Clifford Tatum Jr.
Clifford "Cliff" Tatum Jr. was born Charles Clifford Tatum II circa 1938 in Florida, the son of Renee and Charles Clifford Tatum. His father was a Florida native, and his mother was from New York. They settled in New York City, where his father had an office position with the Long Island Railroad. They later moved to Kew Gardens section of Queens, New York, where Cliff grew up, attending P.S. 99. from 1944 to 1948. He started acting on radio and on stage, replacing an actor in the role of "Little Jake" in "Annie Get Your Gun" with Ethel Merman. Read more... show closed in 1949 and he and appeared that same year in "A Month in the Country" in Westport, Connecticut, with Ruth Gordon and directed by Garson Kanin. That same year he appeared in a television production of "The Canterville Ghost." In 1951 he went to Hollywood to play an bitter handicapped polio victim adopted by Cary Grant and Betsy Drake in A Room for One More (1952). It would be his only theatrical movie performance, but was one that left a lasting impression. Like his character in the movie, Tatum was in the Boy Scouts, in Troop 15 in Queens. He returned to New York, acting in a number of television productions as he entered Forest Hills High School in Queens in 1952. In 1953 he became the first actor to portray Huckleberry Finn for television and appeared as an abandoned boy in Horton Foote's "John Turner Davis" on television. He apparently graduated from Forest Hills High School in 1955. In 1956 he appeared in a short-lived Broadway production, "The Hot Corner." Later that year he appeared on TV in "Roar of the Lion" as a dangerous juvenile menacing a widow and her young son: the production and Tatum's performance were highly praised by television columnist Charles Mercer. Tatum closed the year - and his acting career, it seems - in "The Chess Game," playing a 15-year-old fugitive wanted for murder, being sheltered by a cynical intellectual played by Ronald Colman. Tatum removed to Florida and attended the University of Miami. He was in the Air Force ROTC and joined the Air Force in 1960; he was married that same year. He became a fighter pilot, stationed at Okinawa for several years, then at Eaglin Air Force Base. He flew combat mission over Vietnam and Laos, later serving as a carrier pilot on the U.S.S. Enterprise from 1972 to 1975. He retired from the Air Force a decorated Colonel and entered commercial aviation as an airline pilot, charter pilot and instructor. In 2009 he was living in Redondo Beach, California, remaining active in aviation and veteran's affairs.