A Little Goes A Long Way
by Turtle Jones
Little people. What better way to start off a Saturday night! Before this post starts I do want to say that we are NOT making fun of anyone. Michele told me it was my night to pick a topic and I said something short. An idea was born. Who is your favorite little actor or actress?
"You can't be serious, turtle."
Yes I am. I said it half joking like until I found out my favorite little person had passed away. The man who defined the term "little person". An advocate of rights for all people with disabilites.The underdogs. Plus he was in Little House. And that makes him cool.
Gotta go with him.
Michele has some dude in cheesy horror movies or Star Wars or something like that. He might have been an Ewok or maybe a Leprechaun. But, as she told me on this one, she is going all out.
Little lesson to you all. Don't insult a Star Wars freak by telling her that your little person is better then hers. In fact, don't even get in a discussion about them with anyone, because at the end of the day, you know there will be no winners.
Star Wars fans just go off sometimes.
But, it was my idea and this is done with nothing but respect. If any of you think in any way that we are making fun of them, direct your anger at me. This was my idea and not Michele's. We are not making fun of anyone. We are paying tribute to some of the greatest actors that made us smile thru the years.
Wanna do it?
Here we go!
Billy Barty 1924 -2000
He is dead. God dammit. I didn't know that. That is why we are doing this post. Well, the inspiration for this post. When I found out he was dead about an hour ago, I needed to say somthing. God dammit. He was a good guy. I need to collect my thoughts.
For any of you who don't know who he is, Mr. Barty was a champion of men. He led the fight against discrimation for every type of disability. He put himself forward to be the shield for the blunt of the jokes people with disabilities had to listen to every day. He stuck his neck out. He took jokes. He just got stronger. This man had so much respect from me. Billy would go in and take the heat then walk out and smile. Another day done from someone who was dealt two cards short in five card stud. But, he was winning. He had the chips.
In 1957, while he was working in Reno, Nevada with a friend, Billy organized the Little People of America, a non-profit organization. This later dovetailed into the establishment of the Billy Barty Foundation, doing charity work to heighten awareness about, and come to the aid of, persons of small stature. He never stopped working.
Acting was his side gig. Just something to pay his bills.
By the 70's he was making it. The Foundation was moving and he was getting gigs to make the ends meet. Plus, he put alot of it back into helping others. Always on some charity walk. Always on the Love Boat, Little House and always on Fantasy Island. He made apperances on every show in the 70's. People knew him now. And they respected him. He used this to help others. It didn't matter if you liked him. He was doing what was right.
Billy Barty was a man of genuis and foresight. He was way cooler then his competion at the time. Tattoo. Oh, I hated him. His little white suit and his "I'm your slave" ways put a knife in the back of Mr. Barty. Little people weren't your slaves. I don't care how you talk to Mr. Montablan, just don't fuck with us. Cool attitude when they were seen as jokes or genetic mishaps. But, you know what? Billy kept moving. He got better. Moving on to the big time. Little House. The pinnacle of all TV shows. He had made it as far as I was concerned. Explaining to Half Pint how little people have feelings too. If that didn't bring a tear to your eyes, nothing will. He just wanted to be considered equal. And you know what? In lot of ways he wasn't our equal. He was our better.
The 80's saw a decline in the amount of time he was on screen. Let's face it, Arron Spelling had typecasted him out. He was done. This was the end of the road. B-movies and bad gigs. But still, Mr. Barty kept up his charity work and his advocation for the rights of little people on talk shows and with his organiztion.
He was interviewed on Geraldo one year. I was just waking up in the morning turning on the TV. The show was about "Dwarf Tossing". I still remember the look in his eyes when a Dwarf Tosser said how little people love to be tossed. If any of you don't know what this was, it was a fad in the early 90's. Little people would get harnessed up in a suit with handles on the back to alow drunk patrons to throw them as far as they could onto a blue mat.
Mr. Barty didn't like this new trend. And he made it known. I think that's when my respect for him came out. After all, they were hurting his friends. Using them for a drunken sideshow. Someone told him it was all in good fun. The look of anger in Mr. Barty's eyes. Seething. Breathing hate. He had been working his whole life to stop things like this. This guy wouldn't listen. Boiling point. Steam explostion. He jumped out of his chair towards the bar owner and attacked him. Sure, there was no way he way gonna win. But, he had to do it.
I respected him for that. He stood up for what he felt was right.
Mr. Barty was finally given the recognition he deserved. After years of breaking his way into the movie and film industry and beating all the odds, somehow he was finally noticed. Sure, people knew him. But, he wasn't a driving force in the industry anymore. Hell, I don't think he ever really was. But his work in charity and humanitarian causes really got him noticed. And for that he was given a star on the walk in Hollywood.
In October 2000, Mr. Barty was awarded the Long Beach Film Festival's Humanitarian of the Year Award. He served on a disabilities commission for Jack Kemp when Kemp was secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mr. Barty died December 23, 2000, at the age of 76.
Always fighting for the underdog.
RIP Billy. You did good.
If you know anything about me, you knew this is where I would go. I get to mention not only Star Wars, but horror movies. Two of my favorite things. But I have a feeling Turtle already mentioned something about that in his intro. And I don’t mean that in a good way.
Anyhow. Let’s talk about Ewoks.
Not necessarily Wicket, who was played quite admirably in Return of the Jedi by Mr. Davis. This isn’t really a put down of him. He didn’t write the damn script. It’s not his fault his character helped ruin a great movie. Let’s point the finger where it really goes here. That’s right, I’m looking at you, George Lucas.
I fucking hate Ewoks. Hate them. I bought Star Wars Battlefront just because you can kill Ewoks in it. I’d come home from work, throw the game in and take out all my frustration at life by shooting those motherfuckers at close range. Ever hear an Ewok cry? Well, neither have I. But I bet it sounds like heaven.
I mean, Warwick was good as Wicket. I’ll give him that much. He did the best with what he had to work with. But jesus christ. That movie was going damn good til those furry fuckers showed up and turned it into the Muppet Show. And that dance. That god damn celebration at the end.
Ok, I’m supposed to be talking about an actor here. A man. Warwick Davis. Let’s then talk about his shining moment. No, not Willow. Not Labyrinth. Not Harry Potter.
Let’s talk Leprechaun.
Where’s me gold? Warwick plays a demented, evil Leprechaun in six of these movies. Yes, they made six of them. Hey, at least Warwick had steady employment while Lucas fucked around making shit like Howard the Duck while we waited around for new Star Wars movies.
The pinnacle of this series was Leprechaun in the Hood. Turtle thinks he wins because his favorite little person actor was some kind of do-gooder hero. But dude. My guy? He made a horror movie about a bad ass leprechaun with Ice T and Coolio. It doesn’t get much better than that. Really. That makes up for his being a pussy ewok by far.
Oh fuck. I don’t know what else to say. I know that right now as I write this, Turtle is going off on a what a great humanitarian Billy Barty was. He’s probably writing a tear-jerking eulogy about him. And I’m talking about furry space creatures and a pissed off Irish imp.
Warwick Davis is pretty good at what he does. Ok, that’s all I can say.
But I fucking hate ewoks.
[a cool post over at Kat's with some Davis trivia]
(and i just want to say that when we start these things, we both just write and neither knows the direction the other is going in. So turtle got all serious tonight and i was just fucking around. his post rocks. when he gets serious, he really jams. i just wanted to say. that post is a damn fine tribute to a good guy. good job, turtle. -m)