“The Little Rascals — Our Gang” series of short comedic films about the adventures of poor neighborhood children have delighted audiences throughout the ages from its inception in 1927. The series actually did not hit the small screen until the mid-’50s when the Hal Roach-produced shorts, with sound added to them, were syndicated for television. As the decades progressed and viewers reached new levels of sophistication, the black-and-white films, which had an integrated cast of characters, portrayed its Black cast members in roles that were oftentimes looked upon as stereotypical or denigrating to the race. In response, did comedian and scholar Bill Cosby take it upon himself to eradicate what he thought to be a negative portrayal of Blacks on TV by purchasing all of the show’s rights so that the program would never air again?
From left to right: Buckwheat, Alfalfa, Darla, Porky, Froggy
Cosby has always tried to involve himself in television projects that would enable people to feel good about themselves, particularly Black viewers. He has been a strong proponent of the reinstatement of Black dignity in a medium that oftentimes failed to shed light on it.
Cosby’s highly successful ’80s sitcom “The Cosby Show” is a great example of how he promoted a positive image of both Black family and Black life. Each of the show’s well-thought-out characters were favorable representations, possessing a strong level of integrity and intelligence that reigned throughout the program’s eight-year run.
But in 1989, a rumor began floating around that Cosby, who had once protested CBS airing the extremely stereotypical TV sitcom of the ’50s “Amos ‘n’ Andy,” was interested in pulling the plug on the “Our Gang” series.
While it has remained unclear as to who started the rumor, the fact is that Cosby actually had no involvement with pulling the “Our Gang” show off of TV.
In fact, King World Productions are the owners of the show and have held the rights to the series for nearly 35 years now. And while “The Little Rascals” program, which has been syndicated on TV ad infinitum, was licensed to Cabin Fever Entertainment in 1997, Cosby had no involvement in any of the show’s ventures.
Still, there are many who agree that the “Little Rascals” should remain locked up in a vault with the key thrown away — never to be seen again.