The Little Rascals (children)

    (Theatrical short subjects, since 1922;
     Syndicated on TV, since 1955 - )

    [aka: "'Our Gang' Comedies"; 

     The original theatrical film shorts released from 1922 - 1944
     were titled "Hal Roach's Rascals"; another name Roach tried 
     during the silent years from 1922 - 1928 was "The Terrible Ten";
     But since the first short was titled "Our Gang", the public 
     began to refer to them as "'Our Gang' Comedies"; so Roach
     finally adopted that name for this series of shorts; and by
     the sound era (circa 1928) "Our Gang" was the official name;
     The first Little Rascals "talkie" with sound was a 1928 short
     titled "Schools Out";
     Quite a few child actors were used for years until they
     began to get too old, at which time they were unceremoniously
     replaced by a fresh face; Several TV actors got their start
     working in this series including Jackie Cooper (1929-1931),
     Robert Blake known as "Mickie" (1939-1944) and West-coast  
     local TV children's show host Johnny Downs (1925 - 1927);
     But perhaps the best-known was Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, who
     was only involved in the series for five years (1935-1940.)
     Another memorable character was "Buckwheat", played by
     young Billie Thomas who was there for the final ten years 
     of production (from 1934-1944.) And the series also featured
     the little boy known as "Spanky" played by George McFarland
     (from 1932-1942.) A rock vocal group during the hippie 1960's 
     used the name "Spanky & Our Gang", although there was no 
     connection to the Hal Roach films.

     It is said that Hal Roach got the idea for the comedies that
     revealed the world as seen from a child's point of view when
     he heard through his office window a conversation between some
     children in a lot next door arguing over discarded scraps of
     wood they were trying to split up for salvage;

     The shorts were filmed at the Hal Roach Studios in Culver
     City, a Los Angeles suburb; and exteriors at the Arnaz Ranch
     near what is now Robertson Blvd. in Hollywood;

     MGM bought Hal Roach in 1938, and some "Our Gang" fans say
     the quality of stories and production started to decline 
     at that point, when they became more "slickly produced."
     The final three episodes were released in 1944. They were 
     "Radio Bugs", "Dancing Romero" and "Tale of a Dog." 

     In 1955 MGM offered a package of the original "Our Gang" 
     shorts to television under the name "The Little Rascals";
     At one point they seemed to be oversold -- running almost
     continuously on many stations all the time -- a phenomenon
     only matched by the reruns and syndicated episodes of "I
     Love Lucy" during the same era...but television had quite
     an appetite so it gobbled up all the "Rascals" episodes
     that were available;

     The Hal Roach studios complex was the site of many low-
     budget TV series during the 1950s and was eventually torn
     down and sold to land developers to be gobbled up in the
     expansion of Los Angeles.]

Theme: "Good Old Days"

    [According to a book on "Our Gang" by Leonard Maltin, composer
     Dave Franklin (co-writer of the Looney Tunes THEME song, "The
     Merry-Go-Round Broke Down") composed a song in 1936 that was 
     called "Our Gang" which was intended to take the place of the 
     original LeRoy Shield "Our Gang" THEME "Good Old Days" which
     was a waltz, and not particularly child-like except as a kind
     of ironic lullabye.

     But Dave Franklin's theme song failed to catch on with the 
     public, so "Good Old Days" remained as the signature song.

     Franklin's "Our Gang" song was featured in published sheet 
     music where it was sub-titled "The Theme of the 'Our Gang' 
     Comedies", which it was not. Its only use was ocassionally 
     for in-person performances and other promotional events.

     The next year (1937) Franklin co-wrote with Clif Friend the 
     novelty song, "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down" which became
     the very popular and memorable "Looney Tunes" THEME song.

     In 1994 a group of Swedish musicians calling themselves 
     "The Beau Hunks" researched the many cues and themes used
     by various Hal Roach series including "Laurel and Hardy" 
     and "Our Gang", and recorded several different arrangements 
     of the THEMES on the two CDs which they transcribed of 
     original "Our Gang Comedies" cues, lovingly recreated 
     with authentic instrumentation.]

     Composer: Leroy ("Roy") Shield (ASCAP)

     1978 Publisher: Roy Shield Music Co. (ASCAP)

     1997 Publisher: Roy Shield Music Co. (ASCAP)
                         of Portland, OR

     Copyright Date: Dec. 30, 1930; EP 20 477.
     1st Renewal Date: Dec. 26, 1957; R 205 827.
     2nd Renewal Date: June  4, 1958; R 215 768.


     New Recordings:
          CD - "The Beau Hunks the Little Rascals Music" (1994)
                by The Beau Hunks
                Koch Screen 3-8702-2

          CD - "On To The Show!" (1995)
               ["The Beau Hunks play More Little Rascals music"]
                by The Beau Hunks
                Koch Screen 3-8705-2

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