Billy Barty

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Billy Barty

Biography

Billy Barty is best known for his long acting career, even as he fought for the rights of little people.

Synopsis

Billy Barty was born October 25, 1924 in Millsboro, Pennsylvania as William John Bertanzetti. Billy began his acting career while still a child, acting in silent films and vaudeville, though never reaching four feet tall. By the 1950's Barty had become America's most famous little person, acting in many films and television shows.

Profile

Actor, comedian. Born William John Bertanzetti on October 25, 1924 in Millsboro, Pennsylvania. Born into a performing family, Billy charmed his way into silent pictures at the age of three. As a child actor, he appeared in such films as Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer's Night's Dream and The Mickey McGuire Comedies. Though he would never grow taller than 3-feet 9-inches, Billy acted steadily and performed on the vaudeville circuit until he went to college.

Throughout the 1950s, Barty appeared on numerous variety programs, soon becoming America's most popular little person. Adult film roles included Willow, Foul Play, Rumpelstiltskin and Day of the Locust. Though he continued to get minor film and TV roles throughout his life, Billy knew that parts for little people in Hollywood were limited in both number and variety.

In the 1950s, little was understood about Barty's condition – dwarfism. In 1957, he founded the Little People of America Association and hosted the first convention for little people in Reno, Nevada. Through the association and later through his own Billy Barty Foundation, he worked to raise awareness and money for medical research and issues concerning little people, using the motto "Think big."

In December 2000, Barty died of lung and heart failure. He was survived by his wife, Shirley, and their two children, Lori and Braden.

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