Happy birthday to former child star Dickie Moore, who turns 87 today.
Moore appeared in more than 100 films in a career that spanned three decades, including enduring classics like Alfred E. Green’s UNION DEPOT (1932), William J. Cowen’s OLIVER TWIST (1933), and Howard Hawks’ SARGEANT YORK (1941). He also has a small but memorable role as the mute “kid” in Jacques Tourneur’s OUT OF THE PAST (1947) with Robert Mitchum.
I first discovered Dickie Moore in the late 1970s, watching Hal Roach’s Little Rascals comedies on WPIX-11 in New York. Not yet seven years old, Moore was already a veteran when he joined Our Gang (as the shorts were known during their original theatrical run) in mid-1932.
Moore’s first two-reeker was HOOK AND LADDER, released in August of 1932. He followed with FREE WHEELING in October, which is known for being the only Our Gang short in which one of the kids is called a “little rascal.” That kid was Dickie.
BIRTHDAY BLUES was released in November, wherein Dickie, Spanky and Stymie bake a cake and hilarity ensues. December brought A LAD AN’ A LAMP, followed by FISH HOOKY in January of 1933, which features appearances by “retired” rascals Mickey Daniels (age 18), Mary Kornman (16), Joe Cobb (16), and Allen “Farina” Hoskins (13). FISH HOOKY also marks the first speaking roles for Daniels and Kornman in an Our Gang comedy, since their tenure took place during the silent era.
FORGOTTEN BABIES (also featuring Roach regular Billy Gilbert) was released in March of 1933, followed by THE KID FROM BORNEO in April. (The latter was apparently pulled from television syndication packages in the early ’70s due to racially insensitive content.)
MUSH AND MILK, Dickie Moore’s final short, was released in May of 1933. With the line, “Don’t drink the milk! It’s spoiled!” MUSH AND MILK may be the most-quoted Our Gang comedy ever (at least among my friends in the cafeteria.)
Last November, I met Mr. Moore when he attended a Film Society of Lincoln Center screening of LUXURY LINER (1948) starring Jane Powell, his wife since 1988.
They make a pretty cute couple, don’t you think?