The "Our Gang" Curse?
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The Painful Lives of the Our Gang Cast Members-Truth! & Fiction!

Summary of the eRumor
The eRumor lists some of the cast members of the famous Our Gang comedies and their troubled lives saying that Robert Blake, who the eRumor says played Spanky, has added to the list by being accused of killing his wife.
 

 

 

 

The Truth
Most of these are true although Robert Blake did not play Spanky in the series of films that were both known as Our Gang and The Little Rascals between 1929 and 1938.

Whether these add up to a "curse" is up to the observer, but various stories about the Our Gang cast have circulated for years.

Let's take them one at a time from the eRumor:

Alfalfa -- Carl Switzer was shot to death at age 31-
Truth!
According to OUR GANG - LIFE AND TIMES OF THE LITTLE RASCALS by MALTIN AND BANN, Switzer was wounded in Jan 1958 when someone shot him as he was getting into a car. 
Then the next year, a fatal shot was delivered in a struggle over $50 with an ex-partner in a big game hunting business.

Chubby -- 300-pound Norman Chaney died at age 22 following an operation-Truth!
His death was actually at 18, not 22 and it followed surgery for a glandular condition.

Buckwheat -- William Thomas died at age 49 of a heart attack-Truth!
He died in Los Angeles in 1980 after a successful life as a film lab technician in Hollywood.

Darla Hood -- The Our Gang leading lady contracted hepatitis and died at age
47-
Truth!
She died on June 13, 1979.

Brisbane -- Kendall McCormas, known as Breezy Brisbane, committed suicide at
age 64.-
Truth!
The correct spelling of his name is McComas.
According to published reports, he gave up show business to be an electrical engineer at the U.S. Naval Weapons Center in China Lake, California.
He committed suicide two weeks before his retirement in 1981.


Froggy -- William Robert Laughline was killed in a motor scooter accident at
age 16.-
Truth!
Laughline was killed in a motor scooter accident near Huntington Beach, CA in the early 1950ís

Mickey Daniels -- He died of liver disease at 55-Truth!
His real name was Richard Daniels, Jr.
He died alone in a hotel of cirrhosis of the liver on August 20, 1970.


Stymie -- Mathew Bear led a life of crime and drugs. He died of a stroke at
age 56-
Truth! & Fiction!
After leaving the Our Gang series as a child, Stymie reportedly acted through high school.
He became addicted to drugs, especially heroin and spent much of his young adult years in an out of jail.
In the 1980's got clean of drugs and both went back into acting and traveling doing drug abuse lectures.
He died of Pneumonia.

Scotty Beckett -- He died at age 38 following a brutal beating-Unconfirmed!
According to Maltin and Bann's book, "The last 10 years of his life were filled with unpleasant stories of divorce, violence, drugs and arrests."
He checked into a Hollywood nursing home on May 8, 1968, needing medical attention after suffering a serious beating.
He died two days later.
Although pills and a note were found, no conclusion was made by the coroner as to the exact cause of death.
According to the Internet Movie Database, he died of an overdose of barbiturates.

Wheezer -- Robert Hutchins was killed in an airplane accident at age 19-Truth!
According to findagrave.com, he was killed during the last thirty minutes of his basic training at the Merced Army Air Corps field in California when his plane crashed on landing.


Pete the Pup -- He was poisoned by an unknown assailant-Unproven!
There were actually several different dogs used through the years as Pete the Pup, the canine star of films.
There are several reports that the original Pete the Pup was poisoned by someone who gave him meat laced with glass.
There is also an urban legend that Pete the Pup was buried with Alfalfa but we've found no evidence of that and Pete the Pup died long before Alfalfa.
Alfalfa loved hunting and apparently there is a dog on his tombstone that reflects that so that may have been a part of what prompted the urban legend about Pete the Pup.


And Spanky. . .Robert Blake - is accused of murdering his wife-Fiction!
First, Robert Blake did not play Spanky in the Our Gang series.
Spanky was played by George McFarland who went on to become a Forth Worth, Texas businessman before his death of a heart attack in 1993.

Robert Blake was found innocent by a jury of the charges of killing his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley.  He was later found liable for her wrongful death by a California civil court. 

Blake did appear in some of the later Little Rascals episodes and played Mickey.



According to crime writer David Lohr, there are some additions to the Our Gang death list:

Robert H. Young "Bonedust" (9/15/17 - 9/10/51)
Died in a hotel fire, which started when he fell asleep smoking in bed.

Harold Switzer "Deadpan" or "Slim" - (1/16/25 - 4/14/67) 
As was the case with his brother, Harold was also killed following a dispute with another man.

Darwood Kaye "Waldo" - (9/08/29 - 5/15/2002)
Killed by a hit and run driver while walking on the sidewalk.

Jay R. Smith "Jay R" - (8/29/15 - 10/05/2002)
Stabbed to death and left in the desert by a homeless man he had befriended.

Thomas Bond who played "Butch"
Bond is not mentioned in the eRumor, but just for the record, he died on 9/24/05 in Los Angeles of complications from heart disease, according to an Associated Press article on 9/25/05.  He was 79.

Updated 11/12/12

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Remember The Little Rascals...... Our Gang?  What ever happened to those people?

Alfalfa -- Carl Switzer was shot to death at age 31.
Chubby -- 300-pound Norman Chaney died at age 22 following an operation.
Buckwheat -- William Thomas died at age 49 of a heart attack.
Darla Hood -- The Our Gang leading lady contracted hepatitis and died at age 47.
Brisbane -- Kendall McCormas, known as Breezy Brisbane, committed suicide at age 64.
Froggy -- William Robert Laughline was killed in a motor scooter accident at age 16.
Mickey Daniels -- He died of liver disease at 55.
Stymie -- Mathew Bear led a life of crime and drugs. He died of a stroke at age 56.
Scotty Beckett -- He died at age 38 following a brutal beating.
Wheezer -- Robert Hutchins was killed in an airplane accident at age 19.
Pete the Pup -- He was poisoned by an unknown assailant.

and Spanky. . .Robert Blake - is accused of murdering his wife <---------
THIS PART IS OVIOUSLY FALSE

 


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