The Terror of Tiny Town is a 1938 American film produced by Jed Buell, directed by Sam Newfield, and starring Billy Curtis. It is the world’s only musical Western with an all-midget cast.
Using a conventional Western story with an all midget cast, the filmmakers were able to showcase gags such as cowboys entering the local saloon by walking under the swinging doors, and pint-sized cowboys galloping around on Shetland ponies while roping calves.
The plot is about a cowboy helping out a beautiful ranch owner menaced by local thugs.
Cast * Billy Curtis as The Hero (Buck Lawson) * Yvonne Moray as The Girl (Nancy Preston) * Little Billy Rhodes as The Villain (Bat Haines) * Billy Platt as The Rich Uncle (Jim ‘Tex’ Preston) * John T. Bambury as The Ranch Owner (Pop Lawson) * Joseph Herbst as The Sheriff * Charlie Becker as The Cook (Otto) * Nita Krebs as The Vampire (Nita, the dance hall girl) * George Ministeri as The Blacksmith (Armstrong) * Karl Karchy Kosiczky as The Barber (Sammy) * Fern Formica as Diamond Dolly * William H. O’Docharty as The Old Soak
The film presents Jed Buell’s Midgets. Many of them were also in the performing troupe, Singer’s Midgets, and played Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz, released in 1939.
In 1986, the movie was featured in an episode of the Canned Film Festival.
Billy Curtis (June 27, 1909 – November 9, 1988) was an American film and television actor. He was a dwarf who had a 50-year career in a variety of roles. He was born on 27 June 1909 in Springfield, Massachusetts, and died November 9, 1988 in Dayton, Nevada, of a heart attack.
According to the IMDb site, his birth name was Luigi Curto, and his height was 4 feet 2 inches (1.27 m). The bulk of his work was in the western and science fiction genres. One of his early jobs was as one of the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. He also appeared in Adventures of Superman in the 1950s.
Most notably, Curtis worked in westerns, including the Clint Eastwood feature, High Plains Drifter, and he also appeared in the 1938 Musical/Western The Terror of Tiny Town. This film is, as far as is known, the world’s only Western with an all-dwarf cast. Many of the actors in Tinytown were part of a performing troupe called Singer’s Midgets, who also played Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz, released in 1939.
He also had a starring role in American International Pictures’ 1973 release, Little Cigars, about a gang of “midgets” on a crime spree.
John T. Bambury (July 10, 1891 — November 4, 1960) was an American actor with dwarfism, best known for his role as one of the Munchkins in the 1939 film, “The Wizard of Oz”.
Some of his other roles included The Ranch Owner, Pop Lawson in “The Terror of Tiny Town”, one of the Mole Men in “The Adventures of Superman” and as the midget musician in “An Angel Comes to Brooklyn”.
He died on November 4, 1960 at the age of 69 in Los Angeles, California.
Karl “Charlie” Becker (November 24, 1887–December 28, 1968) was a German-American actor. He was 3’9″ in height, and is probably best known for appearing as the Mayor of Munchkinland in The Wizard of Oz (1939).
Becker was born near Frankfurt in the town of Muschenheim. As a teenager, he worked as a butcher, but often struggled to use the knives and other equipment, and was ridiculed by his fellow workers. When he was about nineteen, he began performing in travelling “midget shows”, and eventually joined the Singer Midgets, a famous troupe led by Leo Singer of Austria. The Singer Midgets moved to the United States during World War I, and became popular on the vaudeville circuits. Becker became friends with George Burns, Will Rogers, and other stars of the time.
Becker appeared in a few films during the 1920s and 1930s. These included Spangles (1926), The Terror of Tiny Town (1938), and, most notably, The Wizard of Oz (1939), in which he played the Mayor of Munchkinland. He was chosen for the role because of his large belly, round face, and facial hair, which were thought to be mayoral features. Because of his thick German accent, however, his voice had to be dubbed. On the set of The Wizard of Oz, Becker met his future wife, Jessie Kelley, who played another Munchkin. The two married in 1940, and settled in California, where they sometimes worked as stand-ins for child actors. Later in his life, Becker opened his own sausage business.
Becker died of a stroke in California on December 28, 1968. Some controversy emerged in 1984 when obituaries for the actor Prince Denis stated that he had played the Mayor of Munchkinland. In reality, Denis had played the Sergeant-at-Arms.