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Our Gang: Mildred Kornman Is the Oldest Living Survivor

Alfalfa, Mildred and Spanky

Alfalfa, Mildred and Spanky

Surviving childhood stardom

Mildred Kornman was a child star who survived without scandal and is.one of the last surviving actors from the popular Our Gang series, which was produced from 1922 until 1944. Korman.was only nine months old, when she appeared in her first film The Fourth Alarm. with her sister Mary. The Kornman siblings were also both featured in the Our Gang series of film shorts. Mary and Mildred were the daughters of actress Verna Comer, who appeared in several films, and David Lionel Evans. In 1921 Verna was remarried to Eugene Kornman,Hal Roach′s still-photo cameraman. Her new husband adopted Verna's daughters and gave them his name. Mary was only in a few episodes but Mildred began as a regular in the series, at the age of one. She appeared from 1926 to 1928, and returned from 1930 until 1935. During her second stint, she was used in uncredited, non-speaking roles whenever a group of children was needed for a scene, such as a playground, an audience or a classroom. Children remained active in the film shorts until they aged out and Korman left the series the year she turned 11. The child star was born on July 10, 1925, and will be 97 this year. She is the oldest of 3 surviving members of Our Gang. The other two are Robert Blake who will be 89 on September 18 and Sidney Kibrick who will be 94 on July 2.


Kornman’s first Our Gang appearance.

Kornman’s first Our Gang appearance.

Kornman's later years

Kornman graduated from Hollywood high school and began acting in uncredited roles, using the name Ricki VanDusen.She was also a model, who was featured in magazines such as Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. She was also in television commercials and majored in English, Art, and Spanish at UNC, Los Angeles.. Kornman married Norton Hinsey.on December 30, 1943, There is no record of how long they were married, when he passed away, or if they had children. In 2014, the actress attended a reunion with the remaining My Gang cast members. The Sons of the Desert hosted this event as part of their 19th International Convention. In 2015, at the age of 89, Korman was living in Utah on a remote ranch. She seems to have escaped the issue that plagued some of the other Our Gang cast including homelessness, alcoholism, addiction, poverty, and early death. There was something that was pretty special for the series that should serve as a lesson today. Al Roach (January 14, 1892 – November 2, 1992) the producer had a unique vision. He has been quoted as saying that he wanted the common bond to be poverty and for the children to have fun without race being a factor. Roach captured on screen what was a reality for many American boys and girls . Poor children both black and white growing up side by side using their imaginations and their family pets to create a fun environment.


Mildred as a young girl.

Mildred as a young girl.

Milldred Kornman's filmology

When most people think of Our Gang they recall Spanky. Buckwheat. Darla. Petey the dog and Alfalfa but there were a number of children in the series over the years.,The child actors all went by their real names or off-screen nicknames and there were no scripts for the talented younger children who could not read. They were told what was expected in a scene and to just be themselves and to have fun. The film shorts were basically the equivalent of an adult filming a group of children at play.

Korman was in the following Our Gang short films credited as Mildred.

1926 Thundering Fleas, War Feathers, The Nickel Hopper, The Fourth Alarm

1927 Bring Home the Turkey, Ten Years Old, Love My Dog, Baby Brother, Heebee Jeebees and Olympic Games.

1928 Dog Heaven, Playin Hookey, Spook Spoofin, Barnum and Ringling, Inc., Fair and Muddy, The Smile Wins, Rainy Days, and Edison Marconi & Co.

1930 Teacher’s Pet, School’s Out. Birthday Blues

1933 Fish Hookey

1935 Little Sinner

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1936 Our Gang Follies 1936

This was the end of her Our Gang roles and for the rest of Mildred’s career, her film appearances were uncredited. She was in the following movies.

1937 Hoosier School Boy

1938 Mr. Boggs Steps Out, Mad About Music

1944 Atlantic City, Up in Arms

1945 The Dolly Sisters, Iron Horseshoe

1946 Cinderella Jones

1947 T-Men, I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now

1953 Abbott and Costello go to Mars

1962 The Interns

In 1960 Mildred said the following about being a member of Our Gang, "It was fun being a gang member. It was play. I have no regrets...We didn't have to be talented, which is natural for kids ... I think we had a privileged childhood working in those films."


Sources

  • Our Gang filmology
  • Mildred Kornmon Wikipedia
  • Our Gang Personal Wikipedia

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Cheryl E Preston

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