Eugene Gordon Lee
|Eugene "Porky" Lee|
October 25, 1933
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
|Died||October 16, 2005
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
|Cause of death||Lung cancer
|Other names||Gordon Lee
Eugene Gordon Lee
|Partner(s)||Janice McClain (1992-2005) (his death)|
Eugene Gordon Lee (October 25, 1933 – October 16, 2005) was an American child actor, most notable for appearing in the Our Gang (Little Rascals) comedies as Porky from 1935 to 1939. During his tenure in Our Gang, Porky originated the catchphrase "O-tay!", though it is commonly attributed to Buckwheat.
Lee got his break in motion pictures in 1935, after producer Hal Roach noted how much the eighteen-month-old toddler looked like Our Gang star Spanky McFarland, also from Texas. The Lee family traveled from Texas to Culver City, California, and Eugene Lee, nicknamed "Porky" by the studio, joined the cast as Spanky's little brother. Porky appeared in forty-two Our Gang comedies over four years. Lee, McFarland, and Our Gang co-stars Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas, and Darla Hood constituted what is today the most familiar incarnation of Our Gang.
This group moved from Hal Roach Studios to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1938 after Roach sold the series. When Lee grew several inches in height during early 1939 (to the point that the five-year-old was the same height as ten-year-old McFarland), MGM replaced him with Mickey Gubitosi, later better known by the stage name of Robert Blake.
After leaving the series, Lee retired from motion pictures, and entered public school. As an adult, he became an alternative school educator at Broomfield High School in Colorado. Lee changed his name and began going by Gordon Lee (naming himself after his favorite Our Gang director, Gordon Douglas) to avoid any correlation with his former acting career.
After retiring, Lee moved to Minnesota to be closer to his son Douglas. In the early 1980s, Lee began appearing at Little Rascals reunions and began a business selling "Porky"-related merchandise. Finally embracing his past, Lee was known to tell Our Gang fans "we are relics of history."
- "Gordon Lee, a Little Rascal, is dead at 71. He was unemployed by age 6, and he suppressed knowledge of his film career for much of his life". Star Tribune. October 22, 2005. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
For much of his life, Gordon Lee kept quiet about having played "Porky" in 42 films about Spanky and Our Gang, also known as the Little Rascals. But in recent years, Lee, who had lived in the Twin Cities since about 1993, went public with his childhood stardom and enjoyed it. He died Sunday of cancer, said Janice McClain, his partner of 13 years. He would have been 72 on Tuesday, said his friend Tracy Tolzmann of Sunrise, Minn. Born in Fort Worth ...
- Maltin, Leonard and Bann, Richard W. (1977, rev. 1992). The Little Rascals: The Life and Times of Our Gang, p. 272. New York: Crown Publishing/Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-517-58325-9