Birthday: June 3, 1917
Died At Age: 51
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Leo Bernard Gorcey
Born Country: United States
Born in: New York City, New York, United States
Famous as: Actor
Height: 5'6" (168 cm), 5'6" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Mary Gannonm (m 1968), Amelita Wardm (1949–1956), Brandy Gorceym (1956–1962), Evalene Bankstonm (1945–1948), Kay Marvism (1939–1945)
father: Bernard Gorcey
mother: Josephine Condon
siblings: David Gorcey
children: Brandy Jo, Jan Gorcey, Leo Gorcey Jr.
Died on: June 2, 1969
place of death: Oakland, California, USA
City: New York City
U.S. State: New Yorkers
Who was Leo Gorcey?
Leo Gorcey was an American actor, known for his work in stage and cinema. He became popular for portraying the leader of hooligan groups, named Dead End Kids, The East Side Kids, and later The Bowery Boys. Gorcey was born in New York City, to a Catholic mother and a Jewish father, both actors. His most notable works include the Dead End Kids movies, the East Side Kids movies, and later the Bowery Boys movies. Other works in his career include the role of a cab driver in the film ‘It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’, and his role of Sid Mercer in the satirical comedy film ‘So This is New York’.
Childhood & Early Life
Leo Gorcey was born on 3 June 1917, in New York City, USA. His father was Bernard Gorcey, a Russian Jewish immigrant, and his mother was Josephine Condon, an Irish Catholic immigrant. Both his parents were of short stature, and were vaudevillian actors.
Leo Gorcey also developed an interest in acting at a young age. While at high school, he was president of the drama club.
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Before he became an actor, Leo Gorcey worked as a plumber’s apprentice. However, after he lost his job, and his father and his brother persuaded him to try a small part in the play ‘Dead End’, he decided to give it a try. The play was adapted into a movie of the same name, and Gorcey decided to reprise his role of his character named Spit. Between 1937 and 1939, he appeared in seven Dead End Kids movies.
In 1940, he starred in ‘Boys of the City’, a comedy thriller film directed by Joseph H. Lewis, where he played the role of Muggs McGinnis. The film was the second installment of the East Side Kids series. Gorcey continued to appear in several East Side Kids films in his role of McGinnis, some of them including ‘Pride of the Bowery’, (1940), ‘Spooks Run Wild’ (1941), ‘Bowery Blitzkrieg’, (1941), ‘Mr. Wise Guy’ (1942), ‘Kid Dynamite’ (1943) and ‘Docks of New York’ (1945).
In 1946, he was seen in the film ‘Live Wires’, where he played the role of Slip Mahoney. It was the first film of The Bowery Boys series. Over the next few years, Gorcey appeared in over forty films of the series, playing the role of Mahoney. Some of them include ‘Bowery Bombshell’ (1946), ‘Hard Boiled Mahoney’ (1947), ‘Angel’s Alley’ (1948), ‘Fighting Fools’ (1949), ‘Triple Trouble’ (1950), ‘Ghost Chasers’ (1951), ‘Paris Playboys’ (1954) and ‘Crashing Las Vegas’ (1956).
He didn’t appear in many films in the 1960s. He was seen in the 1963 comedy film ‘It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’. The film was directed by Stanley Kramer. The film was a huge success commercially and critically, and earned six Oscar nominations, out of which it won one. It also won two Golden Globe Awards nominations. Gorcey played the small role of a cab driver.
In 1965, he appeared in the comedy film ‘Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar’. Directed by Victor Duncan, the film starred Gorcey as Leo, one of the main characters.
He was also seen as himself in the 1970 comedy film ‘The Phynx’. The film was released after his death.
One of Leo Gorcey’s most important works was undoubtedly ‘The Bowery Boys’ film series. The film series began in 1946 with the film ‘Live Wires’. Gorcey played the role of Slip Mahoney, leader of a hooligan group. The series earned a lot of popularity, among the new generation of mostly younger fans, when films were repackaged and syndicated for television. There were total of 48 films in the Bowery Boys series, which makes it the third longest film series in the history of motion picture.
One of the few standalone movies Gorcey appeared in include ‘So This Is New York’, a 1948 satirical comedy. He played a supporting character Sid Mercer. Film was directed by Richard Fleischer. Though the film was initially a flop, the movie gained a lot of appreciation over the years.
Family & Personal Life
Leo Gorcey was married five times. His first marriage was with Kay Marvis, from 1939 to 1945 . They had one child.
His next marriage was with Evalene Bankston, from 1945 to 1948.
His third marriage was with Amelita Ward, with whom he had two children. They got married in 1949 and got divorced in 1956.
His fourth marriage was with Brandy Davis from 1956 to 1962. They had one child.
His last marriage was with Mary Gannon, with whom he got married in 1968. They remained together till his death in 1969.
Shortly before his death his autobiography ‘An Original Dead End Kid Presents: Dead End Yells, Wedding Bells, Cockle Shells, and Dizzy Spells’, was published.
Leo Gorcey breathed his last on 2nd June 1969, just a day before his 52nd birthday. His died of liver failure due to excessive alcoholism. He was buried at the Molinos Cemetery, in Los Molinos, California.
In 2003, his son also published a book about him titled ‘Me and the Dead End Kid’.
In 2017, another third book on him was published, titled ‘Leo Gorcey’s Fractured World’.