full name: Harold Eugene Wertz, Jr.
professional nickname: Bouncy
born Aug. 3, 1927, in Denison, TX
died Nov. 21, 1999, in San Diego, CA, from complications of a stroke
In January of this year, Hal Roach Studios advertised in the newspaper for a new fat boy to replace the recently-aged-out Chubby Chaney. The contest closed on January
23rd, according to The Long Beach Sun of January 27th. The timing of this is also corroborated by The Long Beach Sun of March 23rd, which reported that it took place
two months earlier. A neighbor alerted Harold's mother to the notice, and before long, Harold found himself working in the Our Gang Comedies, having beaten out over 1000 other
boys for the job. According to Harold's mother in the latter article, she sent Harold's photo to the studio on a Friday and received a call from them the next day. He then
did a Monday screen test and was soon working in his first Our Gang film. Taking all of this into account, it would seem that she sent the photo on Friday the 22nd, received word
from the studio on Saturday the 23rd, and then Harold not only passed his screen test on Monday the 25th, but began working with the Our Gang unit that very same day. The Tulsa
Daily World of May 8th reported that he was one of 350 boys who tried out, so perhaps the Sun was exaggerating.
On January 25th, Harold began work in his first Our Gang film, "Choo-Choo!" starting off as a day player. When it was released, it was reported that Harold
had gained five pounds during the making of this film.
On March 9th, Harold began work in his second Our Gang film, "The Pooch." He was given a one-picture deal at a rate of $40 a week.
On March 12th, Harold was signed to a long-term contract with Hal Roach Studios. The effective dates were June 15, 1932, to June 14, 1937.
On March 22nd, Harold's contract was approved by Superior Judge H. Parker Wood, as reported by Universal Press the following day.
On March 23rd, The Long Beach Sun published a fairly lengthy article about Harold, who was living in that city at the time. In it, we learn that Harold was four years
old and weighed 67 pounds, a great deal of which had been added over the previous year. It also states that he was currently attending kindergarten at the U.S. Grant School.
On May 15th, The Sun of Baltimore, MD, reported the following: "A new type of contract has been arranged between the Hal Roach comedy organization and Harold
Eugene Wertz, Jr., 4-year-old tot, engaged to appear in Our Gang comedies. The contract carries a guarantee of twenty weeks' work a year with the stagger system used in
payment of starting him at $40 and ending at $150 weekly with a new system of paying for idle time at the rate of $10 for the first year and raising it, as time goes
on, with $25 weekly being paid finally. Idle weeks for a number of others in the Our Gang organization carry a stipulation of $25 weekly." This contract didn't
take effect until a month later.
On May 18th, Harold began work in his third and final Our Gang film, "Hook And Ladder." Since his contract hadn't taken effect yet, he was given another
one-picture deal at $40 a week.
On June 15th, Harold's longterm contract took effect.
On July 23rd, Harold's longterm contract came to a premature end. As Harold himself explained it at the Annual Banquet of the Way Out West tent in 1999, the Roach studio
was closed temporarily due to the Long Beach Earthquake. Since his contract had an "act of God" clause written into it, they were able to release him from it when the
studio reopened. The main problem with this idea is the timing, since the Long Beach Earthquake didn't happen until Mar. 10, 1933, nearly a year later. Of course, there could
have been some other "act of God" that the studio used as an excuse, but whatever it was, it doesn't seem to have delayed production. Harold speculated that the real
reason he was let go was that he was having trouble learning dialogue. This seems entirely plausible, since he doesn't deliver any dialogue in his three Our Gang appearances,
and was, after all, only 4 years old at the time.
During August, Our Gang had an endorsement deal with J.C. Penney's Back To School promotion. Newspapers carried information about each Our Gang kid, with this to say about
Harold: "Bouncy (Harold) Wertz, born in Denison, Texas, is 5 years old and weighs 60 pounds. He became an actor when a neighbor called the family's attention
to a newspaper 'fat boy' contest. He is a very hearty eater but his weight is due principally to getting an unusual amount of sleep. His father, an athletic instructor in a
Long Beach school, puts him through a regular exercise routine, but it only tends to harden his weight. He is purely a 'he man' when it comes to friendship, scoring greatly
with the boys."
On September 6th of this year, the United Press published a story on the whereabouts of former Our Gang kids, and erroneously stated that Harold was currently in high
Around this time, the Roach studio prepared a list of Our Gang kids dating back to the beginning of the series, which seems to have been part of a press release. Included was
Harold "Bouncy" Wertz, who they mistakenly listed as having died. It's likely that somebody mixed him up with Bobby Dean, an earlier Our Gang fat boy that had died
On July 28th of this year, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Chubby and Bouncy were the only two Our Gang kids that had died. True enough for Chubby, but
Harold "Bouncy" Wertz was still alive and well.
After graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School this year, Harold joined the Merchant Marines and was aboard one of the first ships to enter Tokyo Harbor after the war.
During this year, Harold's stint with the Merchant Marines ended.
On September 24th of this year, Harold married Kathleen McCracken. The wedding announcement in the local paper states that both had attended City College in Long Beach, which I
guess for Harold would have been after he got out of the service. The Long Beach Press-Telegram of September 19th mentioned that Harold's favorite song at the time
was "That Old Gang Of Mine." As he told deputies in the county clerk's office, "Gee, how I miss that old gang of mine."
After this, Harold and Kathleen had two kids, Deborah and Richard, and Harold established a pipe company in Orange County. After his retirement to Murieta, CA, he made a hobby
of restoring Model A Fords and was part of an RV club.
Rascal Dazzle (archival)
1978 - King World/Picture Scores - 93 min. - documentary feature
1994 - Film Shows/GoodTimes - 120 min. - video documentary
Includes footage from "Hook And Ladder."
On October 9th of this year, Harold attended the Annual Banquet of the Way Out West tent of Sons of the Desert at a restaurant called The Castaway.
On October 16th of this year, Harold attended the Annual Banquet of the Way Out West tent at the Culver City Hotel.
Added Attractions: The Hollywood Shorts Story (appearance)
Feb. 5, 2002 - Jones/TCM - 89 min. - TV documentary
Includes footage from "The Pooch."
Harold Wertz's payroll history
The following is a list of Harold's history at the Roach studio, with the amounts he was making from week to week. The dates given are Saturdays, the last day of each week
at the studio.
Jan. 30, 1932 - 30.00 charged to prod. G7 (Choo-Choo!)
Starting off as a day player, Harold was given $5 checks on all six days of this work week.
Feb. 6, 1932 - 20.00 charged to prod. G7
Still a day player, Harold was given $5 checks on Feb. 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
After this, it would be about a month before Harold returned to the studio for his next film.
Mar. 12, 1932 - 26.66 charged to prod. G8 (The Pooch)
For this film, Harold was given a one-picture deal at $40 a week. However, no shooting took place on Mar. 7th or 8th, leaving only four shooting dates for the week,
resulting in a check for 2/3 of the amount. Notably, on the first day of shooting, Mar. 9th, a clerk prepared a $5 check for Harold, obviously overlooking his new status as
a short-term contract player. This check was cancelled and crossed out in the ledger.
Mar. 19, 1932 - 33.33 charged to prod. G8
Still in a one-picture deal, Harold was paid for five days of work, even though the film was finished on the 17th. Perhaps publicity stills were made on the 18th or 19th.
This time, the check was for 5/6 of the amount.
After this, it would be about two months before Harold worked in his next Our Gang film.
May 21, 1932 - 40.00 charged to prod. G9 (Hook And Ladder)
Harold was again given a one-picture deal, this time at $40 a week. No shooting took place on May 16th or 17th, leaving only four days of shooting, but he was still
paid for the entire six-day week.
May 28, 1932 - 46.67 charged to prod. G9
Still on a one-picture deal, Harold worked seven days this week, presumably to make up for the studio being closed on Decoration Day. His $40 salary was adjusted to
reflect the extra day of work.
After this, Harold would not appear in any more Our Gang films. However, a longterm contract that had been signed on March 12th was to take effect on June 15th, and would soon
be prematurely terminated.
June 18, 1932 - 6.67 charged to prod. G9
Since Harold's contract took effect on the 15th, it only applied to four days during this week, and since the Our Gang unit was dormant at the moment, he was only making
$10 a week, which was the between-films rate in his contract.
June 25, 1932 - 10.00 charged to prod. G9
July 2, 1932 - 10.00 charged to prod. G9
July 9, 1932 - 10.00 charged to prod. G10 (Free Wheeling)
Production G10 hadn't started filming yet, but the kids' salaries began to be charged to it during this week.
July 16, 1932 - 10.00 charged to prod. G10
July 23, 1932 - 10.00 charged to prod. G10
During this week, production G10 began filming, but Harold wasn't included. His contract was terminated about midway through the shooting, which continued into the
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