L O S A N G E L E S, Dec. 24, 2000 -- Billy Barty, a 3-foot-10 actorwhose career spanned seven decades and all types of roles, diedSaturday of heart failure. He was 76.
Barty had been hospitalized in Glendale for heart problems and alung infection, said his publicist, Bill York.
Barty appeared in his first Hollywood feature in 1927 at the ageof 3 and performed for radio, television and on Broadway. He playeda number of outrageous characters, including a wizard in the movieWillow (1988), a tongue-in-cheek role as a German spy inUnder the Rainbow (1981) with Chevy Chase, a suspected stalkerFoul Play (1978), and an agent in Day of the Locust(1975).
Starred With Actors From Mickey Rooney to Chevy Chase
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, he played Mickey Rooney’s kidbrother in the Mickey McGuire series of comedy shorts. He laterhad several TV appearances, including his own children’s show,Billy Barty’s Big Show, in the 1960s, and he appeared onseveral shows over the past three decades, most recently an episodeof the hit TV comedy Frasier.
In 1957, Barty founded Little People of America, an advocacygroup for people with dwarfism. He later started a non-profitfoundation that bears his name to help improve the quality of lifefor little people, the term he said he preferred.
Fought for Dignity and Respect for ‘Little People’
On his foundation’s Web site, Barty says: “The name of mycondition is Cartilage Hair Syndrome Hypoplasia, but you can justcall me Billy.”
“The general public thinks all little people are in circuses orsideshows,” Barty said in an interview last year with TheAssociated Press. “We have doctors, nurses, just about every fieldcovered.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who chose Bartyto be his son’s godfather, said: “The world lost a giant and ahero in the passing of Billy Barty.”
Barty brought “recognition, dignity and respect to those whowere born little,” he said.
Barty was born William John Bertanzetti in Millsboro,Pa., in 1924. In October, he was awarded the Long BeachFilm Festival’s Humanitarian of the Year Award. He also was activein George W. Bush’s presidential campaign and had served on afederal disabilities commission, Antonovich said.
Survivors include his wife, Shirley, a son, a daughter and agranddaughter.