The Terrible Catsafterme

Brad’s Musings and Meanderings

random acts of quoting

"What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on here?" - Taggart, "Blazing Saddles"

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Standing: Buckwheat Thomas, Edith Fellows, Pineapple Jackson, Marvin “Bubbles” Trin, Sidney “Woim” Kibrick, Joe Cobb, fan Bob Satterfield, “Sunshine Sammy” Morrison, Leonard Landy, Spanky McFarland, “Butch” Bond, Delmar Watson, “Butch” Bond Jr. – Front row: fan Armand Lewis, Dorothy “Echo” Deborba, Verna Kornman, Peggy Ahern, Mildred Kornman, fan Dick Bann, fan Earl Kress

Dad didn’t make many notes about the Our Gang reunion that occurred on Thursday, July 31, 1980 at the Hollywood Sons of the Desert convention. In his little Mead notebook, he only noted “Went to mixer at 6:30 till 8:00. Brad got lots of autographs. Everyone listened to Marvin Hatley play.” In fact, we only attended the ‘mixer’ which was in fact specifically an ‘Our Gang mixer’ and session for pictures and autographs – and not the official reunion. I now mildly regret that we did not go to the following Bullfighters banquet / Our Gang Reunion that began at 8:00pm – but hey it wasn’t my money that was paying for this.

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The fabled little blue autograph book

Most likely following the mixer, Dad and I went to the film room and hung out there for the rest of the evening. I have only the vaguest recollection of peeking in on the banquet at some point and seeing a silent film clip of some kids running around on the screen – which possibly served as an introduction to one of the silent Our Gang members. And I’m not sure if it happened on this particular night, but one other memory that sticks out is of me hanging around after one of the banquets that we did not attend and seeing an unidentified object sitting behind one of the draw curtains in the banquet hall. When I reached down to see what it was, I felt a tremendous pain in my fingers. It had been a mousetrap! And finally, one other random thought – Dad remembers seeing Jack Riley from The Bob Newhart Show walking around one night. He pointed him out to me, but I don’t recall it – and I probably didn’t have any idea who he was at that time.

But back to the topic at hand…the Our Gang reunion. I’m sure I had no idea at the time, but attending this mixer and autograph session was probably one of the coolest opportunities I have ever had in my life. This was the single largest gathering ever to take place of former members of the Our Gang since they had ceased production of the films in 1944. Other Our Gang reunions would follow from time to time, but none ever approached the enormity of that Hollywood ’80.

The idea for the reunion came from Darla Hood, a very prominent member of the Gang herself. Darla had attended the Chicago ’78 convention (which was a little before my time), and while riding back to Los Angeles on the plane, sitting next to my future friend Bob Satterfield, she mentioned how much she would like to see a reunion of the Little Rascals at the next convention – which had just been decided would be hosted by Bob and the Way Out West Tent two years from that point. Most unfortunately, Darla passed away before the Hollywood ’80 convention ever took place.

Another devastating blow to the roster of attendees was the loss of Allen “Farina” Hoskins – the Our Gang member who had actually appeared in the most films. Although scheduled to attend, he passed away just five days before the reunion. This was not only a disappointment to me and the other fans of the Gang, but to Hal Roach himself, who professed that Farina was his favorite of all of the kids.

‘Stymie’ Beard was yet another who was alive at the time, but was unable to attend due to a prior commitment. It would be less than six months later that he would pass away. And of course getting Jackie Cooper there was beyond the realm of possibility. Same goes for Dickie Moore.

With all of the Our Gangers who did attend this gigantic event, it still amazes me that Bob and other Sons members (even me, in my own small way) were later able to contact and get participation in future events of more than twenty other Our Gang members – among them (and in no particular order): Porky Lee, Peggy Cartwright, Beverly Crane, Jacquie Lyn, Jerry Tucker, Janet Burston, Robert Blake, JR Smith, “Bouncy” Wertz, Sherwood “Spud” Bailey, Buddy McDonald, Jackie Lynn Taylor, Patsy Barry, Hugh Chapman, Joy Wurgaft, Gary “Junior” Jasgur, Donnie “Beezer” Smith, Lassie Lou Ahern, Jerry Maren, Mary Ann Jackson, Billy Wolfstone and more. If beggars could be choosers, we might lament all of those who didn’t attend this event in 1980 – but as it was, this was still an absolutely incredible occasion.

There are individual postings about most of the Our Gangers who attended the reunion, but for those of whom there were not an abundance of photos snapped, here are a few others:

I’m not sure what L&H film John Guedel was involved in when he professed to be a “Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang writer,” but he did in fact contribute to the writing of the screenplay to General Spanky (1936), Our Gang’s one and only feature film.

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Marvin “Bubbles” Strin appeared in six of the Our Gang talkies – although never uttering a word. He was conspicuous for his derby hat and spit-curl bangs. He passed away in 1986 without ever attending any further functions.

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Marianne Edwards is one Rascal whom I consider to be a somewhat-of-a-biggie in the Our Gang films. Although she only starred in seven of the films, she is instantly recognizable for her large role in Sprucin’ Up as the object of Spanky and Alfalfa’s affection – as well as her appearance in L&H’s Babes in Toyland. She all-but-disappeared from the public eye after her appearance at this convention. She didn’t show up for the reunion photo above and nary a photo of her from the convention can be found – but she was there and I met her! Later on in the mid-1980’s, she signed a handful of photos for Bob through the mail including the one for me below – but never returned to another function and has been completely silent since…

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Click here to see the Our Gang stars of 1980…

Click here to continue with the convention…

5 Responses to “The Our Gang Reunion at Hollywood ’80”

  1. All of the members of the local planning committee for Hollywood ’80 were members of the Way Out West Tent except for two, myself and Ed Fetter from The Saps At Sea of San Diego. We drove up about a half dozen times for these sessions, most of the time at Lori Jones home. The big planning meeting – held one year before Hollywood ’80 – saw key Sons flying in from all over the country and we all stayed at Hilton where the convention would take place in 12 months. It was this session, surrounded by people like Marcia Opal, Tracy Tolzmann, Alan Garfield and other Sons luminaries, that Bob asked of the group at one session… “Who want to be the emcee for The Our Gang reunion?” I was stunned for a moment, looked around, saw no one holding their hand up… and I held mine up. “I’ll do it!” I said and Bob nodded. “Okay, Rick Greene will host the Our Gang Reunion.” It was that simple. After the meeting, I went up to Bob and asked him if he was sure he didn’t want to do it. After all, it was his and Darla’s baby and sure to be the highlight of the entire Convention. He assured me that he wouldn’t have time to prepare all those introductions, he be slammed just keeping the whole week moving along and that I’d do a good job. So, it was mine! Using the Bann/Maltin book, I worked up intros for the dozens and dozens of Rascals I’d be introducing and sequenced them, climaxing with Spanky. I had Bob check everything I wrote and he did, with virtually no changes. Then, that night at the Bullfighters Banquet, it was my supreme honor to act as the Master of Ceremonies for the largest Our Gang reunion ever. I, too, was heartbroken that Darla and Farina and Stymie weren’t there. In fact, the only time I ever met Stymie was at Darla’s funeral. But that Reunion was definitely the centerpiece of the convention and I loved every moment with the Gang up there on stage!

    Rick Greene

  2. It was funny how we got some of the Our Gang to attend. People called up and said they were “Bubbles” or my wife was Peggy. (Both of whom did attend and were real Our Gangers). I got a call from Jackie Condon wanting to attend, I told him that would be a good trick for he had been dead for a couple of years now. A “Corky” called and I shined him on thinking twice bitten..Years later I was horrifed to find out there was such a character. I am not sure if this was the guy or not.

    Rick did a great job with the event. I did not have to mc, I was proud that I got them all together and was a part of that great photo you posted Brad. And don’t forget that 10 weeks later Buckwheat had passed away. Side note, the reunion was held July 31, 1980 the day of Farina’s funeral. He and his wife had train tickets to attend, I at least got to speak with him on the phone. Buckwheat died the night before our yearly banquet that year – I can’t believe after doing that large scale convention we even planned a banquet but we did. And Marianne Edwards did attend our December meeting that year, we showed her in Our Gang and Babes in Toyland. I sure have not been able to get her back since, I have invited her to everything I could think of. She must not have liked John Duff! Thanks for the memory lane, it was fun!

    Bob

  3. I grew up as a boy in the 50’s and 60’s in the Tulsa Metro Area (the sticks), and do well remember Spanky McFarland on television as a host of his own shows. http://tulsatvmemories.com/spanky.html

    Michael Ash

  4. Thanks for posting these. Marianne Edwards is definately one of the “biggies” and one of the few autographs that has eluded me over the years. I wish she would make another appearance sometime.

    Hub Plott

  5. Sadly, she passed away recently

    Brad

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