Dorothy Deborba of Our Gang and Little Rascals

Remembering Old Hollywood Stars : Dorothy DeBorba

Despite having a career as a child actress that spans only over a period of three years, Dorothy DeBorba starred over fifteen feature films and gained mainstream success while she was on the screen. Born in Los Angeles in 1925, Dorothy’s parents were relatively active in the entertainment industry, her father was a drummer with the Paul Whiteman band and her mother constantly provided supporting roles in theater productions.

In 1930, when she was a mere five year old, Dorothy DeBorba joined Our Gang, also known as The Little Rascals, a group of children who acted in a series of comedic short films. DeBorba, upon completing her first film, A Royal Romance, quickly became a cult audience favorite with her witty appeal, elaborate hair bows and trademark hair curls that her mother spent two hours each night brushing. Our Gang was split into three different eras and DeBorba was a pioneer in her “talkie period” era, sparking other popular Our Gang members such as George Spanky McFarland, Carl Alfalfa Switzer and Eugene Porky Lee.

Dorothy Debora of Our Gang

A Little Rascal
A Little Rascal

Despite DeBorba’s short run in Our Gang, she appeared in selected and the best Our Gang feature comedies like Pups Is Pups, in which she appeared in her very first year as an Our Gang member, Dogs Is Dogs, Little Daddy and Love Business in her second year and Free Wheeling and Birthday Blues in her senior third year. DeBorba’s infectious energy, along with her cute big eyes earned her a huge following and by 1933, after featuring and starring in seventeen Our Gang films, DeBorba is considered one of the best Little Rascals to have ever graced Our Gang films.

A tribute to Dorothy DeBorba from Our Gang

Upon leaving Our Gang in 1933, Dorothy DeBorba left the show business indefinitely despite her huge success and following. Now over eighty years old, little is known of DeBorba’s personal life but she remains one of the few remaining surviving members of the original Our Gang alongside other child actresses who did not pursue a professional acting career like Jerry Tucker, Jackie Lynn Taylor, Sidney Kibrick and those that pursued a professional career in show business such as Jackie Cooper and Mickie Gubitosi.

Dorothy DeBorba was residing in Livermore, California with her family and despite believing that the best lines in Our Gang comedic feature films were given to the boys, her fans and those who have watched any of Our Gang series featuring DeBorba knows that she does not require any lines to win the hearts of her audiences, her mischievousness and dynamic energy was enough to get her to become one of the most popular, leading and best child stars of her time. For those unfamiliar with the work of DeBorba or have never heard of Our Gang, get your hands on or rent their comedy shorts featuring DeBorba such as Love Business or Little Daddy, those two titles will surely bring plenty of laughs and will be enough to get you scrambling for more Our Gang short film productions.

Update: Dorothy DeBorba passed away on June 2, 2010 after a long fight with emphysema and lung diseases. She was 85.

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Comments 5 comments

david todd singleton 3 years ago

I met Dorothy at THE FRIENDSHIP BAR in roughly 1990 in Venice Beach, CA. She had been going there for years. We spoke for awhile and then I left her alone. We have something in common; we both liked to drink....ALOT! REST IN PEACE.


Ben4188 4 years ago

She definitely wasn't portrayed as a star. But her eyecatching cuteness and wit made her unforgettable. In my book, that's a star. It's a shame we didn't get to see her grow up into a bright beauty on the big screen.


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SunSeven 6 years ago from Singapore / India Author

Thank you for the update Mike.


Mike Cline 6 years ago

Dorothy Deborba passed away June 2, 2010.


Molly Weasley 6 years ago

I hate to rain on your parade, but Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer and Eugene "Porky" Lee both jioned the Gang after Dorothy left it. Also, I really and truly adore Dorothy, but as far as I know, she didn't "star" in Our Gang. She was a featured Gang member with good lines, but not exactly a star.

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