Canadian-born Bobby Breen, born 1927, became an immediate radio and vaudeville sensation as a boy soprano, and it wasn't long before Hollywood came calling. In an era when Shirley Temple ruled the box-office, Breen established himself as a young performer with presence, charm and talent, starring in nine feature films over a six-year span, most of them released by RKO. Upon reaching adolescence, Breen's voice changed, and although he quietly retired from the screen in 1942, he continued to make nightclub and concert appearances.
Way Down South (1939, B&W): With its exquisite period decor and musical numbers, Way Down South could be seen as RKO's answer to Gone With the Wind, released the same year, and boasting an original screenplay by esteemed poet and activist Langston Hughes and co-star Clarence Muse. The film also earned an Oscar nomination for Victor Young's score.
Following the tragic death of his wealthy father, Timothy Reid, Jr. is the sole heir of the Bayou Louvelle Plantation in Louisiana. When the greedy executor Mr. Dill makes known his plans to sell off its assets, including its slaves, Timothy is horrified. He and the slaves have always regarded each other as family and he's determined to do right by them.
Starring Bobby Breen, Clarence Muse, Alan Mowbray, Ralph Morgan, Matthew "Stymie" Beard. Original Story and Screenplay by Langston Hughes and Clarence Muse.
Hawaii Calls (1938, B&W): Backed by a stellar supporting cast including screen legends Ward Bond, Gloria Holden and Warren Hull, Breen plays orphaned shoeshine boy Billy Coulter, who along with his friend Pua stows away aboard a passenger liner bound for Hawaii from San Francisco. Upon reaching Hawaii, Billy and Pua attempt to stay one step ahead of the authorities but soon find themselves embroiled in a search for stolen government papers.
Starring Bobby Breen, Ward Bond, Gloria Holden, Philip Ahn, Warren Hull, Irvin S. Cobb. With Raymond Paige and His Orchestra. Directed By Edward F. Cline.