Angelo Rossitto a.k.a. “Little Angie”


Today is the birthday of the dwarf actor Angelo Rossitto (1908-1991). The 2′ 11″ Rossitto has the interesting distinction of being the only member of the sideshow cast of Todd Browning’s Freaks to have had a real film career, appearing in over 70 films in a 60 year stretch between 1927 and 1987.

Rossitto’s career was a lot like the better known Billy Barty’s in that it ranged from real substantial roles…to jobs as an extra…to brief appearances in sight gags…to parts where was buried in a costume and you couldn’t see him at all. He played performing little people in circus movies, monstrous sidekicks in horror flicks, space aliens, elves, and of course set dressing in scenes of Roman or Weimar decadence. Interestingly, unlike most performers of his type I find no indication that he was ever a performer in sideshows, circuses or live theatre. Billed under his own name, or sometimes as “Little Moe”, “Little Angie” or “Angelino” the Omaha-born Rossitto took movie roles on the side to supplement the income he made from his Los Angeles news stand.

His first movie was The Beloved Rogue (1927) with John Barrymore and Conrad Veidt. Other roles that afforded decent amounts of screen time (and face time) included Freaks; two horror team-ups with Bela LugosiThe Corpse Vanishes (1942) and Scared to Death (1947);


another horror part in Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971); a semi-regular role as Little Moe on the tv series Baretta (1977), and the mad scientist “Master” (who rode on the back of “Blaster”) in the dystopian Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1987).


But he’s often present in subtler ways. In Laurel and Hardy’s Babes in Toyland (1934) he plays one of the Little Pigs.


He was a regular performer on the Syd and Marty Kroft kid’s shows H.R. Pufnstuf (1969-1970) and Lidsville (1971).


Other movies he appeared in over his long career included Dante’s Inferno (1935), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935), Hellzapoppin (1941), Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves (1944), The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947), Samson and Delilah (1949), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), Carousel (1956), The Story of Mankind (1957), and Dr. Doolittle (1967).

To learn more about show biz historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


And don’t miss my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from etc etc etc



2 Responses to “Angelo Rossitto a.k.a. “Little Angie””

  1. Roman (Daniel) Says:

    When I was kid catching rides into Hollywood to do what work I could find at KLACTV (13), They allowed me to sweep floors, do some light “grip work” and always took good care of me. I was asked one time by a Channel 13 celebrity if I wanted to say hello to my best friend at school. I said “sure,” and then waved at my truant officer, Walter Becker. Those were fun days. One additional treat is when I would stop and say hello to Angelo at his Newsstand (Sunset & Vine). He’d ask for my help moving things about and always made sure I had a snack before I’d make my bus ride back to the Valley. “Here, Danny,” squeezing a half-buck in my hand, “make sure you get home safe and say hello to your mom for me.” They never met but it seemed his nature to insist he’d say hello to her. Angelo had much to say; he was never unpleasant and I have thought of him many times over the years. One day while on leave from the Marines I went to Hollywood specifically to see Angelo again. He was no longer “in the business,” but I was told he was well and doing what he truly loved: acting and being the man he truly was. A professional whose career, thank God, is still remembered. There was nothing small or different about this man. He took the world as he saw it and brought much of it to his level and to his sense of pride and dignity.

    Ciao Angelo. Ciao my friend.

    • Of the 4000 some-odd comments I’ve ever gotten on this blog, this one is far and away the best. Thanks for sharing this memory.

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