Thursday, May 05, 2011

This Our Gang of ....

Jackie Cooper just passed away. He was a success in Hollywood as an actor and a director. He got his start as a child star including a short but memorable stint in the "Our Gang" comedy shorts. He starred in some of the earliest of the talking ones and with the exception of Jean Darling was the earliest of the surviving little Rascals. Not many are still alive. That's understandable since the Little Rascals ran from 1922 to 1944. Most of the big stars of the show have gone. Jackie was one of the last of the well known ones.

Still, there are about half dozen notable ones still alive. None as memorable as Spanky, Alfalfa, or Buckwheat. But all have contributed memorable moments in its history except for the one that probable had the most successful post Rascal career. And the one is Mickey Gubitosi.

The name's not familiar? Well, he is better known as Robert Blake.

As Mickey, He was an Our gang member in the last MGM years of the series. MGM totally didn't understand what made the "Our Gang" series appealing, And Mickey was representative of that. He was whiny, sanctimoniuos and totally obnoxious. He hung out with Froggie and an overgrown Buckwheat. As Robert Blake, He had a successful career in film and TV. He starred in "In Cold Blood" which led to his successful TV show "Baretta" Always in demand as a talk show guest, He had a troubled personal life that would eventually lead to his wife's murder with Blake being on trial for it. Like OJ Simpson, He was found not guilty in criminal court but losing in civil court. he's retired and in debt but still alive.

Jean Darling is the most senior member of the Our Gang. She was in the last of the silent ones. Most people probably don't know of her because they rarely show the silent Our Gangs on TV. She was the love interest of the male members such as Weezer and Joe Cobb. she had a head of blond girls and was the prototypical female of the Our Gang. Her post Our Gang career involved much stage work but the most part she was done with movies when she was still a kid.

Dicky Moore spent a year on the Our Gang series. He usually played Spanky's bigger brother in Spanky's earliest appearances. He was a very appealing character with a husky voice so it was shame when he left the series to pursue a moderately successful solo acting career in movies. He became noted for giving Shirley Temple her first on screen kiss. He has been married to noted actress Jane Powell for the last few decades.

Marianne Edwards
didn't appear in many Our Gang shorts but had two memorable roles in two. In one she played a girl whom Spanky helped to pay for her costume by winning a contest after she gets stage fright. On another one she plays the new girl in town that is the object of attention from rivals Alfalfa and Spanky. In the end she goes for rich kid, Jerry Tucker. She was cute as a button whose acting career ended in childhood.

While Marianne Edwards was cute Jackie Lynn Taylor was beautiful. A striking blond who appeared in only five Our Gang shorts. She suffered from a growth spurt that made her quickly too tall for the shorts. She would sometimes be paired up with short guy Spanky during the Spanky/Scotty era, But she was better suited as the love interest of tow headed Wally but she tended to run off with rich kid Jerry Tucker.

Speaking of rich kid Jerry Tucker, He's still alive. He appeared in several Our Gang shorts usually as a background character. Sometimes he played a spoiled rich kid most memorably in the episode where he had a brand new store bought fire truck toy and challenged the gang to a race. The gang had a makeshift truck made form junk around town. I forgot who won the race but rich kid Jerry Tucker lost Jackie Lynn Taylor when she fell off the truck.

Finally, there's Sidney Kibrick, better known as "Woim", Butch the bully's freckled faced sidekick. Much like Tommy "Butch" Bond, He was in some shorts, left the series and came back with a different persona.

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