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Benny Bartlett

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Benny Bartlett
Benny Bartlett 1938
Born(1924-08-16)August 16, 1924
DiedDecember 26, 1999(1999-12-26) (aged 75)
Other namesBennie Bartlett
Years active1935–1956

Floyd B. Bartlett, known professionally as Benny Bartlett or Bennie Bartlett (August 16, 1924 – December 26, 1999), was an American child actor, musician, and later a member of the long-running feature film series The Bowery Boys.



Benny Bartlett's first stage role was when he was ten days old. He became a musical prodigy, playing the trumpet at age four, directing and singing with his own dance orchestra on radio. He made his debut in motion pictures in 1935, appearing in the RKO musical Millions in the Air (1935), in which he had a piano specialty. The next year he appeared in a short for Paramount, singing "An Old-Fashioned Mill," which he had composed at the age of nine. The studio signed him to a contract soon afterward. Paramount had plans for Bartlett: syndicated columnist Mollie Merrick reported that the "eight-year-old" Bartlett (he was really 11) would star in the title role of Tom Sawyer, Detective opposite co-star Elizabeth Patterson.[1] The project was shelved—perhaps because Paramount had already fudged Bartlett's age—and the film was ultimately made with Billy Cook as Sawyer and new find Donald O'Connor as Huckleberry Finn. Bartlett began appearing with many of Paramount's biggest stars, and became such a hot property that he was often loaned out to other studios. Columbia featured him in an Andy Clyde short, Swing, You Swingers! (1938), in which he played an adolescent bandleader; he received billing as "Benny Bartlett and His Band."

Later career

By the early 1940s, Bartlett had outgrown child roles and was playing incidental parts in feature films like Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943, as a theater call boy). He was also working in Monogram's East Side Kids comedies.

Bartlett joined the military during World War II. After his enlistment was over, he resumed his acting career at PRC, where he co-starred in the Gas House Kids comedies, an imitation of The Bowery Boys with Our Gang alumni Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer and Tommy Bond. Bartlett was billed second and was quite prominent in the Gas House Kids vehicles; he played his trumpet in Gas House Kids Go West (1947). He might have continued there indefinitely, but the PRC studio was absorbed by a larger company and the series was discontinued. William Beaudine, who had directed Bartlett in Gas House Kids Go West, remembered Bartlett's comic skills and recruited him for the Bowery Boys. He was usually billed as "Bennie Bartlett" (and once, erroneously, as "David Bartlett," mistaken for co-star David Gorcey).

Bartlett left the series in 1949 and was replaced by Buddy Gorman, a utility player in the East Side Kids/Bowery Boys franchises. When Gorman left the series to get married in 1951, Bartlett returned. He remained with the series until 1955, but with his participation and dialogue sharply curtailed. Leo Gorcey even addressed him facetiously on screen as "No Lines" and "Blabbermouth," and in one film (Paris Playboys) he had no dialogue at all. Bartlett did try to break away from the series (he has a bit in the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock thriller Rear Window, and he accepted small roles on television). He may have stayed with the Bowery Boys as a favor to director Edward Bernds, or perhaps Bartlett's contract simply ran out; in any event, when Bernds left the series after Dig That Uranium, so did Bennie Bartlett.

He gave up his acting career in 1958 and became a professional realtor, reverting to his given name of Floyd B. Bartlett.

Selected filmography


  1. ^ Hartford Courant , "Tom Sawyer Picture to Be Produced," Nov. 5, 1935, p. 6.

Further reading

  • Dye, David. Child and Youth Actors: Filmography of Their Entire Careers, 1914-1985. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1988, pp. 11–12.
  • Holmstrom, John. The Moving Picture Boy: An International Encyclopaedia from 1895 to 1995, Norwich, Michael Russell, 1996, pp. 151–152.

External links

This page was last edited on 23 February 2023, at 22:11
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