Saturday, August 23, 2014

THE CURSE OF THE OUR GANG KIDS

Our Gang (also known as The Little Rascals or Hal Roach's Rascals) is a series of American comedy short films about a group of poor neighborhood children and their adventures. Created by comedy producer Hal Roach, the series is noted for showing children behaving in a relatively natural way, as Roach and original director Robert F. McGowan worked to film the unaffected, raw nuances apparent in regular children rather than have them imitate adult acting styles.

The first production at the Roach studio in 1922 was a series of silent short subjects. When Roach changed distributors from Pathé to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1927, and converted the series to sound in 1929, the series took off. Production continued at the Roach studio until 1938, when the series was sold to MGM, continuing to produce the comedies until 1944. The Our Gang series includes 220 shorts and one feature film, General Spanky, featuring over forty-one child actors. As MGM retained the rights to the Our Gang trademark following their purchase of the production rights, the 80 Roach-produced "talkies" were syndicated for television under the title The Little Rascals beginning in 1955...



More notable than the history of this children shorts is the fate that happened to many of the child stars. A lot of them met sad and tragic ends. Most of them did not have happy endings:

Pete the Pup – (? –1930) - An unknown assailant poisoned the original Pete.

Robert Hutchins "Wheezer" - (3/29/25 - 3/17/45) - Died in an airplane accident at the age of 19

William Robert Laughlin "Froggy" - (7/05/32 - 8/31/48) - Died in a bicycle accident at the age of 16.

Robert H. Young "Bonedust" – (9/15/17 - 9/10/51) - Died in a hotel fire, which started when he fell asleep smoking in bed

Dorothy Dandridge "Dorothy" – (11/09/23 – 9/08/65) - Committed suicide after an investment scheme caused her to go bankrupt
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Harold Switzer "Deadpan" or "Slim" - (1/16/25 - 4/14/67) – As was the case with his brother, Harold was also killed following a dispute with another man.

Scotty Beckett "Scotty" - (10/04/29 - 5/10/68) – Died in a Hollywood nursing home after being severely beaten two days prior to his admittance. A bottle of pills and a note were found at the scene, however the coroner never determined the exact cause of death. He was just 38 years old.



Darla Hood "Darla" - (11/08/31 - 6/13/79) - Hospitalized for hepatitis in 1979, she soon died under what was later ruled to be "suspicious circumstances."

Kendall McComas "Breezy Brisbane" - (10/29/16 - 10/15/81) - Two weeks before his 65th birthday and apparent forced retirement from the U.S. Naval Weapons Center in China Lake, California, he committed suicide.

Robert Blake "Mickey" - (9/18/33 - present) - On April 18, 2002, he was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakely.

Darwood Kaye "Waldo" - (9/08/29 - 5/15/2002) - Killed by a hit and run driver while walking on the sidewalk.

Jay R. Smith "Jay R" - (8/29/15 - 10/05/2002) - Stabbed to death and left in the desert by a homeless man he had befriended.

Carl Dean "Alfalfa" Switzer - (8/7/27 – 1/21/59) - Shot to death under mysterious circumstances.

As of June 2013, living Our Gang actors included Robert Blake, Sidney Kibrick, Jean Darling, Marianne Edwards, Dickie Moore, Jerry Tucker, Jackie Lynn Taylor, Lassie Lou Ahern, Mildred Kornman, and Leonard Landy...





1 comment:

  1. I have a DVD collection of these wonderful kids I grew up watching. In their day they were the best. in this day, they still are awesome to watch. The departed ones are somewhere kicking the can still. Bless them!

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