Child stars in trouble. It might be easy to imagine in today's reality TV world. Truth is, it's a story as old as Hollywood. Just because the 1950's - and earlier - were seemingly a more innocent time, it doesn't mean child stars weren't chewed up and spit out by the fast life of show business.

Paul Petersen knows the story personally. He starred as Donna Reed's son in The Donna Reed Show in the late 50's and early 60's, growing up in front of Americans as he aged from 12 to 20 while on the show. After that, acting opportunities quickly fizzled and Paul found the path many child stars find: A difficult path pulling their life together after the show goes off the air.

Paul Petersen starred in the film "Houseboat" with Sophia Loren before he joined The Donna Reed Show. Courtesy paulpetersen.com

Paul spoke this week on The Richard Piet Show about how a knock at the door from one of the most iconic stars whose career started in childhood - Mickey Rooney - was followed by advice that helped him get on the right path.

You may even know Paul from Donna Reed rebroadcasts on cable. They even called upon him to reprise his Jeff Stone role:

In 1990, Paul decided to take serious steps toward helping child stars stay on a productive path by creating the organization A Minor Consideration. Today, other former child stars are taking the lead from Paul in the organization's mission "...to give guidance and support to young performers, past, present and future."

Paul is in Kalamazoo for the Great Lakes Nostalgia Convention at the Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites through April 9. Hear Paul in his own words talk about the passion he has for helping child stars, especially given the differing child labor laws around the country - many of which don't apply to child actors. Click the player below.

Hear The Richard Piet Show weekday mornings from 5:30-9 on WBCK.