Producer Jan Grippo, one of the prime movers behind the "Bowery Boys" films of the 1940s and 1950s, died Saturday in a Los Angeles hospital. Grippo was 81.
Grippo produced at least 23 films featuring the band of impish juvenile delinquents, who included tough-talking wise guy Leo Gorcey and his naive patsy, Huntz Hall.
The "Bowery Boys" started off as troublemakers in the films "Dead End" and "Angels With Dirty Faces," but it was Grippo, the groups' agent, who cleaned them up for their popular series. "Jan wanted them to get into trouble, but to be good kids at heart," said his wife, Paula Grippo.
Born in Beacon, N.Y., Grippo parlayed college years at the New York School of Design into an early career as a cartoonist for the New York Herald-Tribune Syndicate. He came to Hollywood in 1937 and began work as an agent.
During World War II, when his "Bowery Boys" films took on patriotic tones, Grippo was active with the Hollywood Canteen. Always interested in magic as a hobby, he became increasingly fascinated with the craft and was a member of both the Society of American Magicians and the Academy of Magical Arts. He often practiced at the Magic Castle in Hollywood.
He is survived by his wife, Paula, three brothers, James, Michael and Henry, and a sister, Bertha DeLucca. Funeral arrangements are pending.