The family of a former Little Rascal could use a little financial help.
Actor Tommy Bond, who played "Butch" the bully in many of the Little Rascals and Our Gang shorts, died Sept. 24 of complications from heart disease at age 79, and his family and friends are struggling to raise money to give him a proper burial.
Bond spent much of his early years in Hollywood, but most of his last six years were spent in San Diego and Imperial Beach. He was a regular at Kobey's Swap Meet, where he would sell photos from his days as "Butch" with fellow Rascal Gordon "Porky" Lee.
It wasn't an easy time in his life. His son, Tommy Bond Jr., said his dad suffered health problems and eventually moved from Imperial Beach because he and his wife were being bullied by a neighbor who was reportedly a convicted felon.
Bond Jr. says the nasty neighbor allegedly hated the Bonds "because they were old and handicapped" and harassed them by soaking their handicapped ramps with oil and holding a shotgun to Bond's head.
After numerous encounters, the couple moved back to Los Angeles, a relocation that cost them $25,000.
Now the family claims they have nothing left to pay for a burial, especially because Bond never received royalties for his Little Rascals work.
Despite that, Bond has had nothing but good things to say about his Hollywood experience. In fact, he has said playing a bully as a child paid off big when he left the Rascals and entered the real world, because real bullies left him alone.
Being a Rascal also introduced Bond to his best friend, Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, who turned out to be the kind of bad boy in real life that Bond played on camera. Bond liked to tell stories about Alfalfa's "star fits," like the time he urinated on the camera lights at lunch in order to create a big stink when the crew came back to work.
Alfalfa was shot in 1959 for supposedly attacking a man in a squabble over hunting dogs. The murder was declared "justifiable homicide," but Bond believed his pal was framed and spent the rest of own his life trying to prove his friend's innocence.
He even worked on a video about the case called Alfalfa: Death of a Rascal, in which Bond claimed the Rascal's ghost was haunting him.
Bond was loyal to all his childhood co-stars, including Robert Blake, who played "Mickey." When Blake was accused of murder, Bond was the only celebrity who kept insisting on his pal's innocence, claiming "he isn't the type to shoot someone" to any reporter who'd listen.
Despite his support, neither Bond nor his family ever heard a peep from Blake after his acquittal. And while a few other surviving members of the troupe have offered condolences to Bond's family, they haven't offered any donations to the actor's funeral because, according to Bond's manager, Frank Marks, they're in dire financial straits themselves.
The Bonds hope to hold a funeral on Oct. 14 but have only collected $800, far below the $5,000 they say they need for the funeral. Marks says Bond served in the Navy, so the family is talking to the Veterans Administration about assistance.
Marks has also tried to get in touch with KingWorld Entertainment, which produces The Oprah Winfrey Show, figuring that since the company's success was financed in part by the profits of the Little Rascals, it should give something back. As of yet, there's been no response.Folks interested in helping out can send donations to the Tommy Bond Memorial Fund, 18375 Ventura Blvd., Ste. 452, Tarzana, Calif., 91356.