Rusty Hamer was an American television actor best known for his role as Rusty Williams in the popular sitcom Make Room for Daddy.
Born in Tenafly, New Jersey, Hamer grew up on TV as Rusty Williams, Danny Thomas’s freckle-faced son on Make Room for Daddy. As a young five-year-old actor, his wisecracking behavior made him a popular character during the show’s 351-episode run. Thomas, who could occasionally be spotted trying not to crack up in Hamer’s scenes, would later publicly praise Hamer’s extraordinary comic timing.
Hamer attempted a brief return to show business in 1970 as a married medical student in the show Make Room for Grandaddy, a sequel of Make Room for Daddy, but the show was canceled after one season. He appeared occasionally in bit parts on television shows such as Green Acres, but work became increasingly sporadic. Hamer eventually moved to Louisiana where he worked as a short order cook.
On January 18, 1990, Hamer died at age 42 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in DeRidder, Louisiana. His death raised awareness of the potential mental fragility of child performers, and inspired fellow child actor Paul Petersen to found A Minor Consideration, a support group striving to improve working conditions for young actors, as well as assisting former child stars in making the transition from past fame to adult life.