Thursday, April 10, 2008

Billy Barty

Billy Barty was an actor who began working as a child in the 1920s. His first roles were in silent comedy shorts, in the "Mickey McGuire" series, which starred Mickey Rooney. Billy played Mickey's little brother. He also had an unbilled appearance in 1930's "Soup to Nuts", the first feature appearance of comic Ted Healy, whose act included Moe Howard, Shemp Howard, and Larry Fine who would later become The Three Stooges.

Billy Barty was a midget, but preferred to be called a 'little person'. In 1957 he founded The Little People of America, Inc. , which is a non-profit organization that provides support and information to people of short stature.

I talked to Mr. Barty once, when I was given his phone number by, as I recall, Paul 'Mousie' Garner. Barty and Garner had worked together several times over the years, and particularly on the 1950s tv variety show, "The Spike Jones Show".

Mr. Barty was cordial when I called. I asked if he had any remembrances of working in the feature "Soup to Nuts", but as he was a child at the time, he couldn't recollect anything specific.

I asked for an autographed photo, and he kindly and promptly sent this one.

Mr. Barty died in 2000, but there is an "official website" dedicated to his memory. It's maintained by his nephew.

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