In 1937, nine year old Moyer "Sonny" Bupp was the highest paid male child extra in Hollywood. That was the year he co-starred as a crippled boy in the well-known Three Stooges short Cash and Carry. The same year he appeared in minor roles in Frank Capra's Lost Horizon, Busby Berkeley's Hollywood Hotel and the movie debut of Ronald Reagan, Love Is on the Air, in which Bupp also sings "London Bridge is Falling Down" and shares the screen with his older brother Tommy.

A few years later, Sonny Bupp played his most famous character, Charles Foster Kane III, son of the title character of Citizen Kane. In 1943, he appeared in his final film, Eyes of the Underworld (aka Criminals of the Underworld), then according to his death notice in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, he served in the army during World War II -- although he must have been only 17 by war's end. His death notice says he went on to work as an automotive warehouse manager, while the IMDb claims he was an executive at Ford Motors. Either way, it is sad news that Bupp passed away November 1, in Henderson, Nevada, leaving behind no more known remaining survivors of Kane.

Bupp, along with brother Tommy and sisters June and Ann, became child actors when their family moved from New York City to California in the early years of the Depression with some intentions of getting the kids into showbiz (a fifth sibling, Paul, never ended up getting in). Sonny and Tommy had the greatest success, and in addition to Love Is on the Air, they both appeared in San Francisco with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, Swing Your Lady with Humphrey Bogart, When Tomorrow Comes with Irene Dunne and Kid Millions, which also featured Ann. Aside from his recognizable roles in Cash and Carry and Citizen Kane, Bupp may also be familiar for playing President Lincoln's terminally ill son Willie in 1940's Abe Lincoln in Illinois, as well as for a significant role in Three Faces West with John Wayne. He appears as an extra in other major films, including Sergeant York, San Francisco, The Devil and Daniel Webster and Angels with Dirty Faces. He was profiled in Tom and Jim Goldrup's book Growing Up on the Set: Interviews with 39 Former Child Actors of Classic Film and Television, in which he's quoted as saying, "I never liked being a child actor in films. In fact, I dreaded seeing [his agent] Mr. Olynick's car parked in front of our house, knowing it meant going on another interview for a movie part ... There is no camaraderie at all in motion pictures."

You can see his few moments as little Charlie Kane in this section of Citizen Kane:

categories Cinematical