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1940s / Our Gang - Janet Burston
The final leading lady of the Our Gang comedies was Janet Burston. She joined the troupe in 1940 as a five-year-old during the MGM era and stayed until the series meekly ran its course in 1944. After Darla Hood left in 1942, Burston became the Gang's female lead by default. She is pictured here in a scene circa 1942. Note that Spanky McFarland is still part of the Gang, as is Billie (Buckwheat) Thomas. That's young Robert Blake (who acted under the name of Mickey Gubitosi) on Burston's right. In the final movies of the series, Janet was the romantic interest of Froggy Laughlin (standing between Spanky and Buckwheat). Fans of the series often criticize Burston for her over-the-top acting. "Oh, I was a ham!" she said in an interview late in her life. "But that's the way they wanted it--the hammier, the better!" Burston didn't have much of a film career after her Our Gang days ended. Married four times, she died of cancer in 1998 at the age of 63.