Dead End Kids / East Side Kids / Little Tough Guys / The Bowery Boys
The East Side Kids were a group of actors who made a series of films released by Monogram Pictures from 1940 through 1945. Many of them were originally part of The Dead End Kids and The Little Tough Guys, and several of them later became members of The Bowery Boys.
Leo Gorcey (Terrence Aloysius "Slip" Mahoney), Huntz Hall (Horace Debussy "Sach" Jones), Bobby Jordan (Bobby), Gabriel Dell, Billy Halop (Tommy Gordon), Billy Benedict (Whitey), 'Sunshine' Sammy Morrison, and Bernard Punsly and the gang usually hanging out at Louie's Sweet Shop (reportedly at 3rd & Canal St. New York City) until an adventure came along.
From 1937 through the 1958 this comedy troupe of lovable New York street kids entertained America in almost one hundred films and serials. Starring Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Bobby Jordan, Gabriel Dell, Billy Halop, Billy Benedict, 'Sunshine' Sammy Morrison, and Bernard Punsly. They proved to be so popular that they continued to make movies under various monikers, and for various studios, including The Dead End Kids, The East Side Kids, The Little Tough Guys, and The Bowery Boys.
Most of the films begin with the gang hanging out at Louie's Sweet Shop until an adventure came along. The stories centered around street kids who turn away from a life of crime towards positive alternatives that include boxing, friendship, and family ties. The great mix of comedy, hard-boiled action, and positive messages make these classics to be remembered. The most successful of these features were "Angels with Dirty Faces" (1938) with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, and "They Made Me a Criminal" (1939), starring John Garfield. Hugely popular during their initial run, they entertained even more generations through the 1960's and 1970's as re-runs on television. Today, their humor, hi-jinks, and street-tough adventures continue to delight old fans and create new ones.
The Dead End Kids were a group of young actors from New York who were originally discovered appearing in Sidney Kingsley's Broadway play Dead End in 1935. In 1937 producer Samuel Goldwyn brought all of them to Hollywood and adapted the play into a film. The Kids were all signed to two-year contracts, allowing for possible future films, and began working on the 1937 United Artists' film, Dead End. This led to the making of six other films starring The Dead End Kids.
Shortly after they made their first film at Warner Brothers in 1938, Universal borrowed all of the Dead End Kids except for Bobby Jordan and Leo Gorcey and made twelve films and three 12-chapter serials under the names of "The Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys" and "Little Tough Guys." Universal also contracted Leo's brother David and Hally Chester to join the team. After Universal released Jordan from his contract, Warner Brothers quickly signed him to join the rest of gang.
Monogram also acted quickly and hired several of them, including Jordan and the Gorcey brothers, as well as Chester and some of the other Little Tough Guys to star in a new series using the name "The East Side Kids." This series introduced 'Sunshine' Sammy Morrison, one of the original members of the Our Gang comedy team, to the group.
With the original Dead End Kids now working simultaneously for several studios, their Universal films were made at roughly the same time as the Warner Brothers' 'Dead End Kids' series, and later, Monogram Picture's "The East Side Kids" series. A total of twenty-two East Side Kids films were made, ending with Come Out Fighting (1945).
By 1946, with only Monogram making films using any of the original Dead End Kids, Huntz Hall and Leo Gorcey revamped The East Side Kids, renaming them The Bowery Boys. These films followed a more established formula than the earlier films. A total of forty-eight Bowery Boys films were made, ending with "In the Money" (1958).
In total the various actors that began as The Dead End Kids made eighty-nine films and three serials for four different studios during their twenty-one year film career. The Dead End Kids were awarded a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.