The 14th of 16 children born to an air conditioning repairman, Henry Richard Hall (he got the name "Huntz" from a brother who said his large nose made him look German) was anything but the tough street kid he played in the East Side Kids/Bowery Boys films. He made his stage debut at the age of 1 in a play called "Thunder on the Left"; after graduating from a Catholic grammar school, he attended New York's famous Professional Children's School, was a boy soprano with the Madison Square Quintette, and appeared in an experimental 1932 television broadcast. Actor/director Martin Gabel got him an audition for the play "Dead End", and Hall got the part because he could imitate a machine gun to playwright Sidney Kingsley's satisfaction. Hall appeared in a total of 81 East Side Kids/Bowery Boys features and serials, more than any other actor. In 1940 he married 18-year-old dancer Elsie May Anderson (they divorced in 1944). During WW2 Hall enlisted in the Army, and after his discharge returned to Hollywood, where his first jobs were in war films playing soldiers (for his impressive work in A Walk in the Sun (1945) he received the New York Theatre Critics Circle Blue Ribbon Award).
In 1948 Hall found himself in the same kind of jam as did Robert Mitchum -- getting arrested for possession of marijuana, but he was acquitted by a jury. After the trial Hall married showgirl Leslie Wright. In the early 1950s, Hall and former Bowery Boys actor Gabriel Dell teamed up and for a "Hall and Dell" nightclub act that was so successful it cost both men their marriages; in 1953 Hall's and Dell's wives both sued for divorce, claiming the men thought more of the act than they did of them. In 1954 Hall was arrested for fighting with the manager of a building where he was attending a party; apparently the party was too noisy and the manager told the occupants to quiet down. Hall took offense at this, a fight ensued and Hall was arrested for assault, for which he paid a $50 fine and was put on probation. In 1959 he was arrested on a drunk driving charge. Having stayed out of trouble for quite some time now, Hall has been content in retirement, with occasional film and television work (not that he needed the money; in addition to owning 10% of the Bowery Boys pictures, Hall made some wise oil and gas investments that paid off handsomely).
|Leah Hall||(1966 - 30 January 1999) (his death)|
|Leslie Wright||(ca. 1948 - ca. 1953) (divorced)|
|Elsie May Anderson||(1940 - 1944) (divorced)|
Huntz's only son is Leslie Richard, born September 22, 1949. He changed his name to Gary.
Despite the Germanic appearance which resulted in his nickname, he was actually of Irish ancestry.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith, pg. 204-205. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Rock-n-Roll guitarist Rick Nielsen, of Cheap Trick, modeled his wardrobe and appearance after Huntz Hall.
Huntz Hall also starred in a play "The Sunshine Boys" with Marvin Kaplan in the 1980's in a Playhouse in Orange County, California.
[as one of the 'Dead End' kids] Everywhere we went, genuine tough guys would challenge us. I've been slugged at least 25 times by guys who wanted to find out if I was as tough as I made out. I've had more black eyes than a prize-fighter.
[observation, 1972, on the 'Dead End' films] I think, to a point, they did influence some kids to be bullies. But those pictures really weren't made for American kids. They were made for American adults. They were some of the first social dramas. The public was seeing the dirty laundry, the slums, the garbage. It hurt.
|Crime School (1938)||$275/week|
|Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)||$650/week|
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