Kids Don't Tell

Kids Don't Tell is a 1985 American made-for-television drama film about child molestation starring Michael Ontkean and JoBeth Williams. The docudrama, which was directed by Oscar-nominated film editor Sam O'Steen (Chinatown, Postcards from the Edge), was broadcast on CBS on March 5, 1985.[1]

Kids Don't Tell
JoBeth Williams & Michael Ontkean in a scene from Kids Don't Tell
Written byMaurice Hurley
Directed bySam O'Steen
StarringMichael Ontkean
JoBeth Williams
Ari Meyers
Leo Rossi
Joaquin Phoenix
Music byFred Karlin
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Rick Rosenberg
Robert W. Christiansen
Producer(s)Barry Greenfield
Bruce Hendricks (associate producer)
Production location(s)Marina del Rey, California
CinematographyMichael D. Margulies
Editor(s)Randy Roberts
Running time101 minutes
Production company(s)Chris/Rose Productions
Viacom Productions
DistributorCBS Television Distribution
Original networkCBS
Picture formatColor
Audio formatStereo
Original release
  • March 5, 1985


Driven by a duty to his young daughter (Ari Meyers), filmmaker John Ryan (Michael Ontkean) agrees to produce a documentary on the sexual abuse of children in the American status quo. However, his loving wife Claudia (JoBeth Williams) becomes increasingly despondent and troubled as the filmmaker immerses himself further into the project. Ryan obtains participation from a host of experts in the field, including a Los Angeles police detective (Leo Rossi), who provides powerful insight into how the legal system fails, and a habitual molester (Jordan Charney) who tells of his technique for choosing and assaulting his victims.[2]


  • Michael Ontkean ... John Ryan
  • JoBeth Williams ... Claudia Ryan
  • Leo Rossi ... Detective Rastelli
  • Ari Meyers ... Nicky Ryan
  • John Sanderford ... Eli Davis
  • Jordan Charney ... Tatum
  • Joaquin Phoenix (credited as Leaf Phoenix) ... Frankie
  • Robin Gammell ... Dr. Houghton
  • Shelley Morrison ... Carol
  • Jean Bruce Scott ... Clare
  • Matthew Faison ... Evan Harris
  • David S. Aaron ... Waiter
  • Roger Askin ... Man at Wedding
  • Judith Barsi ... Jennifer Ryan
  • Gary Bayer ... Speaker at Meeting
  • Earl Billings ... Terry
  • Dennis Bowen ... Ted
  • Sally Brown ... Jill
  • Victor Campos ... Dale
  • Diane Cary ... Sandra Luce (as Diane Civita)
  • E.M. Fredric ... Cocktail Waitress
  • Kristin Gamboa ... Linda
  • Mari Gorman ... Macy
  • Nancy Lee Grahn ... Puppet Lady
  • Natalie Gregory ... Krista Mueller
  • David Kaufman ... Kenny
  • Charles Lanyer ... Scotty
  • Michael Laskin ... Man at Park
  • Christopher Lofton ... Charles
  • Oceana Marr ... Mildred
  • Bob Minor ... Pool Player
  • Milton Murrill ... Detective Timmy
  • John Napierala ... David
  • David Lloyd Nelson ... Lyle
  • Greg Nourse ... Bartender
  • Steve Pershing ... Officer at Desk (as Stephen Pershing)
  • Branscombe Richmond ... Pool Player
  • Jack Thibeau ... Donny
  • Cori Wellins ... Lisa
  • Jaleel White ... Christofer
  • Barbra Rae ... Daphne


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]

External links

Ari Meyers

Ari Meyers (born April 6, 1969) is an actress. She played the role of Emma Jane McArdle in the television series Kate & Allie (1984).

Jack Thibeau

Jack Thibeau (born January 14, 1946) is an American film and television actor best known for playing the prisoner Clarence Anglin in the 1979 film Escape from Alcatraz. During his career, he frequently appeared in other movies that starred Clint Eastwood, such as Any Which Way You Can (1980), Sudden Impact (1983), and City Heat (1984).

Thibeau also played a number of characters in such films as 48 Hrs. (1982), The Hitcher (1986), Lethal Weapon (1987), and Action Jackson (1988). In addition Thibeau also appeared on such TV-series as Miami Vice, Sledge Hammer! and The Untouchables where he co-starred as Bugs Moran in a recurring role.

Jaleel White

Jaleel Ahmad White (born November 27, 1976) is an American actor, voice actor, producer and writer.

In 1989, he was cast in the role of Steve Urkel on the sitcom Family Matters. The character, which was originally intended to be a one-time guest appearance, was an instant hit with audiences and White became a regular cast member. The series aired for a total of nine seasons, from 1989 to 1997 on ABC, and from 1997 to 1998 on CBS. White will reprise his role as Urkel for the first time since 1998 in the upcoming 2019 series Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?.

White is also known as the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog in the animated shows: Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic SatAM and Sonic Underground, all of which were produced by the now-defunct DiC Entertainment. He reprised his role as Sonic in the 2013 Sonic fan film.

After Family Matters ended, White starred in the UPN series Grown Ups from 1999 to 2000. He later attended UCLA where he graduated with a degree in film and television in 2001. He has continued his acting career with roles in Dreamgirls (2006), and guest stints on Boston Legal, House, Castle, and Psych. In March 2012, White appeared as a contestant in season 14 of Dancing with the Stars and was voted off in May 2012, leaving him in 7th place overall. In April 2012, White hosted the game show Total Blackout, which aired on the Syfy channel. In January 2017 White appeared in Bones as Officer Adams.

Jean Bruce Scott

Jean Bruce Scott (born February 25, 1956) is a retired American actress, best known for her role as former Texas Highway Patrol helicopter pilot Caitlin O'Shannessy in the 1984-1986 CBS action thriller television series Airwolf. She had a recurring role as Lieutenant, later Lieutenant Commander, Maggie Poole in seasons 3-8 of Magnum, P.I..

In 2007, she worked as the executive director and producer of Native Voices at the Autry, a program devoted to developing and producing new works for the stage by Native American playwrights, and is affiliated with the Autry National Center.

JoBeth Williams

Margaret JoBeth Williams (born December 6, 1948) is an American actress and television director. Her directorial debut with the 1994 short film On Hope earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Live Action Short Film. Since 2009, she has served as president of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.

Williams rose to prominence appearing in such films as Stir Crazy (1980), Poltergeist (1982), The Big Chill (1983), The Day After (1983), Teachers (1984), and Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986). A three-time Emmy Award nominee, she was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her work in the TV movie Adam (1983) and the TV miniseries Baby M (1988). Her third nomination was for her guest role in the sitcom Frasier (1993–94). She also starred in the TV series The Client (1995–96) and had recurring roles in the TV series Dexter (2007) and Private Practice (2009–11).

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Rafael Phoenix (; né Bottom; born October 28, 1974) is an American actor, producer, and activist. For his work as an actor, Phoenix has received a Grammy Award, a Golden Globe Award and three Academy Award nominations.

Phoenix started acting in television series with his brother River Phoenix and sister Summer Phoenix. His first major film release was in the film SpaceCamp (1986). During his period as a child actor he was credited as Leaf Phoenix, his self-given name. He later went back to his birth name, Joaquin, and received positive reviews for his supporting work in a wide range of films, most notably for the film adaptation of the novel To Die For (1995) and the period film Quills (2000). He received international attention for his portrayal of Commodus in the 2000 historical epic film Gladiator, which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He has subsequently earned Best Actor nominations for portraying musician Johnny Cash in the biopic Walk the Line (2005) and for his role as Freddie Quell, a sex-obsessed alcoholic World War II veteran in the drama film The Master (2012), which won him the Volpi Cup for Best Actor. He and River Phoenix hold the distinction of being the only brothers to be nominated for acting Academy Awards.His other films include the satire film Buffalo Soldiers (2001), the science fiction thriller Signs (2002), the animated film Brother Bear (2003), the historical drama film Hotel Rwanda (2004), the psychological thriller The Village (2004), the documentary Earthlings (2005), the romantic drama Two Lovers (2008), the drama The Immigrant (2013), the romantic science fiction drama Her (2013), the crime comedy-drama film Inherent Vice (2014), and the existential thriller You Were Never Really Here (2017), for which he won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor. He is set to portray the Joker in the 2019 film Joker.

Aside from his acting career, he has ventured into directing music videos, as well as producing films and television shows. He has recorded an album, the soundtrack to Walk the Line, for which he won the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media. Phoenix is a social activist, lending his support to a number of charities and humanitarian organizations. He is on the board of directors for The Lunchbox Fund, a non-profit organization which provides daily meals to students of township schools in Soweto of South Africa. Phoenix is also known for his animal rights advocacy. He has been a vegan since the age of three and campaigns for PETA and In Defense of Animals.

Joaquin Phoenix filmography

Joaquin Phoenix is an American actor who started his career performing as a child on television. He appeared on the shows Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1982) and Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia (1984) with his brother River Phoenix and on an episode of Murder, She Wrote (1984) with his sister Summer Phoenix. He made his feature film debut in SpaceCamp (1986) and had his first starring role in Russkies (1987). His first major film release was Ron Howard's dramedy Parenthood (1989) with Steve Martin. During his period as a child actor, he was credited as Leaf Phoenix, his self-given name.

Six years later, he changed his name back to Joaquin and co-starred opposite Nicole Kidman in the Gus Van Sant-directed crime comedy-drama To Die For (1995), a critical hit. In 1997, Phoenix co-starred in Oliver Stone's crime thriller U Turn opposite Sean Penn and starred opposite Liv Tyler in the coming-of-age film Inventing the Abbotts. Phoenix starred in the crime-comedy film Clay Pigeons (1998), Return to Paradise (1998) followed by a role in the crime mystery thriller 8mm (1999) with Nicolas Cage. Phoenix's first role in 2000 was in his first collaboration with director James Gray in the crime film The Yards. He followed this with supporting roles in the Ridley Scott-directed historical epic Gladiator opposite Russell Crowe and as priest Abbé de Coulmier in the Philip Kaufman-directed period film Quills (2000), opposite Geoffrey Rush. For his role as the villain Commodus in the former, Phoenix earned a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.The following year he starred in a satire of the US military, Buffalo Soldiers (2001). Phoenix starred opposite Mel Gibson in the science fiction thriller Signs (2002), a massive commercial success. He starred in the romance-drama It's All About Love (2003) and voiced Kenai in the animated film Brother Bear. In 2004, Phoenix starred as a farmer in the psychological thriller farmer in The Village and as a Baltimore firefighter in the drama Ladder 49. He followed this with a supporting role in the historical drama film Hotel Rwanda (2004). Phoenix portrayed musician Johnny Cash in the biopic Walk the Line (2005) opposite Reese Witherspoon. Phoenix played and sang all of Cash's vocal tracks in the film and on the accompanying soundtrack. This earned him the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media and garnered his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He also narrated the animal rights documentary Earthlings (2005). This was followed by a reteam with Gray in the crime drama We Own the Night (2007) and the lead role in the drama Reservation Road (2007) opposite Mark Ruffalo. The following year, he made his third film with Gray, Two Lovers (2008) and followed this with the mockumentary I'm Still Here (2010). Throughout the filming period, Phoenix remained in character for public appearances, giving many the impression that he was genuinely pursuing a new career as a rapper.Phoenix starred as a World War II veteran in the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed drama film The Master opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman. The role earned him a Volpi Cup and his second nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. The following year, he reteamed with Gray once again in the drama film The Immigrant opposite Marion Cotillard. Phoenix starred as a man who develops a relationship with Samantha, an intelligent computer operating system in the Spike Jonze-directed romantic science fiction film Her (2013) and starred as a private investigator when he reteamed with Anderson in the film adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's novel Inherent Vice (2014). Both roles earned him nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. In 2017, his performance as the damaged savior of sex-trafficking victims in You Were Never Really Here netted him the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor.

Judith Barsi

Judith Eva Barsi (June 6, 1978 – July 25, 1988) was an American child actress of the 1980s. She began her career in television, making appearances in commercials and television shows, and later appeared in the films Jaws: The Revenge, The Land Before Time, and All Dogs Go to Heaven, providing the voice for animated characters in the latter two. She and her mother, Maria, were killed in July 1988 as a result of a double murder–suicide perpetrated in their home by her father, József.

Leo Rossi

Leo Rossi (born June 26, 1946) is an American actor, writer and producer. A character actor with over 100 credits to his name, he is known for his role as foul-mouthed EMT Vincent "Budd" Scarlotti in the 1981 horror film Halloween II, as the serial killer Turkell from the 1990 horror sequel Maniac Cop 2, and as Detective Sam Dietz in the Relentless franchise. His other films include Heart Like a Wheel (1983), River's Edge (1986), The Accused (1988), Analyze This (1999), One Night at McCool's (2001), and 10th & Wolf (2006).

Mari Gorman

Mari Gorman is an American actress perhaps best known for her work in television, particularly as a frequent guest star on the 1970s and 1980s sitcom Barney Miller, but she is also known for her theater acting. She has won several acting awards, including two Obie Awards. She is the author of Strokes of Existence: The Connection of All Things, which is about her long-term, formal investigation of acting that realizes Shakespeare's words, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." (As You Like It, Act II, Sc 7.)

Michael Ontkean

Michael Leonard Ontkean (born January 24, 1946) is a retired Canadian actor. Born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Ontkean relocated to the United States to attend the University of New Hampshire on a hockey scholarship before pursuing a career in acting in the early 1970s.

He initially came to prominence portraying Officer Willie Gillis on the crime drama series The Rookies from 1972-74, followed by lead roles in the hockey sports comedy film Slap Shot (1977) and the romantic comedy Willie & Phil (1980). In 1982, he had a starring role opposite Harry Hamlin and Kate Jackson in the drama Making Love, in which he portrayed a married man who comes to terms with his homosexuality. Ontkean continued to appear in films, such as Clara's Heart (1988) and Postcards from the Edge (1990) before being cast as Sheriff Harry S. Truman on David Lynch's Twin Peaks (1990–1991).

Nancy Lee Grahn

Nancy Lee Grahn (born April 28, 1956) is an American actress known primarily for her work in daytime soap operas, portraying Julia Wainwright Capwell on Santa Barbara from 1985–93 and Alexis Davis on General Hospital since 1996.

Natalie Gregory

Natalie Lynn Gregory (born October 20, 1975) is an American former child actress.

Sam O'Steen

Samuel Alexander O'Steen (November 6, 1923 – October 11, 2000) was an American film editor and director. He had an extended, notable collaboration with the director Mike Nichols, with whom he edited twelve films between 1966 and 1994. Among the notable films that O'Steen edited were Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (directed by Mike Nichols, 1966), Cool Hand Luke (directed by Stuart Rosenberg, 1967), The Graduate (directed by Mike Nichols, 1967), Rosemary's Baby (directed by Roman Polanski, 1968), and Chinatown (directed by Roman Polanski, 1974).On a 2012 listing of the 75 best edited films of all time, compiled by the Motion Picture Editors Guild based on a survey of its members, both The Graduate and Chinatown appear.

Films directed by Sam O'Steen

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