4000 Warner Boulevard
Burbank, California 91522
“THE CHILDREN NOBODY WANTED”
When a young, 19-year-old college student obtains a license to be a foster parent, he becomes obsessed with the idea of providing a home for unwanted children and not only exceeds the limit of five allowed by his license, but creates problems For himself by neglecting the girl who loves him.
Fred Lehne – Tom Butterfield
Michelle Pfeiffer – Suzanne Marshall
Barbara Barrie – Sybil
Joey Turley – Joey
Jerry Hardin – Mr. Watson
Anne Haney – Mrs. Lightheart
Earl Boen – Mt. Madden
Matt Clark – Bill Westbrook
Noble Willingham – McNaulty
F. William Parker – Meuschke
Co-Producers: Dan Blatt & Bob Singer
Director: Richard Michaels
Story by Lee Hutson
Teleplay by Lee Hutson
A BLATT-SINGER PRODUCTION
While working at Missouri State Hospital for the Epileptic and Feeble Minded to get extra college credit, a lanky, 19-year-old, red-headed hayseed named Tom Butterfield (FRED LEHNE) observes an orderly hitting a feeble old male patient. When Tom pushes the orderly away from the old man, an argument ensues, which is broken up by the appearance of Mr. Watson (JERRY HARDIN), the hospital superintendent. Mr. Watson thanks Tom for bringing this to his attention and says he will take care of the matter.
Several weeks later, while Tom is cleaning up the college cafeteria after classes to earn extra money, he meets Suzanne Marshall (MICHELLE PFEIFFER), a pretty, petite 18-year-old blonde student. She is Charmed by Tom’s shy embarrassed manner.
Another afternoon at the hospital, while Tom is trying to cheer up patients in the children’s ward, Sybil (BARBARA BARRIE), a nurse, tells him the orderly has been placed on disciplinary probation. Later, he discovers a frightened little boy named Joey (JOEY TURLEY) who really doesn’t belong in this institution. He’s there because he’s a ward of the court and there was no place else to keep a child of his age. Tom gets permission to take him out in the afternoons to play. It isn’t long before anywhere you see Tom, you also see Joey. In fact, Suzanne is not too happy about Joey accompanying them on dates.
One night, Joey is brutally attacked in his bed at the hospital. Tom angrily confronts Mr. Watson who reluctantly agrees to let Tom keep Joey, providing he promises to return Joey the minute there is any trouble from the Welfare Department. “And there will be,” he adds.
Sybil provides Tom and Joey with a place to live — in her attic. Things are going fairly well until Tom receives a call from Watson saying that Mrs. Lightheart (ANNE HANEY), Joey’s social worker, has discovered that he is missing and insists he be returned to the hospital. Tom says he can’t return Joey to the hospital. The boy he took out of there isn’t the same boy now. It’s a different Joey.
When Mr. Watson threatens him with criminal charges, he goes to see the head of the Child Care Division in Jefferson City to ask for a license to be a foster parent. An argument follows and Mr. Madden (EARL BOEN) threatens to have Tom put in jail. Tom counters with his own threat — to expose to the public what 1 happens to little children down on their luck. He gets the license, which entitles him to be a foster parent to no more than five children.
Then, the multiplication begins. First, there’s little David who has no home.
When the attic gets cramped, Tom and Suzanne locate a run-down ranch house which they rent for a low price. It needs a lot of fixing up before it will be accept- able to the Welfare Department.
With more children being added all the time, they reach the license limit of five — and beyond. Soon, there are a total of nine children, including some older teen-agers and a black boy. Times are tough. What with money problems, bigotry, some of the older boys getting in trouble with the law, and trying to hide the four surplus boys from the Welfare Department, Tom and Suzanne are forced to use their ingenuity to raise money to start a proper home for children.
In one last desperate attempt, they mount a direct mail campaign to the townspeople requesting donations. They’ve been ordered to have the ranch in proper working order by the week before Christmas or the whole operation will be shut down.
When the direct mail campaign produces no contributions, Tom goes before_ the Kiwanis Club with an impassioned plea. Among other things, he points out that any one of them could be killed along with his wife in an automobile accident.
“What happens to your kids, then? Who takes care of them? Your Aunt Mabel who is 86? Or do they go to Boonville? Maybe the State Mental Hospital? Doesn’t have to be anything wrong with them, just no room for them someplace else. And one night some poor, sick patient comes in and beats and rapes them. Yeah, your kid!”
The end result is a flood of contributions, and thanks for making the towns- people sit up and listen.
While everyone is enjoying a Christmas dinner — with turkey and all the trimmings — Tom and Suzanne express their happiness and love for each other. A knock at the door and in comes a small child, looking lost, in a tattered coat, with a toy-sized suitcase. The child looks up at Tom and asks, “Are you the man who takes children that nobody wants?” Tom replies, “I sure am, little fella.You hungry?”
When they remove the child’s hat, they discover it’s not a “little fella” atall. It’s a little girl.
And a whole new situation begins.
“THE CHILDREN NOBODY WANTED”—AND WHAT ONE MAN DID ABOUT IT
Tom Butterfield was a typical college freshman in 1957 wide-eyed, anxious to learn and short on money. So, after classes at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Mo., Tom got part-time work at the Marshall State Hospital whose patients had mental problems.
One of those patients was an eight-year-old boy who was there because the state had no other place to put him. Tom befriended the lonely youngster and the more he got to know him the angrier he got at the boy’s unfortunate plight. A man of action, Tom went to state officials and after a long court battle and interminable legal hassles, he was named the youngster’s foster father.
By now, Butterfield was 21, a junior in college. He rented a house in order to provide a decent home for the boy.
Taking care of the one youngster worked so well that by the time Tom graduated, he had persuaded the state to let him take another boy, and another and etc…
“All of a sudden,” grins the lanky redhead from Missouri,
“I had 13 kids. I had more than a problem making a home for one boy, I was facing a challenge to furnish a decent life for a whole batch.”
And so, one man’s dream of a better life for all became Butterfield Youth Services, in 1963. Today, between 25 and 30 young folks, including six girls, live in the four ranches
comprising the BYS in and around Marshall. The entire operation is licensed by the state and staffed by professionals.
These include counselors, resident directors, clerical and maintenance supervisors, cooks, housekeepers, tutors and social workers. BYS also employs professional consultation
and part-time services, such as a psychiatrist, group treatment consultant, registered nurse, pharmaceutical consultant and a dietary specialist.
The children cared for by BYS are sometimes placed by various Missouri agencies or are the products of broken homes or parents who can’t or won’t provide for them. There is a
growing waiting list of children. Unfortunately, there is also a growing shortage of funds.
BYS is only partially financed by state money and under today’s strict economic cutbacks, what little federal funding used to filter down to the operation is fast fading away.
But Tom Butterfield is staying with it, determined to find a way to keep his BYS going and take care of his young unfortunates.
His story is told with dramatic force on CBS-TV, December 5, with Fred Lehne and Michelle Pfeiffer, two of Hollywood’s top new talents, starring in this two-hour Warner Bros. telefilm, “TheChildren Nobody Wanted.”