Huntz Hall

Active - 1933 - 1987  |   Born - Aug 15, 1919   |   Died - Jan 30, 1999   |   Genres - Comedy, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

The 14th of 16 children born to a New York air-conditioner repairman and his wife, Henry Richard Hall was nicknamed "Huntz" because of his Teutonic-looking nose. At the ripe old age of one year, Huntz made his stage debut in Thunder on the Left. He went on to attend New York's Professional Children's School, perform in radio programs and at least one experimental TV broadcast, and sing with a youthful quintette; the last activity came to an end when he "ruined" his voice hawking peanuts at Madison Square Garden.

In 1935, Hall was cast as slum-kid Dippy in Sidney Kingsley's Dead End, repeating the role in the 1937 screen version. Together with his fellow "Dead End Kids" Leo Gorcey, Gabriel Dell, Billy Halop, Bobby Jordan and Bernard Punsley. Hall was signed by Warner Bros in 1938. In between such Warners' assignments as Angels With Dirty Faces (1938) and They Made Me a Criminal (1939), Hall co-starred with Halop, Dell, Punsley and Leo Gorcey's brother David in Universal's Little Tough Guy, the first of many "Dead End Kid" spin-offs. During his years at Universal, Hall began developing his trademarked goofy comic style, which came to full fruition when he was reunited with Leo Gorcey in Sam Katzman's East Side Kids series at Monogram. Previously, his character name (and character) had changed from film to film: at Monogram, Hall was consistently cast as Gorcey's perennial punching bag Glimpy. Occasionally, he accepted non-"East Side Kids" assignments in the mid-1940s, earning high critical praise for his performance as Carraway in Lewis Milestone's A Walk in the Sun.

In 1946, Hall, Gorcey and producer Jan Grippo created the Bowery Boys series for Monogram. Hall played the increasingly buffoonish Horace Debussy "Sach" Jones in 48 inexpensive but profitable "Bowery Boys" entries, graduating to top billing when Gorcey left the series in 1955. After the final Bowery Boys entry in 1958, he appeared in nightclubs and dinner-theater productions. Thanks to his 10% ownership of the Bowery Boys series and his investments in offshore oil, Hall was wealthy enough to retire in the early 1960s, but he was never able to completely divest himself of the urge to perform. His post-"Sach" appearances include a semi-heavy role in Ivan Tors' Gentle Giant (1977), regular stints in the weekly TV series The Chicago Teddy Bears (1971), The Ghost Busters (1975) and Uncle Croc's Block (1977), his unexpectedly effective portrayal of movie mogul Jesse Lasky in Ken Russell's Valentino (1977), and any number of supporting roles in such R-rated fare as Gas Pump Girls and Auntie Lee's Meat Pies. He also turned director for the made-for-TV feature Lost Island (1979). Hall was appointed by Princess Grace to Monaco's Council on Drug Abuse in the 1970s. Huntz Hall remained active on the nostalgia-convention circuit into the 1990s until his death in early 1999.

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