Bobby Mauch

'Prince and the Pauper' child star


Robert Joseph Mauch, actor and film editor: born Peoria, Illinois 6 July 1921; married; died 15 October 2007.

Bobby Mauch, the actor and film editor, was one of a pair of identical twins, Billy and Bobby Mauch (pronounced "Mawk"), who starred in a distinguished version of the Mark Twain classic The Prince and the Pauper in 1937. The spirited pair were so completely alike that they were often able to take each other's place without revealing their true identity.

The sons of a railroad agent, Robert and his brother William were born in Peoria, Illinois in 1921 – Billy, who died in September 2006, was the older by 10 minutes. Their mother, soon aware of the possibilities available to her personable progeny, taught them to dance before they started school. From the age of three they performed at private parties, and by the time they were seven they were modelling and acting on radio, gaining early exposure on NBC's Sunday morning amateur hour for children Coast-to-Coast on a Bus and Let's Pretend, a drama series for children which also nurtured the talents of the future teenage stars Jimmy Lydon and Billy Halop.

Warner Bros had been looking for a young boy who looked enough like Fredric March to play the actor as a youth in Anthony Adverse, and the twins fitted the bill. Initially, Billy was signed to play Anthony, with Bobby hired as his stand-in, but after the film's completion they confessed to the director Mervyn LeRoy that they had been taking turns at playing the role, confident that no one would know. Their mother stated that she could tell them apart when they were awake, but that even she could not tell which was which when they were sleeping – the only major difference between them was that Bobby was right-handed and Billy left-handed, and Billy wore glasses for reading.

The pair allegedly shared the next role in which Billy was cast, as a drummer boy befriended by Florence Nightingale (Kay Francis) in the Crimea in William Dieterle's The White Angel (1936). Warners then offered Billy a contract, but their formidable mother told the studio that if one of the boys was a stand-in for the other it would give him an inferiority complex, and that if only Billy were signed, she would take Bobby to a rival studio.

The boys were both given performer contracts, with Mrs Mauch hired as their guardian, and when a vehicle was sought to showcase the twins, a prime choice was The Prince and the Pauper, which had last been filmed as a silent starring Marguerite Clark in both the title roles in 1915. The story of two boys, one the son of Henry the Eighth and the other the son of a pickpocket, whose identities are switched, it seemed a shrewd project to release in the year of the Coronation in Britain, since the film concludes with a lavish crowning.

Directed by William Keighley, with Errol Flynn top-billed (though his role as a soldier of fortune who befriends the Prince, thinking him an urchin, was secondary to those of the twins), plus a rousing score by Erich Korngold, the result is still considered the finest dramatisation of the Twain tale. Time magazine wrote of the brothers: "Their major assets are energy, lack of precocity and a wholesome distaste for showing off, which prevents them from trying to steal scenes like most of their contemporaries." Initially, one twin was to play all the royal scenes, with the other to play all the guttersnipe scenes, regardless of which character appeared in them, but the boys again switched roles occasionally.

Billy was next cast in Penrod and Sam (1937), based on the second of Booth Tarkington's tales of a mischievous lad in the American Midwest in the early 1900s, with Bobby officially Billy's stand-in, but the two boys were teamed in the two "Penrod" adventures that followed, Penrod and his Twin Brother and Penrod's Double Trouble (both 1938).

Their last film together, playing twin brothers, was I'll Tell the World (1939). During the Second World War the twins served together in the United States Air Force in the Philippines – the military had a rule that twins could not be separated unless they so requested – and they acted together in Moss Hart's play Winged Victory (1943), produced for the Army Emergency Relief Fund.

After the war, Billy continued acting, often playing small roles in films directed by old pals from the Warner days – he was in Dieterle's gripping thriller The Accused and William Keighley's crime drama The Street with No Name (both 1948). In his last film, Bedtime for Bonzo (1951) he was the student of a psychology professor (Ronald Reagan) who adopts a chimpanzee.

Bobby returned to Warners to work as a make-up assistant, then switched to editing, and for several years worked for Jack Webb's Mark VII productions. Billy eventually returned to Warners as a sound editor. The brothers remained close, and lived near each other in San Fernando Valley, California.

Tom Vallance

Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
transfers
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music(who aren't Arctic Monkeys)
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer - Newcastle - £30,000 - £37,000 + benefits

£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Digital Project Manager/BA

£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home