Billy Chapin, Child Actor in 'The Night of the Hunter,' Dies at 72

Billy Chapin 'The Night of the Hunter' - H 2016
United Artists/Photofest

His sister, Lauren Chapin, announced the news Saturday afternoon, citing a long illness as the cause of death.

Billy Chapin, a former child actor best known for starring opposite Robert Mitchum in 1955's The Night of the Hunter, has died. He was 72.

His sister Lauren Chapin, also a child star who appeared on the sitcom Father Knows Best, announced the news Saturday afternoon in a Facebook post.

"It is with a saddened heart that I say goodbye to my precious brother Billy Chapin," her message, posted to her personal page, reads. "He passed away last night after a long illness but now is in the arms of his Savior. ... He will be greatly missed."

It is with a saddened heart that I say" Good Bye " to my precious brother Billy Chapin, wonderful Star of Movies ,...

Posted by Lauren Chapin on Saturday, December 3, 2016

Chapin got his start as an infant, appearing in uncredited roles in such films sasch 1944's Casanova Brown and 1946's The Cockeyed Miracle before making his stage debut in the Broadway musical Three Wishes for Jamie.

The young actor landed his big break starring alongside Dan Dailey, Anne Bancroft and Lloyd Bridges as "Diaper Manager" Christie Cooper in 1953's The Kid From Left Field. He is best remembered for his role as young John Harper in Charles Laughton's film noir Night of the Hunter.

Chapin last appeared on the TV series Fury, which ended its run in 1959.

He also is survived by his brother Michael Chapin.

A memorial service for family, friends and fans will be held at 11 a.m. on Dec. 26 at the Monroe Street Christian Church at 4160 Monroe St. in Los Angeles. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the Salvation Army.