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Allen Hoskins

Allen Hoskins as Farina in Dogs of War (1923)
Born Allen Clayton Hoskins
August 9, 1920(1920-08-09)
Boston, Massachusetts
Died July 26, 1980 (aged 59)
Oakland, California
Other name(s) Farina
Occupation Actor
Years active 1922-1936

Allen Clayton Hoskins (August 9, 1920 – July 26, 1980) was an American child actor, most famous for portraying the character of Farina in the Our Gang short films from 1922 to 1931.

Contents

Biography

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Career

Born in Boston, Hoskins was just one year old when his tenure with Our Gang began. His character stayed in the series through the silent years and the transition to talking pictures, and left the series in 1931 at the age of eleven. With his pigtailed hair and patchy outfits, Farina resembled a pickaninny[1] in the tradition of the character Topsy from Uncle Tom's Cabin,[2] but as the character became more popular, and as Allen Hoskins got older, Farina developed his own personality separate from that of Topsy. The name "Farina", derived from a type of cereal, was chosen because its gender was ambiguous: as a toddler, Farina was portrayed as both a boy and a girl (sometimes both genders in the same film), much to the puzzlement of movie audiences.

Farina shortly before he left the gang, circa 1930.

During his time in the gang, Farina became both the series' anchor and its most popular character. While he was not the first black child actor (or even the first black Our Gang kid), Farina became arguably the first black child star. Allen Hoskins' last contract with the Hal Roach Studio called for $250 a week, more than any other kid (even Jackie Cooper) was earning at that time. His replacement was Matthew Beard.

Later years and death

After leaving the gang, Hoskins got some small roles in feature films, and had a vaudeville act with his sister Janie Hoskins, who was also an Our Gang kid. After serving in World War II, Hoskins started to drift away from performing and retired his stage name. In a televised reunion of the "Our Gang" cast, Hoskins explained why he abandoned acting: "I preferred a job that allowed me to eat regular." He eventually had a successful career helping disabled young people with drug problems and mental illnesses at Los Angeles area medical centers.

Allen Hoskins died of cancer on July 26, 1980, several days shy of his 60th birthday.

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1922 One Terrible Day Farina
1923 Dogs of War Farina
1924 Every Man For Himself Farina
1925 Boys Will Be Joys Farina
1926 Uncle Tom's Uncle Farina
1927 The Old Wallop Farina
1928 School Begins Farina
1929 Saturday's Lesson Farina
1930 Pups Is Pups Farina
1931 Fly My Kite Farina
1932 You Said a Mouthful Sam Wellington Credited as Farina
1933 Fish Hooky Farina
1935 Reckless Gold Dust, a Jockey Credited as Farina
1936 The Gorgeous Hussy Page Boy at Ball Uncredited
Winterset Hambone Uncredited

References

  1. ^ Bogle, Donald (2002). Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 21. ISBN 0-826-41267-X.  
  2. ^ Strausbaugh, John (2008). Black Like You: Blackface, Whiteface, Insult and Imitation in American Popular Culture. Jeremy P. Tarcher. pp. 237. ISBN 1-585-42593-1.  

External links

Preceded by
Ernie Morrison
Our Gang
1922-1931
Succeeded by
Matthew Beard

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