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William Lee Schlensker
March 12, 1929
|Died||November 17, 1989 (aged 60)|
Beaumont, California, U.S.
Billy Lee (William Lee Schlensker) (March 12, 1929 – November 17, 1989) was a child actor who appeared in many films from the mid-1930s through the early 1940s. He is probably best remembered for his performance in The Biscuit Eater.
Lee's first role was in the Our Gang comedy short Mike Fright as a tap dancer in a sailor suit. He was signed under contract with Paramount Pictures from 1934 to 1941 and his first significant role was in Wagon Wheels when he was just four years old.
Lee continued acting throughout the 1930s, appearing in a number of movies (among others: Too Many Parents, Easy to Take, Three Cheers for Love, Silk Hat Kid, The Big Broadcast of 1937, Sons of the Legion, Say It in French, Boy Trouble, Night Work, Sudden Money, Nobody's Children, Hold Back the Dawn, Nevada City, Road to Happiness) and working alongside some of Hollywood's finest, including, Donald O'Connor, Lon Chaney Jr., Roy Rogers, Charles Boyer, Randolph Scott, Lew Ayres, Gene Autry, Robert Cummings, Basil Rathbone, Olivia de Havilland, John Boles, Fred MacMurray, Ray Milland and Broderick Crawford). He also did the voice of "The Boy" character in the animated portion of the Disney film, The Reluctant Dragon.
In addition to being an actor, he was also a singer and dancer, appearing and singing with Bobby Breen in Make a Wish and touring with vaudeville shows. For his role in Cocoanut Grove he learnt to play the drums and formed the Billy Lee Band. The band appeared in the 1941 film, Reg'lar Fellers, in which he starred with co-star Carl Switzer.
Lee died on November 17, 1989, of a sudden heart attack.
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- Best, Marc (1971). Those Endearing Young Charms: Child Performers of the Screen. South Brunswick and New York: Barnes & Co., p. 144-147.
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- Liebman, Roy (2009). Musical Groups in the Movies, 1929-1970. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, p. 22.
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