The Children Nobody Wanted

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The Children Nobody Wanted

Michelle Pfeiffer The CBS Saturday Night Movies - "The Children Nobody Wanted" Saturday December 5th 1981

The Children Nobody Wanted

Left to Right; Matt Clark as Bill Westbrook, Fred Lehne as Tom Butterfield, Michelle Pfeiffer as Suzanne Marshall and Barbara Barrie as Sybil

n 1981, CBS television premiered The Children Nobody Wanted as it’s Christmas movie of the week.

Frederic Lehne stars as the real-life Tom Butterfield, a college student distressed by the plight of homeless children. He’d like to adopt a few of these kids, but Missouri law prohibits such a circumstance for an unmarried man. At great personal cost to himself both financially and emotionally, the 21-year-old Butterfield becomes the youngest single adult ever to be granted a foster-parent license, using this privilege to set up a Boy’s Town-like home for unwanted youngsters.

Lehne’s costar is Michelle Pfeiffer, on the threshold of bigger things, it meant her first stand-out performance.

Years later, Pfeiffer has been very fond of this work, she has become to say in interviews that “it was the first time I’d ever gone to an audition where the producers didn’t want me to be pretty.” (New York – June 19, 1989)

It was filmed in Marshall, Missouri, where his story continues to take place on a ranch refuge for his “Butter Boys.” Tom Butterfield, the subject of The Children Nobody Wanted movie, died less than a year after this TV movie’s debut.


Tom Butterfield

Fredric Lehne

Jennifer Williams

Michelle Pfeiffer

Bill Westbrook

Matt Clark


Noble Willingham

Mrs. Lightheart

Anne Haney

Joey Turley

Joey Turley


Barbara Barrie

Dr. Watson

Jerry Hardin

George Meuschke

F. William Parker


Earl Boen


Ryan Barcroft


Patrick Holcer


James Spinks III


Van Stapleton


Gary Riefle


Directed by

Richard Michaels


Lee Hutson

Produced by

Daniel H. Blatt and Robert Singer

Associate production by

Tom Butterfield

Director of photography

Reynaldo Villalobos

Original Music by

Barry De Vorzon

Art Direction by

Spencer Deverell

Film Editing by

Harry Keramidas

Production Companies

Warner Bros. Television

Filming Locations

Marshall, Missouri, USA

Release Dates

USA – December 5th, 1981

International Titles

Original Title (USA) – The Children Nobody Wanted
West Germany –
Der Junge Adoptiv-Vater
Portugal –
Filhos do Desespero
Spain –
Los niños que nadie quería
France –
Pour l’amour d’un enfant