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Billy Barty

Billy Barty

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Also Known As: William John Bertanzetti Died: December 23, 2000
Born: October 25, 1924 Cause of Death: heart failure
Birth Place: Millsboro, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: comedian, actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A gleeful, often rascally presence in features and on television for over six decades, actor Billy Barty was unquestionably one of the most recognizable dwarf performers in Hollywood, thanks to countless screen appearances in everything from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1935) to "Foul Play" (1978), "Legend" (1985) and "Masters of the Universe" (1987). He began his career essaying infants and toddlers in impossible scenarios, like the mischievous tot who bit Fredric March on the leg in the screwball classic "Nothing Sacred" (1937). After a long stint in vaudeville, Barty joined Spike Jones' City Slickers. In the 1950s and 1960s, he was frequently cast in "traditional" little person roles, including circus clowns and henchmen, but his wise-guy delivery also made him ideal for parts with genuine grit that were usually afforded to actors of normal size. His best turn in this regard was undoubtedly Abe Kusich, the brassy actor in "Day of the Locust" (1975), which would remain his most substantial screen role. In later years, he bounced between comic turns and fantasy figures in "Willow" (1987) while maintaining his non-profit organization, Little People of America, which benefited individuals with...

A gleeful, often rascally presence in features and on television for over six decades, actor Billy Barty was unquestionably one of the most recognizable dwarf performers in Hollywood, thanks to countless screen appearances in everything from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1935) to "Foul Play" (1978), "Legend" (1985) and "Masters of the Universe" (1987). He began his career essaying infants and toddlers in impossible scenarios, like the mischievous tot who bit Fredric March on the leg in the screwball classic "Nothing Sacred" (1937). After a long stint in vaudeville, Barty joined Spike Jones' City Slickers. In the 1950s and 1960s, he was frequently cast in "traditional" little person roles, including circus clowns and henchmen, but his wise-guy delivery also made him ideal for parts with genuine grit that were usually afforded to actors of normal size. His best turn in this regard was undoubtedly Abe Kusich, the brassy actor in "Day of the Locust" (1975), which would remain his most substantial screen role. In later years, he bounced between comic turns and fantasy figures in "Willow" (1987) while maintaining his non-profit organization, Little People of America, which benefited individuals with conditions similar to his own. His tireless campaign for equal treatment for those with dwarfism and similar conditions made him their unofficial spokesperson from the late '50s until his death in 2000. Billy Barty's long career and unbridled screen energy made him one of the entertainment industry's best-loved performers.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Burn, Hollywood, Burn (1997) Himself
3.
 Radioland Murders (1994) Himself
4.
 Life Stinks (1991) Willy
5.
 Rescuers Down Under, The (1990) Voice Of Baitmouse
6.
7.
 Wishful Thinking (1990)
8.
 UHF (1989) Noodles
9.
 Lobster Man From Mars (1989) Throckmorton
10.
 Willow (1988) High Aldwin
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1932:
Appeared in the "Micky McGuire" series of short comedies
1928:
Entered films
:
Film acting debut in "Wedded Blisters"
1933:
First major film appearance, as a mouse and little boy, in "Footlight Parade"
:
TV series debut, "Ford Festival"
:
Performed with Spike Jones and His City Slickers
1954:
Was a regular on "The Spike Jones Show"
:
Played Little Tom on the TV series, "Circus Boy"
:
Hosted syndicated TV series, "The Billy Barty Show"
1981:
Awarded star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
1991:
Broadway debut in "Andre Heller's Wonderhouse"
1999:
Injured in a scooter accident in May
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Los Angeles City College: Los Angeles , California - 1946
Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences: Los Angeles , California - 1948

Notes

"I was 21 inches tall when I was 3. And I got into movies by doing a trick my father taught me--spinning on my head--at a studio gate. A director saw me and gave me a job."--Billy Barty ("New York Daily News," October 18, 1991)

"I'm a sports nut. When I was in college I was on the football and basketball teams. Yes. I know it's odd, but the coach used to design plays around me."--Billy Barty ("New York Daily News," October 18, 1991)

He founded the Little People of America (1957).

He received the California Governor's Award in 1966.

Awarded the President's Committee on the Handicapped Award (1966)

Honored with the Commission on Employment of the Handicapped Award.

Former president, board chairman to the Billy Barty Foundation (1975-).

Received the National Victory Award (1992) at the Kennedy Center for his work with the Billy Barty Foundation.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Shirley Bolingbroke. Married on February 24, 1962; 4-feet-2-inches tall; survived him.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Albert Steven Bertanzetti. Machinist. Worked for Columbia Pictures.
mother:
Ellen C Bertanzetti.
sister:
Deede Morse. Survived him.
daughter:
Lori Ellen Barty. Survived him.
son:
Braden William Barty. Missionary. Born in 1970; six feet tall; was a Mormon missionary in Brazil; survived him.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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