Even if Tommy Bond (1926-2005) had never played the memorable bully “Butch” in Our Gang, he would have had numerous other claims to fame over his several decades in show business.
In fact, “Butch” did not emerge until Bond’s second tour of duty as a Little Rascal. In his first (1933-1934), he was known merely as Tommy and wasn’t yet a bully.
Not one of the featured kids, he left for a time to take roles in other films. He’s in Kid Millions with Eddie Cantor (1934) and Silly Billies (1936) with Wheeler and Woolsey, and numerous other pictures during this period INCLUDING most magically (and this is one of the “claims to fame” I mentioned the part of “Owl Jolson” in the much loved Warner Brothers cartoon short I Love to Singa!
Somewhere in there he learned to frown and punch, and he returned to Our Gang as the intimidating bully Butch, a part which he played from 1936 through 1940. Hard to believe the sweet voiced owlet and the loathsome punk Butch are the same kid.
Other pictures from the period include Block-Heads (1938) with Laurel and Hardy, and several “Five Little Peppers” pictures: Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (1938), Five Little Peppers at Home (1940), Out West with the Peppers (1940) and Five Little Peppers in Trouble (1940).
He served in the Navy on World War II, the returned to act in still more series, such as the Gas House Kids (a kind of rip-off of the Dead End Kids), in which he appeared with fellow former Little Rascal Carl Switzer: Gas House Kids Go West (1947), and The Gas House Kids in Hollywood (1947).
He’s also in the earliest Superman films, in which he became the very first actor to portray Jimmy Olsen: Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950).
One of his last films as an actor was Bedtime for Bonzo (1951) with Ronald Reagan!
From the 1950s on he worked as a director and producer in local television, and as prop master on such national shows as The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, Tony Orlando and Dawn, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.
For more on Our Gang, please check out my 100th anniversary podcast episode here.
I had the pleasure of living with Tommy in his home in Imperial Beach San Diego he was the film arts Instructor for our Charter school and him and I became like best friends until my mom died and I left to take care the arrangements in Marysville but spending time with Butch and getting to know him and his family are times I will never forget.