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Billy Barty 1924-2000
 


Country : Millsboro, PA
Profession : Actor
Date of birth : 1924-10-25
Date of death : 2000-12-23
Cause of Death : Heart Failure

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Billy Barty (October 25, 1924–December 23, 2000), born William John Bertanzetti, was an American film actor, and one of the most famous 20th century people with dwarfism.

Biography

Barty, an Italian American, was born in Millsboro, Pennsylvania. He was a member of the gang in the Mickey McGuire serial of silent shorts (a children's comedy series of the 1920s, similar in tone to the "Our Gang"/"Little Rascals" comedies, starring a very young Mickey Rooney in the title role). In The Gold Diggers of 1933, a nine-year-old Barty appeared as a baby who escapes from his perambulator. Because of his stature, much of his work consisted of bit parts and gag roles, although he was featured prominently in W.C. Fields and Me (1976), Foul Play and The Lord of the Rings (both 1978), Under the Rainbow (1981), Night Patrol (1984), Legend (1985), Masters of the Universe (1987), Willow (1988), UHF (1989), Life Stinks and Radioland Murders (1994). Barty was known for his boundless energy and enthusiasm for any productions in which he appeared. He also performed a remarkable impression of pianist Liberace. He performed with the Spike Jones musical comedy show on stage and television. He was also the evil side kick on the 1970s Saturday morning TV series Dr. Shrinker.

Barty also starred in a local Southern California children's show, "Billy Barty's Bigtop," in the mid-1960s, which regularly showed The Three Stooges shorts. In one program, Stooge Moe Howard visited the set as a surprise guest. In 1983, Barty supplied the voice for Figment in EPCOT Center's Journey Into Imagination dark ride. He subsequently supplied a reprisal for the second incarnation, though very brief.

Barty was a noted activist for the promotion of rights for others with dwarfism. He was disappointed with contemporary Hervé Villechaize's insistence that they were "midgets" instead of actors with dwarfism. Barty founded the Little People of America to help with his activism.

Barty was married to Shirley Bolingbroke of Malad City, Idaho, from 1962 until his death at age 76. They had two children, Lori Neilson and TV/film producer and director Braden Barty.

Barty and his family belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A tribute book on his life was published in December 2002. Within Reach: An Inspirational Journey into the Life, Legacy and Influence of Billy Barty was produced by Barty's nephew, Michael Copeland, and Michael's wife, Debra.

Until the time of his death, Barty was a beloved annual guest-star on Canada's Telemiracle telethon, one of the most successful (per capita) telethons in the world.

Quotes

  • "The name of my condition is cartilage hair hypoplasia, but you can just call me Billy."
  • "The general public thinks all little people are in circuses or sideshows. We have doctors, nurses, just about every field covered."

Trivia

  • Owned a rollerskating rink in Fullerton, CA, called "Billy Barty's Roller Fantasy".

TELEVISION
Peter Gunn Babby (1958-61)

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (29-Sep-1997) Himself
Radioland Murders (21-Oct-1994) Himself
The Naked Truth (1992)
Life Stinks (26-Jul-1991)
The Rescuers Down Under (16-Nov-1990) [VOICE]
UHF (21-Jul-1989)
Lobster Man from Mars (29-Jan-1989)
Willow (20-May-1988)
Masters of the Universe (7-Aug-1987)
Body Slam (1987)
Tough Guys (3-Oct-1986)
Legend (28-Aug-1985)
Night Patrol (16-Nov-1984)
Under the Rainbow (1981)
Hardly Working (31-Jan-1980)
Skatetown, USA (Oct-1979)
Firepower (27-Apr-1979)
Foul Play (14-Jul-1978)
Rabbit Test (1978)
The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington (7-Sep-1977)
The Amazing Dobermans (24-Nov-1976)
W.C. Fields and Me (24-Jun-1976)
Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (26-May-1976)
The Day of the Locust (7-May-1975)
Pufnstuf (May-1970)
Harum Scarum (24-Nov-1965)
Billy Rose's Jumbo (6-Dec-1962)
The Undead (Mar-1957)

 

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