Charles Herbert, a former child actor who appeared in classic B-movie horror films like William Castle’s 13 Ghosts and the original version of The Fly, has died from a heart attack. Herbert was 66.
Active from 1953 (when he was only five years old) until 1968, Herbert appeared in 20 films and 50 TV shows across his career, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Playhouse 90, and The Jack Benny Show. In 1962, he starred in the Ray Bradbury-written Twilight Zone episode “I Sing The Body Electric,” playing a young boy who quickly grows attached to his new robotic grandmother.
Herbert’s career slowed down in the 60s, as he struggled to transition into an adult acting career, with his last credited role as a guest star on a 1968 episode of Diahann Carroll’s sitcom, Julia. According to his biography on IMDB, the end of his acting career heralded a downturn in Herbert’s life, as he struggled for years to find employment, and began a decades-long battle with addictions to alcohol and drugs.
Herbert was eulogized on Facebook by his friend and Houseboat co-star Paul Petersen, who runs a non-profit organization to help troubled former child stars. Peterson said that he and Herbert (who had been clean since 2005) were planning on getting lunch together soon, and that the former star was looking forward to his next science fiction convention, at which he was often a staple. Although acknowledging Herbert’s struggles with the damage his early career had left him with, Petersen concluded his thoughts by focusing on the former actor’s optimism: “My friend died sober, looking forward to the future.”