|Born||Darwood Kenneth Smith
September 8, 1929
Fort Collins, Colorado, U.S.
|Died||May 15, 2002
Riverside, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Hit-and-run accident|
Darwood Kenneth Smith (September 8, 1929 - May 15, 2002), also known as Darwood Kaye, was an American former child actor most notable for his semi-regular role as the bookish rich kid Waldo in the Our Gang short subjects series from 1937 to 1940. As an adult, Smith became a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, ministering at several churches until his accidental death in 2002.
Kaye made his screen debut with a small role in Hal Roach's 1937 Our Gang comedy Glove Taps, with his first speaking part in Hearts are Thumps, released the same year. In most of his Our Gang appearances, Kaye portrayed "Waldo", a rich kid with an officious, studious nature about him who competed with schoolmates "Alfalfa " Switzer and "Butch" Bond for the affections of little Darla Hood.
Kaye remained a semi-regular in Our Gang through 1940, by which time production of the series had moved from the Hal Roach studio to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. After leaving the Our Gang series Kaye appeared as "Waldo" in Barnyard Follies at Republic Pictures in late 1940. Minor roles in other films included the musical Best Foot Forward with Lucille Ball and Kansas City Kitty, in both of which he played "Killer".
After serving in the United States Army for a year and a half, Smith attended La Sierra University, a Seventh-day Adventist college in Riverside, California. He married another student attending La Sierra, Jean Venden, in June 1951, with whom he had four sons: Dan, David, Richard, and Donald. Smith became a minister in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, ministering at churches in the nearby cities of San Diego, Palm Springs, Escondido, Santa Maria, and Oceanside.
In 1957, the Smiths moved to Siam (present day Thailand), where Darwood, now known as Pastor Ken Smith, did missionary work. Three years later, the couple's fourth son, Donald, was born in Bangkok. The Smiths remained in Thailand for fourteen years before going back to the U.S. permanently. Pastor Smith continued his clerical career, ministering in several Southern California churches and supervising missionary work.
On May 15, 2002, Smith was severely injured in a hit-and-run accident on Arlington Avenue in Riverside, California. He died later that evening at Riverside Community Hospital, surrounded by his four sons—all pastors—his wife Jean, and other relatives. He was one month shy of his fifty-first wedding anniversary. He was buried at the Crestlawn Memorial Park in Riverside.
Smith was survived by one brother (Dennis), his wife (Jean), his four sons (Dan, David, Richard, and Donald), and nine grandchildren. His life story is told in the 2009 Pacific Press book "Finding Waldo," written by his second son, David.