The little rascals

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The little rascals
Original title Our Gang / The Little Rascals
genre Short film comedies
Country of production United States
Production year (s) 1922–1944
220 short films, one feature film
script HM Walker ,
Robert F. McGowan ,
Hal Roach, et al. a.
idea Hal Roach
Director Robert F. McGowan ,
Gus Meins ,
Gordon Douglas, and others. a.
producer Hal Roach (Hal Roach Studios)
from 1938 MGM
camera Art Lloyd u. a.
cut Richard Currier et al. a.
music Leroy Shield ,
Marvin Hatley, et al. a.
occupation See list of actors
synchronization See German synchronization
Movie poster from 1936 with the original title Our Gang

The Little Rascals (in the original Our Gang , also known as The Little Rascals or Hal Roach's Rascals ) is a produced 1,922 to 1,944 US short film series about the adventures of a group of children.

The series created by the comedy film producer Hal Roach was produced in his studios from 1922 under the direction of Robert F. McGowan , initially in the form of silent short films, from 1929 with sound. The films were distributed by Pathé until 1927 , then by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). In 1938 MGM bought the rights to the series and continued to run it until it ended in 1944. A total of over 220 short films with numerous child actors were made. In addition, the feature film General Spanky was made in 1936 . On American television, Roach's 80 sound films were broadcast under the title The Little Rascals , as the title Our Gang is under the copyright of MGM. Die kleine Strolche has been on German television since 1967, for which the silent films have been partially re-edited.


The series is one of the most famous and successful film series in cinema history. As early as the end of the 1920s, the actors from Our Gang were featured on many additional products (an early merchandising ). While children are often used in film roles to utter “cunning” or precocious remarks, Hal Roach and his director Robert F. McGowan managed to capture more natural behavior in children. The film historian Leonard Maltin points out that Our Gang was the first series in which boys, girls, blacks and whites acted in a group of equals.

While many other series play with and about children in a fantasy world - for example, a children's ensemble called Sunset Kiddies had appeared in a series of full-length children's book adaptations from Fox Studios as early as 1917 - the producer and director Hal Roach orientated himself on everyday life: Many of the children in the films are poor and often have to deal with spoiled rich children, their parents, opinionated adults and other adversities.

Until 1933, chief director Robert F. McGowan was responsible for the shooting. He was supported by his nephew Anthony Mack. McGowan's success lay in developing a style that did not subordinate the child actors to the working habits of the film industry, which did not suppress their naturalness. The stories were written by the Comedy Department at Hal Roach Studio, which also included Frank Capra , Leo McCarey , Walter Lantz, and Frank Tashlin . The children were often too young to be able to read scripts and were therefore sometimes directed in their partly improvised actions by megaphone. This changed with the rise of the talkie: The successor directors Gus Meins and Gordon Douglas approached the film adaptations in a more straightforward manner and with far less improvisation, especially when Hal Roach was forced to compose the 20-minute (two-act, two-act) stories Film rolls) to 10-minute pre-films (one-act play, one film roll).

When the actors got too old, they were exchanged for new faces chosen from among the children from the greater Los Angeles area . Talent scouts sometimes ran national competitions in which thousands of children competed for just a single free role, often driven by their parents. Norman "Chubby" Chaney, who replaced Joe Cobb, Matthew "Stymie" Beard, who gradually replaced Allen "Farina" Hoskins, and Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas, who in turn replaced Matthew Beard, were major competition winners. The studio was also bombarded with requests from parents outside of the competitions to see their children in the films.



Hal Roach (1892–1992), producer of the Little Tramp, in 1920

According to Hal Roach , he got the idea for the series in 1921 when he was reviewing a child actress for one of his films. In his opinion, the girl had been covered in make-up and overstrained at rehearsals. After the girl and her mother left the room, Roach looked out the window and noticed some children in a wooden yard across the street who had got into an argument. The children had all armed themselves with wooden sticks from the yard and the smallest child had chosen the largest stick. The older children tried to persuade them to give the stick to the older boy. After looking at the scene for about 15 minutes, Roach thought that children who act like themselves could make a good starting point for a successful film series. However, a few years earlier , his rival Mack Sennett had produced several short films about the now forgotten Keystone Kids , which were also dedicated to the experiences of a gang of children.

Then, under the supervision of comedian Charles Parrott - better known as Charley Chase - work began on the first two act in a "Kids and Pets" series, renamed Hal Roach's Rascals later that year . Fred C. Newmeyer , director of Harold Lloyds , was responsible for the first version of the pilot, Our Gang , but Roach abandoned it and wanted another director. Parrott suggested the former firefighter Robert F. McGowan , who was commissioned by Roach to do the new filming. The short film was tested in various cinemas near Hollywood and received widespread approval, including with the press, which called for more "Our Gang comedies". The name Our Gang would eventually develop into the better-known title for the series, which was initially announced on the tickets as " Our Gang Comedies: Hal Roach presents His Rascals in ...". Both Our Gang and Hal Roach's Rascals were officially in use by 1932 , before the series continued under Our Gang alone.

The first cast of the series arose from the suggestions of the studio staff: Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison had already appeared in films by other Roach comedians and was the first African American actor in Hollywood history to get a long-term contract; Mary Kornman was the daughter of Roach's still photographer Gene Kornman, Mickey Daniels was the nephew of former roach star Bebe Daniels ; All of "Farina" Hoskins , Jack Davis , Jackie Condon and Joe Cobb were children of friends. Most of the early film recordings were made on site in the outdoor area, and some animals also took part in the recordings, including the mule Dinah, who years later would play with Laurel and Hardy in Two Rides to Texas .

On September 10, 1922, Roach's distributor Pathé published the first short film, One Terrible Day , which was the fourth to be shot: Here, the gang turns the charity party of a snobbish and bigoted old lady from high society upside down.

The "Ur-Gang"

The focus of the series was originally the colored Ernie ( Ernest Morrison ), around whom the stories developed. In the early stages of the series, the children's role names changed from episode to episode, so Ernie acted under the name Booker T. Bacon. The characters were later given fixed names, often the real name of the child actor. Even partially humanized animals were much more in the spotlight than later, but then quickly got their own short film series called Dippy Doo Dads . As early as the end of the first year, the freckled Mickey ( Mickey Daniels ) moved into the spotlight as the leader of the gang and Morrison left the series in mid-1924 at the age of twelve. Other important members of the early days were the lovely " Leading Lady " Mary ( Mary Kornman ), the overweight Joe ( Joe Cobb ), the idiosyncratic coiffed Jackie ( Jackie Condon ) and the smallest child in the bunch, the colored Farina ( Allen Hoskins ).

Farina, whose actual gender was unclear in the silent films, quickly became the audience favorite and actor Allen Hoskins became the most popular black child star of the 1920s. This was also reflected in his fee, which was higher than that of the other children. Hoskins remained associated with the series through the early 1930s, staring in over 100 Our Gang films, more than any other actor. The two oldest children, Mickey and Mary, were often used together as "romantic couples". In the teenage series The Boy Friends , also produced by Roach , Mickey Daniels and Mary Kornman played together again in the early 1930s.

Transitional phase and change of distribution

After Daniels and Kornman had grown too big and had left the series in quick succession, there were difficulties from the end of 1926 until the early sound film era to build on the previous quality standard. There was no convincing leader of the gang, ideas repeated themselves, and director Robert F. McGowan suffered from a protracted illness. He temporarily handed the director's chair over to his nephew Robert A. McGowan , who appeared in the film credits as Anthony Mack and whose directorial work is generally regarded as inferior to that of his uncle.

The series' new faces in 1927 included Bobby “Wheezer” Hutchins , who was just two years old, and Jean Darling as Mary Kornman's successor. For Mickey Daniels there were double freckled replacements with Jay R. Smith (already with us since 1926) and the rather rowdy Harry Spear . In 1928, the daredevil Mary Ann Jackson was added further reinforcement, which formed a strong contrast to Jean Darling and the rather doll-like heroines of the series as a whole. With her comedic talent, she was the focus of several episodes of the late silent film era.

In addition, a new figure on four paws was introduced: After various dogs had previously played in the series, the Our Gang children bought Petey the Pit and Pete the Pup in 1927 . This dog with his black ring made up on his left eye and his right eye became famous. He was the first dog of the new American breed of dog, the Staffordshire Terrier , to be registered with the American Kennel Club . In later years his children and grandchildren played the role of Pete.

During this phase Roach also ended the collaboration with his distributor Pathé and switched to the newly founded Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer , which published its first film in the series in September 1927. Moving to MGM gave Roach a larger budget for his productions and, most importantly, the opportunity to see his short films performed alongside the major studio productions.

First years in sound film

As early as 1928, a few short films were produced using the needle-tone process , delivered with records that enabled an almost synchronized sound and music background. In the spring of 1929 the stages of the Roach Studios were switched to sound productions and in April 1929 the first Our Gang sound film with the appropriate title Small Talk was released . It took a whole year for both the staff and the children to get used to the new way of production. In the years 1929/1930 the important children Joe Cobb, Jackie Condon, Jean Darling, Jay R. Smith and Harry Spear jumped out of the ranks; partly because they could not or did not want to work with the new medium of sound film.

1930 was the year in which the series regained its former strength, thanks to an ensemble that was equal to and even outnumbered that of the early years: the most important gang members of the early talkies were Allen "Farina" Hoskins and Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins and Mary Ann Jackson, as well as newcomers Matthew “Stymie” Beard , Norman “Chubby” Chaney , Dorothy DeBorba and Jackie Cooper , who soon after joining the series would be the focus for a year and a half. The beautiful young teacher Miss Crabtree, portrayed by June Marlowe , also played an important role in several films with Cooper . After they left, Mary Kornman - the member of the Little Rascals from the 1920s - and Rosina Lawrence took on similar roles. The film Teacher's Pet (1930) also brought the short films a recurring theme song , Good Old Days , composed by Leroy Shield .

After a number of important children left the gang in mid-1931, including Farina, the last remaining member of the early days, this again posed a problem. The colored Stymie replaced Farina, but in contrast to its phlegmatic predecessor, it was significantly more alert and quick-witted. With George "Spanky" McFarland as a toddler and Dickie Moore as the leader, other new leading characters joined the group. In the short film Readin 'and Writin' , Kendall McComas was the central figure in the role of Lausbub Breezy Brisbane , who otherwise only had supporting roles in the series. While Dickie Moore, like his predecessor Jackie Cooper, disappeared after only a year to make successful feature films, the actor Spanky gradually developed into the greatest child star of the entire series. George McFarland then also appeared in many other film productions outside of the series and provided additional sources of income through increased appearances in the series additional products. His typical saying "Okey-dokey!" Or "Okey-doke!" Became famous and is still widespread today.

Change of director and consolidation

In 1933, Bobby Hutchins and Dorothy DeBorba left the series. Long-time successful director Robert F. McGowan also threw in the towel at the end of this year after Roach had had to persuade him to stay several times. McGowan was annoyed, among other things, by the behavior of the child actors' parents, who were constantly fighting over the best roles for their respective children. The Director went to the from Frankfurt originating Gus Meins about whose first film Hi' Neighbor! (1934) was made in collaboration with assistant director Gordon Douglas . Meins' films were less crazy and improvisational than those of its predecessor and for the first time contained the element of music and vocal numbers that was so important for the series later. At the center of the 1934 films was Wally Albright as Wally , who only played that year , while Spanky McFarland, who had starred in several films in the previous two years, suddenly had to be content with the sidekick role. McFarland and newcomer Scotty ( Scotty Beckett ) now temporarily formed a duo, who made dry comments in the background on the actions of the older children, reminding them of an early childhood version of Waldorf and Statler .

In the course of 1935, several important child actors gradually joined them, so that the series soon had its most consistent and, in retrospect, probably best-known cast. Spanky moved back into the spotlight and took on the role of leader, while newcomer Carl Switzer alias Alfalfa, as a fate-plagued would-be vocal talent, soon challenged him for the star role. The colored Billie Thomas as Buckwheat became the legitimate successor to Farina and Stymie. Although male, he had originally been cast as the latter's sister and was only allowed to be a boy now, after Stymie's departure in 1935. Probably the best-known female face in the series became the sweet but flighty Darla ( Darla Hood ), who, unlike alfalfa, could actually sing. Eugene Lee in the role of Buckwheat's friend Porky completed the quintet of the most important actors. In 1937 Rüpel Butch joined them, played by Tommy Bond , who had already appeared in a few Our Gang films a few years earlier . Sidney Kibrick was seen as Butch's henchman Woim (= worm) . In 1938, Alfalfa received Waldo ( Darwood Kaye ) alongside Butch, a second rival for Darla's favor.

The last Roach years

After 1934, the cinema owners began to increasingly discontinue the twenty-minute supporting films, which in the Roach studios included not only those of Our Gang but also those of Laurel and Hardy . Instead, it was increasingly preferred to show two full feature films as a double feature . Laurel and Hardy then successfully switched from short to feature-length film in the mid-1930s, while short film comedian Charley Chase had to change studios. For Our Gang , the distributor MGM insisted on further short films, but from now on not with the previous duration of 20 or 15 minutes, but in the form of one-act plays.

The first of these 10-minute, more routine-looking short films was Bored of Education in August 1936 , in which Spanky and the other children want to skip school, but are caught by their teacher. He represented the directorial debut of Gordon Douglas within the series, who replaced Gus Meins, who was dismissed after a dispute. Bored of Education promptly brought Douglas an Academy Award in the category Best Live-Action Short Film : It remained the only Oscar for the little thugs. In the one-act play there was no more room for the dog Pete the Pup, who was now increasingly disappearing from the series. Instead, the "He-Man Women Haters Club" appeared here for the first time, and musical interludes became even more important for the series.

In late 1936, directed by Gordon Douglas and Fred C. Newmeyer , General Spanky, the only Our Gang feature film, hit theaters, but it focused more on the adults in the story than the adventures of the children and a failure at the box office has been. With Our Gang Follies of 1938 , whose title alludes to the successful musical comedy Broadway Melody of 1938 , Roach also produced another and final two-act film in 1937. After the income from the films continued to decline and a continuation of the series no longer seemed profitable for him, Roach finally sold all rights to the Our Gang series to MGM in May 1938 , including the naming rights and the contracts with actors and screenwriters and directors.

The MGM phase

The one-act plays produced by MGM and set in the fictional city of Greenpoint were rather poorly received by the audience and also by the film children themselves. The moralizing tone of the films and the lack of the slapstick gags that were essential and typical for the series were criticized . After only two films for MGM, Gordon Douglas had returned to Hal Roach and MGM began using the series as training for emerging feature directors: George Sidney , Edward Cahn, Herbert Glazer and Cyril Endfield. Almost all of the 52 films produced by MGM were written by Hal Law and former junior director Robert A. McGowan (= Anthony Mack). The latter, however, no longer appeared there under his pseudonym, which for decades led to confusion among film visitors as to whether he and the older director of the same name were one and the same person.

The actors from Alfalfa, Spanky and Buckwheat were hired for the one-act act until they were teenagers. Porky retired in 1939, Butch, Waldo, and Alfalfa in a row in 1940, and Darla the following year. The now 14-year-old Spanky McFarland stayed in the series as a leader until the end of 1942. Buckwheat was the last actor from the Hal-Roach period until the end, as was the most important newcomer to the MGM phase, Froggy ( Billy Laughlin ) , who was added in 1940 . After six of thirteen of the short films in 1942 and 1943 could not even bring in the production costs, the series was discontinued after 22 years with the episode Dancing Romeo on April 20, 1944.

Later exploitation of the series

Re-release of the Roach films in the 1950s

When Hal Roach sold the rights to MGM, he kept a repurchase right open, subject to the reservation that he would not produce any further children's films in the manner of Our Gang . In the mid-1940s, however, he decided to revive the Our Gang style and forfeited his rights by producing two cinecolor films that were not a hit with either critics or audiences: Curley (1947) and Who Killed Doc Robbin (1948, an allusion to the nursery rhyme "Who killed Cock Robin?", The story of which has been filmed several times by various directors since 1903).

After these flops, Roach preferred to dedicate himself to republishing his old Our Gang films. In 1949 MGM allowed him to buy back his rights to the films from 1927 to 1938, on condition that the MGM logo and the designation Our Gang be removed from the films. Roach then brought out the films from 1952 on Monogram under the new title The Little Rascals .

TV debut

Under the title The Little Rascals , the short films were also distributed on television from 1955 and thus experienced renewed popularity. From 1956 MGM had its own films under the title Our Gang also broadcast on television. In 1960/1961, a number of silent films with the gang were part of the Mischief Makers series , for which they were cut down to about half of their running time, while the subtitles had to give way to two childish narrators. In 1964, the new distributor King World Entertainment received the television rights to The Little Rascals . The series formed the cornerstone on his way to becoming the world's largest television film distributor. The short films made their German-language TV debut in 1967.

Video / DVD

In 1994 a total of 22 Little Rascals VHS video cassettes were released in the USA , containing all 80 Hal-Roach sound films unabridged and restored, as well as five of the silent films. In 2000 these were also released on DVD. MGM has released the motion picture General Spanky and MGM short films on VHS. In 2011 all 52 MGM short films were released in a 5-DVD box. There are also some unofficial collections of Our Gang and Little Rascals films that are now public domain .

In 1995 some black and white episodes of the old ZDF synchronization on video appeared in Germany. In addition, the new colored version was released on DVD. Since 2009 there have been compilations in German with films from the years 1927–1929 (silent films), 1930–1934 and 1935–1938 on a total of eight DVDs.

Current legal situation

The rights to the films are currently fragmented. Sonar Entertainment owns the cinema and video rights to the Our Gang short films from the Roach era. The MGM-produced Our Gang short films and Roach's feature film General Spanky are currently owned by Turner Entertainment . King World also has the television rights for the Little Rascals series, which is composed predominantly of the Roach sound films and includes both the black and white films and some post-colored films. The silent films up to and including 1926 and the films Playin 'Hookey , School's Out , Bear Shooters , Our Gang Follies of 1938 and Waldo's Last Stand are now in the public domain .

Legacy and Influence


The characters in the series are still well-known American cultural icons and the most famous such as Alfalfa , Spanky , Buckwheat and Darla can often be recognized by their role names. Nevertheless, the previous official appreciations of the series, actors and other employees are rather narrow.

  • In 1937, Bored of Education was the only film in the series to receive an Oscar for Best Short Film.
  • In 1960 Jackie Cooper got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame , but most of his filmmaking had taken place apart from the little thugs in films like Skippy , The Champ , Treasure Island (1934) and Revenge for Jesse James .
  • In 1984, the then 92-year-old Hal Roach was given an honorary Oscar by Our Gang actors George McFarland and Jackie Cooper , which, however, not only related to the little thugs, but to the producer's entire cinematic work.
  • In 1994, George "Spanky" McFarland posthumously received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame .
  • In 2004 the short film Pups is Pups (1930) was classified as “culturally valuable” by the American Library of Congress and included in the national film archive.

Official Our Gang offshoots

From 1937 Our Gang was also licensed as a comic series and appeared in the UK in the booklet series The Dandy , drawn by Dudley D. Watkins. The comic strips ended in 1947, three years after the short film series ended.

From 1942 onwards, stories appeared in a separate series called Our Gang Comics in the USA . The magazine published by Dell also contained comics with Barney Bear and Tom and Jerry and was finally renamed Tom and Jerry Comics in 1949 .

In 1978 US television showed the animated Christmas film The Little Rascals Christmas Special with the voices of original actors Matthew "Stymie" Beard and Darla Hood. From 1982 to 1984 Hanna - Barbera continued the animation for the ABC station in the morning program.

1994 brought Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures a new movie in theaters, The Little Rascals (The Little Rascals) , of some scenes of the classic series took up again. Among the adult actors, Donald Trump , Whoopi Goldberg and Mel Brooks played supporting roles , and the Olsen twins also had a guest appearance. The film was a minor success and grossed over $ 51 million.

In 2014, the B-movie The Little Rascals Save the Day with Doris Roberts and Greg Germann was released on DVD. The film was produced " Direct-to-Video " by Universal .


After the success of Our Gang , various short film series with children were also released by competing studios. Although these never achieved the popularity of the original, some of them did achieve some success. The imitators included:

  • the New York Kiddie Troupers ( Fox , around 1924) with the later comedian star Eddie Bracken
  • the Hey Fellas! (First Division Pictures, 1925) with Mickey Daniels' brother Cliff and subtitles by Pinto Colvig .
  • the Buster Brown films (1925-1929) based on the comic strip of the same name from Universal Studios with Arthur Trimble, from which the dog Pete the Pup and later the director Gus Meins were taken over for Our Gang .
  • the series Big Boy (Jack White / Educational Pictures , 1925-1929) with Malcolm Sebastian, who then had a small appearance in the Our Gang short film Shivering Shakespeare .
  • the McDougall Alley Kids (1926–1928) from the normally animated films producing JR Bray Studios
  • the Mickey McGuire films ( FBO / RKO , 1927–1934), based on Fontaine Fox's comic strip Toonerville Folks , with young star Mickey Rooney and later Our Gang member Kendall McComas, which were successful up to the sound film era .
  • the Baby Burlesks ( Educational Pictures , 1932-1933) with child star Shirley Temple , z. B. in War Babies

In the early 1960s, episodes of the Mickey McGuire , Buster Brown and Hey Fellas! ironically shown alongside silent films with the gang within the television series Mischief Makers .

In later years, various actors repeatedly claimed to have starred in the original episodes of Our Gang . The official biography of Eddie Bracken was even changed to the effect that he should have worked on Our Gang instead of the Kiddie Troupers (he was apparently not informed of this change himself, at least he denied the claim).

Among the impostors was a Jack Bothwell, who even on the show To Tell The Truth ("Tell The Truth") stuck to the claim that he was on the show as Freckles . In the aforementioned Mischief Makers series with its edited silent Our Gang films, a gang member was actually named Freckles , albeit the character played by Jay R. Smith .

In 1990, Arizona grocer Bill English claimed on an American news program that he played buckwheat as a child . George McFarland became aware of English's claim and later confronted the man on TV that he was a cheat and that the real Buckwheat had been dead for ten years. The newscast then issued a public apology, fired a producer in charge, and Billie “Buckwheat” Thomas's son filed a complaint against English.


There is also a series of winking homages: For example, reference is made to the little rascals in the book and radio drama series Die Drei ??? . One of the protagonists, Justus Jonas, was an actor in this television series as a young boy. The title Die kleine Strolche is also mentioned in several places , but the names of the roles have been exchanged. The role of Justus Jonas was called “Pummelchen” (“Baby Fatso”), which does not appear in the original series. Also with the Simpsons (episode film star against his will ) it is mentioned that landlord Moe used to be an actor in the series. In the series King of Queens , the aged Arthur Spooner reports on his involvement in the series in his youth.

A number of groups, societies and others have been inspired by the series in their naming. For example, there was also a folk rock group Spanky and Our Gang , which apart from the name had nothing to do with the series. There are also a number of unauthorized Little Rascals or Our Gang restaurants in the United States.

Depiction of blacks in the series

The series is known for the first time blacks and whites played side by side on an equal footing, although this was viewed with discomfort, even by blacks themselves. The four black child actors were Ernie Morrison , Allen "Farina" Hoskins , Matthew "Stymie" Beard, and Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas . Ernie Morrison was actually the first black actor in Hollywood history to land a long-term contract, and thus the first black star in Hollywood.

The portrayal of the blacks in the series corresponded to the clichés common in the comedies of the time: They were afraid of ghosts, were superstitious and so terrified that their hair stood on end or they became "death pale" (either as makeup or the picture was simply replaced with a film trick from the negative). They also showed great interest in watermelons , were fond of gambling, often mentioned that their father was in prison and spoke grammatically very idiosyncratic ( pidgin ) English. Eddie Murphy later parodied this in various episodes of Saturday Night Live on American television.

As adults, Ernie Morrison, Matthew Beard and Billie Thomas later endorsed the series and emphasized that the simple plot was by no means too racist , but facilitated integration. They pointed out that the white performers were also used stereotypically, such as the “freckled child”, the “fat child”, the “beautiful blonde girl” etc. “We were just a group of children and had our fun”, Beard recalled, and Morrison said of Hal Roach, "When it came to race, the man was color-blind."

"The little rascals" in German-speaking countries

German dubbed versions

Until the import ban on foreign films was imposed (1941–1945), some episodes of Die kleine Strolche were also shown in theaters in Germany. In 1967 the little rascals were shown on ZDF for the first time as a separate series on German television. In most cases, two to three short films were cut into a 25-minute episode. Jürgen Scheller was used as a narrator for the silent films , and he also “synchronized” several roles with a disguised voice. In the 1970s, the opening and closing credits, which were now taken from the Mischief Makers series (with a trick sequence by Gene Deitch Associates), changed, while the corresponding title song was musically edited and Germanized ("On your places, get set, go! Omas Boots are too big! Hipp hipp yuch hurray, now we're back ... ").

In 2002, 53 sound short films from 1930 to 1938 were colored and re-dubbed. The German first broadcast of these colored versions took place in the KI.KA within the program Blaubär & Blöd . Some of the new versions have been censored, for example in the film School is out! ( School's Out , 1930): In the original, Chubby tells that he was spanked by his father and therefore couldn't sit next to the teacher in the car. In the German dubbed version he only says that he would rather stand without giving the reason for it. Noises have also been re-synchronized. For example, the tones emanating from the oven and the cake in the episode Surprise for the Birthday , nowhere near the comic impact of the original Birthday Blues (1932).

Voice actor

role actor German voice actor
alfalfa Carl Switzer Caroline Combrinck
Buckwheat Billie Thomas Benjamin Krause
Tommy / Butch Tommy Bond Butz Combrinck (1st voice)
David Lütgenhorst (2nd voice)
Darla Darla Hood Katharina Iacobescu
Stymia Matthew Beard Caroline Combrinck
Porky Eugene Lee Johannes Malzkorn (1st voice)
Elisabeth Dütsch (2nd voice)
Scotty Scotty Beckett Katrin Malzkorn (1st voice)
Annika Köhler (2nd voice)
Spanky George McFarland Benedikt Gutjan (1st voice)
Teresa Kothe (2nd voice)
Waldo Darwood Kaye Tobias Xu
Woim Sidney Kibrick Thomas Kempf
Silent film announcer Jürgen Scheller

Our gang cast

General information about the child actors

The children who appeared in the Our Gang films did not receive any financial participation in reruns of the series or products sold with their likeness. The only salary they received was what they had been paid weekly during the making of the films, which had ranged from $ 40 to $ 300 (the latter only for starring actors like Farina , Spanky and Alfalfa ). The best-known faces of the series also had great difficulties later in getting new offers due to the strong association with their roles.

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer had a typical career for the stars, who dropped out of the series in 1940 at the age of thirteen, but then only played a few roles as a supporting actor in films such as The Path to Happiness (alongside Bing Crosby, whom he often parodied ) or Ist isn't life beautiful? could get hold of. His undisciplined behavior and the connection to the role of alfalfa prevented larger parts. He had an appearance not mentioned in the credits in 1956 in The Ten Commandments and one last in 1958 in the drama Escape in Chains .

An exception to the typical career was Jackie Cooper, who was nominated for an Oscar in 1931 and has a long career in film and television. His most famous role today is that of Perry White in the Superman films with Christopher Reeve . Robert Blake later had some success as an adult with the Baretta crime series . Ernie Morrison was still convincing from 1940 in 14 episodes of the Monogram film series East Side Kids in the role of Scruno .

The "Our Gang Curse"

Later tragic living conditions with a high proportion of children contributed to the myth that a curse weighed on the actors of the little thugs. Many of the actors died at a young age, or at least relatively early: Billy "Froggy" Laughlin was the victim of a traffic accident when he was 16, and Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins of an airplane accident when he was 20. Norman "Chubby" Chaney was the only actor who did not live to see the end of the series in 1944, he died in 1936 as the first, due to his heavy weight, at the age of 21. Clifton "Bonedust" Young died at the age of 33 in a self-inflicted hotel fire, Darla Hood died of heart failure at 47. The three most famous Afro-American actors in the series, Buckwheat , Stymie and Farina , died within a year between 1979 and 1980, each aged under 60.

The headline hit was the death of Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, who was killed in a scuffle in 1959 at the age of 31 over a money matter. Switzer's brother Harold, who had also played on the series, killed his wife in 1967 and later himself. Other actors on the series such as Dorothy Dandridge and Kendell "Breezy Brisbane" McComas also committed suicide. Several of the child actors had drug and alcohol problems, such as Matthew "Stymie" Beard and Scotty Beckett, both of which also repeatedly came into conflict with the law. When the latter died at the age of 38, it was unclear whether he had succumbed to the aftermath of a brawl or alcohol abuse.

The tragic deaths in the recent past include the murder of Jay R. Smith by a homeless person he took in in 2002 and the death in the run-over of Darwood "Waldo" Kaye with subsequent hit-and-run by the perpetrator. That same year, Robert Blake was charged with the murder of his wife. He was acquitted in 2005, but the bereaved successfully filed a civil lawsuit in which he was found guilty and sentenced to $ 30 million in pain and suffering.

The most famous characters and their actors

Spanky was played by George McFarland (1932–1942). The chubby boy with the baseball cap is very clever and often takes on the leadership role of the little rascals.

Alfalfa was played by Carl Switzer (1935–1940). Its optical trademark is an upright quiff. Alfalfa is the unlucky little rascal, comparable to Charlie Brown in the peanuts . In the stories, he often gets into conflict with Butch and loses out.

Butch was played by Tommy Bond (1937-1940). He's a thug and likes to bullied the smaller Our Gang kids. His favorite sacrifice, however, is alfalfa.

Darla was played by Darla Hood (1935–1941). She is an attractive little girl. For this reason, the boys of the little rascals are almost all in love with them. This often leads to competitions among them to prove Darla who is the best.

Farina was played by Allen Hoskins (1922-1931). He's a colored boy with cornrows . His trademark is his deliberation and slow pronunciation.

Joey was played by Joe Cobb (1922–1929). He is the happy but somewhat naive fat boy. His trademark is a cap (similar to the one that Spanky later wore).

Mickey was played by Mickey Daniels (1922–1926). The freckled cheeky badger, whose broad grin was often abruptly ended by outbursts of anger, was initially the leader.

Stymie was played by Matthew Beard (1930-1935). The trademark Stymies was an oversized bowler that Stan Laurel gave him. Stymie is a rather headstrong character who likes to look at things his own way.

Actor List

The following is a list of regular cast members, as well as the lead cast members, ranked by the time they joined the series.

Hal Roach silent film period

Hal Roach sound film period

MGM period

The only surviving members of the "Little Rascals" are Robert Blake (Mickey) and Sidney Kibrick (Woim).

Adult performers

Probably the best-known adult actress in the Our Gang films was June Marlowe , who played an important role as the pretty young teacher Miss Crabtree in six films in the early 1930s, before she retired from the film business in 1933 at the age of 30. A few years later, Rosina Lawrence played a similar role as the Miss Lawrence teacher. The focus of Helping Grandma and Fly My Kite was Margaret Mann as a lovable and fit granny. The theater and radio comedian couple Treacy & Seabrook took on the roles of Spanky's parents in two films ( Bedtime Worries and Wild Poses ). Johnny Arthur was cast three times as the troubled family man , most effectively in Anniversary Trouble . Even Edgar Kennedy was as clumsy cop Kennedy -course Our films present in several, especially in When the Wind Blows (1930). At MGM, William Newell and Barbara Bedford played the parents of alfalfa in several episodes.

Guest appearances

Especially in the silent movie era, some of Roach's comedian stars appeared in smaller roles in the Our Gang films. The short films Dogs of War (1923), in which Harold Lloyd and his leading lady Jobyna Ralston play themselves, should be mentioned in particular ; Jubilo, Jr. (1924), whose story is told by Will Rogers in a frame plot; and Thundering Fleas (1926), which includes appearances by Oliver Hardy , James Finlayson and, in an insert , Charley Chase . In Seeing the World (1927), Stan Laurel made a brief appearance as a British passer-by, which was probably added later, as Laurel could not remember it later.

The most famous guest appearance of the sound film era was that of Laurel and Hardy in Wild Poses (1933), in which they can be seen briefly as babies fighting. Character actor Franklin Pangborn also worked as a hysterical photographer in the same episode . In 1933, James Finlayson made an appearance in Mush and Milk (1933). Finlayson, whose trademark was his distinctive facial expression, was often the antagonist in Laurel and Hardy films, as was Billy Gilbert , who starred in Shiver My Timbers (1931), among others . Other guests included former Hal Roach star Max Davidson as the crazy child fright in Moan and Groan, Inc. , Stepin Fetchit in A Tough Winter (1930) and Don Barclay in Honky Donkey (1934). From the MGM phase, Thurston Hall in Kiddie Kure (1940) should be mentioned in particular .

The film Fish Hookey from 1933 united with Mary Kornman as a teacher, Mickey Daniels as " truant officer" as well as Joe Cobb and Allen Hoskins who happened to come along, the most important child actors from the early days of the series in guest appearances before the Camera.

In return, the child stars had appearances in other Hal Roach productions. So chased Our Gang Charley Chase as The Fraidy Cat (1924) Fear and cheered Stan Laurel as Rupert of Hee Haw (1924) to. Joe Cobb, Jackie Condon and Mickey Daniels also had cameos in Harold Lloyd feature film Girl Shy ( Girl Shy , 1924). Ironically, this was Lloyd's first film since leaving Roach. In the all-star short film The Stolen Jools ( Jewel Robbery in Hollywood , 1931), the little thugs again appeared in the entire team, including Buster Keaton , Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy also played guest roles.


  • 1922
    • Our gang
    • Fire fighters
    • Young Sherlocks
    • One Terrible Day
    • A Quiet Street
    • Saturday morning
  • 1923
    • The big show
    • The Cobbler
    • The Champeen
    • Boys To Board
    • A pleasant journey
    • Giants vs Yanks
    • Back stage
    • Dogs Of War
    • Lodge Night
    • Stage Fright
    • July Days
    • Sunday Calm
    • No noise
    • Derby Day
  • 1924
    • Fast Company
    • Tire trouble
    • Big business
    • The Buccaneers
    • Seein 'Things
    • Commencement Day
    • It's a bear
    • Cradle Robbers
    • Jubilo, Jr.
    • High society
    • The Sundown Limited
    • Every Man For Himself
    • The Mysterious Mystery!
  • 1925
    • The big town
    • Circus Fever
    • Dog Days
    • The Love Bug
    • Ask grandma
    • Shootin 'Injuns
    • Official Officers
    • Mary, Queen of Tots
    • Boys Will Be Joys
    • Better Movies
    • Your Own Back Yard
    • One wild ride
  • 1926
    • Good cheer
    • Buried Treasure
    • Monkey business
    • Baby clothes
    • Uncle Tom's Uncle
    • Thundering Fleas
    • Shivering Spooks
    • The Fourth Alarm
    • Was Feathers
    • Telling Whoppers
  • 1927
    • Seeing the world
    • Bring Home the Turkey
    • Ten Years Old
    • Love my dog
    • Tired business men
    • Baby brother
    • Chicken feed
    • Olympic Games
    • The Glorious Fourth
    • Yale vs Harvard
    • The Old Wallop
    • Heebee Jeebees
    • Dog Heaven
  • 1928
    • Playin 'hookey
    • The smile wins
    • Spook spoofing
    • Rainy Days
    • Edison, Marconi & Co.
    • Barnum & Ringling, Inc.
    • Fair and Muddy
    • Crazy House
    • Growing pains
    • Old Gray Hoss
    • School Begins
    • The Spanking Age
  • 1929
    • Election Day
    • Noisy noises
    • The Holy Terror
    • Wiggle your ears
    • Fast Freight
    • Little mother
    • Cat, Dog & Co.
    • Saturday's Lesson
    • Small talk
    • Railroadin '
    • Boxing gloves
    • Lazy days
    • Bouncing babies
    • Moan & Groan, Inc.
  • 1930
  • 1931
    • Corner shop in danger (Helping Grandma)
    • In love with the teacher (Love Business)
    • Little daddy
    • Poor Child from a Rich House (Bargain Day)
    • Let the kite (Fly My Kite)
    • Big ears
    • A Wild Pirate Tale (Shiver My Timbers)
    • Miracles still happen (Dogs Is Dogs)
  • 1932
    • The First Day of School (Readin 'And Writin')
    • The baby can talk (Free Eats)
    • Spanky
    • Choo-Choo!
    • Pete and the Dog Catchers (The Pooch)
    • Fire Brigade and Flame (Hook And Ladder)
    • Free wheeling
    • Surprise Birthday (Birthday Blues)
    • A Lad An 'A Lamp
  • 1933
  • 1934
    • The wild chariot race (Hi 'Neighbor!)
    • Pete is the greatest (For Pete's Sake)
    • The first night outdoors (The First Round-Up)
    • A mule doesn't belong in bed (Honky Donkey)
    • We make music (Mike Fright)
    • Washee ironee
    • The immeasurable pirate treasure (Mama's Little Pirate)
    • The old magic lamp (Shrimps For A Day)
  • 1935
    • If you're ever honest (Anniversary Trouble)
    • Spanky sniffs theater air (Beginner's Luck)
    • You can rely on alfalfa (Teacher's Beau)
    • No more women (Sprucin 'Up)
    • Lullaby with wrong notes (Little Papa)
    • Anglers among themselves (Little Sinner)
    • Broadway tune from 1936 (Our Gang Follies Of 1936)
  • 1936
    • Ice cold lemonade (The Lucky Corner)
    • Watch out golfers! (Divot Diggers)
    • Alfalfa's Biggest Chance (The Pinch Singer)
    • Your Second Childhood
    • Little people, really big (Arbor Day)
    • The holidays are over (Bored of Education)
    • The fireworks go off (Two Too Young)
    • Romeo and Juliet with a difference (Pay As You Exit)
    • What a circus (Spooky Hooky)
    • General Spanky (feature film)
  • 1937
    • Spanky and Co. Show (Reunion In Rhythm)
    • The Great Boxing Match (Glove Taps)
    • Do you want to be my Valentine? (Hearts Are Thumps)
    • A Monkey Shame (Three Smart Boys)
    • The Secret Avengers Club (Rushin 'Ballet)
    • The Vagabond Life (Roamin 'Holiday)
    • A sleepless night (Night 'N' Gales)
    • Alfalfa and the Accident (Fishy Tales)
    • The frog in the throat (Framing Youth)
    • Braggart in luck (The Pigskin Palooka)
    • The love letter to Darla (Mail An Female)
    • An Opera Dream (Our Gang Follies Of 1938)
  • 1938
    • The two truants (canned fishing)
    • Bear facts
    • The great boat race (Three Men In A Tub)
    • The Masked Miracle (Came The Brawn)
    • Feed 'Em And Weep
    • Tooth for a tooth (The Awful Tooth)
    • Darla and the Detectives (Hide And Shriek)
    • The Little Ranger
    • Party fever
    • Aladdin's Lantern
    • Men in Fright
    • Football Romeo
    • Practical jokers
  • 1939
    • Alfalfa's Aunt
    • Tiny troubles
    • Duel Personalities
    • Clown Princes
    • Cousin Wilbur
    • Joy Scouts
    • Dog Daze
    • Auto Antics
    • Captain Spanky's Show Boat
    • Dad for a day
    • Time Out For Lessons
  • 1940
    • Alfalfa's double
    • Bubbling Troubles
    • The Big Premiere
    • All about hash
    • The New Pupil
    • Goin 'fishin'
    • Good bad boys
    • Waldo's Last Stand
    • Kiddie Kure
  • 1941
    • Fightin 'fools
    • Baby blues
    • Ye Olde Minstels
    • Come back, Miss Pipps
    • 1-2-3 Go!
    • Robot wrecks
    • Helping hands
    • Wedding worries
  • 1942
    • Melodies Old And New
    • Going to press
    • Don't lie
    • Surprised parties
    • Doin 'their bit
    • Rover's Big Chance
    • Might Lak A Goat
    • Unexpected Riches
  • 1943
    • Benjamin Franklin, Jr.
    • Family Troubles
    • Election Daze
    • Calling All Kids
    • Farm Hands
    • Little Miss Pinkerton
    • Three Smart Guys
  • 1944
    • Radio bugs
    • Dancing Romero
    • Tale Of A Dog


  • Richard W. Bann, Leonard Maltin: The little rascals (OT: The Little Rascals ). Trescher, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-928409-31-X
  • Tommy Bond with Ron Genini: Darn Right It's Butch: Memories of Our Gang / The Little Rascals . Morgan Printing, Delaware 1994, ISBN 0-9630976-5-2
  • Jackie Cooper: Please Don't Shoot My Dog: The Autobiography of Jackie Cooper . Penguin Putnam, New York 1982, ISBN 0-425-07483-8

Web links

Commons : The little rascals  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Dinah the Mule. Internet Movie Database , accessed June 10, 2015 .
  2. Andrea Steinfeldt: “Kampfhunde” history, use, husbandry problems of “bull races” - A literature study - (PDF; 6.2 MB), Diss. Hannover 2002 p. 83
  3. Who killed Cock Robin? in the Internet Movie Database , accessed July 4, 2012.
  4. Article on the case at Latimes
  5. Overview of the tragic fates of the child actors
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on March 28, 2006 .