Carl Switzer’s Tragic Life: The Murder of Alfalfa

An integral member of the cast of Little Rascals, Carl Switzer is better known as Alfalfa. He captured his iconic character perfectly, making him a promising young star with a bright future. But child stars have, since the beginning of Hollywood, been plagued by one problem – they have a really hard time transitioning to more adult roles.

Alfalfa / Carl Switzer / Newspaper Clipping / Our Gang.
Source: Getty Images

From Shirley Temple to Macaulay Culkin, not making it as an adult actor is not uncommon for young performers. Carl really tried to make the best of what he had, but that ultimately lead to his tragic murder. He spent five years as part of the Little Rascals, or as they are known on the big screen, Our Gang.

He Couldn’t Change His “Child Star” Image

From 1935 to 1940, in those classic comedy shorts, he was best friends with George McFarland’s Spanky and best guy to the sweet Darla Hood. He managed to land subsequent acting gigs, but mostly small parts. This was largely because he was older but still looked like he did in those shorts.

Carl Switzer as Alfalfa.
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Some of his credits include Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1942), Johnny Doughboy, Johnny Doughboy, co-starring Spanky (also 1942), The Great Mike (1944), and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). In the latter, he actually played Donna Reed’s date until James Stewart’s George Bailey enters the picture. He took a few more roles after and made television guest appearances throughout the 1950s. But then, he was ready to try something else.

Pursuing His Hobbies

“Don’t get me wrong,” Carl said in 1953. “I didn’t quite Hollywood. I’m a guy who likes to eat, and I found I couldn’t do it without working. I would have stayed in Hollywood if I could have gotten picture jobs.” Unfortunately, he couldn’t, so he decided to focus on a hobby instead.

A portrait of an older Carl Alfalfa.
Source: Pinterest

He got involved with bear hunting and noted, “I had been hunting bear since I was 14 years old. I had some of my own hounds, and I became acquainted with Roy Rogers at the various dog workouts. He asked me to set of hounds so I could go into business as a bear hunter.”

Alfalfa, the Bear Hunter!

When the Courier News of Blytheville, Arkansas, reported what he was up to, this is what they said: “Carl set up headquarters at Avery’s, a tiny community in the mountains about 50 miles from Stockton, California. He soon had a thriving business of leading bear hunting parties during the fall open season. He has been responsible for 400 pelts. During another season, he hunts for mountain lions, deer, wild boar, and raccoon.”

A portrait of Carl.
Source: Tumblr

At least he had a hobby to fall back on when his acting career failed as an adult. He had another activity he was passionate about.

He Appeared Happy

Interestingly, it was actually bear hunting that led him to filmmaker “Wild Bill Wellman,” who would hire Carl to work on the John Wayne film, Island in the Sky. Carl said, “I wouldn’t mind doing more pictures, but I’d like to keep my other business, too. I don’t say I make a lot of money, but it’s a good living, and I’m booked nearly all the time.”

Carl Alfalfa in Island in the Sky.
Source: Pinterest

Fans were thrilled that he was happy and was doing something he was truly passionate about. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for things to take a drastic turn.

A Small Comeback

Over the next few years, he would land acting gigs here and there, including a remarkable turn in the 1954 film Track of the Cat, where he played a 75-year-old Indian in makeup. His performance in that movie garnered him some respect as an actor.

Carl in Track of the Cat.
Source: Flickr

He told the Long Beach Independent, “I just look just like I did when I was a kid, and it’s hard for a child actor to start working again. I’ve never played a part over 19. I’m always a teenager, and there haven’t been many jobs until recently. I’ll see how this turns out. If it doesn’t do it for me, nothing will.” His last movie role was in the Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier film, The Defiant Ones (1958).

Downward Spiral

It was his personal life that started taking some strange turns. In March 1954, the actor was attested for disorderly conduct and drunkenness in a hotel bar. The Los Angeles Times reported that “The banjo-eyed, freckle-faced actor became involved in an argument with a bar patron and wanted to fight, according to police.”

A portrait of a young Carl Alfalfa.
Source: Pinterest

He even wanted to fight them and did manage to kick Officer Robert MacClure during the bookingprocedure at the police station, the report added. Officers used force to subdue him, and Switzer later asked for an X-ray be taken of him for injuries he said he suffered in the scuffle.

The Beginning of the End

In September of that year, Carl’s appendix burst. He was rushed to the hospital because, at the time, this was a very serious condition. Then, in October, his wife of three years and the mother of his child sued him for divorce. Unfortunately, things weren’t about to get better.

A portrait of Carl with his wife and baby.
Source: Pinterest

From that point on, things got worse. Carl Switzer had multiple run-ins with the law and seemed to be living that classic life of a child star who grew up and went off the rails. He was impulsive and no stranger to drugs and alcohol.

What Happened?!

The young man was still hoping to make it as a serious adult actor and continued working odd jobs while waiting for his next big break. Unfortunately, that big break never came. Carl coped with drugs and alcohol, and it all came to a head in 1959.

A newspaper clipping on Alfalfa’s death.
Source: Tumblr

Carl Switzer’s personal life and career were slowly declining. People were beginning to forget about the former child star. Tragically, Carl Switzer was shot in killed in the midst of a drug-fueled argument on January 21, 1959.

Working as a Dog Trainer

On that fateful night, an intoxicated Carl Switzer, who was only 31 years old at the time, knocked on Rita Corrigan’s door, looking for her husband, Moses Stiltz. A few weeks earlier, Carl had agreed to train Stiltz’s hunting dog, but during one of those training sessions, the dog ran away.

A picture of Carl Switzer.
Source: Pinterest

Carl offered a reward to anyone who found the dog. When a man found and returned the pet, the relieved actor paid him $35, which was a generous tip back them. Carl worked a bar in Studio City and also gave the helpful gentleman $15 worth of free drinks.

A Justifiable Homicide

After talking it over with his buddy, photographer Jack Piott, Carl Switzer decided Moses Stiltz needed to reimburse him for the 50 bucks – which is equivalent to $400 in today’s money. Now, let’s fast forward to January 21. After an afternoon of drinking, Carl confronted Stiltz at Rita Corrigan’s house. As you can imagine, Stiltz outright refused to give him the money.

A portrait of Carl Switzer / A newspaper clipping of Moses Stiltz’ portrait.
Source: YouTube

A fight ensued, and Carl struck Stiltz over the head with a huge clock. At that point, Stiltz shot Carl in self-defense, asserting the former child star pulled a knife on him.

Found Not Guilty

It seemed like a classic self-defense case. Unfortunately, that one shot ended the life of a troubled man. Carl Switzer, aka Alfala, died before he even made it to the hospital from major internal bleeding from one gunshot to the groin.

Stiltz speaks with his lawyer after the verdict.
Source: Pinterest

He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. After the trial, a jury ruled the shooting a justifiable suicide. It was pretty cut and dry. It really comes down to whether you believe Moses Stiltz, but Carl’s not here to tell us his side. But it seems like there is more to the story, doesn’t it?

A Witness Speaks Out

In 2001, Rita Corrigan’s son, Tommy Corrigan, gave police a new account of that fateful night all those decades ago. Tommy revealed that his stepfather, Moses Stiltz, lied about how things really went down. First of all, Carl Switzer never pulled a knife on Stiltz.

A picture of Tommy Corrigan.
Source: Tumblr

Tommy also claimed that Jack Piott was the one who hit Stiltz over the head with a clock, not Carl. He didn’t act in self-defense; he killed Carl Switzer out of anger, according to Tommy, who was 14 when the fight transpired in his home.

What really happened on January 21, 1959? Whatever the truth is, the legendary Little Rascal lost his life over a measly $50.

The Fate of the Rest of the Rascals

Our Gang, which would later become The Little Rascals, remains one of the most beloved comedy series in cinematic history. Producer Hal Roach had the brilliant idea to film kids acting like kids, which really made Our Gang stand out from the many films of the era. However, Alfalfa isn’t the only Little Rascal to struggle after the show. In fact, many of the young stars have died in strange ways, and some even believe there might be a curse haunting the cast of the series.

A portrait of the young cast from The Little Rascals.
Photo by MGM Studios/Getty Images

For decades to come, audiences loved the silent and sound short films, finding them hilarious. But many of the child actors from the show did not go on to lead long, happy lives. Here is a look into the lives of the kids who played The Little Rascals and some shocking facts about the short film series.

Guess Who Didn’t Pass the Audition

Believe it or not, iconic child stars Mickey Rooney and Shirley Temple both auditioned for Our Gang, but shockingly, neither one landed a role. Hal Roach said he remembered Rooney’s audition, but he didn’t think the young entertainer would fit in with the group.

A portrait of Mickey Rooney / A picture of Shirley Temple.
Photo by Hulton Archive, Getty Images / Victor Blackman, Express, Getty Images

Mickey Rooney and Shirly Temple both went on to become Hollywood legends, so being rejected from Our Gang had absolutely no impact on their careers. Rooney starred in television, radio and took on comedic roles for the rest of his life. Temple, on the other hand, retired at age 22 and would later become a politician and the 27th U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia. Rooney and Temple both died in 2014, at 93 and 85, respectively.

Matthew “Stymie” Beard Had It Rough

After Our Gang ended, Matthew “Stymie” Beard struggled with the law on multiple occasions. As a child, the young actor played a cunning con artist on The Little Rascals, always coming up with a clever scheme to get the gang out of (or into) trouble. After his time on Our Gang, Beard landed a few minor television and film roles alongside stars like Bette Davis and Henry Fonda.

A portrait of Matthew “Stymie” Beard.
Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images

Unfortunately, he got into street life and spent his early adult years in and out of jail. He eventually got his life back on track and returned to acting. He would travel and speak to kids about the importance of making good choices. He died in 1981 after having a stroke at age 56. He was buried wearing his trademark derby hat.

Norman “Chubby” Chaney

Between 1929 and 1931, Norman “Chubby” Chaney appeared in several films from the Our Gang series. With his big body matching his big personality, it didn’t take long for Chaney to become a fan favorite. After leaving the show, he made a decision not to continue acting. He went back to Baltimore, where he attended public school and excelled in his classes.

Norman “Chubby” Chaney in a still from Our Gang.
Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images

Sadly, Chubby’s weight was a serious health issue. His weight only continued to increase as a result of a glandular problem. At 4 feet, 7 inches tall, the actor weighed 300 pounds before going into surgery. The surgy resulted in a 160-pound weight loss, but the 21-year-old tragically died of myocarditis shortly thereafter.

Pal and Petey

The human actors weren’t the only ones who had it rough. The first dog to play “Pete” in 1930 died after an unknown perpetrator allegedly poisoned him. The first Pete’s actual name was Pal, and he appeared in various films before Our Gang. The cast of kids was heartbroken when they heard the devastating news of their beloved dog’s passing.

A photo of Pete the Pup.
Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Pal’s son, Luecenay Peter “Petey,” ended up replacing him on the show. There are some noticeable differences between the pit bulls: Pal had a circle around his right eye, and Petey had one on his left eye. When Harry Luecenay (Petey’s owner) was fired from the show, he took his pup with him. Many dogs would take his place. Petey lived a long and happy life and appeared in a bunch of other films. Pal and Petey were the second-highest paid actors on the show, racking in $125 per week.

Billy “Froggy” Laughlin Died Young

Billy “Froggy” Laughlin got his nickname because of his unique, raspy voice, which many said sounded like a frog’s croak. His voice was so distinctive that people were convinced it had been overdubbed by another actor. However, Froggy’s voice was all-natural.

A picture of Billy “Froggy” Laughlin waving to a cheery greeting.
Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images

After production of Our Gang ended in 1944, Laughlin went on to appear in the film Johnny Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and then retired from Hollywood completely. While delivering newspapers on his motor scooter, the 16-year-old former actor was hit and killed by a speeding truck. His parents had given him the scooter as a gift just two weeks before the tragic accident.

Chubby, Styme, and Buckwheat Won their Roles

In order to fill spots on the series, producers held national talent contests looking for suitable actors. As a result, they discovered some of the most iconic characters on Our Gang: Chubby, Stymie, Buckwheat, and Farina, all got on the series by winning these talent scouting contests.

A promotional portrait of the child cast of Our Gang.
Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Since the show features almost only child actors, replacing cast members was a frequent necessity as they quickly grew out of their roles. Parents were always trying to get their kids on the series, even when there were no talent contests going on. Sometimes, producers gave them the chance to audition.

Sweet Darla Hood

When Darla was four years old, she first appeared on Our Gang. She was typically Butch and Alfalfa’s love interest in the series. Her mother sent her to singing and dancing lessons at a very young age, recognizing that her daughter was talented. Casting director Joe Rivkin arranged her audition, and Darla Hood made her Our Gang debut in 1935.

A picture of Darla Hood on a movie set.
Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

After her departure from the show, she was featured in a few more movies and began a semi-successful music career as part of the quartet named the Enchanters. She later went solo. Sadly, she died after receiving an appendectomy while she was getting ready for an Our Gang reunion in 1980. She was just 47 years old.

Bobby “Wheezer” Hutchins

Bobby “Wheezer” Hutchins played a little tag-along, desperate to be accepted by the other children. Between 1927 and 1933, Wheezer appeared in 58 Our Gang short films. According to other kids on set, Hutchins’ parents were overbearing and would pull him away whenever he started playing with the rest of the children.

A young Bobby “Wheezer” Hutchins stands next to an airplane.
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

After his departure from Our Gang, Hutchins stopped appearing in films. He returned to public school, and in 1943, he joined the Army Air Forces. Sadly, during a training exercise, Hutchins’ plane collided with another plane. The 20-year-old died just one week before his graduation from the Aviation Cadet program.

Richard “Mickey” Daniels

After leaving the show, the adorable freckled-face actor who played a leading role in the early Our Gang films suffered a devastating fate. In the series, he would usually play Davis’ rival for Mary Kornman’s attention.

Mickey Daniels in a still from the comedy film.
Photo by American Stock/Getty Images

After Our Gang, Richard “Mickey” Daniels continued pursuing acting and was featured in Vaudeville productions, television shows, and feature films until 1941. After becoming disillusioned with the entertainment industry, he worked in construction and later as a taxi driver. After a lifetime of alcohol abuse, he tragically died from cirrhosis of the liver in a rundown hotel in San Diego in 1970. He was only 55.

Bobby Blake: Charged With Murder

Mickey Gubitosi (stage name: Robert Blake) used his real name in a bunch of the original Our Gang films. Unlike so many of his peers, he is still alive. However, the story of his long life isn’t exactly a happy one. He joined the gang to replace Eugene “Porky” Lee, who had aged out of the role. Blake appeared in 40 Our Gang films.

An exterior shot of the restaurant where Bonnie Lee Bakley died.
Photo by David McNew/Newsmakers/Getty Images

After Our Gang, Blake didn’t find it difficult to land roles. He appeared in numerous movies and television shows, even well into adulthood. In 1999, he married his second wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, who was known to scam multiple rich celebrities through diverse schemes. She was killed in Blake’s car outside of a restaurant, and guess who was charged with her murder? Robert Blake was never convicted, but his reputation never recovered. Haunted by financial issues, he filed for bankruptcy in 2006.

Spanky Became a Businessman

George Robert Philips McFarland began his acting career after his mom came across an ad looking for cute kids. Prior to that, he had been modeling clothes for a store in Dallas and was featured on Wonder Bread billboards. He landed the name “Spanky” because his mother kept reprimanding him for grabbing things. She would often say, “Spanky, don’t touch.”

Spanky and Robert Blake attend an event.
Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

After his time on the show, George found it difficult to work in Hollywood since he had been typecast as Spanky. He left the limelight and joined the air force, where he served for many years. Eventually, he would become a successful businessman in Dallas. On June 30, 1993, McFarland died of a heart attack at age 64.

Billie “Buckwheat” Thomas

While Billie “Buckwheat” Thomas may be one of the few actors from the series to die of natural causes, he died at a young age. In 1934, Thomas made his first appearance in Our Gang as a background character. For his Buckwheat debut, the actor dressed as a girl character. He had one of the longest stints on Our Gang, remaining on the show for a full decade.

A picture of child actor While Billie.
Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

After his departure from the show, Thomas joined the army. He then returned to show business, but most of his work was behind the scenes working as a lab film technician. On October 10, 1980, exactly 46 years from his first audition at the Hal Roach Studios, he died of a heart attack in his Los Angeles home at 49 years old.

George “Spanky” McFarland’s Cameo in Cheers

Spanky essentially retired from acting after his time on Our Gang, but he did return to the screen before he died, albeit in a small role. At the end of the Cheers episode “George Gets an Election,” Cliff and Norm see Spanky drinking alone at the bar.

A still of Spanky in Cheers.
Source: YouTube

Cliff approaches McFarland, whistling The Little Rascals theme song before telling him he shares a strong resemblance to the character. Before he gets the chance to tell him that he is Spanky, Cliff cuts him off, blabbing about how much he loves the show. After Cliff leaves, Norm asks George if that really was Spanky. McFarland says, “oh yes,” and gives that signature Spanky nod.

Jay “Pinky” Smith

Freckled face Jay “Pinky” Smith joined the gang to replace Mickey Daniels when he aged out of the role. Pinky was first featured in Boys Will Be Joys. The young actor didn’t adapt well to the “talkie” (non-silent) film and immediately left the industry after his stint on Our Gang.

A portrait of Jay “Pinky” Smith.
Source: Pinterest

He changed career paths and opened a retail paint shop in Hawaii, where he lived for many years. In the early 1990’s he moved to Nevada. He went missing in 2002; his body was found after a few days. A nomad that Smith supposedly befriended was charged for his murder and got two consecutive life sentences. Smith was 87 years when he died.

Dorothy Dandridge’s Short Stint

Famed singer Dorothy Dandridge began her career in a 1935 Our Gang short film. She had a relatively minor role, but the experience looked good on her resume, and it helped her land more acting gigs.

A headshot of Dorothy Dandridge.
Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images

At the time, roles for Black actors were extremely limited and stereotypical. Plus, it was against Motion Picture Code to feature interracial dating in films, further reducing the roles available to the rising young star. But nothing was going to stop her from pursuing her dreams.

Dorothy Dandridge’s Hard Work and Perseverance

But Dandridge persevered and would eventually become the first Black woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She was also the first Black female to appear on the cover of Life magazine, which is an impressive achievement.

A portrait of Dandridge sitting at home.
Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images

In 1957, she sued the tabloid paper Confidential for libel, winning a $10,000 out-of-court settlement. In 1965, she died under mysterious circumstances at age 42. Many believe her death was suicide, but the official reports concluded she died of an embolism, which resulted from a dance accident.

Mary Ann Jackson

One of the most celebrated female characters on the show was played by Mary Ann Jackson. She joined the show in 1928, just as they were transitioning from silent to “talkie” films. She played Wheezer’s tomboy-ish sister with the bob haircut. She left the show in 1931 at eight years old.

A photo of child actress Mary Ann Jackson.
Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images

After her departure from the show, Mary Ann wasn’t able to find work playing the types of roles she liked. “Girly-girls” were in high demand, and that was far from Jackson’s image. Instead of changing her style to match roles she didn’t want, Jackson begged her mother to let her quit acting. Although it wasn’t all positive, she looked back fondly at her time on Our Gang. She outlived many of her castmates, dying of a heart attack in 2003, at the age of 80.

Kendall “Breezy” McComas

One of the oldest kids to be included in Our Gangs is Kendall “Breezy” McComas. Even in his teens, he was short enough to continue appearing as a convincing grade-schooler, even when he was a teenager. He was only part of the series for one full year but appeared in eight short films.

A still of Kendall “Breezy” McComas in Our Gang.
Source: YouTube

When Breezy left the show, he left show business altogether. He started working as an electrical engineer at the U.S. Naval Weapons Center. Eventually, he would become an institutional mortgage-backed bond salesman, taking on the moniker John Mandy. Facing mandatory retirement at age 65, McComas fell into a depression and took his own life.

Eugene “Porky” Lee Was a Teacher

Porky lived longer than most of his castmates. Despite being one of the most popular characters in the series, Porky’s stint was cut short thanks to a massive growth spurt. He originated the phrase “O-tay” even though it’s more commonly associated with Buckwheat.

Porky in a still from the show.
Source: YouTube

After leaving Our Gang, Eugene Lee chose to leave acting behind and become an educator. He got so sick of people recognizing his name that he changed his full name to Eugene Gordon Lee. After some time, he accepted his relative fame and showed up to Little Rascals reunions and sold “Porky” merchandise. After battling lung and brain cancer, he died at age 71.

Darwood “Waldo” Kaye

Darwood “Waldo” Kaye, the smart, rich boy with glasses, was rivals with Spanky and Alfalfa while competing for Darla’s heart. He made his first appearance on Our Gangs in the film Glove Taps and then showed up as a semi-regular for the rest of the show’s run.

A portrait of a young Darwood.
Source: Pinterest

After the series ended, he took a few minor roles before quitting acting and joining the army. He would later become a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, providing minister services in several churches in Southern California. He then moved to Thailand and lived there for many years doing missionary work. In 2002, Kaye was struck by a hit and run driver and died at the age of 72.

Gary Coleman’s Big Break

In 1977, Normal Lear created two pilots in the hopes of rebooting The Little Rascals. These two attempts, “Rascal” and “Souper Nuts,” were unsuccessful, but it was significant for one well-known actor’s career. One executive by so taken aback by Gary Colemans’s acting talents that he made him the star on Diff’rent Strokes.

A young Gary Coleman attends an event.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Unfortunately, Coleman’s time on Diff’rent Strokes wasn’t particularly happy either. He was forced to work long hours as a child actor and felt isolated from his peers. He would eventually successfully sue his parents for misappropriating the money he earned on the show. In 2010, Coleman died of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 42.

Ernie “Sunshine Sammy” Morrison

You may or may not know that The Little Rascals was the first film series to depict white and Black American children playing and interacting as equals. What you probably don’t know is that Ernie Morrison, who played Sunshine Sammy, was the first African American actor to earn a long-term contract in Hollywood.

Ernie Morrison in a still from the show.
Photo by Pathé/De Carvalho Collection/Getty Images

In 1919, three years before Our Gang started filming, he signed a contract with Hal Roach. When Roach came up with the idea for the show, the first actor he recruited was Morrison. The child star left the show in 1924 to work as a Vaudeville actor. He was later drafted into World War II, and from then on, most of his career was spent working on military defense plants. In 1989, Morrison died of cancer at 76 years old.

They Started Using the Theme Song in Episode 101

The infectious track “Good Old Days” is one of the most recognizable aspects of Our Gang. The song and the series are forever linked in the public consciousness, but the song wasn’t the original theme song. It didn’t even appear in an Our Gang short until halfway through the series.

The young actors pose for a portrait up a tree.
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Leroy Shield wrote the song, which caught on quickly. The track would later be used on the NBC show Kaltenmeyer’s Kindergarten and in Laurel and Hardy’s Pardon Us. The 101st Our Gang short titled “Teacher’s Pet” is also the first time Mrs. Crabtree appeared on one of the most recognizable adult characters in the series.

Clifton “Bonedust” Young

Between 1925 and 1931, Robert “Clifton” Young was featured in 19 Our Gang shorts. To avoid confusion with actor Robert Young, he started going by his mother’s maiden name, Clifton. He got his acting start early, appearing in Vaudeville comedies from the age of five, making his Our Gang debut at seven years old. He’s featured most notably in the film School’s Out.

A picture of Clifton Young.
Source: Pinterest

After Our Gang, Young continued to act in films. He had many roles in Joe McDoakes, So You Want… comedies. Clifton lost his life in a freak accident: After falling asleep with a lit cigarette in his hand, the actor died in the fire it caused. He was just 33 years old.

There Are 220 Our Gang Films

The Our Gang series had a long 22-year-run, transitioning from the silent film era to sound. During this time, they created 220 short films, employing 41 actors. Alfalfa, Spanky, and Buckwheat remain the most recognizable name from the series, but Our Gang was running for a decade before they joined the show.

A publicity still for Our Gang.
Photo by John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Getty Images

The Little Rascals television show was created when Hal Roach complied 79 of the 80 films he made with sound and mixed them together. The television series premiered in 1955, 11 years after the original Our Gang ended. It was greatly influential, inspiring countless imitations, but none were as popular as The Little Rascals.

Only Three Cast Members Are Still Alive (as of November 2021)

In 2017, Leonard Landy was the most recent member of Our Gang to pass away. He appeared on the series between 1938 and 1941, recognized by his freckled face and big ears. Jerry Tucker also passed away quite recently in 2016 of natural causes.

A picture of Robert Blake in court.
Photo by Pool Photographer/WireImage/Getty Images

Mildred Kornman was a regular in the silent film era of Our Gang. She was featured in a few “talkies” but always had non-speaking roles. She became a model and then a photographer. She celebrated her 96th birthday this past summer. Sidney Kibrik, who played “Butch,” the bully’s sidekick, Woim, is currently 93 years old. Robert “Mickey” Blake is also alive, but as we mentioned, his life took a tragic turn.

Hal Roach Outlived Most of the Kids

Hal Roached lived to be 100 years old! Days after his 100th birthday, he appeared on the Johnny Carson Show and reminisced about working with Laurel and Hardy and actress Jean Harlow. The legendary producer was the man behind hundreds of silent and sound films.

A picture of Hal Roach and his wife the Our Gang cast.
Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images

Hal Roached never believed in the legend of the Our Gang curse. He explained that “Naturally, some [of the child actors] got into trouble or had bad luck. They’re the ones who made the headlines. But if you took 176 other kids and followed them through their lives, I believe you would find the same percentage of them having trouble later in life.”