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Anyone remembers the Bowery boys?

Updated on May 27, 2016

A forgotten TV series.

Growing up in New York, I always used to look forward to seeing the Bowery boys at channel 5 (WNEW) on Sunday afternoons. I felt that my Sundays weren't complete unless I had a dose of Bowery Boys comedy. The gang had two main personalities that made the show. Leo Gorcey was known as Slip Mahoney. He was the leader of the gang and wore his hat sideways. Huntz Hall was the dumbbell of the group. He wore a baseball cap and got into all kinds of trouble.

If you were to do a search of Bowery boys DVD's, chances are that you will see some East Side kids, as well as Dead End kids. Why? It is, simply, because Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall starred in some of these movies as well. These movies date back to 1938 through the late forties. In the early fifties, they changed the group name from East Side kids to the Bowery boys.

Bowery boys

The East Side Kids (Collector's Edition)
The East Side Kids (Collector's Edition)
Back in the sixties, I made sure to tune into the Bowery boys. Sach with his madcap schemes and Slip misusing the English language made a recipe for a Sunday afternoon laughter. I used to watch it on WNEW channel 5. The series grew in popularity that they started to show it every weekday---Monday thru Friday. Slip and the gang, always, got in and out of trouble resulting in a happy ending. Louie Dumbroski, who owned the ice cream parlor shop, was, sometimes, involved in their schemes. This comedy series was really A-1 because it combined laughter and drama. How did this wonderful series get its start? They started out as the Dead End kids with the movie Dead End. The unforgettable Humphrey Bogart had a role in that movie as the notorious gangster Joe Martin. In that movie, you see a young Leo Gorcey along with Huntz Hall as youngsters. They went on to do some more movies and then landed another hit---Angels with dirty faces. This one was a blockbuster with an all star cast--James Cagney, Ann Sheridan, Humphrey Bogart and Pat O'Brien. Again, this movie held it's own with a tearjerker of an ending. (Sorry, you have to see the movie) Afterwards, the Dead End evolved into the East Side kids with a few changes. Gone was the drama and comedy was beginning to take over. Bobby Jordan, who was a Dead End Kid, started to star alongside Leo Gorcey for some hard-hitting episodes. Huntz Hall was emerging as the funny one with the group. After the late forties and early 50's, it was Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall, who went on to become the Bowery boys. Now, in this age and time, the Bowery boys are a rarity. Sad but true, this kind of comedy is hard to find on TV, but, it you are Bowery boys fan, cheer up! You can get their antics and comedy through DVD. Imagine watching your favorite episodes and reliving past memories. Bowery boys will come alive with this DVD set. Check it out and enjoy, Fans.

A Brief History---Leo Gorcey.

Leo Gorcey was born on June 3, 1917 in New York City. In 1935, he appeared in the stage play of Dead End with his brother David Gorcey. When Dead End came to the big screen, It had the likes of Humphrey Bogart and Joel McCrea, along with Sylvia Sidney. Although Bogart was beginning to make a name for himself, it was Sidney who got the first billing of the cast.

This was a big break for Gorcey, because Dead End became a runaway hit. The Dead End kids started to became an item in America, starring Billy Halop as its gang leader. Together, they made successful movies like Angels with dirty faces and Crime school. The story, always, centered on a bunch of youths who were going wayward. For more reviews of Angels with Dirty Faces, check out my hub

Afterwards, the gang broke up. Billy Halop starred with Huntz Hall as the Dead End kids, while Gorcey and Bobby Jordan teamed up as the East Side kids. Billy Halop went on to pursue serious acting roles and the Dead End kids broke up. Soon, Huntz Hall teamed up with Gorcey. Together, they became the East Side kids and the rest is History. Billy Halop continued to be on some movies such as Gas House boys and other lesser known film features. Eventually, he had some roles on TV and even starred in the Andy Griffith show. His last TV feature was in ALL IN THE FAMILY as Munson.

Leo Gorcey went on to star in the Bowery Boys until 1956. His father Bernard Gorcey used to star as Louie, who owned the ice cream parlor. Together, they were funny, with Louie about to have a fit with their antics. A classic to check out is Blues Busters. It has laughs galore. Tragically, Bernard died in a car crash and Leo Gorcey was affected by this. Turning to alcohol, he couldn't continue as Slip Mahoney.Soon, He was sustituted by Stanley Clements.

Clements had starred with the East SIde kids also,in earlier movies. He stayed until about 1958 or so. He starred as Duke, the new leader but it wasn't the same without Leo Gorcey. Gorcey and Hall had chemistry. Gorcey went on to star in movies until the 60's. He died in 1969.

Huntz Hall.

Huntz Hall was born on Aug 5, 1919. His real name was Henry Richard Hall. He got the name Huntz from his brother, who said that his nose made him look German. He was, also, chosen to act in the play Dead End, along with the Dead End kids. Through a long string of successes, he started to make a name for himself. He enlisted in the Army during WWII and when he was discharged, he starred in some Army movies. He demonstrated his talent for drama in A WALK IN THE SUN.

Hall was the funny guy in the Bowery boys. He was, always, getting hit with a hat from his boss Slip. He had some classic moments and I think this gang deserves some mention. The young generation needs to see what comedy was like in the 50's. Huntz Hall, also, had some roles in the 60's and 70's in other movies, making an appeareance in Valentino. Sadly, Hall died on Jan 30, 1999.

Phyllis Coates starred with the Bowery Boys.

Blues Buster Trailer.

What is your favorite Bowery boys episode?

I have a couple. Blues Buster and Crashing Las Vegas! These are classic. In Blues Buster, Phyllis Coates makes an appearance. Incidentally, she starred as Lois Lane in the Superman series. Lois Lane was played by many actors, but in my opinion, she's the best. She was nice looking and at the same time tough!

In this scene, she plays the role of Sally Dolan, who was Slip's girlfriend in the movie. Starring as a blonde, she looks very attractive and adds to the episode. She, also, has a dance scene in which she shines. Many people do not know that Phyllis Coates was a blonde and dyed her hair for the Superman series. She went on to star in the Untouchables and Perry Mason episodes.

In Blues Buster, Sach (Huntz Hall) has a Throat operation. This enables him to sing as a Crooner and the boys decide to make a quick buck out of him. This has many funny moments and is a classic. In Crashing Las Vegas, Sach has the power to guess the lucky numbers. Slip and Sach go to Las Vegas to try to make a fortune. This was Leo Gorcey's last role as Slip in the series.

In the sixties, there was,also, talk about having them as a cartoon series but it was not to be. Gorcey and Hall did get together for the movie "The Phynx," which would be their last role as a team. Sad to say, all of the Bowery boys have passed on. Not withstanding, their memory will be, always, be in our minds and hearts. I have enclosed some video links for your enjoyment! What about you? What was your favorite episode?

Stanley Clements in an TV ad.

Have you ever heard of the Bowery Boys?

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    • montecristo profile imageAUTHOR

      Angel Caleb Santos 

      5 years ago from Hampton Roads, Virginia

      Good question---Anyone care to answer?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      What was the name of the movie series that came on, on Sundays, right after the Bowery Boys. I saw so many of the great films of yore: The Maltese Falcon, The Caine Mutiny, The Snake Pit, Midlred Pierce, The Three Faces of Eve...I could go on and on.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      EXCELLENT topic!

      Yes, I remember those great show and treasure my memories of them.

      But here's a question for you & others: do you remember a show that preceded Bowery Boys/East Side Comedy called "The Bowery"? It featured movies about life on that part of town. The show had as its title page (for lack of a better term) a cartoon featuring some dude banging on a large drum - the type used by church and anti-saloon league reformers of the past. And the show had a theme that used large brass. Indeed, Hollywood made many movies about that scene but nobody seems to remember that show.

      I have tried to find some link to that show and its theme but cannot find anything. Does anyone remember the "Bowery"?

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Spookes run wild the very best!

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 

      9 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      I remember Leo Gorcy and Huntz Hall. The bowery boys were an example of "shorts" shown between double features. (Imagine THAT - two movies for the price of one!)

      I was interested in the origin of the term "bowery". From wikipedia:

      "Bowery is an anglicisation of the Dutch bouwerij, derived from an antiquated Dutch word for "farm." In the 17th century the road branched off Broadway north of Fort Amsterdam at the tip of Manhattan to the homestead of Peter Stuyvesant, Director-General of New Netherland."

      [Originally an upscale area] by the time of the Civil War, the mansions and shops had given way to low-brow concert halls, brothels, German beer gardens, pawn shops, and flophouses, like the one at No.15 in which the composer Stephen Foster lived in 1864. Theodore Dreiser closed his tragedy Sister Carrie, set in the 1890s, with the suicide of one of the main characters in a Bowery flophouse. The Bowery, which marked the eastern border of the slum of "Five Points", had also become the turf of one of America's earliest street gangs, the nativist Bowery Boys.

    • montecristo profile imageAUTHOR

      Angel Caleb Santos 

      10 years ago from Hampton Roads, Virginia

      Thank you for those comments. It means a lot to me.

    • puter_dr profile image

      Mitch Bolen 

      10 years ago from Midwest USA

      Where I lived, it was Channel 9 and later Channel 41 on Saturdays. Thank you for the trip down memory lane.

    • Vickie Bovender profile image

      Vickie Bovender 

      10 years ago from Southeastern US

      Oh my GOSH - I'd totally forgotten about the Bowery Boys. Great Hub and wonderful memories. Thanks for bringing the BB back for a few moments.


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