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Annie Ross, Little Rascal

PoppaGator 12 Jun 09 - 04:09 PM
open mike 12 Jun 09 - 10:01 PM
Effsee 12 Jun 09 - 11:08 PM
open mike 12 Jun 09 - 11:19 PM
PoppaGator 13 Jun 09 - 07:49 AM
PoppaGator 15 Jun 09 - 12:02 PM
PoppaGator 16 Jun 09 - 02:35 PM
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Subject: Annie Ross, Little Rascal
From: PoppaGator
Date: 12 Jun 09 - 04:09 PM

For my wife's birthday last week, our two sons chipped in to buy their mom a DVD box-set of the complete Our Gang comedies.

Each of the eight disks starts out with an interview with some surviving older-adult cast member. None of the real, recognizable "stars" appear ~ most of them died young, which is a whole other topic ~ so the interviewees include minor characters who appeared as part of the gang for two or three episodes, and former child performers who weren't "cast members" at all, but who appeared as singers or dancers in one or two of the many "let's put on a show" films.

One such singer was included on the basis of only one appearance in one of the short films. At first, I didn't see any reason why such an obscure individual would have been given such recognition. After a couple of viewings, some thought, and a bit of research, I realized that this aging redheaded woman named Annie Ross was THE Annie Ross, legendary jazz vocalist and "queen of vocalese" who achieved fame as a member of Lambert, Hendreicks, and Ross and who wrote the song "Twisted," which was later popularized by Joni Mitchell and Bette Midler.

Annie was the daughter of British (more precisely, Scottish) vaudevillians who literally brought her up "in a trunk" while on the road all over the UK. At age 6 or 7, she was sent to New York to live with an aunt, Ella Logan, who was making a career for herself in American show biz, and who brought her young niece to Hollywood and eventually arranged for her appearance in "Our Gang Follies of 1938." (There are other Our Gang Follies of other years; be sure to look up the 1938 one.)

Aunt Ella had recently arranged and popularized a swing version of the traditional Scots ballad "Loch Lomond," which is what young Annie performs in the film. She is absolutely wonderful ~ incredibly assured onstage even at age eight, dancing, mugging for the camera, scatting, even growling a few blue notes, and exhibiting a very impresssive vocal range.

Incidentally, her stage name at the time was pretty long and unwieldy: Annabelle McCauley Allan Short.

If you get a chance, see if you can rent or buy a copy of "Our Gang Follies of 1938," just for this one little 2-to-3 minute glimpse at an 8-year-old who would become one of the great vocal artists of the 20th century.

(It should not be necessary to seek out the complete 8-DVD set that we have ~ this particular short film is one of the best-known of the many Our Gang/Little Rascals films, and should be part of just about any available "Best Of..." collection. It's the one in which Alfalfa decides he is really meant to be an opera singer and drives everyone crazy by repeatedly singing "I'm the Barber of Saville / Figaro, Figaro!"_

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Subject: RE: Annie Ross, Little Rascal
From: open mike
Date: 12 Jun 09 - 10:01 PM

one fo the characters from this series was (last i heard) living in Paradise California...

it could be one of these:
more info here:

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Subject: RE: Annie Ross, Little Rascal
From: Effsee
Date: 12 Jun 09 - 11:08 PM

Annie Ross was the sister of the Scottish entertainer Jimmy Logan:-   

Ouch, sorry about that! But just Google her name!

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Subject: RE: Annie Ross, Little Rascal
From: open mike
Date: 12 Jun 09 - 11:19 PM

blickie for above URL

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Subject: RE: Annie Ross, Little Rascal
From: PoppaGator
Date: 13 Jun 09 - 07:49 AM

The Wikipedia article on Annie Ross is pretty comprehensive for anyone looking for more info.

Of course, textual information is not the point ~ my hope was to encourage anyone and everyone to see and hear young Annie's performance. It occurred to me to see if it might be available on YouTube and, lo and behold, "Our Gang Follies of 1938" was the very first episode that turned up when I searched YT and found a 42-minute
clip entitled "The Best of Our Gang Comedies":

This YouTube clip consists of TWO theatrical shorts ~ Follies-of-'38 first, followed by a much older episode from the twenties, entitled "School's Out." Both films are well worth watching if you can sit at your cmputer for 42+ minutes.

Annie's brief appearance starts at the 4:52 mark and runs for less than a minute. Still, it's more than a little impressive. When the camera moves in for a close-up shot during the third and final verse (i.e., the last 20 seconds or so), she's so freaking cute I could just about kill myself!

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Subject: RE: Annie Ross, Little Rascal
From: PoppaGator
Date: 15 Jun 09 - 12:02 PM

refresh ~ I started this thread late Friday, so it dropped off the page over the weekend. Some of you, I suppose, are seeing this for the first time.

Please go to the YouTube link in my previous post and check out the song that runs from 4:45 through 5:43. The performer, little Annabelle McCauley Allan Short, age 7 or 8 (she was born in 1930 and the film was relased in 1938) was brought to the studio by her aunt and did the song in one take. What a little pro!

There is no mention of her (or any of performers, even including the Our Gang regulars) in any onscreen credits, but several researchers/authors have exhaustively studied the Our Gang films, and the producers of a recent DVD complete box-set managed to round up a number of the surviving child performers for interviews, including Annabelle here, who grew up to become the great Annie Ross, jazz singer extraordiaire and "Queen of Vocalese."

The YouTube posting is an unusually long one, just over 42 minutes, and includes two complete Our Gang comedies.

When I first watched this bit, I thought it was pretty good but didn't dwell on it. I have to admit that it was only after learning the singer's ideintity, who she would grow up to become, that I gave it a second look and began to really appreciate it. However, I was heartened to see that one of the YouTube comments said something to this effect: "best song ever at 4:45." So, somebody was very impressed, presumably without knowing the young performer's adult identity.

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Subject: RE: Annie Ross, Little Rascal
From: PoppaGator
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 02:35 PM

refresh again ~ I hope people have been opening the thread and watching the video, even if they haven't seen fit to write comments and keep the thread alive. If not, here's another chance. AFter all, I'm only asking for 58 seconds of your time, to witness a truly incredible performance!

Also: a couple of pertinent links:

Wiki article on Annie Ross:

1959 performance of "Twisted" by grownup Annie:
(From Hugh Hefner's "Playboy After Dark" TV show, featuring Count Basie on the piano ~ and Tony Bennett in the audience!)

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