Remembering William "Billy" Booth, by his Sister, Bonnie
"Billy got involved in television purely by accident. During a Little League game, someone approached my Mom and asked if she would mind if an agent contacted her. This person thought Billy would be just right for commercials. And that's what happened. We lived in Southern California and were not far from Hollywood. He went on some interviews and started getting these jobs. But, Billy never was seeking out the entertainment business". -- Bonnie
I went with Billy to work at the Columbia Ranch several times. When Billy was working during summer or days I was not in school, I would often go with him and my mother to work. The Ranch was the best since it was outside and you were not confined in a studio or closed set. You could walk around to other television and movie location sets. It was really very entertaining. Sometimes when his school friends had days off, my mother would let them come, also, and see what Billy's work was really all about.
By the way, Billy did attend studio school when he was working, but always stayed enrolled in his own school at home. That's why he was always connected to his friends. He would go back to school whenever he got home from work early or wasn't on call. Of course, I was always at school, so I could deliver school work back and forth if need be. Jay had a different experience. During the Dennis years, I don't think he ever attended regular school -- only studio school (The Columbia Studio Professional Children's School).
As far as I remember, Billy and my Mom didn't attend Joe Kearns' funeral. I was at work with Billy the day Joe didn't come in, and evidently the crew was notified he had passed away. We all left early. I remember because the baseball pitcher, Sandy Koufax, was scheduled to appear on an episode and Billy loved Sandy Koufax. He was a Dodger pitcher and Billy was quite a Dodger fan. Anyway, we were at the Ranch and Sandy was scheduled for another time. Billy finally did meet Sandy and in the episode “Dennis and the Dodger”, Season 3, Episode 31 played the catcher for him.
[Billy and my mother kept in touch over the years with Sylvia Field, Gloria, Jay, Jeannie and even Herb Anderson before he passed away. Sylvia actually attended my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary party.]
Gloria and Jeannie attended the memorial we held for Billy (2006), and Jay called that day from Florida. So, it's pretty amazing the way everyone has stayed in contact.
The very first TV work Billy did was a Tony the Tiger / Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes commercial. He played this little basketball player. It was really cute. Don't know if it has survived anywhere. We always found it funny that his first commercial was for Kellogg's and then Kellogg's was the sponsor for Dennis.
As you can see, I was very close to my brother and have many great memories. He was a happy, active child --- nothing like a child actor. Just an ordinary kid who was given this opportunity.- --Bonnie
Education Update: Billy attended Dunsmore and Valley View elementary schools in La
Crescenta, Ca. Junior high was Clark, and high school was Crescenta
Valley, also located in La Crescenta. Then he went to The University
of California (USC) in Los Angeles and law school in San Francisco at
Hastings Law School. He did attend studio school when he was working. But, he was always
enrolled in our own public schools and continued all activities with his
friends and neighbors.
(c) copyright 2016 Dennis! website
(newer material follows written for his high school class of '67)
......"He was an attorney, who had also taught Business Law at Cuesta College and Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo County. He was divorced, with one son, Devon (27). He cared deeply for many of his long-time friends from La Crescenta (that he always referred to as the "Rock"). He grew up with many of you and also spoke fondly of his youth. For those of you who knew me (I'm Bonnie his sister, class of 1966) you will remember how special he was to me and our family. We all miss him very much".
Before Dennis, Billy (center) had a non-speaking part in a 1959 Twilight Zone episode
minor update 6-13-16