Remembering Porky: ‘Little Rascals’ actor’s son now lives in Hastings
Many people knew Eugene Gordon Lee as “Porky,” the young, chubby little brother of “Spanky” on the classic television show “Little Rascals.” But to one Hastings resident, he was better known as a father.
Doug Lee is a resident at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Hastings and is Gordon Lee’s son.
Gordon joined the show “Our Gang,” which would later be renamed “Little Rascals,” when he was just 18 months old in 1935. His parents had submitted his photo to Roach Studios, and his resemblance to George “Sparky” McFarland earned him a spot on the cast. He stayed with the show until 1949, when he became too tall to keep playing the part of Spanky’s little brother, according to “Otay! The Official Filmography of Our Gang’s Gordon ‘Porky’ Lee,” by Steven K. Brown.
After leaving the show, Gordon and his parents moved back to Texas, where they had lived before moving to California for the show. He finished school, got college degrees in political science and history, got married and had a son, Doug.
Growing up the child of a former child star wasn’t any different than any normal childhood. Doug grew up on a ranch in Texas. His father was a teacher, and because they lived so far away from the school, the school offered to pay for his gas in exchange for driving a bus route. Doug recalled his father commenting that when he was a kid, he had thought everyone went to school in a limousine, because that’s what took him to school.
Gordon kept his celebrity status quiet until after college, Doug said. He was excited about having played Porky, but didn’t like everyone around him knowing.
“He kept it pretty close to his chest,” Doug said.
Later in life, he would be more open about the show. He celebrated his birthday with “Little Rascals” marathons, Doug said. Doug himself grew up with the show and had seen every episode.
Gordon divorced in 1971 and moved to Colorado in 1974. He taught high school social studies and history for 27 years.
In adulthood, Gordon was much different than the carefree, trouble-making Porky.
“He was a no-nonsense kind of person,” Doug said. “He was a stickler for manners.”
He was the sort of person who accomplishes whatever he sets his mind to, he added. But what he perhaps felt to be most important was education.
“He always pushed for learning,” Doug said. “He believed that a rested mind was a waste.”
Doug joined the Army as a mechanic in 1979. Most of his service was done state-side, in Alabama, Alaska and Texas. He was sent to El Salvador in 1981.
When Doug got out of the army in 1985, he moved to Minnesota. Around that time, Gordon’s health was declining, so Doug brought him to Minnesota as well so they could be closer.
Gordon made his history as Porky a little more public in his retirement. Richard Bann convinced Hal Roach, the producer of the original show, to work with him on a book about the show. As part of the project, Bann contacted the actors who were still alive, and got them involved in an autograph circuit. Gordon joined the circuit and sold autographed photos between the ages of 65 and 67, Doug said.
Gordon died in Minneapolis in October, 2005. Doug left Minnesota for a few years, living in Oklahoma until about three years ago, he said.