What's Happening!! : Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Like almost everyone else here, I watched a lot of the What's Happening marathon on TV Land over the weekend (hey, nostalgia is a powerful thing). The one thing that struck me was how freakishly untalented Danielle Spencer was. Her line readings are totally leaden and monotonous, like she's reading the script off a teleprompter for the fourth time that morning and has moved on to thinking about picking up her dry cleaning. She also has the most wooden facial expressions I've ever seen on TV, or should I say "expression" I don't think her face ever changes, no matter what.

Who got the idea this girl could act? I have no idea what the producers were thinking when they cast her. Either they picked her name at random from a hat and were too embarrassed to admit that they made a big mistake, or one of her people was pulling some pretty long strings to get her that role, because lord knows she didn't get it on merit.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Oh I don't know about that, I think she did great delivering her sarcastic, sassy lines. There might have been times she seemed like she was reading, but she was just a kid. I've seen alot worse acting by adults.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Here's how I see it. Danielle Spencer did a great job playing Dee, the deal is that the character of Dee Thomas seemed to be more funny in the beginning because she was still a little kid, but when the mid-part of the 2nd season at the most, came Dee began growing up so her lines as a small kid were beginning to fade and by the 3rd season she grew up. The thing I have against her, especially in the What's Happening Now!! series is that her voice became heavier but too squeaky, no offense Ms. Spencer, but that's it for me, other than that she was not bad at all.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Everyone around hr was OVER THE TOP she was grounded

Less is poor

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

I agree! Not only was she annoying as Dee Thomas, but she was a terrible child actress!

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

I think she started out being funny but got increasing stiff, awkward, and awful as she got older. She was always looking off into the distance as if looking for her next cue or maybe approval for someone off camera. Her acting on the show just got weird the older she became.

Post deleted

This message has been deleted.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

The worse child star was that Little Earl. Dee was funny and I like how she talked back to grown ups and got away with it.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Dee was very funny early on, but then turned into a robot as she got older.

Post deleted

This message has been deleted.

Post deleted

This message has been deleted.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

If you really watch the pilot, she's quite good. Her timings are great, facial expressions are greatmaybe the director of the pilot was just better? As time went on, her acting went downhill. The directors weren't as good either.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

wikipedia says she was in a severe accident wherein her stepfather died and she was severely injured in 1977. this, too, could have something to do with it.

Post deleted

This message has been deleted.

Post deleted

This message has been deleted.

Post deleted

This message has been deleted.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

She was only emotionless as she got older. In the first couple of seasons she was hilarious. As the third and fourth season came on, she was horrid, I agree.

Post deleted

This message has been deleted.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Worse child star ever? Hell No. I think we in our family and community watched and laughed at the show most of the time b/c of Danielle Spencer. Dee was hilarious. As a child actress she was great, the sarcasm was meant to be the personality of her character in the show, also I think she was adorable. I was happy to finally see these shows on TVLand as black sitcoms were (and still are) imperative to the American entertainment industry.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Does anyone know what she doing now?

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

I think she is a veterinarian in Cali

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Yes, Danielle Spencer is married and a veterinarian near Valencia, California.

As far as her acting goes, as with most child stars, a lot of it comes down to the director. She was actually very good in the first season (had some great one-liners), and for many episodes of the second, but by the third, she was painting by numbers but it's the director's responsibility to get the performance he wants.

Post deleted

This message has been deleted.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

I think she was good for her age/time frame. I beleive after the car accident (1977) she and her father were in (it killed her father) she was never really the same.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

no,little earl is the worst child actor.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?



Wow. that's interesting that the majority seem to be against Dee.
I happen to think she is one of the coolest kid characters of any show.

The facial expressions and attitude is styleits a different sort of timing and I dig it.
You do get the feeling she doesn't even want to be there sometimes and it actually adds to it. I was the same way at that age.

She's offbeat and funky. a world of her own.



.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

I have to disagree with you dee was the most funniest character of whats happening in my opinion, i just love her seriousness whn it comes to comdey that is what made her funny.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

I kind of like to refer to Dee Thomas as the Daria of the late 1970s, because there were times when she was very monotone, however, there is just one thing she does, that Daria would never do, let alone care to do, and the word is, "snitch".

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Danielle is one of the worst child actors to have ever lived. She totally sucked. I've watched nearly the whole series in my lifetime and in every episode she literally read her lines from a prompter (apparently due to her more deadpan than deadpan delivery).

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

i thought she was horrible the first time i saw the show, (which was only a few days ago). but since then, i have bought the dvds and she really grew on me. her lines are really funny and i think her personality is supposed to be like that. almost in a wednesday addams kind of way.

anyways, i think dj from roseanne is probably the worst child actor of all time.

"You'd bettah watch yoh step! You just might be cought undah the SpyGlass!"

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Who is Little Earl?

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Little Earl was Raj and Rerun's neighbor. He lived in an apartment building with his father, Detective Earl Barnett. Little Earl had a crush on Dee (who would stop by Raj and Rerun's apartment every now and then.)

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Dee was hilarious. Her monotone voice and stoic expression made it more funny.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

It seems as if you honestly don't know. Seriously, be thankful that you don't. You don't want to know about probably the single worst character I ever saw on a TV show in my entire life. By the way I am old enough to have watched this show regularly during it's original run in the late 1970's.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Dee was supposed to be sarcastic and disinterested. It worked well in her interactions with Raj and his friends. Thats what made it funny.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

I agree with Cclub and Greendimension. The monotone delivery and almost sourpus disposition were what made Dee so funny. Her character and delivery put her into the same category as folks like Ben Stein in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and Thomas Haden Church from "Wings". The humor is in the lack of emotion.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

I thought 'Dee' played the part very well. I think her stoic look was how the director wanted her to act and look. She has some of the best lines in the history of that series, in my opinion. I thought she did an excellent job.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Yeah, she was pretty bad (not only a bad actress but incredibly annoyingly obnoxious). I was maybe 11 when that show was on and even then I found her to be pretty bad. The rest of the show lives on though: I still find myself saying 'Hey Hey Hey' when entering a room.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Dee's character was played pretty good by Miss Spencer. She was so blas and aloof and it went with the role.

Get confidentSTUPIDpopcorn.gif

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

The whole concept of DEE is that she's a jaded, know-it-all, seen-it-all, impossible-to-impress 50 year-old woman trapped in a child's body.

The casting was spot on! I love her!

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

I saw Danielle Spencer on the TV Land Awards show last night and she was walking with some kind of crutch. This can't be from her car accident. What's up?

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

I totally disagree with that, simply due to the fact that there was at least one or two other candidates for "Worst child star EVER"
Just take a look at Little Earl in WH (David Hollander) and also Nancy from Little House/Little House: A New Beginning, Nellie's "reincarnation" character(Allison Balson). Now THOSE two really sucked as child actors. THINK about it.

Danielle's style of remaining on the deadpan level of things when she performed as Dee Thomas, was priceless! No one could do it as well as she sure did.
And this thing concerning whether or not she was funny following that unfortunate accident that claimed the life of her father (NOT stepfather!), wellin my professional outlook she was all-around humorous.
Period.
The sharp remarks and quick wit/quip definitely befitted her (both in the character role as Dee Thomas, and apparently in real life too!)you can't ask for better than that!
Overall, Danielle is amusing and she definitely deserves much more positive credit for her acting and contribution to the entertainment industry, than has obviously been given to her.
Moreover, she's a pretty cool and neat person to know (in real life)!

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Are some of you folks kidding? I remember when that show first came on and she was the one people were talking about. Before her there were no other smart aleck children that had any kind of sense like her on any tv show. Also she was suppose obnoxious. How can you call a person that by just looking at the tv show. Oh well I guess you folks must be Dakota Fanning fan.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Exactly! Well said, marbleannI totally concur w/ya.
No one BUT Danielle Spencer could put forth and carry out such a genuine & super-humorous level of being smart alecky and wisetail (I'm being clean hereLOL), as far as the character role went. I enjoyed her then, and I love her NOW especially.

And even if she WERE a real-life brat, it would be HER prerogative and so forth! :>)
To anyone who thinks that Danielle Spencer was "the worst child star ever", etc., all I have to tell ya is this: DON'T HATE ON THE STRONG SISTER
You don't even know her like that. LOL

Considering true-to-life facts here
As a child growing up in the Seventies decade (I was born in October '72), I honestly identified with and looked up to Dee Thomas (What's Happening!!/Now!!)AND Nellie Oleson (Little House) as my idols.
In the Dee sense, I never bit my tongue (especially to this day), and I can be quite sharp-sarcastic. And in the Nellie sense, I wore my hair just like her (unlike Alison Arngrim, I didn't wear a wig; my mother styled the curls in my real hair, and with beautiful satin or lace bows), and I also wore nice frilly dressesnever the same outfit in a two-week period, either.
Plus, like both cool characters, I was (and still am!) super-spoiled PAST the max!
And I'm proud of itLOL

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

I was in High School when it first came on and she was the one people talked about. And of course Heywood Nelson who was the "fine" one. He had just made a White Shadow, the other talk of the school and he died in the episode. It was a very sad episode. So when he showed up on What's Happening it was a pretty big thing. We never saw anyone like Dee before. Before her only Eddie Haskle from Leave it to Beaver came close. She was the smartest person on the show. And the Shirly Hemphill character was pretty popular too. Those 3 made the show. I cannot fathom why anyone would say she was a bad actress. Unless of course they are ..Dakota Fanning fans. Who I think is the most generic child actress we have seen in years. Shirley Temple she is not.
Now Nellie I never saw until I was in my 30's. Yes I became a Little House fan in my 30's. I had gotten sick and I was home from work for a few months and all that was on at 9 in the morning were Little House repeats. I am not a morning talk show fan so that was about all there was. Well I became addicted. My friends thougt I was nuts. Nelly was something else. I use to wear my hair like that when I was a kid too, not because of Nellie but because I was a brat and insisted that my mother give me Shirley Temple curls. What was I thinking.
The only thing I could not stand with that show is Michael Landon crying all of the time. I think it almost got to the point that he had to have at least on cry per show.
The actress is now a big Aids activist, because of the person who played her husband on the show died of it and she since has fought against it. And she also I understand was abused as a child and she is also a childrens advocate. And Dee is a Vetrinarian. Good for them.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

That is so interesting and fascinating to know about ya, marbleanngreat!
cool.gif
We must be of identical minds!

And that is a good synopsis of Alison Arngrim that you gave also. I couldn't have put it any better myself! trendy.gif roll2.gif

Either way, though, Danielle Spencer is quite cool in ALL the important ways: She's an all-around strong woman, with plenty of intelligence and good sense in her favor, and she keeps things real all the way around.
Those qualities alone are well worth all of my respect for her as one of the most entertaining child actors/entertainers in Sitcom history! Ohhh YEAH
cool.gif wave.gif

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever . . . . NOT!

She was hardly the worst child star ever. Too, too many more who could take that title.

As to her performance on the show, the show was built around the trio; Raj, Dewayne and Rerun.

Raj as the central character, would have his mother and his kid sister, who was a tattle-tale know-it-all smartmouth.

It seems this was largely all DAnielle Spencer was told to do. Yell her lines at Raj and be as sarcastic as possible.

There is one scene where she did begin to grin after delivering her line, but every other time she kept her expression monotone.

What should she have done? Raised an eyebrow?

Winked?

As others have noted, her lines were funny. They were funny 30 years ago and I still find them amusing.

And yes, as she got older, she stopped yelling them and got more monotone.

But again, she isn't the worst child actor out there.

She has bad moments, virtually all child actors do.

Check out her exchange with Bernard Fox (Dr. Bombay from Bewitched) or was it David White, when someone asked about a raise or something.

Dee: "Don't give them that huh-uh-uh. Give them the money, huh-uh-uh." and she waves her hand as she says it.

In the episode with Tim Reid as the school shrink, which is when Dee was getting monotone, check out the other girl, Robin. Clearly the girls were getting the same instructions on how to behave.

What's Happening? was a three year show (sorry, I don't look at WH-Now) and the transition from the beginning to the end is an amazing study.

The beginning is too rich for me to describe, as a child of ten when the series began. Even now I can watch it and notice the difference in clothes alone.

Shark jumper for me? Big Earl and Little Earl, hands down.

Big Earl actually got a good bit with that cookie episode (which is also a very amusing episode because of Shirley Hemphill) but I never liked the kid here, tho he did amuse in other programs.

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever . . . . NOT!

I agree with Richard, Marbalann and others about Ms. Spencer, I just wish she'd have continued acting. She seemed very intellegent both in her role and in realality. The person who responded that Dee seemed to be a 50 y/o person trapped in the body of a preteen (paraphrased) was pretty much dead on. I was a freshman in HS when the show aired and loved it. It is one of the few shows from that period that I can still somewhat say that about. Dee, although not the star was quite the reason to tune in She reminded me of my late ex-sister-in-law, smart, sassy, rapier wit. Anyway, suffice it to say she (Ms. Spencer) was very good in the role and I am afraid some of you just don't get it

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever . . . . NOT!

I think Dee made the show she is so classic with her smart ass attitude i loved her then and now PRICELESS

Re: Danielle Spencer: Worst child star ever?

Proof of DS's poor acting skills is culminated in the final episode of WH!! when the gang put on the benefit show to help the teen center. Her final monologue of offering the patrons their money back when Sammy Davis Jr. wasn't going to appear was truly uninspiring and unmotivating. And who told her she can sing (or Raj for that matter)???? This episode needs to be seen to be believed!

argue.gifRejection is the greatest aphrodisiac argue.gif
Top