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'GANG' STAR

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Few faces from the early years of film comedy became more revered by the TV generation than George ”Spanky” McFarland’s. When he died June 30 of a heart attack in Grapevine, Tex., at age 64, his roly-poly presence was what people recalled best about Our Gang. In 95 shorts made from 1932 to 1942, Spanky’s eye-rolling exasperation combined with Carl ”Alfalfa” Switzer’s goofy nervousness to create a junior Laurel and Hardy. He continued acting in features until he hit 16, eventually becoming a TV sales executive. Last April he guested on Cheers as himself. New Our Gang tapes will be released in 1994 by Cabin Fever. Meanwhile, older Republic collections are still in stores. Recommended: Mush and Milk/ Three Men in a Tub In Mush (1933), Spanky helps bring anarchy to a boarding-school breakfast; Hi’-Neighbor!/Came the Brawn A road race pits Our Gang’s junkmobile against a rich kid’s fire engine in Neighbor (1934); The Pinch Singer/Framing Youth 1936’s Singer has Alfalfa massacring ”I’m in the Mood for Love” in a crooning contest; Glove Taps/Bedtime Worries In 1937’s Taps Spanky is the trainer. Alfalfa is the fighter. Butch, the new bully on the block, is the reason.