The Little Rascals (Our Gang)
There’s nothing better than a classic TV show from back in the day. You can go 25 years back, 50 years back, it doesn’t matter. There’s nothing but great classics etched in our memories and this is one of them.
Anyone who watches, listens to, or reads all the great content on Chicago’s Old School Network knows that all the best music, movies, and TV shows have been made, we’re just here to help you remember them all. The Little Rascals, a/k/a the Our Gang comedies is just one example of those classics.
We grew up watching The Little Rascals, also known as the Our Gang comedies created by the man who created Laurel & Hardy, Hal Roach. It was one of the first Hollywood shows ever to show white and black children interacting as equals.
Beginning as a series of silent short films in 1922, it was in 1929 that the shows would be filmed with sound and make their mark in history. The shows were produced at Hal Roach’s studios until 1938 when the entire Our Gang production unit was sold to MGM. They’d continue producing the shows until 1944. In the 1950s the show went into [what seems to be] perpetual syndication. In 1977, Norman Lear had cast Gary Coleman for a pilot to revive the Little Rascals. Not one network was interested so, Diff’rent Strokes was developed for Coleman instead. When one door closes… Some may also remember the cartoon version that was produced by Hanna-Barbera from 1979 then again for ’82 – 84. Some? Maybe. Through all those years, there’d be 220 shorts released along with a feature-film (General Spanky) and retreads through the years including a 1994 feature-film released by Universal.
Future stars would include Mickey Gubitosi who’d go on to be known as Robert Blake (Baretta), Jackie Cooper and others including we’d come to love including Spanky, Alfalfa, Darla, Froggy, Buckwheat and others.
Watch the first-ever episode from 1922, a bunch of those classic episodes, interviews and a lost documentary below.
According to Roach, the idea for Our Gang came to him in 1921, when he was auditioning a child actress to appear in a film. The girl was, in his opinion, overly made up and overly rehearsed, and Roach waited for the audition to be over. After the girl and her mother left the office, Roach looked out of his window to a lumberyard across the street, where he saw some children having an argument. The children had all taken sticks from the lumberyard to play with, but the smallest child had the biggest stick, and the others were trying to force him to give it to the biggest child. After realizing that he had been watching the children bicker for 15 minutes, Roach thought a short film series about children just being themselves might be a success.