Tommy Bond

Last updated
Tommy Bond
Tommy-bond-now.jpg
Bond in 2001
Born
Thomas Ross Bond

(1926-09-16)September 16, 1926
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
DiedSeptember 24, 2005(2005-09-24) (aged 79)
Resting place Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside, California
Other namesButch
Occupations
  • Actor
  • director
  • producer
  • writer
Years active1932–2005

Thomas Ross Bond (September 16, 1926 – September 24, 2005) was an American actor, director, producer and writer. He was best known for his work as a child actor for two nonconsecutive periods in Our Gang (Little Rascals) comedies (first as "Tommy" and later as "Butch"). Also, he is noted for being the first actor to appear onscreen as DC Comics character Jimmy Olsen, in the film serials Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950).

Contents

Biography

Early years and Our Gang

Born in Dallas, Texas, Bond got his start in 1931 at the age of 4 when a talent scout for Hal Roach studios approached him as he was leaving a Dallas cinema. [1]

Bond was hired at Hal Roach Studios for the Our Gang series in the summer of 1931 to begin work that upcoming fall, at around the same time as George "Spanky" McFarland was hired. Bond worked in Our Gang for three years, alternately appearing as a supporting character and a background actor. His speaking roles increased by 1934, including his most substantive role up to that point, as the gang's band conductor in Mike Fright . In late 1934, Bond left the series and returned to public school, still earning periodic bit parts in Hollywood productions.

After leaving the gang for the first time, Bond also worked as a voice actor, most notably in several of Tex Avery's Merrie Melodies cartoons for Warner Bros. His best known voice role was as the speaking voice of "Owl Jolson" in Tex Avery's 1936 Merrie Melodies cartoon, I Love to Singa .

Bond returned to Our Gang on a recurring basis late in 1936, when Roach hired him to play "Butch", the neighborhood bully. In the film Practical Jokers , his mother calls him "Tommy", apparently indicating that "Butch" was a nickname. Bond's first short as Butch was Glove Taps . Besides filling the role of the archetypal Our Gang bully, the Butch character also regularly competed with meek Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) for the affections of his sweetheart Darla (Darla Hood). While in Our Gang, Bond appeared in a number of outside films, such as those featuring fellow Hal Roach Studios comedians Charley Chase and Laurel and Hardy.

By the late 1930s Bond was so established as a juvenile actor that other studios recruited him for feature films. He was a regular in Columbia's Five Little Peppers series of children's stories in 1939-40. He also appeared opposite singing star Gloria Jean in Universal's A Little Bit of Heaven (1940).

When the Our Gang series moved to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1938, Bond remained with the group. His final Our Gang short, Bubbling Troubles (1940); Bond continued to work in other MGM productions following his departure from Our Gang. In total, Bond appeared in 27 Our Gang shorts – 13 as "Tommy" and 14 as "Butch".

Later years

After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Bond returned to acting, and appeared in two Gas House Kids features alongside former on-screen rival Carl Switzer. In the late 1940s, Bond became the first actor to portray cub reporter Jimmy Olsen in two Superman film serials: Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950). [1]

In 1951, Bond graduated from college and quit acting, but remained in show business in the areas of television directing and production, and worked with individuals such as Norman Lear, George Schlatter, and many others. He worked at KTTV in Los Angeles from the 1950s to the early 1970s. He then went to work for KFSN in Fresno from the early 1970s to 1991. Bond also worked as a production manager on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In .

During the 1960s, Bond was an active member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in North Hollywood where a number of his Hollywood friends and colleagues attended. Together, they were instrumental in the production and presentation of the annual Christmas Pageant presented on the grounds of Emmanuel's school Laurel Hall. The production, which involved a cast of several hundred, a chariot and horses, numerous other animals and professional Hollywood sets and lighting, was presented each year during the Christmas season for several weeks leading up to Christmas. Grandstand-style bleachers were installed that seated about 1000 guests. Highlights of the pageant included a horse-driven chariot and Roman soldiers on horseback riding through the gates of Bethlehem to proclaim the census requiring Jews to register in their hometowns. Bond was instrumental in arranging for the production to be filmed and aired on Metromedia-owned Channel 11, KTTV in about 1965.

In 1972, he appeared as a guest on I've Got a Secret while working as a production assistant on the show. [2] Bond retired from television in 1991. In his latter years he lived in the Fresno and Madera Ranchos area, and served as a spokesman for a number of Our Gang-related materials. Bond published his autobiography, Darn Right It's Butch: Memories of Our Gang/The Little Rascals, with the help of Fresno teacher, film historian and co-author Ron Genini, in 1994. Tommy's son, Thomas R. Bond II "Butch, Jr.", who is a film and television producer, worked with his father in their family production company, Biograph Company. The senior Bond also hosted The Rascals, a documentary on the life and times of the Little Rascals .

Throughout his lifetime, Bond appeared in 73 films, was a charter member of the Screen Actors Guild, joining in 1937, and worked with many Hollywood stars in the years of 1933 to 1951, including James Stewart, Eleanor Powell, Ray Bolger, Frank Morgan, and Eddie Cantor among many others.

Death

Bond died on September 24, 2005, [1] at age 79 due to complications from heart disease in Northridge, California. He is buried at U.S. Veterans Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.[ citation needed ]

Filmography

YearTitleRoleNotes
1934 Kid Millions Little Boy in Ice Cream NumberUncredited
1935 The Marriage Bargain Jimmy Sparks
1935 The Calling of Dan Matthews TommyUncredited
1936 Next Time We Love Pesky KidUncredited
1936 The Return of Jimmy Valentine ListenerUncredited
1936 Silly Billies StudentUncredited
1936 Counterfeit DickyUncredited
1936 Libeled Lady WaifUncredited
1937 Champagne Waltz Otto, Singing StudentUncredited
1937 Married Before Breakfast Baglipp's KidUncredited
1937 Hideaway Oscar Peterson
1937 Rosalie MickeyUncredited
1938 City Streets Tommy Francis Devlin
1938 Block-Heads Neighbor's SonUncredited
1939 Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Joey Pepper
1940 Five Little Peppers at Home
1940 Out West with the Peppers
1940 Five Little Peppers in Trouble
1940 A Little Bit of Heaven Jerry
1941 Adventure in Washington Peewee Haynes
1941 New York Town WillieUncredited
1943 This Land Is Mine Pug-nosed School BullyUncredited
1944 Man from Frisco Russ Kennedy
1945 Twice Blessed Horace
1945 The Beautiful Cheat Jimmy
1947 Gas House Kids Go West Chimp
1947 Gas House Kids in Hollywood
1948 Big Town Scandal Waldo 'Dum Dum' Riggs
1948 Superman Jimmy OlsenSerial
1949 The Lucky Stiff NewsboyUncredited
1949 Any Number Can Play MikeUncredited
1949 Intruder in the Dust Minor RoleUncredited
1949 Tokyo Joe Fingerprint SergeantUncredited
1949 Battleground RunnerUncredited
1950 Atom Man vs. Superman Jimmy OlsenSerial
1950 Hot Rod Jack Blodgett
1951 Call Me Mister Little SoldierUncredited
1951 Bedtime for Bonzo Student Reading NewspaperUncredited
1971 The Love Machine StagehandUncredited
1972 I've Got a Secret Himself
2004Bob's Night OutCrazy Neighbor(final film role)

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References

  1. 1 2 3 Lentz, Harris M. III (2008). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2005: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture. McFarland. ISBN   978-0-7864-5210-1 . Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  2. "I've Got a Secret - Kaye Ballard (1972)". YouTube .

Books

Further reading