Spanky McFarland

Actor
Though he joined Hal Roach's "Our Gang" comedies 10 years into the series' two-decade run, three-year-old Spanky McFarland grew up to become the face of The Little Rascals, a gaggle of New Deal tearaways chasing fun and ... Read more »
Born: 10/02/1928 in Fort Worth, Texas, USA

Filmography

Actor (5)

The Aurora Encounter 1986 (Movie)

Governor (Actor)

Johnny Doughboy 1941 (Movie)

(Actor)

General Spanky 1935 (Movie)

Spanky (Actor)

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine 1935 (Movie)

(Actor)

Biography

Though he joined Hal Roach's "Our Gang" comedies 10 years into the series' two-decade run, three-year-old Spanky McFarland grew up to become the face of The Little Rascals, a gaggle of New Deal tearaways chasing fun and dredging up trouble in an idealized American hometown. Pudgy-cheeked and precocious in such early outings as "Free Eats" (1932) and "Spanky" (1932), McFarland matured into a stocky, authoritative youth, making him the born leader of co-stars George "Alfalfa" Switzer, Darla Hood, Matthew "Stymie" Beard, and Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas. Though he branched out to features - most memorably as an irksome Boy Scout who plagues passion killer Edward G. Robinson in Fritz Lang's "Woman in the Window" (1944) - McFarland was washed up by age 20. After a stint in the military and a failed bid to host a TV variety show for kids, he worked as a salesman for the Ford-Philco Corporation and eventually found his way to the fan convention circuit. Avoiding the late-life problems that plagued his pint-sized co-stars in their adult years, McFarland remained a cheerful public presence up until his death in 1993 at age 64. Immortalized in nearly 100 Hal Roach and MGM two-reelers that helped Americans laugh their way out of the Great Depression, Spanky McFarland carved for himself a unique niche in Hollywood, where he stood toe to toe if not quite eye to eye with such beloved movie funnymen as Laurel and Hardy and the Marx Brothers.

Relationships

Doris McFarland

Wife

Milestones

1993

Final TV appearance (as himself), in an episode of "Cheers"

1989

Appeared on the PBS documentary special, "When We Were Young...Growing Up on the Silver Screen"

1986

Returned again to features to appear in his last film, "The Aurora Encounter"

1975

One-shot return to acting after a thirty-year absence in the action comedy, "Moonrunners"

1933

Played first notable feature film role in "Day of Reckoning"

1932

Was discovered by producer Hal Roach when he appeared in a "Wonder Bread" commercial; selected to replace Joe Cobb as the resident "fat boy" in the "Our Gang" shorts; earliest appearances with the group include "Spanky" and "Free Eats"

1931

Began career at age three when he modeled baby clothes

Became a spokesman for the Justin Boot Company

Ventured into sales; worked for a car dealership and a wine company

Left "Our Gang" in the early 1940s

Opened a barbecue restaurant in Oklahoma City OK

Left acting after appearing in small roles in the features "I Escaped from the Gestapo" (1943) and "The Woman in the Window" (1944)

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