On January 21, 1959, Carl Dean Switzer, best known as the actor who played Alfalfa in the Our Gang comedy film series, died at the age of 31 in a fight that was allegedly about money. In honor of the hours of joy his early work brought to millions of people, here are 5 facts about Our Gang and The Little Rascals.
There Were Over 200 Short Films In The Our Gang Collection
Using 41 different child actors, Hal Roach created 220 short Our Gang films for MGM between the 1920s and the 1940s. After purchasing the rights to the film shorts from MGM, Roach repackaged 79 of the Our Gang films for television and renamed them The Little Rascals. That bold move made much-loved characters such as Spanky, Alfalfa, Darla, Buckwheat, and Froggy household names for generations of children to come.
Mickey Rooney And Shirley Temple Failed Their Auditions
Hal Roach had a clear vision for what he wanted in terms of his child stars, and simply being talented didn't necessarily mean you could make the cut. As it turns out, both Mickey Rooney and Shirley Temple, two incredibly talented child actors by any standard, failed their auditions. Of Rooney, Roach said in a book entitled The Little Rascals: The Life and Times of Our Gang: "I remember the kid. I just didn't think he'd fit into the gang."
George "Spanky" McFarland's Final Role Was A Cameo On "Cheers" George McFarland, the actor best known as Spanky on The Little Rascals, made his last appearance in a cameo on the TV show Cheers. At the beginning of the episode "Woody Gets an Election," Cliff and Norm spot McFarland drinking alone at the bar. McFarland would die months later in the summer of 1993. He was one of just two Rascals to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, along with Jackie Cooper, who went on to play Perry White in 1978's Superman.
Petey The Pup Had A Famous Make-Up Artist
Who can forget Petey, the adorable and long-suffering dog that accompanied the gang on their madcap adventures? It turns out that the makeup legend Max Factor added the ring around the eye of Pete. Maksymilian Faktorowicz, better known as the founder of Max Factor, drew the iconic circle around Petey's eye that gave him his signature look.
Petey's Distinctive Look Changed A Bit Over Time Petey's ring moved from his right eye to his left after the original dog died. In 1930, Pal the Wonder Dog was sadly poisoned and died, or so it is told. One of his offspring inherited the role of Petey. The young pup was named Lucenay's Peter in real life. His eye circle mysteriously moved to the other side. That dog's final appearance came in 1932's The Pooch, after which a string of dogs filled the role.