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Peter Billingsley Biography
Peter was born in New York City. His father, Alwin Michaelsen, is a financial consultant and his mother, Gail, was once Alwin’s secretary. Gail is the niece of Stork Club owner Sherman Billingsley, and her cousin, Glenn Billingsley, was married to actress Barbara Billingsley (1915–2010), who used her married name as her acting name even after the divorce. Gail was the one who initially took the children around to auditions. She once took the children to Browns Mills, New Jersey for a commercial commemorating our troops. All five of the children in the family had acting careers when they were young. The oldest of Billingsley’s siblings, Dina and Win, had the briefest acting careers working mostly in commercials with brief guest spots on television shows. Peter’s elder sister, Melissa, may be best known for her role as Maxx Davis on Me and Maxx.Peter’s older brother, Neil, began playing Danny Walton on the daytime soap opera Search for Tomorrow in 1975 and has had numerous roles in commercials and guest shots on TV series. Following his acting career, Neil works in finance in New York City.
Billingsley received his early childhood education from a combination of tutors (including child actor tutor Wesley Staples), public schools and private institutions (including the Professional Children’s School in New York City), Phoenix Country Day School in Paradise Valley, AZ, and eventually passed his California High School Proficiency Exam at the age of fourteen. He seems to have also attended some public secondary schools following the GED including Arcadia High School, Phoenix, Arizona. In the late 1980s, he took a brief break from show business to attend Phoenix College.On January 28th, 1986, Billingsley was present at launch pad 39B (at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida) for the doomed launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. He and classmates of the son of America’s first teacher-astronaut (Christa McAuliffe) cheered as the space shuttle Challenger lifted skyward. Their delight turned to horror as the shuttle exploded 73 seconds into flight. Billingsley was a spokesman for the young astronaut program.
Peter Billingsley Career
Billingsley’s first acting role was as a two-year-old in a Geritol commercial with Betty Buckley playing his mom. He went on to star in about 120 television ads throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. At 12 he was quoted as saying: “After 100 (commercials), you lose count.” He was likely best known for a series of commercials for Hershey’s chocolate syrup in which he portrayed the popular character Messy Marvin. One of Billingsley’s earliest film roles was in 1978’s If Ever I See You Again, written and directed by Joseph Brooks.
His role in 1981’s Paternity opposite Burt Reynolds earned a nomination for “Best Young Comedian – Motion Picture or Television” at The Young Artist Awards. In 1981, he appeared in Honky Tonk Freeway, and that October was a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. In 1982 Billingsley starred in several features, including Death Valley, Massarati and the Brain, and the made-for-TV movie Memories Never Die with Lindsay Wagner and his sister, Melissa Michaelsen. He had a featured guest role as Gideon Hale on Little House on the Prairie, began a three-year stint as a co-host on NBC’s popular Real People (for which he earned another Young Artist Award nomination), and he hosted a two-episode offshoot of the show called Real Kids.
In 1983 Billingsley starred in A Christmas Story, based on Jean Shepherd’s In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, which built its audience slowly over the years and is now broadcast for twenty-four hours from Christmas Eve until Christmas Day on TBS. The film earned Billingsley another Young Artist Award nomination, and is arguably the one role he is most associated with. He has been quoted as saying that people still approach him on the street, only to say “you’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”
In 1984 Billingsley starred in an adaptation of The Hoboken Chicken Emergency with Dick Van Patten and Gabe Kaplan, a special Thanksgiving episode of the PBS series WonderWorks. He appeared on a “Super Teen” special edition of Family Feud, and on Celebrity Hot Potato.
As the late 1980s approached, Billingsley’s acting career slowed. He made guest appearances on Who’s The Boss?, Punky Brewster, The Wonder Years, and Highway To Heaven and appeared in The Dirt Bike Kid (for which he won a Young Artist Award), and Carly’s Web, Russkies, and Beverly Hills Brats.
The early 1990s saw Billingsley tackling older roles such as a would-be jock who gets hooked on steroids in the CBS Schoolbreak Special The Fourth Man. On that project he formed a close friendship with Vince Vaughn. His next Schoolbreak Special appearance was in The Writing on the Wall (1994), starring Hal Linden as a rabbi who teaches three boys about the horrors of intolerance after they are caught defacing his home, temple, and car with swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti. Billingsley was nominated for an Emmy Award for this role.
Peter Billingsley Wife
There’s no record of him being married but he’s dating Buffy Bains.
Peter Billingsley Children
As of November 2017 he has no children.
Peter Billingsley Awards
He’s won the Young Artist Award.