Bernard Gorcey

Active - 1928 - 1956  |   Born - Jan 1, 1887   |   Died - Sep 11, 1955   |   Genres - Comedy, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Of Jewish-Swiss descent, actor Bernard Gorcey was in his early 20s when he emigrated to the U.S. At 4' 10", Gorcey ruled out the possibility of becoming a leading man on stage; instead, he concentrated on comedy roles, and in so doing assured himself nearly five decades of steady work. On Broadway and in stock, he provided comedy relief to such operettas as Rose Marie, Wildflower, and Song of the Flame. In 1922, he was cast as Isaac Cohen in the phenomenally popular Broadway play Abie's Irish Rose; six year later, he repeated his role in the film version. Then it was back to Broadway and radio work until 1939, when Charlie Chaplin hired Gorcey to play philosophical ghetto dweller Mr. Mann in The Great Dictator.

Gorcey went on to play minor roles at Warner Bros. and Monogram, where his son, actor Leo Gorcey was firmly established as a member of the "Dead End Kids" and "East Side Kids" aggregations. After another sojourn to Broadway, the elder Gorcey returned to Monogram, this time to stay. In 1946, the "East Side Kids" matriculated into "The Bowery Boys," a series that lasted until 1958. In the first Bowery Boys entry Live Wires, Gorcey played a featured role as a nervous bookie. From Bowery Bombshell (1946) onward, he was ensconced in the role of Louie Dumbrowski, the eternally flustered, supremely gullible owner of the sweet shop where the Bowery Boys whiled away their time hatching schemes and mooching sodas. Occasionally, Gorcey would accept an "outside" role in films like No Minor Vices, but his principal source of income remained Louie Dumbrowski (and the Los Angeles print shop that he ran in his off-hours). Not long after appearing in the 1955 Bowery Boys opus Dig That Uranium, Bernard Gorcey died of injuries sustained in a traffic accident.

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