), born William John Bertanzetti
, was an American film actor
, and one of the most famous 20th century people with dwarfism
Barty, an Italian American
, was born in Millsboro
. He was a member of the gang in the Mickey McGuire serial of silent shorts (a children's comedy series of the 1920s, similar in tone to the "Our Gang"/"Little Rascals" comedies, starring a very young Mickey Rooney in the title role). In The Gold Diggers of 1933
, a nine-year-old Barty appeared as a baby who escapes from his perambulator. Because of his stature, much of his work consisted of bit parts and gag roles, although he was featured prominently in W.C. Fields and Me
(1976), Foul Play
and The Lord of the Rings
(both 1978), Under the Rainbow
(1981), Night Patrol
(1985), Masters of the Universe
(1989), Life Stinks
and Radioland Murders
(1994). Barty was known for his boundless energy and enthusiasm for any productions in which he appeared. He also performed a remarkable impression of pianist Liberace
. He performed with the Spike Jones
musical comedy show on stage and television.
Barty also starred in a local Southern California childrens' show, "Billy Barty's Bigtop," in the mid-1960s, which regularly showed Three Stooges shorts. In one program, stooge Moe Howard visited the set as a surprise guest.
In 1983, Barty supplied the voice for Figment in EPCOT Center's Journey Into Imagination dark ride. He subsequently supplied a reprisal for the second incarnation, though very brief.
Barty was a noted activist for the promotion of rights for others with dwarfism. He was disappointed with contemporary Hervé Villechaize's insistence that they were "midgets" instead of actors with dwarfism. Barty founded the Little People of America to help with his activism.
Barty was married to Shirley Bolingbroke of Malad City, Idaho, from 1962 until his death at age 76. They had two children, Lori Neilson and TV/film producer and director Braden Barty.
Barty and his family belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A tribute book on his life was published in December 2002. Within Reach: An Inspirational Journey into the Life, Legacy and Influence of Billy Barty was produced by Barty's nephew, Michael Copeland, and Michael's wife, Debra.
Until the time of his death, Barty was a beloved annual guest-star on Canada's Telemiracle telethon, one of the most successful (per capita) telethons in the world.
- "The name of my condition is cartilage hair hypoplasia, but you can just call me Billy."
- "The general public thinks all little people are in circuses or sideshows. We have doctors, nurses, just about every field covered."
- Owned a rollerskating rink in Fullerton, CA, called "Billy Barty's Roller Fantasy".
- Copeland, Michael and Debra (2002). Within Reach: An Inspirational Journey into the Life, Legacy and Influence of Billy Barty. Xulon Press. ISBN 1-59160-391-9.