Help. Dead End Kid named Spazz?

I need help. I had a TV in 1947. So, I got to see lots of “B” westerns and movies.

I watched and loved all of the “Dead End Kids”/Bowery Boys/East Side Kids movies. Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall. Great stuff for a pre-teen/teenager.

Here’s the question:

Was there ever a kid in those movies names something like “Spaz/Spazz”?

Over at the American Dialect Society, we’re trying to come up with the earliest use of the term “spaz(z)” for a person who was perceived to be “spastic(nerd-like).”

I’m really only looking for help in finding out if there was such a character in those movies. I’m sure I remember him. Help me find him.


I don’t recall one of the Dead End Kids being called “spazz.” Leo Gorcey was “Spit,” if that helps any.

Neither Leo Gorcey or Huntz Hall would have careers today; those names would have to go.

Isn’t “spazz” more of an 1980s reference? I really don’t remember it being used before then. Part of that Valley Girl language set?

your humble TubaDiva

I was weaned on the Bowery Boys. Almost every Sat. at the local theater (at least it seemed like every week).

In their various reincarnations as The East Side Kids, Dead End Kids and the Bowery Boys, I cannot recall anyone named Spazz.

Leo Gorcey was named Slip and Muggs. Huntz Hall, the other mainstay of the group was mostly called Satch.

Billy Halop, Gabe Dell et al, were given various names in various films but Spazz doesn’t ring a bell.

This is all from memory and obviously a long time ago but I think the Bowery Boys have a commemorative website somewhere.

Hope this helps. :slight_smile:

Leonard Maltin, in his annual movie guide, has a complete filmography of . . . you know, those guys, in all their various incarnations:

The Dead End Kids (1937-1939)
The Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys (1938-1943)
The East Side Kids (1940-1945)
The Bowery Boys (1946-1958)

But no character named “Spaz” or the like. The earliest “Spaz” character I find is in the movie Meatballs (1979).

Actually, this baby boomer remembers the term in frequent use in his Oregon high school (1964-67) and perhaps even before that in junior high.

There’s pretty solid evidence that it was a slang term in use in the 1950’s, but not everywhere. I was hoping to trace it back to a movie character. Thanks for all the help.

Would you believe that I went to IMDB and searched manually every Gorcey film? Do you realize how many 67 minute films he made? And I think I saw most of them. :o

There is an easier way. Go to the IMDb search page. In the “Character Name Search” field, type in Spas, Spaz, Spass, Spazz, or Spastic.

I did that.
While they have a pretty good search engine, I thought I’d give it a try. What can I say? I don’t have a life.