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Child Actor Vincent Winter Dies

November 23, 1998 GMT

LONDON (AP) _ Vincent Winter, who won a special miniature Academy Award for his beguiling performance as a 6-year-old in ``The Little Kidnappers,″ is dead at age 50.

Winter died of a heart attack Nov. 2 in St. Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey, near his home at Weybridge, 20 miles from London, The Guardian newspaper reported.

As a child actor, Winter charmed audiences in the 1953 film _ released in Britain as ``The Kidnappers″ _ that told the story of two small boys, orphaned and sent to live with their grandfather in a bleak area of Nova Scotia at the beginning of the century.

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The boys wanted a dog, but were denied one by the grandfather. One day, however, they found a baby in the woods and decided to keep it secretly as a ``pet.″

The Independent, a London newspaper, said in a tribute today that Winter, too young to read when the film was being made, was taught his lines by verbal repetition. He had such a good memory that he would say his own lines aloud and then mouth the other parts.

Winter and the other child actor, John Whiteley, were both given special Oscars for ``outstanding juvenile performances.″

Winter was born Dec. 29, 1947, in Aberdeen, Scotland, and was 5 when he was discovered by a children’s acting coach. While he spent much of his life working in films, Winter never repeated the level of fame he achieved with ``The Little Kidnappers.″

He acted in the Errol Flynn adventure tale ``The Dark Avenger″ in 1955, and in ``Gorgo″ in 1961. He starred in movies for Disney such as ``Greyfriars Bobby″ in 1961 and ``Almost Angels″ the following year.

In his teens, Winter studied the technical side of films. He worked as a production assistant on ``A Clockwork Orange″ in 1971 and on Kenneth Branagh’s ``Henry V″ in 1989.

Earlier this year, Winter was invited to Hollywood for a group photograph of former Oscar winners, where he was pleased to discover that actors Gregory Peck and Dustin Hoffman were admirers of ``The Little Kidnappers.″

He is survived by his partner of 24 years, Barbara Harley.