Leo Gorcey (June 3, 1917 - June 2, 1969) was an American stage and movie actor who became famous as the leader of the group of young hooligans known variously as the Dead End Kids and the Bowery Boys. Leo Gorcey was the shortest and the oldest of the original gang.
In 1917, 16-year-old Josephine Condonâ€”already a mother at 14â€”gave birth to her second son, Leo, in New York City. Josephine and her 31-year-old husband Bernard Gorcey were Vaudeville actors and both were a little under five feet tall. Leo would eventually reach 5' 6". Always the most pugnacious member of the gangs he participated in, young Leo was the filmic prototype of the young punk. In 1921, his younger (and most recognized) brother, David Gorcey, was born.
In the 1930s, Leo's father became estranged from the family while working in theater and film. When he returned in 1935, he and David persuaded Leo to try out for a small part in the play Dead End. Having just lost his job as a plumber's apprentice and seeing his father's relative success, Leo decided give acting a try. Leo and David were cast as two members of the Second Avenue Gang, with limited stage time. Charles Duncan, who was originally cast as Spit, left the play, and Leo, his understudy, was promoted. Gorcey created a quarrelsome guttersnipe whose greatest joy was in making trouble.
In 1937, Samuel Goldwyn made the popular play into a movie, and transported the six boys to Hollywood, and Gorcey became one of the busiest actors in Hollywood for the next 20 years.
From 1937-1939, he starred in 7 Dead End Kids movies, where he played characters with various names
From 1940-1945, he starred in 21 East Side Kids movies, where he generally played characters named Muggs Maloney/McGinnis
From 1946-1956, he starred in 41 Bowery Boys movies, where he generally played characters named Slip Mahoney
In the Bowery Boys movies, Leo's father Bernard Gorcey played Louie Dumbrowsky, the diminutive sweet shop owner the boys worked for.
In 1939, Gorcey married 17-year-old dancer Kay Marvis, who appeared in four of his Monogram movies. They got divorced in 1944 after five years of marriage. Later, she married Groucho Marx, whom Gorcey had worked with on radio's Pabst Blue Ribbon Town. In 1949, Gorcey married Amelita Ward, whom he met while filming Smugglers Cove. She gave birth to Leo Gorcey Jr. during their marriage.
He famously was removed from the cover of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album after demanding payment.