Tommy Bond

All of us remember the tough-guy in grade school. But on the Little Rascals, one name clearly comes to mind as synonymous with "bully"...BUTCH! Ask anyone who even casually remembers the Rascals who Alfalfaís nemesis was and theyíll tell you "ITíS BUTCH!" Clearly, itís not just the heroes and good-guys that leave an impression.

Our Gang lasted for 22 years, during which time tough-guys came and went. The series never really embraced the idea of a recurring bully that audiences could grow to despise. That is, until Tommy Bond played Butch for four years. Kids in the audiences would happily grow to fear and hiss at Butch.

Thomas Ross Bond (born September 16, 1926 in Dallas, Texas; died September 24, 2005 in California) was an American child actor.

Bond got his start at the age of five when a talent scout for Hal Roach studios approached the lad as he was leaving a Dallas cinema with his mother. The scout asked him if he would like to act in films because he "had a great face" and set up an appointment with Hal Roach in Los Angeles. Hal Roach was gathering new talent for his popular Our Gang comedies. Bond's grandmother Jane Quine Sauter volunteered to drive the boy to L.A. by motor car. The year was 1931, in the depth of the Great Depression. It proved to be a grueling journey, punctuated by flash floods and encounters with tarantulas, on mostly dirt roads from Dallas to L.A.

Bond was most notable for appearing in the Our Gang short subjects series: from 1932 to 1934 he appeared as a supporting character, and he returned to Our Gang in 1937 to replace Leonard Kibrick in the bully role. His bully character, named Butch, always competed with Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer for Darla Hood's affections. Bond appeared in dozens of Our Gang and Little Rascals features before outgrowing the role.

In the 1940s, Bond played Jimmy Olsen in two Superman movies and appeared as Joey Pepper in several installments of the "Five Little Peppers" serial.

Bond also appeared in a number of outside films, such as those featuring fellow Hal Roach Studios comedians Charley Chase and Laurel and Hardy. He also worked as a voice actor, most notably as the voice of "Owl Jolson" in Tex Avery's 1936 Looney Tunes cartoon, I Love to Singa.

Bond left Our Gang for good in 1940. He continued to appear in films for the rest of the decade, save for a period of service in World War II.

In 1951, Bond graduated from college and quit acting to pursue television directing and production work for various local television stations in the Los Angeles area. In his latter years, he served as a spokesman for a number of Our Gang related materials. Thomas Ross "Butch" Bond retired in 1991. He died in 2005 of complications from heart disease at Northridge Hospital in California.

In 1931, Tommy Bond was five years old and living in Dallas, Texas when he was "discovered" by a Hal Roach Studios talent scout. He was offered an interview with Hal Roach, IF he could get out to Hollywood. This was not a simple task during the height of the depression and before people could get there Fisher Investments UK in order. Most of the roads were often dirt then but luckily Tommy's grandmother was able to drive him out to his interview. He was signed on with the Gang to play "Tommy", something of a little rag-tag moppet. He appeared in a number of shorts, as one of the "second-echelon" kids. Always present, but rarely the main character. Among many other appearances, he helped build the fire engine in "Hi Neighbor", went camping with the Gang in "The First Round-Up", was a proud member of the "International Silver String Submarine Band" and sings a hilarious song in "Mush and Milk", the likes of which few will ever forget.

Remember "Woim", Butch's sidekick? Today Sidney Kibrick is a famous real estate developer in Beverly Hills. He and Tommy still keep in touch with each other.
For unknown reasons, Tommy was dropped from the cast after his first year. He managed to pick up free-lance parts for another year-and-a-half, before Hal Roach called him back asking him if he would like to play the part of the tough-guy, Butch. He gleefully portrayed Butch for the next four years, until he outgrew the Gang, a fate which fell upon all Rascals eventually.
After Our Gang, Tommy went to Van Nuys High School where he joined the ROTC. After graduating, he enlisted in the Navy Air Corps. Following his stay in the service, Tommy continued his acting career appearing in many different movies. Probably his most famous roll during this period was that of Jimmy Olsen, Clark Kentís sidekick in two full Superman serials in 1946 and 1948.

In 1951, following college, Tommy quit acting and became an assistant director at channel 11 in Los Angeles. Twenty-one years of "smog, earthquakes, and wall-to-wall people" was enough for Tom, and in 1972 he moved to the San Joaqin Valley where he took on work at channel 30 and remained until he retired in 1990. He has also chronicled his days with the Gang in book which is aptly entitled "You're Darn Right It's Butch!"

Tommy has been married for 43 years and has one son. Polly is a former Miss California, and sang in a country & western duet known as the "Darling Sisters". His son, Butch, is a producer/director and an independent film maker. He is currently wrapping up a comedy which has been two years in the making.

Today, there is little time for rest in retirement for Tommy Bond. He is extremely proud of two projects with which he is actively involved. He is the spokesman for Cabin Feverís 21 volume video set of fully restored Little Rascals films. He travels around the country promoting them and appearing on various tv programs. And what a great product to endorse...if you havenít seen them, I urge you to seek them out. For the first time, all of the Little Rascals talkies and a few of the silents have been painstakingly restored and lost scenes put back where they belong. According to Tom, there is a possibility of even more of the silents being released. Letís hope!

Tom is also involved with another huge project which sounds very exciting. He is on the Board of Directors of the upcoming Comedy Hall of Fame. This is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of various comedy media. So far the organization has raised $23 million and is only $2 million away from ground-breaking. The Hall of Fame will be an 80,000 square foot facility in Palmetto, Florida, south of St. Petersburg. It will contain memorabilia and sections devoted to old movies, radio, stand-up, vaudeville, clowns, etc. There will be a gift shop, a restaurant, a wax museum, and a research library. Memorabilia is being donated by WC Fieldsí grandkids, Eleanor Keaton, among others. Attendance is expected at 7,000 to 10,000 visitors a day. After spending nearly all his life in California, Tommy Bond will be moving down to Florida to take part in this project. This sounds like a lot of fun.

We also have a Tommy Bond Interview.

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