Saturday, October 16, 2010
Saturday Song Selection - Little Rascals Theme Song
“Don't call me Norman. Call me Chubsy-Ubsy.”
Saturday salutations once again. Today the Song Selection takes us on yet another journey through the portals of time. We’ll voyage back to a magical, mystical, almost mythical era when Republicans still believed in Social Security, public education, minimum wage and even (gasp) freedom of religion. So let’s board Peabody’s Wayback Machine or dive into Irwin Allen’s swirling Time Tunnel and traverse among the epochs until we arrive at that most desirable of destinations - the days of far too frequent youthful television watching. This week’s nostalgic nugget is the Little Rascals theme song, more properly entitled Good Old Days. The response to the birthday profiles of Bud Abbott, Groucho Marx and Spanky McFarland was so positive and so sincere that I thought revisiting some additional pleasant childhood memories might just be in order.
In my case, as was the case with millions of children in the New York Metropolitan area, it was WPIX Channel 11 and Captain Jack McCarthy and Officer Joe Bolton who brought us the extremely edited adventures of The Little Rascals. Later DVD releases, with the correct theatrical title of Our Gang, revealed scene upon scene excised for the television versions. The cuts were made primarily for time considerations so as to fit two 20 minute film shorts into a 30 minute time slot, while also breaking for commercials, and comments by the aforementioned Captain Jack and Officer Joe. Edits were also made, quite correctly, with concerns to racial sensitivity, but as we were never privy to those parts of the films, it was an issue that we innocent tots were completely unaware of.
The first silent short premiered in 1922, entitled Our Gang, and featured members Sunshine Sammy Morrison, Jackie Condon, Peggy Cartwright and the celebrated, Dinah the Mule. And after all, is there really any form of entertainment that doesn’t benefit from the presence of a comical mule? Take note New York Metropolitan Opera. The final Our Gang comedy was released 22 years later in 1944. The cast of Tale of a Dog included Buckwheat, Big Shot Hickman, Froggie Laughlin and a completely uncharismatic, Robert Blake. By that time the series had long since run its course. It had become preachy rather than funny and was poorly cast with fairly unappealing children who were, for the most part, too old for their roles.
Robert Blake can be seen in this picture, second from the right.
But the classic episodes still hold up and have been entertaining viewers for generations. So here’s to Spanky, Alfalfa, Darla, Porky, Buckwheat, Jackie, Chubby, Wheezer, Scotty, Dickey, Stymie, Mary Anne and, even those lesser-lights, Uh Huh, Breezy Brisbane, Woim, Dorothy Echo DeBorba and the ever enchanting Miss Crabtree.
One final Our Gang thought - how about a contest? While a classic and beloved song, perhaps Good Old Days could benefit from words. So take a listen, and if you feel so inclined, hit the comment button and contribute your original lyrics. As contests go, it’s not a particularly good one as there are no prizes involved, but I could post an entry or two on the blog and you’ll get the satisfaction of knowing that a vast handful of people, a virtual throng of a few, a swarm of several - will be appreciating your hard work and creativity.
Saturday, October 16th Birthdays -
She was Mame, Mama Rose, Mrs. Lovett, Jessica Fletcher and, even at this advanced age, she recently played Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music - many, many happy returns to musical theatre legend and television sleuth, Angela Lansbury who turns 85 today.
She was a jiggle TV pioneer. She married a major Canadian talk show host. She no longer speaks to former fictional roommate, Joyce DeWitt. But now she’s perhaps best known for having firm thighs - but who among us isn’t? She’s turning 64, although much of her anatomy is significantly younger than that, happy birthday to Suzanne Somers.
And finally, she was the quintessential nosey neighbor, and harkens back to a day when witches were on sitcoms and not in politics. She left us many years ago but lives on forever in TV lore. Alice “Gladys Kravitz” Pearce was born 97 years ago this day.