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Norman Chaney

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Biography

Character: Chubby Chaney
Birthday: November 1, 1914
Place of Birth: Baltimore, Maryland
Date of Death: May 29, 1936
Place of Death: Baltimore, Maryland
First Short: Railroadin'
Last Short: Fly My Kite
Number of Shorts: 18
History: Norman Myers Chaney was the son of an electrical engineer. Unlike most of the stars of the Silent Our Gang stars, no one in his family was in show business. He was of no relation to horror movie star Lon Chaney Jr., or his father, silent film star Lon Chaney Sr. Norman Chaney was discovered through a nationwide contest looking for a new jolly round boy to replace the hugely popular Joseph Cobb quickly out-growing the series in 1928. Reportedly beating past over 20,000 others, He stood at three feet, eleven inches tall and weighed in at 113 pounds. He and Joe shared a few shorts before Joe finally departed. Friendly and jovial, he mannerisms and expression were drawn from Oliver Hardy and Edgar Kennedy, who showed him how to do the slow burn. Dorothy DeBorba recalled him as "full of mischief, a miniature version of W. C. Fields."
As Chubby Chaney, Norman entered the new talking versions of the shorts alongside Joe, and became a suitable replacement as Joe was slowly phased out of the series, but toward the end of the 1930-1931 season, he was getting too old and wasn't cute anymore. Instead of channeling him into a movie career, his family quietly returned home to Baltimore, and Norman had a normal life beyond the series. During his life as a Little Rascal, his school grades on set were considered excellent, but not being a part of the series must have bothered him because they declined afterward. Through his teens, his weight increased to about 300 pounds and in 1935, he became ill and had to undergo an operation for a glandular ailment at Johns Hopkins Hospital. His weight soon dropped to 136 pounds, but his health never stabilized. Sadly, he passed away before the Our Gang series even wrapped up. At 21 years old, he fell ill at his grandparents' Baltimore home and never came out of it. He died May 29, 1936, the first Our Gang star to pass away after leaving the series and the only one who didn't live to see the series end.

List of Shorts

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