Our Gang, Remembering Those Around Us.
By Daniel Shultz
Norman Chaney, better known as Chubby a member of the Little Rascals’ Our Gang film shorts, died in 1936 at the age of 21 due to complications from surgery to correct the glandular ailment that caused his trademark childhood obesity. Before the surgery he had weighed over 300 lbs. while only growing to be 4’7” tall. For over 76 years Norman’s grave remained unmarked. Despite appearing in 19 Our Gang shorts Norman was paid relatively very little for his contributions to the film world and when he died his mother was too poor to afford to buy a headstone. 76 years later an online fundraising campaign purchased two headstones, one for Norman and one for his mother.
This sad story ultimately has a satisfactory conclusion, but it isn’t hard to see that those who profited off of Norman and the other child actors of his day should have done something to honor him. The “Our Gang” shorts didn’t stop filming until 1944, after Norman had died and were helmed by the same man during their entire production.