- May 25, 2002Its all in the Orange County Register.
Anyone want to contact these folks to see if Joe Cobb ever mentioned knowing
our Don Blanding?
Joe Cobb, member of 'Our Gang'
May 23, 2002
By ROBIN HINCH
The Orange County Register
Joe Cobb, the chubby, cheerful little guy in the "Our Gang" movie comedies of
the '20s and '30s, died Tuesday at a Santa Ana convalescent home where he'd
lived for the past several years. He was 85 and died in his sleep.
A native of Shawnee, Okla., he was 5 when his father, a lawyer, heard that
movie producer Hal Roach was trying to put together a group of cute kids for a
film series. Roach decided to do the series after watching children outside
his office window squabbling over a bunch of sticks and realizing that
children were natural comedians.
Everyone agreed that Joe, "so cute and fat," according to his sister, Lucile
Frank, was a natural.
Joe's dad, James, took him in 1922 to Los Angeles, where the casting people
took them to lunch the first day they visited the Culver City studio, then
fitted Joe with costumes. He went to work on a movie, "A Tough Winter," with
Snub Pollard, then was cast in "Our Gang," also known as "The Little Rascals."
Among the children passed over in the audition process were Mickey Rooney and
Joe's father bought a house in Culver City, and the rest of the family moved
It was a musical family that, after dinner, gathered around the piano to sing
while Joe's mother, Flossie, played. Joe had a nice voice even as a child, and
was later on the Orpheum circuit, singing "Goody Goody" on stage before the
The entire family was allowed on the "Our Gang" set, and Joe's two sisters
were often called in as extras. It was a glorious time, and the highlight of
Joe was called Joe in the movies, although he's often been referred to as
"Fatty" or "Chubby." He appeared in 86 films, nearly all of them silent. He
was in the series' last silent film, "Saturday's Lesson," and its first
talking short, "Small Talk," in 1929.
He never saw himself as special or famous and was always a little surprised
when people recognized him in line at the movies and wanted to pat him on the
head or take home his cap or a piece of his handkerchief.
By the time he was about 12, he was too big to be a Little Rascal (although he
never grew past 4 feet 9), and spent a few years on the Orpheum circuit and
doing bit parts in other films.
He was enrolled in Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, but didn't finish.
After years of tutoring on movie sets, he simply couldn't adjust to public
In 1942 he went to work as an assembler for North American Aviation, a
division of Rockwell International, where he worked for nearly 40 years,
retiring in 1981. He lived in Culver City, but never drove because his legs
were too short to reach the pedals, according to his sister. So he took the
bus or got rides from colleagues.
A gentle, genial lovable man, he had lady friends, but never married. He was a
sports enthusiast who loved every game - especially football and baseball -
and knew every team there is.
He attended "Our Gang" reunions until his health was too poor, and the older
he got, the more memories of his marvelous movie days dominated his
Of his rotund stature, which he never quite lost, he'd say with a smile,
"Children in my day were either corn-fed or milk-fed. I was both."
He is survived by his sister, Lucile Frank; nephews, William Engstrom, David,
Jimmy and Robert Frank; niece, Lucile Chirico.
Services will be private. Arrangements are by Dilday Brothers Mortuary,
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