Oscar: Jon Whiteley–Juvenile Oscar Honoree Dies at 75


Jon Whiteley, who received an honorary juvenile Oscar for his performance in the 1953 British drama The Kidnappers, has died. He was 75.

His death was announced by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, where he served as a teacher and art historian for 38 years.

Whiteley was 8 when he and fellow Scotlander Vincent Winter starred as boys being raised by their grandparents (Duncan Macrae and Jean Anderson) in 1900s Nova Scotia following their father’s death. The children then find an abandoned baby and decide to raise her on their own. The film was released as The Little Kidnappers when it played in the U.S.

Whiteley and Winter were each given a juvenile Oscar for their work. In 1934, Shirley Temple was the first to receive one of the smaller statuette and Hayley Mills, in 1960, the last.

Among the other eight to be so honored: Deanna Durbin, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien and Bobby Driscoll.

Whiteley’s folks would not allow him to attend the Oscars in 1954, so the trophy was mailed to him. “I remember when it arrived, hearing it was supposed to be something special, I opened the box and I was very disappointed,” he later recalled, “I thought it was an ugly statue.”

Born on February 19, 1945, in Aberdeenshire, Whiteley was 6 and the son of a headmaster when he read The Owl and the Pussycat on BBC Radio. That attracted the attention of a London film producer, and Whiteley would make his movie debut opposite Dick Bogarde in the drama Hunted (1952).

After The Kidnappers, Whiteley worked with Stewart Granger and George Sanders in Fritz Lang’s Moonfleet (1955), with Steve Cochran and Lizabeth Scott in The Weapon (1956) and with Bogarde again in The Spanish Gardener (1956), followed by two TV appearances.

He studied at Pembroke College in Oxford and became a curator at Christ Church Picture Gallery in the city before landing at the Ashmolean Museum. He retired a few years ago.