Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bobby Breen, Spanky and Alfalfa

I watched a cruel spectacle on YouTube.

It was a clip from an old movie. It showed Alfalfa and Spanky from The Little Rascals, Bobby Breen and another young man who I didn't recognize. The three of them appeared to be about fifteen at that point.

Bobby Breen was a child star, a singer from Canada who came to Hollywood, appeared on radio and starred in movies, sort of a male version of Shirley Temple. Like Shirley, he played an orphan in every movie----adults in the audience could dream of adopting him while the kids could dream of not having parents.

Anyway, the three kids were singing about being washed up, about their acting careers being over with.

The movie was Johnny Doughboy. I don't know what the title meant, but it was about a teenage girl actor who runs away because she's tired of playing adolescent roles.

This was Bobby Breen's last movie. Some sources say that he retired because he was embarrassed by the sound of his voice, that it wasn't deeper. I thought he sounded like a normal teenager. It's hard to imagine that his parents would let him retire if there was still money to be made.

Breen continued his singing career. He's in his 80s now, living in Florida. Poor Alfalfa always looked about the same as he did as a child. If I were in his shoes, I'd have tried a buzz cut and a goatee.

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