Biography Of Spanky Mcfarland

What ever happened to Spanky McFarland, the adorable star of The Little Rascals? Was there life after Our Gang?

With his angelic face and "O" expression, Spanky was one of America's favorite Our Gang/Little Rascals characters. Born George Robert Phillips McFarland, he got his nickname after one of the Our Gang staff members heard his mother tell him, "Spankee -spankee, musn't touch." Spanky appeared in his first Our Gang episode at age three. It was called "Free Eats." Over the next eleven years, he appeared in ninety-five episodes.

As the Laurel and Hardy productions went on next door to the Our Gang productions, the comedic duo taught Spanky a lot. Says Spanky in the book "The Little Rascals, The Life and Times of Our Gang," written by Leonard Maltin and Richard W. Bann, "Stan Laurel taught me the double take, and a lot of my mannerisms, my exasperation, my hands on the hips and roling of the eyes""a lot of it came from Oliver Hardy."

Spanky showed audiences not only his cuteness but his acting ability as his character starred in self-produced plays, fell in and out of love, raced in soap-box derbies, played hooky and formed numerous clubs (most famously, the He-Man Woman Haters' Club). Yet, his film career never took flight after his last Our Gang comedy, "Unexpected Riches."

When Spanky was twenty-four, he joined the Air Force. After that, he had a series of odd jobs including jobs at a soft-drink plant, a hamburger stand and a popsicle factory. After an unsuccessful foray back into television""he hosted a show in Tulsa, Oklahoma that ran "Our Gang" movies, he continued down the "odd-job road" selling wine, selling appliances, promoting oil, and the restaurant business.

At last his wit, his gift for gab and a talent for selling landed him a position with Philco-Ford television. There he worked his way up to a sales executive. After retiring from his successful sales career, his daughter urged him to do public appearances which he did until his death in 1992. He was gratified that so many fans still love and appreciate him.

Did he harbor the scars that many child stars seem to carry with them? No, not Spanky. He's more realistic about his career in films. In the above-cited book, Spanky says, "I had a ball"¦. Even though it was a job, we had a pretty good time making those comedies. As a kid I had most everything I wanted, and we had a good life. When it was over, it was over." He does concede, however, that had he known then what he does now, he wouldn't have done the Our Gang comedies. He says that instead he would have finished school, gone on to college and would have become the president of a corporation.

And so he probably would have. But what would Our Gang/The Little Rascals have been without the adorable, expressive, talented Spanky McFarland? It certainly would have been lacking something. And in an era where the economy was at its worst, people went to the movies to watch the antics of little ragamuffins in raggedy clothes who were sly enough to outsmart the grown-ups in their lives. It enabled them to laugh and forget their troubles for an hour or two. Today, it still does.

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