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David Holt

Former child actor, musician, songwriter

Former child actor David Holt died in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. of heart failure. He was 76.

Holt was known for his role as the bratty Sidney Sawyer in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and as Elizabeth Taylor’s older brother in “Courage of Lassie.”

He later became a jazz musician and songwriter. Holt broke into show business when he wangled an audition with humorist Roy Rogers as a 5-year old dance school student. His family moved west, and Holt and his mother made the rounds of casting calls in the same car with Shirley Temple and Jane Withers. Holt was promoted as the “male Shirley Temple” but, despite several solid roles, was never able to attain that kind of stardom. He appeared in “The Big Broadcast of 1936,” “Beau Geste” and “What’s Cookin’?” He also had roles in “The Human Comedy” and “Pride of the Yankees.”

As a composer, he wrote numerous jazz albums, many featuring Pete Jolley. His song “The Christmas Blues,” which he co-wrote with Sammy Cahn, was heard on the soundtrack of “L.A. Confidential.”

He is survived by his brother Ricky, who played a baby in “Gone with the Wind,” and his sister Betty, who was briefly under contract to Paramount in the mid-’30s. He is also survived by four children and seven grandchildren.

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