November 8 is the birthday of the best remembered female member of Our Gang/ Little Rascals, Darla Hood (1931-1979).
We remember Darla for all sorts of reasons. One is that she starred with the team during those peak Spanky/Alfalfa/Buckwheat/Butch/Waldo years (1935-1941) that later got all the tv airplay. Secondly, unlike most of the kids, who were chosen for their unpretentious naturalness, Darla was a precocious show biz kid, a more typical child star, and she frequently sang and danced in the films. Thirdly, she is one of the very few who remained in show business after leaving the series, and furthermore was quite successful afterwards.
Darla was originally from Leedy, Oklahoma, and had taken singing and dancing lessons from the age of three. Outside of the Rascals, you can see her in The Bohemian Girl (1936) with Laurel and Hardy. She took a few years off to finish school, and the re-emerged with a singing group called The Enchanters which Ken Murray presented in his long running revue Blackouts and on his tv variety show in the early 50s. She was a regular on Merv. She appeared with Edgar Bergen in his nightclub act in 1955, and had roles in films like The Helen Morgan Story (1957) and The Bat (1959). She appeared on variety shows with Groucho Marx and Jack Benny.
Towards the end of her life, she was mostly involved in Little Rascals reunion projects. Darla died suddenly at age 47 from complications from an infected blood transfusion following an appendectomy.
For more on Our Gang, please check out my 100th anniversary podcast episode here.