Services were held Wednesday for Huntington Beach civil engineer Sherwood V. Bailey Jr., who played the freckle-faced, tattletale Little Rascal known as Spud in the vintage "Our Gang" comedies. He died of cancer on his 64th birthday.
Bailey's wife, former Huntington Beach Mayor Ruth Bailey, said her husband died last Thursday night at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach after a five-month illness.
Sherwood Bailey appeared in the popular Depression-era comedy films in the early 1930s, his wife said.
According to the authors of "Our Gang: The Life and Times of the Little Rascals," Bailey was a "latter-day star of the series." But the authors said they were unable to locate Bailey while writing the book.
"He played the character Spud," his wife said. "He was in 'The Little Rascals' when it was still called 'The Little Rascals.' It was called 'Our Gang' later on. . . . He was in about a dozen episodes, including some of the silent ones. He was actually in the gang one episode before Spanky."
She recalled the red-haired character of Spud as "the mama's-boy type who got away with everything. He also liked the girls a lot."
Bailey's movie career began sometime around 1930, his wife said. While attending a performance by his sister, a Ziegfeld Follies dancer, the boy was spotted by director Hal Roach. Roach "saw his red hair and freckles and said, 'He's the one we want for Spud,' " Bailey's wife said.
Quit Acting at Age 17
Before retiring from his professional acting career at age 17, his wife said, Bailey appeared in a few movies, including "Too Many Parents" (1936), "Young Thomas Edison" (1940) with Mickey Rooney, and what she believes to be his last, "The Big Stampede" with John Wayne.
He graduated from Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, then studied engineering at UCLA but did not graduate. He later earned his state civil engineering license, his wife said.
Last November, Bailey ran unsuccessfully for the Huntington Beach City Council seat vacated by his wife, who had served on the council since 1978--the maximum two-term limit.
Bailey is survived by his wife, daughters Susanne Youngberg of Long Beach, Pam Doest of Orange and Roneale Branning of San Bernardino, a sister, Dorothy Facer of Seal Beach, and five grandchildren.
The family has asked that donations be made to the Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian Cancer Center.