Susan Gordon, Child Actress of the ’50s and ’60s, Dies at 62

Susan Gordon Five Pennies 1959 - P 2011
Everett Collection

Susan Gordon Five Pennies 1959 - P 2011

She starred in Danny Kaye’s “The Five Pennies,” “The Twilight Zone” and a live TV version of “Miracle on 34th Street.”

Susan Gordon, who as a child actress sang with Danny Kaye and Louis Armstrong in 1959’s The Five Pennies and starred in a memorable episode of TV’s The Twilight Zone, died Dec. 11 of cancer in Teaneck, N.J. She was 62.

The golden-haired Gordon also starred in a live NBC version of Miracle on 34th Street on Thanksgiving weekend in 1959 opposite Ed Wynn as Kris Kringle and in episodes of such shows as Gunsmoke, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Donna Reed Show and My Three Sons (as four different characters).

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At age 8, Gordon made her acting debut in the sci-fi classic Attack of the Puppet People (1958), directed by her father, Bert I. Gordon, when she substituted for another little girl who became ill. She also appeared in two other films directed by her father, Tormented (1960) and Picture Mommy Dead (1966) with Zsa Zsa Gabor.

In The Five Pennies, a biopic of cornet player and bandleader Red Nichols, Gordon plays Kaye’s daughter (Tuesday Weld portrays the character when she grows older). She sings along with Kaye on “Music Goes Round and Round” and performs the title song in counterpoint to Kaye and Armstrong on “Goodnight, Sleep Tight Medley.” “The Five Pennies” was nominated for an Oscar for best song.

According to Gordon’s website, Hollywood columnist Walter Winchell called Gordon “the most talented child actress since Miss [Shirley] Temple” after seeing the film.

In the 1962 Twilight Zone episode "The Fugitive," Gordon’s character, wearing a leg brace, befriends the grandfatherly ruler of a planet (J. Pat O’Malley) who is hiding out on Earth.

In recent years, Gordon appeared in the off-Broadway production A Magic Place an a New Time in 2002 and contributed a rendition of “You're a Dolly” from Attack of the Puppet People on a 2003 CD compilation titled Jeepers Creepers: Great Songs From Horror Films.