From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Billy Barty (October 25, 1924 – December 23, 2000), born William John Bertanzetti, was an American film actor.
Barty, an Italian American, was born in Millsboro, Pennsylvania. He was a member of the gang in the Mickey McGuire serial of silent shorts (a children's comedy series of the 1920s, similar in tone to the "Our Gang"/"Little Rascals" comedies, starring a very young Mickey Rooney in the title role). In The Gold Diggers of 1933, a nine-year-old Barty appeared as a baby who escapes from his stroller. Because of his stature, much of his work consisted of bit parts and gag roles, although he was featured prominently in The Day of the Locust (film) (1975), W.C. Fields and Me (1976), Foul Play and The Lord of the Rings (both 1978), Under the Rainbow (1981), Night Patrol (1984), Legend (1985), Masters of the Universe (1987), Willow (1988), UHF (1989), Life Stinks and Radioland Murders (1994). Barty was known for his boundless energy and enthusiasm for any productions in which he appeared. He also performed a remarkable impression of pianist Liberace. He performed with the Spike Jones musical comedy show on stage and television. He was also the evil side kick on the 1970s Saturday morning TV series Dr. Shrinker.
Barty also starred in a local Southern California children's show, "Billy Barty's Bigtop," in the mid-1960s, which regularly showed The Three Stooges shorts. In one program, Stooge Moe Howard visited the set as a surprise guest. The program gave many Los Angeles-area children their first opportunity to become familiar with little people, who until then had been rarely glimpsed on the screen except as two-dimensional curiosities.
Barty also starred as "Sigmund" in the popular children's television show "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters" produced by Sid and Marty Krofft in 1974-1976. In 1983, Barty supplied the voice for Figment in EPCOT Center's Journey Into Imagination dark ride. He subsequently supplied a reprisal for the second incarnation, though very brief.
Barty was a noted activist for the promotion of rights for others with dwarfism. He was disappointed with contemporary Hervé Villechaize's insistence that they were "midgets" instead of actors with dwarfism. Barty founded the Little People of America to help with his activism.
Barty and his family belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A tribute book on his life was published in December 2002. Within Reach: An Inspirational Journey into the Life, Legacy and Influence of Billy Barty was produced by Barty's nephew, Michael Copeland, and Michael's wife, Debra.
Until the time of his death, Barty was a beloved annual guest-star on Canada's Telemiracle telethon, one of the most successful (per capita) telethons in the world. He was entombed in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.
- "The name of my condition is cartilage hair hypoplasia, but you can just call me Billy." * "The general public thinks all little people are in circuses or sideshows. We have doctors, nurses, just about every field covered."
- Owned a rollerskating rink in Fullerton, CA, called "Billy Barty's Roller Fantasy".