Pioneer African-American child stars, Ernie Morrison and Allen Hoskins, amuse highly in the "Our Gang" short Young Sherlocks
For this month of February, Black History Month, I'm attempting to review, in chronological order, many achievements of African-Americans on film, both in front of and behind the camera. For my second entry, I'm reviewing the earliest "Our Gang/Little Rascals" short I've seen so far: Young Sherlocks-No. 3 in the series. The first two black child stars in the movies were introduced here: Ernie Morrison (often nicknamed "Sunshine Sammy" here) and Allen "Farina" Hoskins, a toddler boy who was often dressed like a girl in the early days. Also appearing is another toddler named Jackie Condon and the first "Our Gang" leading lady, Peggy Cartwright, as rich girl Mary Jane. Ernie and baby "sister" Farina with their mule Dinah are attempting to find food since they have no money. Jackie sells newspapers. Mary Jane stops by the local grocer with her horse and buys some apples. Things start to pick up when she gets kidnapped and Ernie and Jackie ride with Dinah to rescue her...There's plenty of funny gags involving milk through a hose, Jackie slipping to the back of Dinah only to go forward again, Ernie going back every time he shoots a rifle helping him to defeat the bad guys, and Farina going up while carrying balloons. The person who put this on YouTube added the wonderful LeRoy Shield score that underlined many of the "Little Rascals" talkies. Also worth noting, Morrison's father, also named Ernie, appeared as a bank extra and the eventual leading character for the next few years, Mickey Daniels, appeared here in a smaller role. Young Sherlocks is hilarious and is well worth seeing for any "Our Gang" completists or anyone who loves great silent comedy. P.S. Since I always want to make note of anyone who was born in my now home state of Louisiana, I'm proud to mention that Ernie Morrison was born in New Orleans on December 20, 1912. Also, despite having earlier appeared as a baby in the now considered racist picture, The Birth of a Nation, Ms. Cartwright must have inherited great racial tolerance in her brief time spending with Ernie and Allen since she would later marry an actor named William Walker who's the grandson of a freed slave and whose most famous movie role would be that of a preacher who would say to Gregory Peck's children in To Kill a Mockingbird, after Peck lost his case, "Stand up, children, your father is passing."
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