In the lore of The Little Rascals, one name that pops up all the time is actor George “Spanky” McFarland. Of course, in the film shorts, he goes by Spanky. All The Little Rascals characters used their first names or nicknames only, too. But Spanky happened to be one of the most recognizable faces in the series.
McFarland found his spot in the Our Gang series, which it was originally called before getting the name change thanks to TV syndication. Once his time with the series ended, though, McFarland could not find other gigs. He turned his attention to other facets of life.
But McFarland, who died in 1993, did find himself in one more television show, according to MeTV. It was in 1993 that McFarland appeared as himself on a Cheers episode. In Woody Gets an Election, Norm (George Wendt) and Cliff (John Ratzenberger) look down and see him sitting at the bar. The shot happens during the episode’s cold open. Just months later, after this appearance, McFarland died.
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While new generations of fans all over discover Spanky and the gang for the first time, Hollywood did not forget. In 1994, McFarland was posthumously awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Only McFarland and fellow child actor Jackie Cooper from The Little Rascals world have those stars. Cooper had a number of guest-starring roles on TV and played Perry White in the 1978 film Superman.
McFarland’s tenure on the film shorts was between the 1930s and 1940s. It would not be until the 1950s that the shorts would start airing on television. Due to the nature of reruns and syndicated television, people all over the world are now familiar with Spanky and the Our Gang crew.
While the world knows him as Spanky, reportedly his family called him “Sonny.” It would be a nickname he used in some early advertising work as a child.
The Little Rascals has been a staple for children’s television for decades. There have been different lineups, too, of those kids used in them. Spanky, Darla, and Alfalfa are three of its best-known characters. And the plots of these shorts would not be too complicated to follow.
There was someone in the cast people could identify with when watching the short. It helped make The Little Rascals more relatable to viewers. A total of 41 child actors were employed by the Our Gang crew throughout the show’s run.
These days, you also can pick up a DVD of The Little Rascals’ antics and watch them from the comfort of your own home.
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