Chicago American, Tuesday, April 6, 1943:
LOUELLA O. PARSONS
Gossip From Hollywood
". . . . Bobby Jordan, "Dead End" kid, will be inducted into the army in May . . .
---Wednesday, April 14, 1943:
Gabriel Dell, "Dead End Kid," will wed Pat Styles, Hollywood dancer, on his first leave. He is now stationed at Santa Catalina Island with the merchant marine.
Chicago Tribune, Sunday, October 8, 1944:
LOOKING AT HOLLYWOOD
NOT SO DEAD END
In six years on the screen the half dozen original Dead End Kids collected more than $1, 500,000 in salaries while they were growing up from adolescence into manhood. But the gist of this story is that at least one of them regrets every penny of it.
The penitent Dead Ender is Huntz Hall, now playing a comedy sailor in Goldwyns The Wonder Man, with Danny Kaye.
Hall, now 24, with an honorable medical discharge from the army because of bad eyesight, believes that the Dead End Kids pictures no only touched off a wave of juvenile delinquency whose reverberations are still distressing the nation, but he has just learned how the Nazis converted the series into anti-American propaganda.
Skillfully edited by experts under Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, the pictures were presented not as dramatizations of social evils which were the exception rather than the rule but as documentations showing the degradation of youth in the decadent democracies, especially America.
Of his connection with Sidney Kingsleys stage play Dead End, and the picture made from it, Hall is thoroly proud. The play and picture spotlighted the evils of the city slums and in many communities have been responsible for the instigation of great model housing projects and slum eradication.
Sam Goldwyn sold his contracts with the kids after Dead End was released, and succeeding pictures made with them lost sight of the original intent and purpose and proved to a baleful influence on impressionable, imitative juveniles, with the result that howls of protest filled the air from indignant mothers and fathers, parent-teacher associations, and other organized groups.
Hall said he had his first misgivings about the time of Angels with Dirty Faces, when he began receiving letters from teen-age boys who wanted to join him in a racket, a bank stickup, and various other illegal enterprises.
He believes that properly handled, the Dead End Kids might have been a constructive force rather than an evil one to American youth. The public went for the kids personalities, he declared. They were all vitalwith the same kind of intense interest Cagney and Robinson created in Five Star Final, Little Caesar, etc. Each Dead-Ender was a character. They could have been shown as a typical gang of good American boysrough, ready, adventurous, but basically sound, and certainly not vicious.
Hall believes the first misstep for the Dead End Kids was their publicity. While playing in New York they were acclaimed by a national magazine as genuine products of the east side slums of New York. The legend followed them here and grew sturdier with each repetition.
The facts, says Hall, are quite different. The six original Dead-Enders were Hall himself (Dippy), Leo Gorcey (Spit), Billy Halop (Tommy), Gabriel Dell (T.B.), Bernard Punsley (Milty), and Bobby Jordan (Angel).
Halls father was an air-conditioning engineer, and Hunt was in radio and vaudeville before he went on the stage and finished high school at the Professional Childrens school. And that was founded, if my memory serves, by one of the kindest women I ever knewDeaconess Hall, who used to head the Three Arts club in New York when Fanny Hurst, Margaret Wilson, Gilda Varesi and I all lived there.
Gorceys father was a successful actor, Halops was a lawyer, Dells a doctor, Punsleys was a salesman, while Jordans owned a garage. All the kids came from middle class homes or better; all bad been in radio and vaudeville before doing the stage play.
When the six boys came to California they were escorted by their mothers. Jordan and Punsley had to attend school at the studio. It was fun for them to chase their teacher all over the set, to drive their new cars down Hollywood boulevard at 70 miles an hour. All these things were talked and written about, and their publicity, as in the case of many before them, went to their heads.
Gorcey, now 29 and a 4-F, and Hall are the groups only civilians at present. Halop is a sergeant in the signal corps; Dell a lieutenant (j. g.) in the navy; Punsleys in the armys medical corps, plans to be a doctor; Jordan is an infantry private.
The kids arrived here, said Hall, with a ready-made reputation for toughness, so we tried to act the part, and succeeded. We couldnt step out of character when the whistle blew. Our stage characters were too well known.
Everywhere we went genuine tough guys would choose us, so we had to fight back. I have been slugged at least 25 times., the last time only two weeks ago, by guys who wanted find out if I am as tough as I make out. I have had more black eyes than a prize fighter, and the experience of the others has been the same.
Warners we felt we had to do something to sustain our reputation. Once we wrecked a set; another time we tested the sprinkling system by putting a blow torch against a jet. It worked.
What would have been ordinary mischief in any group of kids our age was always blown up into super-toughness, like the time all six of us got aboard Willie Wylers motorcycle and raced all over the Goldwyn lot, causing Mr. Goldwyn a slight case of heart trouble, as we were right in the middle of a picture.
Old enough now to know better, and with a keener sense of social responsibility, Hall voices the contrite conviction that the Dead End Kids on the screen created among American youth a horde of bullies, exhibitionists, vulgarians; and just plain brats.
Every now when he passes a group of junior commandos at play he hears some of the expressions the Dead-Enders put into circulation:
Wanna breathe thru a broken nose?
Lookin for a fat lip?
Im gonna spit in your eye and charge you for an eye wash.
Ill hit you on the head so hard youll be looking out your stomach.
Ill did you eyes outyou wanna sell pencils?
Halls present ambition is to return to Broadway for another fling at the stage and then produce pictures. There should be a crack in here somewherefrom a Dead-Ender to a colossal producer.
Maybe I can make amends, he said ruefully, by making some pictures that will counteract the Dead End Kids
The Huntz of his monicker is a nickname from his radio days. He liked it, so adopted it professionally. Named Henry Richard Hall, he was born Aug. 15, 1920, in New York City, the son of the former Mary Mullen and Joseph Hall.
Originally a family of 16 children, 13 boys and three girls, there now remain eight children and his mother living. Four of his brothers are in the service.
No one knew better than Huntz that its easier to get a bad reputation than it is to clean it up and make it goodthat theres so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us that it ill behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us.
But heavens! Wouldnt it be awful if we followed that in the picture business?