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Robert Hutchins

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Biography

Character: Wheezer Hutchins, Horatio
Birthday: March 29, 1925
Place of Birth: Tacoma, Washington
Date of Death: May 17, 1945
Place of Death: Merced, California
First Short: Baby Brother
Last Short: Mush And Milk
Number of Shorts: 58
History: Robert E. Hutchins started out in the Buster Brown series and later moved to the Our Gang shorts in 1927. According to stories, he got his name "Wheezer" because all the running around he did left him out of breath and he would wheeze until he got his breath back. He turned out to be a little scene-stealer through more than five years of shorts, becoming one of the most remembered stars in the series. His co-stars have little memories of him because his stage parents worked hard to distance him from the others. As Jackie Cooper recalls:
"You'd go to play with Wheezer and his father would pull him away, very competitive. I didn't get a satisfactory answer from my mother or grandmother as to why, but he was to be left alone. I guess his father was trying to make him a star or something. Obviously it never happened as it did for Spanky or some of the other kids."
Wheezer's father was rumored for causing production problems, and at least one of the Little Rascals voiced suspicions that everyone's favorite star was being ill-treated to keep him in the role. When Wheezer did out-grow the Rascals, his family moved back to their hometown. His big sister for much of the series, Mary Ann Jackson, seemed to just barely keep in touch with him, and when she finally visited him in Tacoma in July 1935, they picked berries at a nearby ranch in an incident recorded by the local newspaper.
After high school, Robert worked briefly in a gas station before joining the Army Air Corps (Air Force) in 1943. He was an air cadet flying planes by 1945, his mother attending his graduation. After twenty months of service in the Air Corps, Robert was conducting a mid-air training exercise when his craft collided with another at the air base near Merced, California. While the other pilot survived, the good-looking twenty-year-old who brought joy to millions of fans in his youth did not. Only one heavily retouched newspaper photo survives of grown-up Wheezer.

List of Shorts

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