At 7, fresh-faced Liam Ackerman is a fledgling child actor with a promising career ahead of him. But by that tender age when most kids are swinging on a jungle gym, his grandmother, Elinor Donahue, had already acted in the movies with stars Donald O'Connor and Ozzie Nelson.


"He's aware of his lineage," says his father Chris Ackerman, whose parents are Donahue, well-known for her Betty "Princess" Anderson role in "Father Knows Best," and the late TV producer Harry Ackerman.


Last Saturday morning, Liam Ackerman joined his grandmother as she led the Hesperia Days Parade as the event's grand marshal.


But things are moving quickly for Liam. The second-grader has already done three projects, and more parts are coming his way.


"His biggest one was last Sunday," his father said.


Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Liam was hired for a music video featured dancer-turned-singer Julianne Hough. With his maternal grandfather Gary Landry by his side, Liam went to Jim Henson Studios, which is located on the site of the former A&M Record studio and the Chaplin Studios.


"He did a wedding scene and a military scene."


He also played an orphaned child for a promotional Playstation "director's reel" and pretended to be a paparazzi taking photographs on a Kidz Bop music video. But Liam's baby blues also have helped him land a print job too. Recently he modeled for a spread in the Italian-language version of Vogue magazine.


The Ackerman clan is well aware of the potential benefits of a professional acting career. But they're also aware that a child acting career has its pitfalls too.


"He came to us and said he wanted to be in acting," Ackerman said.


Liam's grandmother, who he calls "Grammy," initially wasn't extremely keen on the idea.


"Well, at first I was a little hesitant," she said. "I was a child actor myself. I know about the hurt and disappointment you feel when you don't get a job."


Enrolling in a tap dance class at the age of just 18 months, by the time Donahue was 2-1/2 the Tacoma, WA. toddler had several singing and dancing routines down pat. So her mother took her to the big city of Seattle where she performed in "camp shows." There an agent discovered her, and she started working in vaudeville when she was just 4-1/2 years old.


Soon after, she and her mother, who had divorced her father, moved to Hollywood to try their luck in entertainment industry's big leagues. They became friends with popular actor Richard Lane, who "took us under his wing." And after Lane showed her photo to a producer, she was hired to perform in a movie, "Mister Big."


Very quickly she experienced the highs and lows of the entertainment business. She was under contract with Universal Pictures -- then dropped six months later.


Her mother had Donahue at the age of 40, which was considered old for having a child in those days. Donahue had two much older siblings, and the young girl and her mother were alone in Los Angeles. Laws demanded that her mother be on the set with the girl.


"So my mother could never work. I could make more work in a week than she could make in a month and a half."


And that's one of the primary differences between her acting career and her grandson's. Liam's parents are able to create a carefree life in Apple Valley for Liam and his 2-year-old sister Aubrey. (Chris Ackerman is a graphic artist at Mojave Copy and mother LeeAnn Ackerman runs a licensed nail salon out of the family's Apple Valley home.) But Donahue knew at a very young age that she was the breadwinner.


"My getting a job was a matter if we ate or not," said Donahue, now 71.


After learning that she didn't get a part after an audition at the age of 6, "I cried all the way on the bus ride home. I was just bereft. My mother asked me if I wanted to go back to Tacoma, but I knew that we needed it to make money."


In 1954, after more than 20 roles on TV and the movies, Donahue landed her part in "Father Knows Best." After a seven-year run, the show ended. But she quickly won a part on the "Andy Griffith Show." Over the years - she's acted in eight decades - she's had numerous other roles, including the role of Bridget in "Pretty Woman." Most recently she was in "The Princess Diaries 2" and an episode of "Cold Case."


Donahue's vast experience certainly gives her special insight into her grandson's career.


"Her biggest advise is to do it as long as he wants to do it," Ackerman said.


"I asked them to promise me that," Donahue said. "Liam has the right attitude, and they have the right attitude."


Liam's father reinforces her words of advice.


"The second he comes to us and says he is done with it, we're done," Ackerman said.


But Liam's talent will also have a say in his future.


"I think he's a natural," Donahue said.