recorded by Billy Barty and Al Francisco's Windmill Orchestra, for the series "Short Ribs"
Produced, Arranged and conducted by Tim Fowlar
1924 - 2000
I met Billy when he came to the Roy Radin Vaudeville Revue in 1976, to guest star with Donald O'Connor. Donald and Billy had known each other since Donald was 9 years old, in Hollywood. They used to hang out together and lived on the same block. In the early 80s, I actually lived across the street from Billy's old house and just up a few doors from were Donald had lived. I heard so many stories, of their misspent youth together, from the both of them...none of which I can repeat in public.
Billy and I became fast friends and worked together on several projects over the years. I produced and conducted the shows for the Billy Barty Golf Tournament for almost 15 years. His was my one charity gig a year.
I remember Billy and I played the London Palladium with Donald in 1978. One night after the show, Billy and I decided to see what London had to offer, since we had the next day off. We got in a cab and told the cab driver to take us where the action was. We rode for awhile and the driver dropped us off in a night club district of London. We saw a door to a club that was down below street level. We walked down the stairs, opened the door and walked in. The room fell silent and all eyes were drawn to the door. As our eyes became a custom to the dark, we saw that there was nothing but men in the club and they were much friendlier toward each other than we were comfortable with. We looked at each other and, without a word, turned and left the club. We went back to the hotel and there were a bunch of college students in the lounge. We started chatting with them and I made an amazing discovery. The hotel had beer in their vending machines. Billy and I were going to take the boat-train to Paris the next morning, but after an all-nighter in the lounge, we were both so hung over that we missed our train. Oh well, Paris will be there the next time.
Billy had an amazing life and we had a great time working together on many, many projects. He would come up with these hair brained ideas and then call me to make them work. One of the most rewarding experiences for me, besides meeting all the wonderful little people associated with the Billy Barty Foundation and Golf Tournament, was bringing the project "From Where I Stand" to life. It took a year to do and took up most of my time and all of my patience, but it was so worth it. The talented people I worked with, such as Peter Cohen - the director/editor, Barry Conrad - the videographer, Composer/producer Marilyn Berglas of Emerald Lion Music, who wrote the music and lyrics for this beautiful song. Not to mention all the terrific celebrities, the always wonderful Michael MacDonald, Robyn Whitney and the marvelous staff at the recording studio "Private Island Trax" in Hollywood and of course the late and wonderfully talented Carl Anderson, along with Ellis Hall. All these marvelous people made all the hard work worth while. The fact that we gave the little people a venue of their own to be proud of and a message, that they can do whatever they put their minds to, made all the hard work and effort it's own reward.
Billy's passing was a real shock and a sad reminder of how quickly someone, who is always there, can be gone. He was one of those rare people that I could truly call "friend". He is sorely missed, but the one happy thought about his passing is that he was waiting up there for Donald O'Connor when he arrived. I hope God has the patience he'll need with those two under foot.
Billy may have been small of stature, but was truly a giant of a man. He stood tall and took on all comers when it came to the rights of little people and all people with a disability. He was responsible for amazing changes in the way city, state and federal government recognizes the challenges of people with disabilities.
To view video, click on the title
"FROM WHERE I STAND"
I met Spanky McFarland at the Billy Barty Golf Tournament a couple of times and It was a real treat. Spanky was my hero, when I was a kid and he was just as nice in person, as in the movies. The first time I saw him, he was instantly recognizable. Although much older, his gestures were still the same. What a great guy he was. It will always be one of my fondest memories. Thanks Billy.
Mickey Rooney came up in a conversation and Spanky told us a marvelous story from when he was a little boy, on the studio back lot between scenes. He and Alfalfa were playing catch with a football outside the sound stage and Mickey came around the corner. Spanky and Alfalfa had never met Mickey before. Mickey caught the football and just left with it and they never got it back. Both he and Alfalfa were crushed, since Mickey was such a big star. To the day he passed away, he still insisted that Mickey owes him a football.
MAIN I O'CONNOR I FISHER I BERLE I MEKKA I BARTY I RADIN I JAZZ FEST I PHOTO GALLERY