Did You Know? This Film – Released 44 Years Ago This Month – Stars Tatum O’Neal in her First Role After Winning an Oscar®
Tatum O’Neal had previously been prevented by her father, actor Ryan O’Neal, from accepting any lead roles until the age of 16. But after she became the youngest person to win an Oscar® at age 10 for her debut performance in PAPER MOON (1973), she was hired to star in THE BAD NEWS BEARS for a staggering $350,000 and eight percent of net profits.
Screenwriter Bill Lancaster, son of actor Burt Lancaster, drew inspiration for THE BAD NEWS BEARS from his personal experience as a child, playing Little League baseball with a leg crippled by polio. Ben Benjamin, who coached an opposing team during that period, later became Lancaster’s agent and sold THE BAD NEWS BEARS screenplay to Paramount Pictures for $105,000.
The West Los Angeles field, where Bill Lancaster played baseball as a child, was renamed “Bad News Bears Field” in 2005 as a tribute to the writer, who died in 1997. The announcement sparked a small controversy among fans of the film; some agreed with the city’s decision while others felt that the name should be reserved for the original location in Chatsworth.
Little League of America lodged a protest against Paramount over the foul language used by children, and while the film received positive reviews, many critics took issue with the youth’s verbal profanities.
Read more about THE BAD NEWS BEARS in the AFI Catalog.