WHEN SPARROWS FALL: THE DEATHS OF TOMMY BOND AND ANN BARNES
September 28, 2005
So much has been lost in recent days I hesitate to single out the passing of two fine people, but they were special to us…uniquely part of A Minor Consideration…and that duty to do honor to those who have served obligates me to share the news of the death of Thomas “Tommy” Bond of “Our Gang” fame, and the lesser known but no less dear, Dixie Ann Cheney who performed under the name of Ann Barnes.
Tommy died on Saturday, the day after my 60th birthday. His death at 79 was duly reported in the nation’s media because he was, after all, “Butch,” the neighborhood tough guy who terrorized poor Alfalfa in the classic Hal Roach “Our Gang” comedies.
My little Annie who almost never referred to her show business past and reclaimed her birth-name of Dixie, died alone at age 60, her body undiscovered for almost a week in distant Michigan…and few would remember her brief time in the limelight playing “Cookie” on the short-lived “Blondie” series. There were a few odd jobs on “Beaver” and “My Three Sons,” then the very people who had raised and trained her to be an actress discarded Dixie Ann Cheney.
Tommy always found a way to make a living when he grew out of acting. There was the Army Air Force, 23 years working as a property master at a local Los Angeles television station (KTTV), and another 19 years at a Fresno TV station. Tommy was well liked by his fellow ‘vintage’ performers, and leveraged what he could from the beloved “Our Gang” comedies.
Annie struggled throughout much of her life. Some would say she didn’t amount to much. She even had trouble raising her kids. But for those of us who were present in the first-ever Young Performers Conference back in 1995 our own Little Annie stood tall. It was she who worked the backroom and gave the rest of us the spine to tell the tales of our lives, the facts, the truth…which in Dixie’s case included chilling abuse that often left her hiding under her bed…or dancing on bleeding feet.
Sometimes this sea of pain and disappointment is too much to bear. I know in the larger scheme of things like hurricanes and property losses in the billions, the passing of two former kid stars might not seem like much. I want you to know that we’ve noticed…and take comfort in the belief that God always knows when sparrows fall.
PP on 9/27/05