Dec 11, 2015

The First Bad Kid: Barry Gordon

In 1954, the six-year old Barry Gordon made the scene with a hit single, "I'm Getting Nuttin' for Christmas (because I've been nuttin' but bad)":

I broke my bat on Johnny's head;
I hid a frog in sister's bed;
I spilled some ink on Mommy's rug;
Bought some gum with a penny slug;
Somebody snitched on me.

Far more mischievous than Davis the Menace or Peck's Bad Boy of the 1920s, he was a humorous precursor to the threatened and threatening kids whom the adults would fear through the 1960s.

You couldn't have a kid miss out on Christmas forever, so they made him record "I Like Christmas" in 1955.  He recorded several other singles and albums, with songs like "Rock Around Mother Goose" and "I Can't Whistle."



In the 1960s he made the rounds of tv guest spots: Leave It to Beaver, Davis the Menace, Make Room for Daddy, Jack Benny, and Love American Style (in the episode "Love and the High School Flop-Out").  Why is he sitting with his hands like that?










He made many movies, including Hands of a Stranger, Pressure Point, The Spirit is Willing, and Out of It (1969), in which a high school brain (Barry) buddy-bonds with a jock (John Voight).

He was nominated for a Tony for his performance in the Broadway play A Thousand Clowns (adapted for film in 1965), as a gay-vague teenager crushed when his free-spirit guardian (Jason Robards) caves to the establishment.

Barry never got to play romantic leads, but he played a lot of nebbishes, homoromantic best friends, and next-door neighbors in comedy and sci-fi. In voice work, he played Donatello in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Nestles Quick Bunny, and the Honeynut Cheerios Bee.



More recently he has played an impressive line of lawyers, doctors, rabbis, and sundry authority figures.

After serving as the longest-running president of the Screen Actors Guild in history and running for Congress twice, Barry settled down as a radio commentator (From Left Field,  Left Talk with Barry Gordon) where he gives his progressive viewpoint on everything from healthcare reform to gay marriage.