Darla Jean Hood

1931 - 1979

In the history of film, there have been scores of leading ladies who have charmed and captivated audiences worldwide. But, how many of them have been children? Only a handful — and one of the most enduring young actresses, whose talents will forever be remembered, is Darla Hood, the brunette beauty who contributed to the great success of the Our Gang films of the 1930s and 1940s. This gorgeous little girl grew into a multi-faceted, and diversely talented, adult performer — and her story began in the country’s heartland.

Darla Jean Hood was born on November 4, 1931, in Leedey, Oklahoma. Her father, James Claude Hood, was a banker, but it was her mother, Ruby Elizabeth, who encouraged their little girl to take singing and dancing lessons in nearby Oklahoma City. Darla’s looks made her a performance natural: her teachers recognized this early on. They thought so highly of Darla that they brought her along on a trip to New York City. One night, at the Hotel Edison in Times Square, the bandleader invited the little dynamo to actually conduct the orchestra and sing. The entire crowd instantly fell in love with her, including a man named Joe Rivkin, who was the casting director for a major production house in Hollywood — Hal Roach Studios. Recognizing the possibilities, Rivkin arranged for an immediate screen test in Manhattan. The result? Darla was whisked to Hollywood, where she was signed by Hal Roach to a seven-year contract, starting at $75 a week. From there, a major star was born.

The Our Gang Follies of 1936 was already deep in production, but Roach’s new find was hastily written into the musical revue, singing “I’ll Never Say Never Again, Again.” This delightful introduction was enough to solidify Darla’s new role: Our Gang leading lady. Over the next six years, she appeared in fifty Gang comedies, mostly as the love interest to Alfalfa, played by Carl Switzer. Switzer, who died in 1959, is also buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Darla had it all: she had a canny ability to act, had a delightful speaking voice, and could wow them with her singing. Any song Darla tried, she gave new meaning to. She was a marvelous asset to a truly unique ensemble of child actors.

One of the downfalls of children in the entertainment industry is the awkward transition from being a “cute little kiddle” to becoming a teenager. For many members of Our Gang, this adjustment was not an easy one. And, by the time Darla retired from Our Gang, she was almost twelve years old. Imagine how difficult it must have been for a child that age to resign herself to the fact that the public, that adored her just last year, now stopped worshipping her. For Darla, what could have been a very uncomfortable period was made easier, simply by improvising. While she would never again attain the level of stardom that she had as a youngster, Darla now used her talents – her vocal gifts – to forge a successful, and busy, career as a behind-the-scenes performer.

Early on, she formed a vocal group called “Darla Hood and the Enchanters,” which provided background music for many 1940s films. She also did stage work, and appeared as a regular on the television programs of Paul Whiteman and Ken Murray. Darla did guest spots, in the 1950s and 1960s, on Tell It to Groucho and The Jack Benny Program. She had a nightclub act which had bookings at the Copacabana in New York, the Sahara in Las Vegas, and the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles. And, in the midst of a very busy schedule, she found time to appear, as a secretary, in the 1959 Vincent Price horror classic, The Bat. She had a wonderfully hectic and fruitful career.

But, it was in voiceover work that Darla found the most versatile use for her unique three-octave voice. She was the voice of such products as Campbell Soups, the Tiny Tears Doll, and, most famously, sang the famed jingle which boasted, “Ask any tuna you happen to see, What’s the Best Tuna? Chicken of the Sea!

Darla attended numerous festivals and conventions, held throughout the 1960s and 1970s, celebrating the legacy of Our Gang. She also organized a reunion of the kid stars at a 1979 Laurel and Hardy convention, sponsored by the team’s fan club, The Sons of the Desert. Unfortunately, she could not attend. Darla entered the hospital in Spring 1979, for routine surgery. However, she contracted hepatitis, and died on June 13, 1979. She was just 47 years old. Darla Jean Hood rests in the Abbey of the Psalms, on the grounds of Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

The legend of Darla Hood will live on forever. The films of Our Gang, syndicated on television as The Little Rascals, pass on from generation to generation, and are as apopealing now as in their day. Scores of memorabilia pieces, from figurines to dolls to lunch boxes, keep the memory of these delightful child actors alive and well. There was even a 1970s cartoon series, based on the popular Gang films, and a feature movie, called The Little Rascals, in 1994. As long as the Gang remains a part of the popular consciousness, Darla Hood will be remembered fondly, and will remain forever young.

Messages

  1. Remembering You

    I remember you Darla.Its been 40 years since you left but your forever in my heart.I love you Darla.-DantheBirdman

    Daniel Fleischman

  2. Happy 86th Birthday in Heaven

    I miss you Darla I still remember you and I always will.Happy birthday in Heaven.I love you Darla.DantheBirdman

    Daniel

  3. It's been 38 years since you've been gone

    It’s been 38 years since you’ve been gone.I miss you Darla.You’ll always be my sweetheart.I love you.-DantheBirdman

    Daniel Fleischman

  4. 85th Birthday

    Today would be your 85th Birthday,but Eternity knows no age.I’ll always remember you,Darla.I love you.Happy Birthday in Heaven.-DantheBirdman

    Daniel Fleischman

  5. And I Still Remember You

    It’s been 37 years and your still in my heart and always will be in my heart.I love you Darla,I miss you.-DantheBirdman

    Daniel T. Fleischman

  6. Remembering Your Birthday

    84 yrs old you’d be today,but time has no relevance in eternity.Happy Birthday in Heaven,I love you,Darla.-DantheBirdman

    Daniel

  7. I Still Remember You

    It’s been 36 years since you left,but you’re always still here in my heart and hope to meet with you in the hereafter,since we’re all children of God.I love you Darla.I miss you.-DantheBirdman

    Daniel

  8. Remembering Your Birthday

    83 yrs old you would be today.Again eternity Knows no age.I love you and miss you.Happy Birthday in Paradise,Darla.-DantheBirdman

    Daniel

  9. It's been 35 years

    It’s been 35 years since you’ve been gone ,but your always in my heart,Darla.I’ll always remember you.I miss you.I love you.-DantheBirdman

    Daniel

  10. Remembering Your Birthday

    Today would’ve been your 82nd birthday,here on earth,but eternity knows no age.I still remember you,Darla and always will.Happy Birthday in Heaven.I love you,I miss you.-DantheBirdman

    Daniel

  11. I miss you,Darla

    It’s been 34 years since you’ve been gone.I still remember you and always will.The Our Gang memory will always live on.I love you,Darla.I miss you.-DantheBirdman

    Daniel

  12. Remembering you on Valentines Day

    Remembering you on Valentines Day,Darla.You’ve been my sweetheart when I was younger,still my sweetheart as I grown older,and always will be my sweetheart.I love you Darla.

    Daniel

  13. 81st Birthday

    Today would’ve been your 81st birthday,Darla.I love you,I miss you,and I’ll always remember you Darla.Happy Birthday.I love you Darla.-Dan

    Daniel

  14. I Still Remember You

    Darla,you’ll always be in my heart.I love you,and I miss you.It’s been 33 years since you’ve been gone.Since I’ve been watching you on the silver screen it seems like when I’ve gotten older you got younger,and it started with you being older(for I was 4 years old when I first saw you 42 years ago)I had a crush on you then and would wait for the “Chicken of the Sea”commercials just to hear you sing.You’ll always be in my heart Darla.I love you.I miss you.(I still have that crush on you,just more nostalgic)-DantheBirdman

    Daniel

  15. Happy Birthday Darla

    Happy Birthday to you in heaven.I love you.I miss you.You’ll always be in my heart,Darla.I’ll always remember you.I miss you.-DantheBirdman

    Daniel

  16. I still remember you

    I still remember you,Darla.You’ll always be in my heart.I love you and I miss you,Darla.My sweetheart my angel,I love you.DantheBirdman

    Daniel

  17. It's Valentine's Day

    You’ll always be my sweetheart,you’ll always be my sunshine,but today and beyond you’ll always be my Valentine.Remembering you Darla.I love you.-DantheBirdman

    Daniel

  18. Happy Birthday Darla

    today you would’ve been 79 years young.I miss you,Darla.I love you.You’ll always be my sweetheart.-DantheBirdman

    Daniel

  19. Thank You Darla

    Darla ,, I was a child of the fifties and Sixties ,, thank you for for the smiles and good memories ! You will live forever in our hearts ! Rod

    Rodney

  20. Valentines Day

    I remember Hearts Are Thumps it is one of my favorites along with Football Romeo and it brings to mind certain childhood memories that are special.And I want you to know that you’ll always be special to me and you’ll always have a special place in my heart.I love you!God be with you.P.S.I’m still thinking of you.-DantheBirdman

    DantheBirdman

  21. Happy Birthday!

    Happy Birthday,Darla!Your a Sweetheart and your an Angel,I still remember you and always will.I love you and miss you.-Daniel

    DantheBirdman

  22. Happy Valentine's Day

    Everytime when Valentine’s Day approaches I think of you.Especially what comes to mind are;”Heart’s Are Thumps”and”Football Romeo”.Valetine’s Day would be more happier if you were here,but it is already happiest knowing you are in my heart and in there you will always be my sweetheart and always be my Valentine.I love you.

    DantheBirdman

  23. Rembering your 76th Birthday

    It would’ve been your 76th birthday here on earth,but it will always be your birthday in my heart.Love you,Darla. -Dan the Birdman

    Dan the Birdman

  24. Rest in Peace

    Dearest Darla,
    The Little Rascals brought joy and happiness to so many of us.
    We will always love and cherish you. God bless you and may the angels always watch over you.
    W

    W

  25. 28 years

    It has been 28 years since your time here,but I still remember you!Love You

    Dan

  26. November 4th

    Happy Birthday Darla!Even though you have been asleep for 27 years,you are immortalized in film as well as the lives you have touched whether directly or indirectly,to me you are 75 years young.Thank you for sharing your love of life and your happy spirit with me since I was a child and well into my adult years and now.Again, Happy Birthday!

    Dan the Birdman

  27. June 13th

    Even though it has been 27 years,I still remember you.You will always be in my heart.Miss you.

    DantheBirdman

  28. thanks for the good times

    Darla, I grew up watching the little rascals, you made all those times special. May God forever keep you in his care.

    joe scruggs

  29. Valentine's

    Happy Valentine’s Day,Darla!I know you are asleep,but I figured I can still wish you a Happy Valentine”s Day no matter where you are.

    Dan the Birdman

  30. To Darla

    Thank you for being a part of my childhood.I’ll miss you.Rest in peace.

    Daniel

  31. Thank you

    Your work in the Little Rascals was exceptional. May your light shine brightly in the great beyond.

    Phil

  32. Your son

    Love you, miss you, and Jan 11 was a hard day for me,as that was the day I took you to a small hospital in Oregon to have your baby boy! I sure hope you resolved that whole mess with him. Love you peaches, LIZ

    You know who

  33. sweet Darla

    As a child of the 50’s you made me enjoy my childhood

    Pamela

  34. Darla

    I miss you!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Nena

  35. Dearest Darla I remember!

    Just Wonderful! I will always adore her.

    Tina Dimitroff

  36. July 17 2003

    Just Wonderful! I will always adore her.

    Tina Dimitroff

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