Hollywood Flashback: Long Before Politics, Cynthia Nixon Debuted in 'Little Darlings'

Little Darlings Still - REX - S 2018

The 'Sex and the City' star, then 13, made her film debut in the 1980 movie about two girls (Tatum O'Neal and Kristy McNichol) trying to lose their virginity at summer camp: It focused on how "15-year-old girls are at a dangerous age," screenwriter Dalene Young says.

Cynthia Nixon, who wants to make her political debut as governor of New York, made her film debut at age 13 in Little Darlings. The movie's plot — similar to the upcoming Blockers — had the two leads (Tatum O'Neal, then 16, and Kristy McNichol, then 17) betting $100 over who would be the first to lose their virginity while at summer camp. THR described the 1980 film as "a teenybopper Animal House — it's just as gross as it is funny — although it goes for a sensitive, sentimental ending." 

Director Ron Maxwell says the "summer camp romp movie" that Paramount wanted evolved into "a serious comedy." Screenwriter Dalene Young adds it focused on how "15-year-old girls are at a dangerous age. We blame everything on boys, but girls are really more predatory."

The plot struck a chord with audiences: The $4.5 million production ($14 million today) grossed $34 million domestically ($103 million). The only disappointing aspect about Little Darlings for Maxwell is the absence of a DVD or streaming version because of song rights complications.

"The film has about a dozen 'needle drops' — brief moments of what were big hits at the time," says the director. "But the Paramount lawyers only got rights for theatrical and broadcast TV. It's now easier to see D.W. Griffith's Intolerance than Little Darlings." 

This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.