Thursday, September 5, 2013

A "Little Rascal" Visits Lorain – 1955

Back in the 50s, fall fashion revues seemed to be the rage in Lorain. Women's clothing stores and department stores held their own event in which the latest in seasonal fashions were modeled and displayed.

Ted Jacob's, Smith and Gerhart, and The Style Center all held revues the same week in mid-August, 1955. With all of the different stores fighting for a woman's attention, each one tried to make sure their revue stood out from the rest.

Ted Jacob's Style Revue for 1955 was very ambitious and creative and was a benefit for children with special needs. The revue featured the current Miss Ohio, as well as a TV and movie celebrity – Farina, from the Our Gang comedies – according to the article below which appeared on the "News For Women" page of the Lorain Journal on Monday, August 15, 1955. But as we shall see in my comments below the article, all was not as it seemed.

Here's the article, written by Luella "Lou" Kepler.

Our Gang's Farina Will Appear At High School Stadium Fashion Review

One of Hollywood's outstanding personalities, beloved Farina, will be one of the main attractions at the Ted Jacob's Style Review to be staged at the Lorain high school stadium, Thursday, 8 p.m.

Farina, whose real name is Eugene Jackson, will appear in the Jackson Trio, with his younger brother, Freddie, drummer, and Stan Hunter, pianist.

NOT CONTENT with blowing real "gone" notes on his saxophone he adds to the enjoyment of his audience by performing intricate tap dances while playing his own accompaniment. The Trio will play, dance and sing at the show to be staged for the benefit of retarded children.

Two of the featured numbers will be Me and My Shadow, performed by the Jackson brothers, and the favorite swing tune, I Got Rhythm. The group has toured Honolulu and Alaska in addition to appearing in cities all over the United States. They have recently appeared in the film Artists and Models with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, which will be released next month. The trio was organized in 1945 when Farina retired from serving in the armed forces. It is currently appearing at Ben Hart's Show Bar.

Farina makes his home in Los Angeles. He is married and the father of three children, a boy and two girls.

THE JACKSON TRIO – The ex-member of the Our Gang
comedy, Farina, will appear as Eugene (Farina) Jackson
with his trio at the style review for the benefit of retarded
children, Thursday, 8 p.m. at the Lorain high school
stadium. Farina is shown playing his sax. Stan Hunter is
the pianist and Farina's brother Freddie is drummer.
Since the Our Gang comedies have played on TV, Farina has etched his way into the hearts of the children, who enjoy his acting in movies in his early film career. His appearance at the style show should swell the attendance.

MODELING THE LATEST in fall fashions and the correct attire for the problem figure will be Misses Ginger Mitroff, Dorothy Urban, Beverly Bogdan, Dolores Lohrer, Louise Wynne, Mrs. Eula Owens, Mrs. Ella Zieba, Mrs. Jeanne Ciarrone, Mrs. Betty Trebilcock, Mrs. Vince Nagy, Mrs. Alice Flowers and Mrs. Irene Donath.

Clubs entered in the ticket selling competition are Echos, Genies, Hy Notes, Jr. Dots, Jr. Gems, Kaysers, Hy Notes Y Hi Jackets and Y Hi Sweaters.

THE ADVANCE TICKET sale has been tremendous. With Bill Gordon emceeing the show; Miss Ohio, 1955 making her initial Lorain appearance; Jackson Trio and its novelty musical acts plus another vaudeville attraction; added to the array of beautiful models clad in the coming season's most outstanding clothes; a full night of enjoyment is in store for ticket holders and the stadium should be packed.

There is an added attraction of $500 in merchandise to be awarded.

So what was I hinting at earlier when I said all was not as it seemed?

The real Farina
Quite simply, Eugene Jackson did not play Farina in the Our Gang comedies. He played Farina's older brother in a few of the mid-1920s silent episodes, and was nicknamed Pineapple because of his haircut's similarity to the shape of that particular tropical fruit.

Farina was actually played by Allen Hoskins (at right). He joined the comedies (originally known as Our Gang) in 1922 and remained with the series until he became too old and was eased out in 1931. He did come back to the series for a cameo in 1933.

Fans of the Little Rascals might remember Farina as being one of the four boys (along with Jackie Cooper, Chubby and Buddy) who conspired to get out of Miss Crabtree's class in the episode Teacher's Pet, only to discover that ice cream and cake were being served to the students that day!

Anyway, it's unclear how the misunderstanding took place regarding Jackson's billing as Farina in Lorain.

Nevertheless, Eugene Jackson did enjoy a nice Hollywood career and happy life, beating the odds when it comes to being a child performer. He appeared in a variety of movies and TV series (such as Julia and Sanford and Son) all the way into the 1990s.

He published his autobiography a few years before he passed away in 2001. Here's a link to his obituary in the LA Times.

Next: Another Lorain store with its own Little Rascal-themed fashion revue – that same week!

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