October 25, 1924 – December 23, 2000
Billy was born William Job Bertanzetti in Pennsylvania in 1924. His parents were average sized. For a little guy, he sure overcame a lot of obstacles. Makes me think how lucky and lazy a lot of us really are. At his tallest, Billy was 3 foot 9, and a stone cold fox.
Billy’s dad got a job as a machinist for Columbia pictures, and the family moved out to the West Coast. Billy had a terrific personality, and was a genuinely nice guy. It wasn’t long before his unusual looks landed him parts in a few films. He found steady work after that, but decided to chuck it all in,and go to school to become a sports journalist. After graduating, he returned to the business, and with television being the big thing, he found even more work.
While constantly finding work, Billy also found time to start up several groups to bring the needs of “little people” public. His condition was called Cartilage Hair Syndrome Hypoplasia. Billy founded the Little People of America and the Billy Barty Foundation, which provided scholarships for other little people.In addition to having a kids show called Billy Barty’s Big Show, Billy appeared in a slew of Sid and Marty Krofft shows, Get Smart, The Waltons, Peter Gunn, Barney Miller, The Golden Girls, Frasier, and a couple of Elvis flicks. In fact, if you want to know more, check out his listingon the IMDB.
Billy lived in Studio City, in this nice house.
In May of 2000, Billy was injured when he fell off his scooter and fractured his eye socket. He had also had hip replacement surgery. “I feelgood, I just look horrible.”I met Billy in 1995, and I can say he was a real sweet man. We talked for quite a while about his vaudeville career, and the Krofft shows. Then,occasionally I ran in to him afterwards, and he always remembered me, and was always super nice.Billy died in the Glendale Memorial Hospital of heart failure Saturday December 23, 2000 at 9:22 am. He was married to Shirley,and had a daughter named Lori and a son named Braden. Merry Christmas.
There was a memorial service on Wednesday the 27th at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints in North Hollywood.Billy was cremated and is buried in Forest Lawn, Glendale.
Thank you to Roger Sinclair for the grave photo and Mike Steen for Billy’s death certificate. As usual, you guys are terrific!
5 thoughts on “Billy Barty”
Mr Barty dabbled in harness racing, owning the prominent front running Macho Bravo who won his share of races at Los Alamitos back when they had harness racing. I had the box right next to him on the finish line and we often talked. He and his family and guests were always friendly and polite and a joy to be near.
Yes! Sid and Marty Kroft. “Dr. Shrinker”. Billy’s face was always a welcome, Friendly sight and made me smile. Tried to do everything he could to prove he was just as valuable as everyone else and not a sideshow. What a guy! Rest in peace.
He Played Screwball in the film Legend
Little known facts: Billy annually went to either Johns Hopkins or the Mayo Clinic (Can’t remember which.) for a battery of tests, including painfully invasive stuff like spinal taps. Reason? He was offering himself as a “guinea pig” to medically help end his physical condition for others.
Billy was also a consultant for the first ever line of furniture designed specifically for little people at Sunburst Outdoor Furniture. Said it was the first time in his life he sat in a chair with his feet on the ground and his back in the right position. Can you imagine having to go through life like that?
Rake Billy: Julie Newmar (Batman’s Catwoman) relayed on set, off camera, Billy walking up to her and saying “I want to go up on you.” Newmar’s response? “If you do… and I hear about it…”!
Karate Billy: Relayed to a bar drinking buddy little guys like him really hated using public restrooms. Friend asked why? Billy said guys were always following him in to get a look at his dick! Billy’s solution? Using a karate move learned to break their foot insteps!!
From watching his interviews over the years, always assumed your confirmation he was a great guy –
Corrections: it was Michael Dunn (another little person) best known for playing Dr. Loveless on the tv show “The Wild, Wild West” who volunteered as a research resource (twice yearly in Texas) to help end Spina Bifida; which was the medical condition that kept him a dwarf.
It was also Mr. Dunn who broke public restroom “dick watchers” insteps.
What can I say, confusing Mr. Barty with Mr. Dunn? Little person Dyslexia? No excuse, so I’ll stick with that –