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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Leo Gorcey
Gorcey in 1945
Born
Leo Bernard Gorcey

(1917-06-03)June 3, 1917
New York City, United States
DiedJune 2, 1969(1969-06-02) (aged 51)
Oakland, California, United States
OccupationActor
Years active1935–1969
Spouses
Kay Marvis
(m. 1939; div. 1944)
Evalene Bankston
(m. 1945; div. 1948)
(m. 1949; div. 1956)
Brandy Davis
(m. 1956; div. 1962)
Mary Gannon
(m. 1968)
Children3
Parent(s)Bernard Gorcey
Josephine Condon
RelativesDavid Gorcey (brother)

Leo Bernard Gorcey (June 3, 1917[1]– June 2, 1969) was an American stage and film actor, famous for portraying the leader of a group of hooligans known variously as the Dead End Kids, the East Side Kids and, as adults, The Bowery Boys. Gorcey was famous for his use of malapropisms, such as "I depreciate it!" instead of "I appreciate it!"[2]

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Transcription

Early years

Gorcey was born in New York City on June 3, 1917, the son of Josephine (née Condon), an Irish Catholic immigrant, and Bernard Gorcey, a Russian Jewish immigrant. Both were vaudevillian actors of short stature. Bernard Gorcey was 4 ft 10 in (1.47 m) and his wife was 4 ft 11 in (1.50 m). Their son would reach 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) in adulthood.

Film career

In the 1930s, Gorcey's father lived apart from the family while working in theater and film. When he returned in 1935, he and Leo's younger brother David Gorcey persuaded Leo to audition for a small part in the play Dead End. Leo had just lost a job as a plumber's apprentice and wished to emulate his father's modest success. The Gorcey boys were cast in small roles as two members of the East 53rd Place Gang (originally dubbed the "2nd Avenue Boys") in the play Dead End by Sidney Kingsley. Charles Duncan, originally cast as Spit, left the play, and Gorcey, his understudy, was promoted. Gorcey created the stage persona of a quarrelsome guttersnipe whose greatest joy was to make trouble.

Gorcey in the film Gallant Sons (1940)

In 1937, Samuel Goldwyn made the popular play into a film of the same name and transported the six rowdy young men to Hollywood. Gorcey became one of the busiest actors in Hollywood during the following 20 years, starring in seven Dead End Kids films between 1937 and 1939, 21 East Side Kids films between 1940 and 1945, and 41 Bowery Boys films between 1946 and 1955.

The earlier films presented Gorcey in variations of his Dead End character Spit, a sneering tough guy meeting anyone's challenge with a wisecracking remark. In the early 1940s, as the dramatic films shifted to roughneck comedy, Gorcey embellished his dialogue with malapropisms, always delivered in a thick Brooklyn accent. "A clever deduction" would be mangled by Gorcey as "a clever seduction"; "I reiterate" became "I regurgitate"; "optical illusion" came across as "optical delusion"; and "I should see an optometrist" was rendered as "I should see an ichthyologist." A studio press release reported that Gorcey spent 30 minutes a day studying a dictionary: "He has made something of a career for himself as an actor by the use of words no one else has ever heard of, and by the misuse or mispronunciation of others."[3]

In 1944, Gorcey took a recurring role on the Pabst Blue Ribbon Town radio show, starring Groucho Marx. He also had a small role in a 1948 film, the comedy So This Is New York, starring radio comedians Henry Morgan and Arnold Stang, which was Gorcey's last appearance as a straight character actor.

In 1945 Sam Katzman, producer of the East Side Kids series, flatly refused to meet Gorcey's demand of double his usual salary. Gorcey walked out on Katzman, and Katzman discontinued the series. Gorcey turned to Dead End teammate Bobby Jordan, who suggested a meeting with Jordan's agent, Jan Grippo. The series became The Bowery Boys, with Gorcey holding a 40% financial share, and Grippo as producer. Gorcey brought aboard his father, Bernard Gorcey, to appear as Louie Dumbrowski, the panicky owner of a sweet shop where the boys gathered. Leo recruited his brother David to play one of the gang members.

The series was immediately successful, and Gorcey starred in four Bowery Boys films per year through 1955. That year, his father died as a result of injuries from an automobile accident. Gorcey, devastated, began abusing alcohol and lost a great deal of weight. When he allegedly trashed a film set in an intoxicated rage (an occurrence which was later vehemently denied in the 1980s by both Huntz Hall and David Gorcey),[4] the studio refused to grant him a pay raise that he had demanded, so he parted ways with the Bowery Boys and was replaced in the last seven films by Stanley Clements. However, Gorcey's brother David remained with the series until it ended in late 1957.

During the 1960s, Gorcey did very little acting. He had a bit part in the 1963 comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and he appeared with old sidekick Huntz Hall in a pair of low-budget films, Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar in 1966 and The Phynx, released in 1970 after his death. Gorcey also made an appearance in a television commercial for a 1969 Pontiac model.

Autobiography

In 1967 Gorcey self-published an autobiography, An Original Dead End Kid Presents: Dead End Yells, Wedding Bells, Cockle Shells, and Dizzy Spells, which was limited to 1,000 copies. It was reprinted in 2004.

Personal life

In May 1939, Gorcey married 15-year-old dancer Kay Marvis, who appeared in four of his Monogram movies. They divorced in 1944, and Marvis later wed Groucho Marx.

Gorcey married actress Evalene Bankston in October 1945, but they divorced two years later. He was arrested for firing a gun at his wife when she entered his home in Van Nuys, California, but was acquitted of the charge in 1948.[5]

In February 1949, Gorcey married actress Amelita Ward, with whom he had appeared in Clancy Street Boys and Smugglers' Cove. The marriage produced two children, including Leo Gorcey Jr., but the couple were divorced in February 1956. Later that year, Gorcey married Brandy Davis. They had a daughter, Brandy Gorcey Ziesemer, but divorced in 1962. Gorcey married Mary Gannon on July 12, 1968,[5] his wife until his death.

Death

Gorcey, a lifetime alcoholic, died of liver failure on June 2, 1969, one day short of his 52nd birthday.[6] He is buried at Molinos Cemetery in Los Molinos, California.

Legacy

Gorcey's image was to appear on the cover of the Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but because he requested a fee, he was removed.

Me and the Dead End Kid, a book about Gorcey written by his son Leo Jr., was published in 2003. In 2017, a third book on his life appeared, Leo Gorcey's Fractured World by Jim Manago, which included an examination of Gorcey's use of malapropisms in the Bowery Boys films. Also in 2017, Richard Roat, known for having the largest collection of Dead End Kids/Little Tough Guys/East Side Kids/Bowery Boys memorabilia in the United States, published the book Hollywood's Made-to-Order Punks: The Dead End Kids, Little Tough Guys, East Side Kids and the Bowery Boys , complete with photographs, behind-the-scenes trivia, and interviews with the surviving Dead End Kids/Little Tough Guys/East Side Kids/Bowery Boys that he'd collected since the 1980s.[4]

Filmography

Film

Year Film Role Notes
1937 Dead End Spit Dead End Kids film
1937 Portia on Trial Joe Gannow
1937 Headin' East Boy boxer in gym Uncredited
1937 Mannequin Clifford
1938 The Beloved Brat Spike Matz
1938 Crime School Spike Dead End Kids film
1938 Angels with Dirty Faces Bim Dead End Kids film
1938 Swingtime in the Movies Himself Dead End Kids film / Short / Uncredited
1939 They Made Me a Criminal Spit Dead End Kids film
1939 Hell's Kitchen Gyp Haller Dead End Kids film
1939 The Angels Wash Their Faces Leo Finnegan Dead End Kids film
1939 On Dress Parade Slip Duncan Dead End Kids film
1939 Private Detective Newsboy Uncredited
1939 Invisible Stripes Jimmy
1940 Boys of the City Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1940 That Gang of Mine Muggs Malone East Side Kids film
1940 Hullabaloo Apartment house bellhop Uncredited
1940 Gallant Sons "Doc" Reardon
1940 Pride of the Bowery Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1941 Road to Zanzibar Boy [7]
1941 Flying Wild Muggs East Side Kids film
1941 Angels with Broken Wings Punchy Dorsey
1941 Out of the Fog Eddie
1941 Bowery Blitzkrieg Muggs East Side Kids film
1941 Down in San Diego Snap Collins
1942 Spooks Run Wild Muggs East Side Kids film
1942 Born to Sing Snap Collins
1942 Mr. Wise Guy Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1942 Sunday Punch Biff
1942 Let's Get Tough! Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1942 Maisie Gets Her Man Cecil
1942 Smart Alecks Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1942 'Neath Brooklyn Bridge Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1943 Kid Dynamite Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1943 Clancy Street Boys Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1943 Ghosts on the Loose Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1943 Destroyer Sarecky
1943 Mr. Muggs Steps Out Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1944 Million Dollar Kid Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1944 Follow the Leader Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1944 Block Busters Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1944 Bowery Champs Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1945 Docks of New York Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1945 Mr. Muggs Rides Again Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1945 Midnight Manhunt Clutch Tracy
1945 Come Out Fighting Muggs McGinnis East Side Kids film
1946 Live Wires Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1946 In Fast Company Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1946 Bowery Bombshell Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1946 Spook Busters Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1946 Mr. Hex Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1947 Hard Boiled Mahoney Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1947 News Hounds Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1947 Bowery Buckaroos Slip Mahoney (aka:"Dead-Eye" Dan McGurk) Bowery Boys film
1948 Angels' Alley Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1948 So This Is New York Sid Mercer
1948 Jinx Money Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1948 Smugglers' Cove Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1948 Trouble Makers Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1949 Fighting Fools Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1949 Hold That Baby! Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1949 Angels in Disguise Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1949 Master Minds Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1950 Blonde Dynamite Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1950 Lucky Losers Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1950 Triple Trouble Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1950 Blues Busters Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1951 Bowery Battalion Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1951 Ghost Chasers Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1951 Let's Go Navy! Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1951 Crazy Over Horses Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1952 Hold That Line Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1952 Here Come the Marines Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1952 Feudin' Fools Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1952 No Holds Barred Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1953 Jalopy Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1953 Loose in London Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1953 Clipped Wings Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1953 Private Eyes Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1954 Paris Playboys Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1954 The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1954 Jungle Gents Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1955 Bowery to Bagdad Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1955 High Society Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1955 Spy Chasers Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1955 Jail Busters Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1955 Dig That Uranium Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1956 Crashing Las Vegas Slip Mahoney Bowery Boys film
1963 It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World First cab driver Cameo
1965 Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar Leo
1970 The Phynx Himself Final film role

Television

Year Series Role Notes
1962 The Dick Powell Theatre Billy Vale Episode: "No Strings Attached"
1962 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Windy Episode: "...But What Are You Doing for Your Country?"

References

  1. ^ Social Security Death Index
  2. ^ Clyaton, Jim (6 September 2013). "Bowery Boys and East Side Kids". The Patch. Patch Media. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  3. ^ Pressbook for Blues Busters, "Star Likes Word Study," Monogram Pictures, 1950, p. 1.
  4. ^ a b Roat, Richard (2017). Hollywood's Made-to-Order Punks: The Dead End Kids, Little Tough Guys, East Side Kids and the Bowery Boys. BearManor Media. ISBN 978-1593934675.
  5. ^ a b "Leo Gorcey Dies, 52". Desert Sun. Vol. 42, no. 260. Desert Sun. 4 June 1969. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  6. ^ Leo Gorcey dies; A dead end kid
  7. ^ Bookbinder, Robert (1977). The Films of Bing Crosby (First ed.). Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel Press. p. 115. ISBN 0806505982. Retrieved 20 November 2022.

External links

This page was last edited on 23 May 2024, at 08:08
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