How many people can you think of that have appeared on the cover of Time Magazine that are now largely forgotten by the pages of history?
I had never heard of the Mauch Twins (pronounced “Mock”,) until I acquired a stash of movie star scrapbooks from an elderly woman in Ohio. She had meticulously cut out articles and pictures of her favorite stars, when she was growing up in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Among her articles were those of Billy and Bobby Mauch, identical twin child actors of that time. I had to know more. Here is their story:
Billy and Bobby Mauch were born on July 6, 1921 in Peoria, Illinois. Billy was the older twin by ten minutes. Their father, Felix, worked for the railroad and their mother, Dorothy, a homemaker, was also a twin.
She taught the boys songs, and they began to entertain at banquets and radio stations in Peoria, eventually moving to New York. Billy and Bobby auditioned there and were signed for CBS and NBC radio, performing on shows such as “Beauty Box Revue,” “Lucky Strike,” “Show Boat,” and “March of Time.” Besides singing, the twins could also dance and play the piano. In New York the boys attended The Professional Children School.
It was their radio work and appearance in the musical comedy, “Mr. Smith,” that brought them to the attention of Warner Brothers. They were on the look-out for a child actor to play a young Frederic March in the movie “Anthony Adverse.” Warner Brothers wanted a boy that resembled Frederic March at a younger age. After auditioning, Warner’s only wanted to sign Billy, but Mrs. Mauch insisted that Bobby be signed also, and Bobby was the stand-in.
The twins were very close and devoted to each other. Billy and Bobby were notorious for their practical jokes and switching places constantly, even while filming. Their mother also had trouble telling them apart. She told an interviewer that Bobby wears a ring with a setting, and Billy wears a plain band ring. The interviewer asked how could she be positive that they never swapped rings? She looked worried.
When the Mauch Twins moved to Hollywood, they attended the famous Mar-Ken Professional School.
Besides, “Anthony Adverse” in 1936, their other big role came in 1937’s “The Prince and the Pauper.” MGM child actor, Freddie Bartholomew, was considered for the double role as MGM had the rights to the film; however, Warner Brothers purchased “The Prince and the Pauper,” from them realizing real twins would be better in the roles and Billy and Bobby Mauch were signed. Critics complained because Errol Flynn (the star of the film) was not in it that much.
Between 1937 and 1938, the boys starred in the “Penrod” series of films about a group of Junior G-Men who tried to solve crimes.
Bill and Bobby did not want to be film actors when they grew up, they were more interested in behind the scenes. Although, they did some acting separately up until the 1950’s, the Mauch twins also served in the Air Force during World War ll in the Philippines.
Billy Mauch eventually became a sound editor at Warner Brothers and Universal and Bobby Mauch became a film editor with work on the TV show, “Dragnet,” among other shows.
Billy married Marjorie Barnewolt in 1953 and had a son, William J. Mauch ll; Bobby married Georgia Shattuck in 1971 and had no children.
In child actress Sybil Jason’s book, “Five Minutes More,” Sybil recalled a time when she decided to invite a whole list of child stars she worked with at Warner Brothers for her husband’s surprise birthday party in 1979. Sybil invited both Billy and Bobby Mauch, but only Bobby was able to make it. She remembered how Mrs. Mauch (their mother) was surprised that Sybil was the only one who could tell the twins apart. Bobby and Sybil rekindled their friendship.
In Sybil Jason’s book, “My Fifteen Minutes,” Bob Mauch quoted, “To be a friend of Sybil Jason you know you have a real friend. She has a sense of humor and a way of knowing how you feel and is willing to help in any way. The years go by but Sybil remains Sybil…a treasure for all who are blessed by her friendship. I know Bill (Mauch) feels the same way.”
William “Billy” Mauch died on September 29, 2006 at the age of 85 and is buried Swan Lake Memory Garden in Peoria, Illinois. Robert “Bobby” Mauch died on October 15, 2007 at the age of 86 and was cremated.
Autograph reads: To Joyce Freeman. Best Wishes Always, Billy Mauch
Autograph reads: To Joyce Freeman, Best Wishes Always, Bobby Mauch
From "The Prince and the Pauper"
From "The Prince and the Pauper"
Photographed by ex-child star, Delmar Watson are Peggy Ann Garner, Edith Fellows, Bob Mauch and me at my husband's birthday party. Photo courtesy of "Five Minutes More" by Sybil Jason. Copyright 2007 Sybil Jason. Published by BearManor Media.
At my husband Tony's surprise birthday party. All kid stars! Left to right: Luanna Patten, Edith Fellows, Peggy Ann Garner, Bob Mauch and me. Snapped by shutter bug Delmar Watson! Photo courtesy of "My Fifteen Minutes" by Sybil Jason. Copyright 2005 Sybil Jason. Published by BearManor Media.
A Christmas list courtesy of Bobby and Billy Mauch.
Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for fair use for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal . 2014 Bobby J. Sulecki