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Terry Burnham

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Terry Burnham
Elizabeth Teresa Burnham

(1949-08-08)August 8, 1949
DiedOctober 7, 2013(2013-10-07) (aged 64) needs citation
Years active1955–1969[2][3][4]

Elizabeth Teresa "Terry" Burnham (August 8, 1949 – October 7, 2013)[citation needed] was an American actress. She had most of her career as a child actress in television series. She is best known for her performance in the Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare as a Child", which originally aired in 1960.[5]

Burnham played the young daughter of Lana Turner's character in the film Imitation of Life (1959), which was widely popular. Burnham retired from acting in 1971.[5]

Life and career[edit]

Elizabeth Teresa Burnham was born on August 8, 1949, in Los Angeles, California. She was the younger of two children born to Guy Calvin Burnham, an aeronautics engineer at Douglas Aircraft Company, and his wife Elizabeth Teresa Buelna Symons, a homemaker.[2][6][7] She was raised Catholic and attended St. Maria Goretti Catholic School,[8] St. Cornelius School,[2] Mark Twain Middle School,[9][10] and Bancroft Junior High School.[11]

On December 22, 1955, Burnham made her television debut at age six alongside Brandon deWilde in the series Climax!, in an episode entitled "The Day They Gave the Babies Away". (This was based on the 1946 novel of the same title). This novel was also adapted for the 1957 film All Mine to Give).

More prominent roles soon followed, most notably in 1957 with "Let There Be Light", an episode of the series M Squad. It co-starred Burnham and series regular Lee Marvin, whom Terry later singled out as her favorite actor.[2] Also that year, Burnham was set to star in a new child-centered series, Turquoise, Inc., whose writer/producers Dick Chevillat and Ray Singer touted her as "TV's first Shirley Temple".[12] That projected series was never produced, but a year later, Burnham appeared on an episode of Temple's own series, entitled "The Magic Fishbone". It was adapted by Margaret Fitts from the Charles Dickens short story of the same name.[13][14]

Burnham first attracted national attention as the 8-year-old daughter "Susie" of Lana Turner's character in Imitation of Life (1959).[15] Sandra Dee played the girl as a teenager.

Burnham worked in numerous episodes of TV series through the late 1950s and 1960s. She retired from acting in 1971.[5]


On October 7, 2013,[citation needed][16] Terry Burnham died of a cardiac arrest[citation needed].[16] As she had no surviving next of kin, her unclaimed cremated remains were stored at Los Angeles County Crematorium. On August 8, 2018, which would have been her 69th birthday, Burnham's ashes were buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Long Beach.[8]


Year Title Director Role Notes Ref.
1955 Climax! Allen Reisner NA "The Day They Gave Babies Away" [9]
1957 Whirlybirds Allen H. Miner Josie Fisher "Rampage" [2][17]
1957 I Love Lucy James V. Kern Girl at birthday party (uncredited) "Lucy and Superman" [17]
1958, 1960 M Squad John Brahm, Paul Stewart Laurie Grayson, Patti Blocker "Let There Be Light," "Hideout" [18][19]
1958 Hi, Grandma! Arch Oboler NA [20]
1958 Shirley Temple's Storybook Oscar Rudolph Princess "The Magic Fishbone" [21]
1959 The Danny Thomas Show Sheldon Leonard Girl in Play "Bob Hope and Danny Become Directors" [17]
1959, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1964 Wagon Train Allen H. Miner, David Butler, Mitchell Leisen, Jerry Hopper, Joseph Pevney Marguerite Lindstrom (uncredited), Mary Belle MacAbee, Prudence, Marie Lefton, Charlotte Endicott "The Ella Lindstrom Story," "The Jess MacAbee Story," "The Patience Miller Story," "The Martin Gatsby Story," "The Melanie Craig Story" [2][17]
1959 Tales of Wells Fargo Earl Bellamy Josie Brown "The Branding Iron" [2][22]
1959 Cimarron City Jerry Hopper Cynthia Barton "The Unaccepted" [2][17]
1959 Imitation of Life Douglas Sirk Susie (6) [23]
1959 Colt .45 William J. Hole Jr. Emily Bass "The Saga of Sam Bass" [17]
1959 The Rough Riders Franklin Adreon Molly "The Wagon Raiders" (aka "Ambush") [23]
1959, 1961, 1962 General Electric Theater David Butler, John Rich, Charles F. Haas Cissy Owens, Lily, Penny "The Day of the Hanging," "Labor of Love," "Go Fight City Hall" [17]
1960 The Twilight Zone Alvin Ganzer Markie "Nightmare as a Child" [24]
1960 Markham R. Hamer Norris Judy Frost "The Cruelest Thief" [17]
1960 Hawaiian Eye Alvin Ganzer Patty Seldon "With This Ring" [25]
1960 Key Witness Phil Karlson Gloria Morrow [24]
1960 Shotgun Slade NA Linda "Ghost of Yucca Flats" [17]
1960, 1962 Thriller Paul Henreid, Jules Bricken Tessa Kilburn, Joan Wilson (uncredited) "The Mark of the Hand," "The Fingers of Fear" [17]
1961 87th Precinct John Brahm Jane Mencken "Killer's Payoff" [26][23]
1962 I Love My Doctor David Butler Liz Barkley TV pilot [27]
1962, 1963 Leave It to Beaver David Butler, Hugh Beaumont Virginia, Beaver's Date (uncredited) "Beaver's Autobiography," "Lumpy's Scholarship" [17]
1964 The Magical World of Disney Byron Paul Willadean Wills "For the Love of Willadean: A Treasure in the Haunted House," "For the Love of Willadean: A Taste of Melon" [28]
1966 Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! George Marshall Doris Meade [23]
1966 My Three Sons James V. Kern "Call Her Max," "Grandma's Girl" Georgie, Gail McGee [29][30][17]
1967, 1969 Family Affair Charles Barton Ingrid, Rita Stone "Best of Breed," "Cissy's Apartment" [17]
1967 Insight Paul Stanley Ellen Harriman "Seeds of Dissent" [31]


  1. ^ Dulaney, Josh. (February 2, 2016). "Twilight Zone' fans plan marker for child star". Los Angeles Daily News. pp. 1, 8. Retrieved October 29, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Pig-Tailed Blonde Has Role as Lana Turner's Daughter". Long Beach Independent-Press-Telegram. March 1, 1959. p. A11. Retrieved October 29, 2022.
  3. ^ "Cissy Finds Apartment". The Ithaca Journal. October 11, 1969. p. 51. "Cissy feels the way to handle a crisis in her teen-age life is to move in with her young friend Rita Stone (Terry Burnham), but she finds that Rita's lifestyle is not necessarily her own." Retrieved October 23, 2022.
  4. ^ Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-7864-7992-4.
  5. ^ a b c Rubin, Steven Jay (2018). Twilight Zone Encyclopedia. Chicago, Ill: Chicago Review Press. ISBN 978-1-61373-888-7.
  6. ^ "Course to Start in Aircraft Engineering". Long Beach Press-Telegram. p. 7. "Guy C. Burnham and Fred Dow of Douglas Aircraft's engineering department will conduct the lectures and discussions, which include drafting, aircraft materials and specifications, A. N. standards, commercial and company standards, limits and tolerances, welded assemblies, sheet metal work and jigs, fixtures, die and mold work."
  7. ^ "California Birth Index, 1905-1995," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VLJL-574 : 27 November 2014), Symons in entry for Elizabeth Teresa Burnham, 08 Aug 1949; citing Los Angeles, California, United States, Department of Health Services, Vital Statistics Department, Sacramento.
  8. ^ a b "The Terry Burnham Memorial Project 2016". TwilightZoneMuseum.com.
  9. ^ a b "Child Actress Played Lana's Daughter; Lakewood Girl Keeps Busy in TV, Film Roles". Long Beach Press-Telegram. October 18, 1960. p. B-1.
  10. ^ Resnik, Bert (March 26, 1961). "Bert's Eye View". Long Beach Press-Telegram.
  11. ^ "'Taste of Melon' for Terry". Long Beach Independent-Press-Telegram. March 8, 1964. p. 140. Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  12. ^ O'Brian, Jack (August 16, 1957). "Looking and Listening: Record Tycoon Sees End of Rock-Roll; Talent Fugits". Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph. p. 16.
  13. ^ "The Magic Fishbone". Tampa Bay Times.
  14. ^ Ross, H. Albert (August 18–24, 1958) [ "Talent Showsheet and Script Report - August 18 - August 24: Thursday August 19"]. Ross Reports — Television Index, p. A.
  15. ^ "Lana in Fulton's No. 1 Film". The Pittsburgh Press. May 3, 1959. p. 3, sec. 6. See also:
  16. ^ a b "Terry Burnham". Dead or Kicking. Retrieved 2023-12-15.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Terry Burnham". IMDb. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  18. ^ "Tuesday April 5 Program Listings". The Washington Star. April 3, 1960. Retrieved October 29, 2022.
  19. ^ "TV for Today and Tomorrow". The Hammond Times. March 16, 1965. p. A4. Retrieved October 29, 2022.
  20. ^ "'Hi, Grandma!' Overview". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved October 22, 2022.
  21. ^ "The Magic Fishbone". St Petersburg Times TV Radio Dial. August 17, 1958. p. 2. Retrieved October 29, 2022.
  22. ^ "Tales of Wells Fargo: The Branding Iron". Video Detective.
  23. ^ a b c d "Terry Burnham Filmography". BFI. Archived from the original on July 26, 2021. Retrieved October 23, 2022.
  24. ^ a b Dye, David (1988). Child and Youth Actors: Filmographies of Their Entire Careers, 1914–1985. p. 29. ISBN 0-89950-247-4.
  25. ^ "Cricket Blake Pulls a 'Gag' on 'Hawaiian Eye'". The Bedford Times-Mail. p. 13.
  26. ^ "TV Key Preview". The Fresno Bee. June 25, 1961. p. 97. Retrieved October 29, 2022.
  27. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2020). Encyclopedia of Television Pilots: 2,740 Films Broadcast 1937–2019, Second Edition. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. p. 111. ISBN 9781476638102.
  28. ^ Cotter Bill (1997). The Wonderful World of Disney Television : A Complete History. New York: Hyperion. p. 111. ISBN 0-7868-6359-5.
  29. ^ "TV Topics for Tonight's Viewing". The Buffalo News. p. 4. Retrieved October 29, 2022.
  30. ^ "Dance Maestro". Oakland Tribune. December 25, 1966. p. 65. Retrieved October 29, 2022.
  31. ^ Villano, Mark (2022). Insight, the Series - A Hollywood Priest’s Groundbreaking Contribution to Television History. Orlando, FL: BearManor Media. ISBN 978-1-62933-902-3.

Further reading[edit]

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