Rodney Allen Rippy (b. 1968) had excellent representation. Much like the slightly older Mason Reese, Rippy was not so much a child actor as a “personality”. Like Reese, he came to fame as a cute kid in television commercials, in Rippy’s case, for the fast food restaurant chain Jack in the Box. We didn’t have Jack in the Box where I lived, and I don’t recall ever seeing seeing these ads. But I DID see him on the covers of magazines (like this TV Guide spread) and on the talk shows of guys like Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin. Look at the tagline above: “stardom” was the apparent goal; quite a different thing from, say, taking roles, and playing characters as an artistic calling.
For roughly two hot years (1974 and 1975), Rippy was frequently cast in movies and on television. He played Cleavon Little’s character as a boy in a flashback in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (1974). He was in episodes of Marcus Welby MD, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Police Story. A good deal of the time, as in the Odd Couple episode he appeared in, he played himself. He also released a
His childhood career wound down when he was 12 (1980), with a guest shot on Vega$ and a role in Oh, God! Book II.
After this, Rippy retired, concentrated on his schooling, and got a degree in marketing. Since the ’90s, he’s divided time between running his own marketing company and making personal appearances in the occasional film and TV role — very much like his original career. Unlike most former child stars, he turned out successful, stable and sane, all at the same time. There are great recent interviews (like this one) with him on youtube. It is his birthday today; we wish him a cake that is “too big-a eat.”