A salute today to an important Dead End Kid/ East Side Kid/ Bowery Boy, David Gorcey (1921-1984).
The son of character actor Bernard Gorcey, David started out as a child actor, appearing in vaudeville, and in five Vitaphone shorts in the early ’30s: One Good Deed (1931), Detectuvs (1932), His Honor — Penrod (1932), Hot Dog (1932), and Penrod’s Bull Pen (1932).
In 1935 Gorcey was cast in the Broadway production of Sidney Kingsley’s Dead End. Interestingly, his older and better known brother Leo Gorcey (who eventually took over the entire franchise like a comedy Napoleon) didn’t join the cast until later. David’s involvement predates Leo’s. And yet, to complicate matters, David did not participate in any of the Dead End Kids films. He found his way back into the series through later incarnations, first by being in the Little Tough Guy films starting in 1938, then the East Side Kids (as “Pee Wee”) and then the Bowery Boys (as “Chuck”). In some of the films he used the billing David Condon, to differentiate himself from his brother.
In addition to films with the gang he had bit roles in such movies as Blues in the Night (1941), Killer McCoy (1947) The Babe Ruth Story (1948), Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion (1950), and Cole Younger Gunfighter (1958). David was one of the few to remain with the Bowery Boys until the very last film in the series In the Money (1958), outlasting even Leo and his father Bernard, who’d passed away in 1955. Thus, Like Huntz Hall, he was there at both the beginning and the end — the Alpha and the Omega of the Bowery Boys.
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on classic comedy, read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube,