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Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (6) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 27 June 1909Springfield, Massachusetts, USA
Date of Death 9 November 1988Dayton, Nevada, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameLuigi Curto
Height 4' 2" (1.27 m)

Mini Bio (1)

American midget actor Billy Curtis avoided the usual onus of freak-show employment as a youth, opting for a mainstream job as a shoe clerk. Encouraged by stock company actress Shirley Booth to take a little person role in a stage production, Curtis soon became a professional actor, with numerous Broadway musical productions to his credit. Curtis' big movie season was 1938-39: he was cast in The Wizard of Oz (1939) (albeit with voice dubbed by Pinto Colvig) and as the cowboy hero of the all-midget western The Terror of Tiny Town (1938). This last epic was one of the few instances that Curtis was cast as a good guy; many of his screen characters were ill-tempered and pugnacious, willing to bite a kneecap if unable to punch out an opponent. Seldom accepting a role which demeaned or patronized little people, Curtis played an obnoxious vaudeville performer compelled to sit on Gary Cooper's lap in Meet John Doe (1941), a suspicious circus star willing to turn Robert Cummings over to the cops in Saboteur (1942), and one of the many fair-weather friends of The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957). Billy Curtis' career thrived into the 1970s, notably with solid parts in the Clint Eastwood western _High Plains Drifter (1972)_ and the crime-caper meller Little Cigars (1973), in which he had second billing as a diminutive criminal mastermind. Billy Curtis retired in the 1980s, except for the occasional interview or Wizard of Oz cast reunion.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Spouse (1)

Joan Curtis (? - ?)

Trivia (6)

Billy Curtis was the main reason for Judy Garland's comment that the Munchkins were "little drunks." He made several passes at her during the production, to which she responded "Mother wouldn't approve.".
Had 2 children, Tom Curtis, now living in Colorado, and Judy Curtis, still living in Santa Monica, California.
Had five grandchildren: 1 by his daughter Judy (named Micheal), 4 by his son Tom (Eric Curtis, who lives in Alexandria LA, Allison Curtis, Kala Curtis, and Jeremiah Curtis who all live with their mother, Deborah, in Prior Lake MN).
The McDonalds character, Mayor McCheese, was played by Billy, from its creation until his death in 1989. McDonalds retired the character when Billy died in 1989.
One of his most unusual roles was as the smaller version of "The Thing" (replacing James Arness) in the creature's final scene in The Thing from Another World (1951).
He worked 50 years in the film business before retiring. A year later, he passed away of a heart attack.

Personal Quotes (2)

We stand in for any kid entitled to a stand-in. Result is fewer kids, fewer kids' mothers and fewer teachers on the set. And when there's a stunt to be done, we can do it. - explaining how important "little people" are to the film industry
On making the cult classic "The Terror of Tiny Town": "When I was first offered the role of the sheriff they didn't want to pay my established salary. Then we were all directed like we were children. Small, in the minds of stupid people, is kiddie stuff. So first they try to exploit little people. Then they patronize you. And when the picture comes out, then the audience laughs at you. Why? Not because we were low budget, because most westerns then were Bs. Because we rode ponies. What would a person my size ride - a stallion? I played the good guy who put the bad guy behind bars at the end - just like John Wayne. And I kissed the pretty girl - just like he did. So what the hell's so funny?"

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