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Obituaries

Robert J. 'Bob' Mauch, 86; teen actor and his identical twin appeared in 1930s films

October 24, 2007|Mary Rourke | Times Staff Writer

Robert J. "Bob" Mauch, a teenage actor in the 1930s who with his brother, William, was known as one of the Mauch Twins, has died. He was 86.

Mauch, who left acting for a second career as a film editor, died Oct. 15 at London House convalescent hospital in Santa Rosa, Calif., of complications from a heart condition, said his wife, Georgia.

He was best known for his role as the prince in "The Prince and the Pauper," a 1937 film that also featured his identical twin, who played the pauper. Two boys secretly change places in the movie, which is based on a novel by Mark Twain.

The Mauch twins "give credibility on the screen to a Mark Twain story that hinges entirely on the physical resemblance of the two young boys," according to a 1937 review in The Times.

Mauch and his brother appeared together in several more films, including "Penrod and His Twin Brother" and "Penrod's Double Trouble," before Robert gave up acting in the late 1930s.

"The Mauch Twins had a flurry of popularity," film historian Leonard Maltin said in an interview Tuesday. "Their star shone bright for a short time, but they were well-known."

As a film editor, Mauch worked for some years on "Dragnet," the popular police TV drama of the 1950s that starred Jack Webb.

"Bob was always interested in the technical side of moviemaking," veteran Paramount producer A.C. Lyles recalled Tuesday.

Even during Mauch's acting years, "Bob wanted to go into the production end of the business," Lyles said.

The Mauch brothers were born July 6, 1921, in Peoria, Ill. They worked in radio as children before moving to Los Angeles with their mother in the 1930s to pursue movie careers.

Mauch graduated from the Mar-Ken School for professional children in Hollywood, where he met and later married Georgia Shattuck, who became a professional figure skater.

During his senior year at the school, Mauch and his brother ran for class president as a team, with Shattuck as their campaign manager. Their winning slogan was "Two Heads Are Better Than One," she recalled.

Mauch served in the Army Air Forces during World War II and was stationed in the Philippines for part of the time.

He and his brother appeared together in "Winged Victory," a Broadway show that opened in 1943 and was intended as a morale booster during the war.

While Mauch began working as an editor, his brother continued acting until the early 1950s and then worked as a sound editor. He died in 2006.

For some years, Mauch and his wife lived in the Big Bear area and he commuted to Los Angeles to work on editing projects.

"Bob moved as far away from Hollywood as possible," Sybil Jason, a longtime friend and former child actress, said in an interview this week. "He was very down to earth. He felt more at ease outside the industry."

In addition to his wife, Mauch is survived by a nephew, William J. Mauch II.

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mary.rourke@latimes.com

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