The play opened at the Belasco Theatre on October 28, 1935 and ran for two years, totalling 684 performances. Samuel Goldwyn and director William Wyler saw the play and decided to turn it into a film. They paid $165,000 for the rights to the film and began auditioning actors in Los Angeles. Failing to find actors that could convey the emotions they saw in the play, Goldwyn and Wyler had six of the original Kids (Halop, Jordan, Hall, Punsly, Dell, and Leo Gorcey) brought from New York to Hollywood for the film. The Kids were all signed to two-year contracts, allowing for possible future films, and began working on the 1937 United Artists' film, Dead End.
During production, the boys ran wild around the studio, destroying property, including a truck that they crashed into a sound stage. Goldwyn chose not to use them again and sold their contract to Warner Brothers.
At Warner Brothers, the Dead End Kids made six films with some of the top actors in Hollywood, including Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, John Garfield, and Pat O'Brien. The last one was in 1939, when they were released from their contracts due to more antics on the studio lot.
Because the original Dead End Kids were now working for several studios, their Universal films were made at roughly the same time as the Warner Brothers' 'Dead End Kids' series, and later, Monogram Picture's "The East Side Kids" series. The final Universal film was Keep 'Em Slugging, released in 1943.
A total of 22 East Side Kids films were made, ending with Come Out Fighting in 1945.
In total the various teams that began life as 'The Dead End Kids' made 89 films and three serials for four different studios during their 21 year long film career. The team was awarded a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, which can be found at the corner of La Brea and Hollywood.
The original play has had two revivals. A 1978 adaptation played at the Quigh Theatre in New York and another in 2005 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, where the family of the original Dead End Kids (Leo Gorcey Jr., Bobby Jordan Jr., Gabe Dell Jr., and the nieces and nephews of Billy Halop) attended a performance together.
Leo Gorcey Jr., Gabe Dell Jr., Bobby Jordan Jr., Zach Halop, Jennifer and Melissa Halop (nephew and nieces of Billy Halop), and other family members, had not met prior to the 2005 'Dead End' revival, at the Ahmanson Theatre. They were brought together, for this historic event, which was hosted and organized by Colette Joel and David Key.
The Ahmanson Theatre's publicist Ken Werther, assisted Colette Joel in orchestrating the entire cast of Dead End, to meet with all of the family members of the original 'Dead End Kids'. Hollywood history came full circle when the actors (who played the parts of their predecessors) met the sons, nephew, nieces, grandson and granddaughter of the original Dead End Kids.
Also in attendance, for this historic event, at The Ahmanson Theatre, were various entertainment personalities and published authors, including Leonard Getz (From Broadway to the Bowery), Jan Alan Henderson (Speeding Bullet), Alexis Cruz (actor), David Mendenhall (actor/entertainment lawyer), Delilah Cotto (actress), Lesa Carlson (singer), Keiko Halop (concert pianist), DJ Rabiola and Anthony Rabiola (actors), and Anthony Tremblay (production designer).
|1937||Dead End||United Artists||Film Debut|
|1938||Crime School||Warner Brothers|
|1938||Angels with Dirty Faces||Warner Brothers|
|1939||They Made Me a Criminal||Warner Brothers|
|1939||Hell's Kitchen||Warner Brothers|
|1939||The Angels Wash Their Faces||Warner Brothers|
|1939||On Dress Parade||Warner Brothers|