They started out in serious WB films such as DEAD END and ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES. Then, they were known as "The Dead End Kids".
Later, they were in B-movies; generally the second half of a double-bill. At this juncture, they were called "The East Side Kids".
Finally, they became "The Bowery Boys", starring in a series of cheaply made (albeit funny) comedies. This went on until 1955, when actor Bernard Gorcey, who played Louie Dumbrowsky, the grocery store owner friend of the Boys, was killed in an auto accident. He was the father of Leo Gorcey, who was the "leader" of the group, and after his death, Leo quit show business, descending into alcoholism until his own passing. The rest just scattered around with varying degrees of success. Billy Halop played Kelsey, the bartender friend of Archie Bunker on ALL IN THE FAMILY. And Huntz Hall made appearances on FLIPPER and DIFF'RENT STROKES.
The original “Dead End Kids” made a very strong impact first in Sidney Kingsley’s Broadway hit, “The Dead End” and then in Goldwyn’s movie of the play. They were:
Leo Gorcey (Spit) Huntz Hall (Dippy) Billy Halop (Tommy) Bobby Jordan (Angel) Bernard Punsley (Milty) Gabriel Dell (T.B.)
They made a series of seven “A” pictures for Warner. Perhaps the best remembered were #3 “Angels With Dirty Faces” (1938) which featured an iconic performance by James Cagney and #4, the loose “Les Misérables” adaptation, “The Made Me A Criminal” (1939). After those films they were either billed as “Little Tough Guys” or “The Dead End Kids And The Little Tough Guys.” Mostly, Gorcey did not appear in these later films. My favorites of these are two cliffhanger serials. I have seen and enjoyed very much the second of the serials, “Sea Raiders.” Billy Halop, Huntz Hall, Gabe Dell and Bernard Punsley are the only four Kids who appear. Halop and Hall share all of the chapter endings. Then, under the guidance of Sam Katzman, he of the Katzman Quickie, Leo Gorcey returned and they became The East Side Kids, a series that turned increasingly comic. In 1945 Gorcey quit when his appeal for a salary increase was turned down. He formed his own production company and with Huntz Hall and Bobby Jordan (and occasionally Gabe Dell) rebranded themselves as The Bowery Boys for 48 films.
These Bowery Boys movies make up a large part of my early childhood memories of drive-in theaters.
Gorcey played Terence Aloysius "Slip" Mahoney. Hall was his goofy sidekick, Sach. Gorcey and Hall were clearly the leads. I remember a game my family would play at the drive-in. We would listen for any of the Boys other than Gorcey and Hall to talk - actually have a line to say. My sister and I would call out if they did. Often, they didn’t.
"The 14th of 16 children born to an air conditioning repairman, Henry Richard Hall (he got the name "Huntz" from a brother who said his large nose made him look German) was anything but the tough street kid he played in the East Side Kids/Bowery Boys films. He made his stage debut at the age of 1 in a play called "Thunder on the Left"; after graduating from a Catholic grammar school, he attended New York's famous Professional Children's School, was a boy soprano with the Madison Square Quintette, and appeared in an experimental 1932 television broadcast. Actor/director Martin Gabel got him an audition for the play "Dead End", and Hall got the part because he could imitate a machine gun to playwright Sidney Kingsley's satisfaction. Hall appeared in a total of 81 East Side Kids/Bowery Boys features and serials, more than any other actor. In 1940 he married 18-year-old dancer Elsie May Anderson (they divorced in 1944). During WWII Hall enlisted in the Army, and after his discharge returned to Hollywood, where his first jobs were in war films playing soldiers (for his impressive work in A Walk in the Sun (1945) he received the New York Theatre Critics Circle Blue Ribbon Award).
In 1948 Hall found himself in the same kind of jam as did Robert Mitchum -- getting arrested for possession of marijuana, but he was acquitted by a jury. After the trial Hall married showgirl Leslie Wright. In the early 1950s, Hall and former Bowery Boys actor Gabriel Dell teamed up and for a "Hall and Dell" nightclub act that was so successful it cost both men their marriages; in 1953 Hall's and Dell's wives both sued for divorce, claiming the men thought more of the act than they did of them. In 1954 Hall was arrested for fighting with the manager of a building where he was attending a party; apparently the party was too noisy and the manager told the occupants to quiet down. Hall took offense at this, a fight ensued and Hall was arrested for assault, for which he paid a $50 fine and was put on probation. In 1959 he was arrested on a drunk driving charge. Having stayed out of trouble for quite some time now, Hall has been content in retirement, with occasional film and television work (not that he needed the money; in addition to owning 10% of the Bowery Boys pictures, Hall made some wise oil and gas investments that paid off handsomely)." IMDb biography
Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall were two of the famous faces featured on the original layout for the cover of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. The Beatles were advised to get permission from all of the then-living celebrities for the use of their images on the cover. Of all the people they contacted, Gorcey was reportedly the only one who demanded money ($500) for the use of his likeness. As a result, his likeness was erased from the cover, which explains the empty blue background to the right of Huntz Hall's image in the top right row (Hall appears next to Bob Dylan).
Post by Primemovermithrax Pejorative on Dec 22, 2019 2:52:41 GMT
I used to watch them (when 1930s-40s movies were shown regularly on the few networks we had). I assumed the lead weasel in Who Framed Roger Rabbit to be vocally inspired by Gorcey ("Squiggy" from Laverne and Shirley did the voice but I tended to think of Gorcey when he opened his mouth).
"Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow." Frankenstein
It was nice to read the Bernard Punsley or Punsly, actually lived a long life outside the entertainment industry, at least till he was 80.
He read medical books in his spare time, and once he got his medical degree never ever sat his foot in the entertainment industry and had a practice in Torrance California.
There were several kid actors who retired and became teachers. I always wonder about people who completely retire from show business and go on to other careers whether their patients or pupils or co-workers ever know who they "used to be" .