Bernard Gorcey

Biography

Bernard Gorcey was born in Russia in 1888, of Swiss and Jewish descent. Around 1914, he married a Catholic, Irish lady, Josephine Condon (born 1901), and they came to the USA to work in Vaudeville. Bernard was 4' 10" and Josie was 4' 11" and weighed 95 pounds. Bernard kept active in show biz, while Josie would stay home to have and raise their kids. In 1915, 14-year-old Josie gave birth to Fred. In 1917, Leo was born -- they were very poor, Josie had cleared the kitchen table that night, because that is where Leo was born. Bernard was away doing such plays as "Katinka" and "Rose-Marie." In 1921, David was born. Later, Bernard appeared on Broadway, in plays like "Wild Flower" and Oscar Hammerstein's "Song of the Flame." He got the role of Isaac Cohen in Broadway's long-running "Abie's Irish Rose" -- he played for most of the 5 1/2 year run, from May 1922 until October 1927, at last giving him some financial stability (the play, almost autobiographically, was about the travails of a Jewish man and his Irish wife!). Bernard was later cast in the Paramount movie version of "Abie's Irish Rose" (1929). He also did some radio work also, for the "Popeye" show. The Great Depression started October 1929, and by 1931 it was terrible. Son Leo would later recall: "We moved so many times during the Depression that we would have made a humming bird seem like a statue." In 1932, for a dime, one could see a double feature at the theatre; but many people made only 30 cents an hour (President Roosevelt's National Recovery Act raised that to 40 cents) -- and it was harder for the young: 15-year-old Leo worked for $6 a week, and David for $4 a week, when they could find work. Bernard was away from home most of the time; although he was fortunate (career-wise) to be in Broadway plays like "The Joy of Living" and "Keeping Expenses Down," his marriage was falling apart. Josie then developed a relationship with a gigolo (he spent a lot of money on Josie, none of it his; ultimately he forged a check with Bernard's name on it). Josie then fell for a guy who said he was an opera singer; she married him and found out he hadn't sung in opera for 15 years -- but he made 60 cents an hour, and got her pregnant with her first daughter. For a long spell, Bernard had deserted his sons. In 1935, he reconciled with Leo and David, telling them he was sorry he hadn't visited or sent any money in ages, and urged them to try out for the stage play "Dead End"; (in 1937 this was made into a movie, and Leo was one of the busiest actors for the next 20 years). Bernard worked the New York stage with plays such as "The Creeping Fire." In 1937, "Abie's Irish Rose" was revived, and Bernard played Isaac Cohen again. At age 52, Bernard started his second career, movies, in earnest. Beginning in 1940, he appeared in 55 movies, 44 of them with his sons Leo and David (most of them Bowery Boys films). Bernard had finally established the father/son relationship that he hadn't given them in their younger years. From 1946 through 1955, there were 4-5 Bowery Boys movies every year, and Bernard always played the part of Louie Dumbrowski. On August 31, 1955, his car collided with a bus at 4th & LaBrea, Los Angeles; he died of his injuries on September 11, 1955.

Filmography

Movie Name Vizyon Tarihi
Büyük Diktatör — The Great Dictator 4 April 1945