KNPR: The Little Rascals Revisited

Interview with Julia Lee: It was as I got older that I would look back on the films with a great deal of nostalgia but also but also with a lot of questions since as I got older I started to see these problematic racial portrayals that many people commented on in later years.

Our Gang by Julia LeeThe Little Rascals was a staple of children’s television beginning in the 1950s. Many kids of that era thought Farina, Stymie, Darla, Alfalfa, and Buckwheat - and the other Rascals - were playmates created just for them.

Actually, "The Little Rascals" was launched in the 1920s by the Hal Roach Studios in Hollywood during its silent era.

First it was “Our Gang” – then “The Little Rascals” - one and two reelers – ten or twenty minute “shorts” that were run before the feature film in movie theaters.

The "Little Rascals" were hugely popular, and continued to be popular as “talkies” well into the 1930s - and beyond. In the 1950s, they were re-packaged for television, and a new audience. 

This is the most fascinating part: The Rascals were black AND white children playing together in interracial harmony. But the films were also full of ugly racial stereotypes.

Listen here.

Published in: KNPR
By: Fred Wasser