An actor in one of the most popular holiday films of all time was recently diagnosed with cancer and is sharing an update about his health after undergoing a lengthy surgical procedure as the first step in his treatment plan.
Before 1990, the world had only seen ten-year-old MacCaulay Culkin in a couple of roles. As the child actor was so young, he had only had a few small supporting roles, the most notable of which was that of Miles Russell alongside actor John Candy in the film Uncle Buck (1989). But in 1990, Culkin’s role as eight-year-old Kevin McCallister in the hit holiday film Home Alone would serve as the springboard for his career and become the role for which he is best known.
The blockbuster holiday film tells the story of the McCallisters, who leave for the Christmas holidays and don’t realize the youngest family member isn’t with them. Kevin is accidentally left at home by himself as his family jets off for Christmas, and to make matters worse, two bandits have been casing houses in the McCallisters’ neighborhood, waiting for the right time to break in and take everything of value.
The film stars Culkin alongside actress Catherine O’Hara, Culkin’s younger brother Kieran Culkin, actor Joe Pesci, and Daniel Stern. Another somewhat lesser-known actor at the time also appeared in the film, and though his role is small, it means everything in the world to eight-year-old Kevin, who’s just got to get a message to Santa.
Actor Ken Hudson Campbell, now 61, played the role of Santa Claus in the 1990 film (though Kevin knows he’s not the real Santa Claus–but that he can act as a messenger so that Kevin can get an urgent request to Old St. Nick just before the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Eve).
Though Home Alone is a holiday comedy film, and Campbell’s role is a comical one (Santa smoking a cigarette and getting into a broken-down car), a recent cancer diagnosis received by Campbell was cause for anything but laughter.
Campbell was diagnosed with cancer on October 26, and his family immediately began a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs associated with his treatments. Per a statement from his daughter Michaela, Campbell had a tumor that had “elusively grown on the bottom of his mouth and began encroaching on his teeth.”
His daughter said that the actor’s treatment plan includes a surgical intervention, which he underwent on December 7, and a six-month recovery period with the possibility of chemotherapy as well.
This week, the actor shared an update on his health and a word of thanks to friends and fans who have been supportive during the first part of his journey.
“I am moved beyond belief by your generosity and well wishes,” Campbell wrote on his GoFundMe page on Christmas Day. His post included a photo of him in a Santa cap. “I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true.”
According to Campbell’s daughter, the actor’s surgery was a success.
“The cancer was removed successfully, and his jaw bone has been reconstructed from his fibula and attached,” she posted. “Despite the swelling and incisions, he looks great.”
Campbell’s lengthy acting career includes credits for roles in Groundhog Day (1993), Mike & Molly (2010-2016), Gravity Falls (2012-2016), and The Practice (1997-2004), and over the years, he has enjoyed many friendships with other actors in Hollywood.
Many of Campbell’s friends, including actor Steve Carell, Jeff Garlin from Curb Your Enthusiasm, and co-creator of the sitcom Big Bang Theory Bill Prady, contributed to Campbell’s GoFundMe efforts, quickly helping the actor make great gains toward his $150,000 goal to cover costs associated with his treatments. As of the time of this post, Campbell’s GoFundMe page has raised almost $120,000.
In an interview, Campbell’s daughter Michaela shared an update about her father’s health, saying “My dad is healing very well. He gets teary eyed when he reads his friends’ and fans’ kind words. In this lifetime, most people don’t get to hear how much they mean to someone else or how their work resonates with people who have seen it.”
“It’s a healing and very affirming thing,” she continued. “The support has been heartwarming and I can’t express how thankful I am for everybody showing my dad so much love.”
Friends and fans continue to offer their encouragement and support to Campbell as he recovers and as he determines what steps he is to take next in his treatment plan.