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Billy Barty, Champion And Actor, Dies

Barty 1986
AP
Billy Barty, a 3-foot-10 actor whose career spanned seven decades and all types of roles, died Saturday of heart failure. He was 76.

Barty had been hospitalized in Glendale for heart problems and a lung infection, said his publicist, Bill York.

Barty appeared in his first Hollywood feature in 1927 at the age of 3 and performed for radio, television and on Broadway. He played a number of outrageous characters, including a wizard in the movie Willow (1988), a tongue-in-cheek role as a German spy in Under the Rainbow (1981) with Chevy Chase, a suspected stalker in Foul Play (1978) and an agent in Day of the Locust (1975).

In the late 20s and early 30s, he played Mickey Rooney's kid brother in the Mickey McGuire series of comedy shorts. He later had several TV appearances, including his own children's show, Billy Barty's Big Show, in the 1960s, and he appeared on several shows over the past three decades, most recently an episode of the hit TV comedy Frasier.

In 1957, Barty founded Little People of America, an advocacy group for people with dwarfism. He later started a non-profit foundation that bears his name to help improve the quality of life for little people, the term he said he preferred.

On his foundation's Web site, Barty says: "The name of my condition is Cartilage Hair Syndrome Hypoplasia, but you can just call me Billy."

"The general public thinks all little people are in circuses or sideshows," Barty said in an interview last year with The Associated Press. "We have doctors, nurses, just about every field covered."


AP
Signing an autograph for a young admirer in February 1999

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who chose Barty to be his son's godfather, said: "The world lost a giant and a hero in the passing of Billy Barty."

Barty brought "recognition, dignity and respect to those who were born little," he said.

Barty was born William John Bertanzetti in Millsboro, Pennsylvania, in 1924. In October, he was awarded the Long Beach Film Festival's Humanitarian of the Year Award. He also was active in George W. Bush's presidential campaign and had served on a federal disabilities commission, Antonovich said.

Survivors include his wife, Shirley, a son, a daughter and a granddaughter.

Movie Filmography:
  • Radioland Murders (1994)

    AP
    Recognition in 1981.

  • Wishful Thinking (1992)
  • A Family Matter (1991)
  • Digging up Business (1991)
  • Going Under (1991)
  • Life Stinks (1991)
  • Vendetta: Secrets of a Mafia Bride (1991)
  • The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
  • Cannon Movie Tales: Snow White (1989)
  • Diggin' up Business (1989)
  • Lobster Man from Mars (1989)
  • UHF (1989)
  • Mouse and the Motorcycle - Special Edition (1988)
  • Snow White (1988)
  • Willow (1988)
  • Body Slam (1987)
  • Masters of the Universe (1987)
  • Off the Mark (1987)
  • Rumpelstiltskin (1987)
  • Snow White (1987)
  • Legend (1986)
  • Rumpelstiltskin (1986)
  • Rumplestiltskin (1986)
  • Snow White (1986)
  • Tough Guys (1986)
  • Rumpelstiltskin (1985)
  • Night Patrol (1984)
  • Being Different (1981)
  • Hardly Working (1981)
  • Under the Rainbow (1981)
  • Firepower (1979)
  • Skatetown, USA (1979)
  • Foul Play (1978)
  • The Lord of the Rings (1978)
  • The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington (1977)
  • Punch and Jody (1976)
  • The Amazing Dobermans (1976)
  • Twin Detectives (1976)
  • W.C. Fields and Me (1976)
  • Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976)
  • The Day of the Locust (1975)
  • Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Vol. 1 (1973)
  • Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Vol. 2 (1973)
  • The Godmothers (1973)
  • Pufnstuf (1970)
  • Harum Scarum (1965)
  • Roustabout (1964)
  • Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962)
  • Spike Jones: A Musical Wreck-We-Um! (1957)
  • The Undead (1957)
  • Best of Spike Jones, Vol. 2 (1956)
  • The Best of Spike Jones, Vol. 1 (1955)
  • Best of Spike Jones, Vol. 3 (1952)
  • The Clown (1952)
  • Pygmy Island (1950)
  • Mickey the Great (1939)
  • Nothing Sacred (1937)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)
  • The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  • Gift of Gab (1934)
  • Alice in Wonderland (1933)
  • Footlight Parade (1933)
  • Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
  • Out All Night (1933)
  • Roman Scandals (1933)
  • Goldie (1931) (uncredited)
  • Daddy Long Legs (1931) (uncredited)
  • Three Wise Clucks (1931)
  • The Dog Doctor (1931)
  • Soup to Nuts (1930) (unredited)
Sources: Hollywood.com and Internet Movie Database.

By Paul Chavez
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