to receive such an award. However, it was when 9-year old Jackie Cooper was nominated for best actor in 1931 that the Academy recognized a need for a juvenile award since they felt children would be at a disadvantage when compared to their adult counterparts. The 7th Annual Academy Award show in 1935 marked the first presentation of the Academy Juvenile Award, which was an award presented to actors 18 and under who have showed outstanding performances. The Academy Juvenile Award was presented over the next 25 years. However, in 1963 when 16-year-old Patty Duke won the Oscar for best supporting actress the Academy saw that a child could compete against adults when it came to awards and thus did away with the Academy Juvenile Award. Here are the youngest actors to win Academy Awards in Oscar history.
received an Academy Award for his role in the 1980 film, Ordinary People. Hutton was just 20 years old at the time and he is still to this date the youngest actor to win an Oscar for best supporting actor. After his great success, Hutton went on to star in films such as Taps and The Falcon and the Snowman, although he struggled to maintain his stardom in Hollywood. Most recently, Hutton starred in the television series, Leverage, which ran from 2008 to 2012.
9. Mickey Rooney – Age 18
Actor, Mickey Rooney was best known for his role as the All-American teenager, Andy Hardy. It was in 1937, that Rooney was first introduced to the world as Hardy in the film, A Family Affair. 1938 became a special year for Rooney as he received the Academy Juvenile Award for his fantastic stage presence. Rooney went on to star in various films, including Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Black Stallion and Night at the Museum. Sadly this past April Rooney passed away at the age of 93.
8. Judy Garland – Age 17
Famous Wizard of Oz actress, Judy Garland was just 17-years-old at the time when she was presented with the Academy Juvenile Award in 1939. The young starlet had just starred in the classic film, The Wizard of Oz and the film, Babes in Arms was just released, where she starred opposite, Mickey Rooney. Garland’s big-screen success named her one of MGM’s most bankable performers. Garland went on to star in a string of films, however despite her success her personal life was spiraling downward. The young actress dealt with prescription drug issues as she was given uppers to deal with her weight and sleeping pills to be able to rest. Sadly, in 1969 the actress was found dead in the bathroom of her home, barbiturates were found in her system and her death was stated to be “accidental.”
7. Patty Duke – Age 16
In 1963, 16-year-old actress Patty Duke won the Academy Award for best supporting actress for her role as Helen Keller. At that time, Duke was considered to be the youngest actress to ever win a competitive Academy Award. Duke perfected her role as Helen Keller two years prior, as she played the role in the Broadway play. After her award win, the young actress went on to star in her own television show, The Patty Duke Show for three seasons, earning her an Emmy nomination. Despite Duke’s acting success, behind the scenes, the actress was dealing with her undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Since then, the actress has appeared on numerous televisions shows and she remains an activist for mental health as she was the first celebrity to go public in stating that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
6. Hayley Mills – Age 14
English actress, Hayley Mills is best known for her success during her child and teen years. It was in 1960 that Mills was signed on to a five year contract with Walt Disney, lining her up to star in a slew of Disney films. The wholesome, blue-eyed actress won audiences over in the 1960 film, Pollyanna, which is the film that won the young actress the Academy Juvenile Award. She was the last young child star to win the Academy Juvenile Award. Mills went on to star in the ever popular film, The Parent Trap, where she played dual roles and she continued to act into her late teen years. As an adult Mills was never able to achieve the success she experienced as a child star although she continued to star in various television and stage roles.
5. Anna Paquin – Age 11
Actress, Anna Paquin started her acting career out with a bang when she landed the role of Flora McGrath in the 1993 film, The Piano. The 10-year-old actress at the time had no prior acting experience besides that of a skunk in a school play. In 1994, the actress won the Academy Award for best supporting actress, making her the second youngest actress to win an Oscar. After the success of The Piano, Paquin went on to star in successful films such as Almost Famous and Fly Away Home. However, the actress has gained and maintained recent success in her role as Sookie Stackhouse in the HBO series, True Blood.
4. Ivan Jandl – Age 11
Ivan Jandl won the Academy Juvenile Award in 1948 for his work in the 1948 film, The Search. Jandl portrayed a nine-year-old boy who had survived Auschwitz and was in search for his mother in a post-war Germany. At the time Jandl did not know any English as he was from the Czech Republic and had to learn all of his lines for the film, phonetically. Jandl was in Prague at the time of winning the Academy Juvenile Award and was not allowed to travel to the U.S. to receive it, thus some members of the Academy brought the award to Jandl in Prague. After his winning of the award, Jandl was a highly sought after young actor, however he was unable to work for any U.S. film studios as it was decided by the government that he would only be used for the Czech film industry. Although, Jandl only went on to make three more films. In 1987, the actor died at the age of 50 from diabetes complications.
3. Tatum O’Neal – Age 10
In 1974, at the young age of 10 years old, Tatum O’Neal was the youngest actress in Hollywood to win a competitive Oscar. She received the Academy Award for best supporting actress for her performance in the 1973 film, Paper Moon. The young actress starred in the film opposite her father, Ryan O’Neal and although the pair was known to have a tumultuous relationship off-screen, the duo shined on-screen. The young star went on to find success in numerous films, however her battle with substance abuse always seemed to follow her. After being arrested in 2008 for buying cocaine in New York City, O’Neal has sought treatment for her issues and is now looking to work on her acting career once again.
2. Margaret O’Brien – Age 8
Child actress, Margaret O’Brien is most notably known for her role as Tootie Smith in the 1944 film, Meet Me in St. Louis, starring Judy Garland. By age eight, O’Brien had already appeared in three films including 1944’s Jane Eyre, where O’Brien showed off her abilities to speak and sing with a French accent. It was for her achievements during 1944 that O’Brien was presented with the Academy Juvenile Award. The young actress went on to star in two more successful movies, Music for Millions and Our Vines Have Tender Grapes. However, after 1945, O’Brien appeared to be running out of luck in Hollywood. The aging actress found herself leaving the big screen for appearances on the smaller screen, starring in numerous television shows.
1. Shirley Temple – Age 6
Shirley Temple is highly recognized as one of the most famous child stars of all time. She first began to appear in movies at the age of three. However, it was her 1934 film, Bright Eyes that caught everyone’s attention. Temple’s ability to sing and act awed audiences everywhere leaving them with lasting impressions with songs such as On The Good Ship Lollipop and Animal Crackers in My Soup. It was in 1935 that Temple was honored for her work by becoming the first recipient of the Academy Juvenile Award. This was a special honorary Academy Award that was presented to actors less than 18 years of age for the outstanding works on screen.