May 21, 2013

Chris and Patrick Petersen: 1970s Ninja Kids

During the late 1970s, as networks scrambled to find enough child actors to fill their "after school special" kid-angst movies, Brothers Chris and Pat Petersen (no relation to the 1950s teen idol Paul Petersen) were important players.

Chris, the oldest (born in 1963), was everywhere in 1978 and 1979, on tv (Little House on the Prairie, The Incredible Hulk, The Baxters) and in movies (When Every Day was the Fourth of July, The Swarm).   His roles often  involved buddy-bonds:

1. Playing baseball with Larry B. Scott in The Rag-Tag Champs, an ABC Afterschool Special (1978)

2. Lost in the Colorado Rockies with Guillermo San Juan in Joey and Redhawk on CBS Afternoon Playhouse.  This one had a "boys alone" gay subtext.

3. Karate-kicking with younger brother Pat in the precursor to the 1990s ninja kid craze, The Little Dragons (1979).

4. Fighting racism with Moosie Drier in The House at 12 Rose Street (1980).

When Chris hit his teen years, the roles dried up, and he retired from acting.

His brother Patrick (born in 1966) had a longer career, starting with the tv series The Kallikas (1977), How the West was Won (1979), and Shirley (1980), plus some gay-subtext after school specials of his own:

1. The Ransom of Red Chief (1977, 1979), an ABC Schoolbreak Special about a boy terrorizing his kidnappers.

2. The Contest Kid (1978, 1979), an ABC Schoolbreak Special about a boy who enters contests, and his best friend (Ronnie Scribner).

In 1979, he landed the role of Michael Fairgate on the evening soap Knot's Landing.  Michael provided shirtless teen-idol photos and tight jeans as the teenage son of Sid and Karen Fairgate, who worked in an auto garage and kept getting dumped by girls.

When Knot's Landing ended in 1991, Pat retired from acting and opened a health food store.