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From humble beginnings as a baby contest winner to her 1931 debut in Women Love Once, Marilyn Knowlden was an "Alice" dropped into a giant, wonderland known as Hollywood. In that topsy-turvy world, she appeared in films with The Marx Brothers, Greta Garbo, Clara Bow, Katherine Hepburn, Shirley Temple, Claudette Colbert, Fredric March, Charles Laughton, Norma Shearer, Bobby Breen, Tyrone Power, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, and Bette Davis. She was sought after by producers Darryl F. Zanuck, David O Selznick, and Jack Warner, and shepherded by directors such as Mervyn LeRoy, William Wellman, Richard Boleslawski, and George Cukor through six films nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as Best Production of the Year. Marilyn appeared in some of the most famous films from Hollywood's Golden Years, including Imitation of Life, David Copperfield, Les Misérables, Anthony Adverse, Show Boat, Marie Antoinette, Angels With Dirty Faces, and All This and Heaven Too.    


Greta Garbo warned her, "In Hollywood, don't count on anything!" After appearing in more than fifty films, Marilyn emerged from the sound stages to embark on worldwide journeys that spanned encounters with General MacArthur in his battle with sea serpents to a thrilling return onstage under the spotlights. Actress, songwriter, and author, Marilyn Knowlden was more than a little girl in big pictures; she achieved a lasting legacy that still thrills audiences today. 


456 pages. Illustrated with 146 photos. ISBN 9781593936389



Visit the author's website!

Article in the Beaufort Observer


"Marilyn Knowlden (born 1926) has one of

the most impressive resumés of any child
actress. In her ten-year, 32-film career, she
appeared in Call Her Savage (1932), The
Mind Reader (1933), Little Women (1933),
Imitation of Life (1934), David Copperfield
(1935), Les Misérables (1935), Show Boat
(1936), Anthony Adverse (1936), Marie
Antoinette (1938), Angels with Dirty Faces
(1938), All This, and Heaven Too (1940), etc.
I always thought Knowlden was a good little
actress—perhaps too good, because even
though she had success, she never became
a star. Her acting blended naturally into the
movies she was in.
Her autobiography Little Girl in Big
Pictures (BearManor Media softcover,
$24.95), is one that movie fans should
LOVE. She worked with or knew many
Golden Age stars, in particular Katharine
Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Shirley Temple,
Fredric March, Claudette Colbert, Bette
Davis, Mary Miles Minter, etc., and remembers
them in vivid, sometimes funny/
touching anecdotes. She describes what
it was like being on the soundstages, and
explains to her readers certain technical
things. The song lyrics from “I’m Gonna
Get You in the Movies!” by Knowlden appear
between the appropriate narrative
The tone throughout is without bitterness.
Knowlden comes across as a sweet,
amusing and amiable person. It sure helped
that she, unlike many child actresses, had
wonderful, supportive parents. Her life, not
without its difficulties, was a varied one.
She did not cling to Hollywood, but eventually
decided to move on to other pursuits.
“I’ve been a busy little girl and an equally
busy old woman…. I’ve been a little poor
and a little rich, a world traveler, and a stay-at-
home mom. I’ve been surrounded by
lights and cameras, and I’ve lived the life
of an ordinary person. I’ve been healthy
and very sick, extremely happy, and near
despair!” It is a credit to Knowlden that
when she does leave Hollywood, her book
does not falter. I enjoyed hearing about her
family, her experiences in Japan and around
the world and her work on radio.
Knowlden is a fine storyteller. Only occasionally
does she slip up with factual errors;
her editor should have addressed those. But
it doesn’t deter from the book’s entertainment
The photos are stunning, especially the
character shot of Knowlden as Little Cosette
in Les Misérables. She truly had one
of the great faces in Hollywood.
Give this one a chance. Even if you don’t
know her name, you will know the movies
she was in and the stars with whom she appeared.
It’s a good read."
- Laura Wagner, Classic Images