Billy Halop: Wasn’t Confined to His “Dead End” Job

Billy Halop (1920-1976) was one of the original Dead End Kids, and a member who had one of the strongest individual careers outside the franchise.

Halop’s career began as early as 1933, when he was a regular on the radio show The H-Bar-O Rangers. From 1934 to 1937 he was in the cast of the show Home Sweet Home. In 1935 he became one of the original cast of kids in the original Broadway production of Dead End, remaining with the bunch when it transferred to the film version in 1937.

Unlike most of the other kids in the series that ensued, Halop was cast in lots of films other than Dead End Kids movies. You can see him You Can’t Get Away with Murder (1939), Dust Be My Destiny (1939), Tom Brown’s School Days (1940) and Blues in the Night (1941). Halop remained in the Dead End Kids and the Little Tough Guys as long as they lasted, and was in the first Gas House Kids feature, but was not included in the East Side Kids or the Bowery Boys (for the full story on all those series go here).

After World War Two service, he starred in the B movies Dangerous Years (1947) and Challenge of the Range (1949). Occasionally he got bit parts in later films like The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1963), A Global Affair (1964), Fitzwilly (1967) and The Phantom of Hollywood (1974).

Mostly, he was a familiar character on television for a quarter century. You could see him on such shows as Racket Squad, The Cisco Kid, The Jack Benny Program, Wagon Train, The Andy Griffith Show, climaxing with his regular role as the cab driver Bert Munson on All in the Family from 1971 until his death of a heart attack in 1976. He was only 56.

For more on classic comedy, please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube,