Darla Hood (November 4, 1931 – June 13, 1979) was an American child actress.
She was born Darla Jean Hood in Leedey, Oklahoma, the only child of James Claude Hood and Elizabeth Davner. Her father worked in a bank and her mother was a music teacher.
Her mother started her in singing and dancing at an early age, taking her to lessons in Oklahoma City. Just after her third birthday, she was taken to New York City where she was seen by Joe Rivkin , a casting director for Hal Roach Studios, who arranged a screen test. She was then taken to Culver City, California, to appear in the Our Gang movies.
From 1935 to 1941, she played Darla in Our Gang. The comedy movie shorts were later syndicated for television, in the mid-1950s, under the title The Little Rascals.
When she outgrew her role in Our Gang, she appeared in a couple of other movies and attended school in Los Angeles. While at Fairfax High School, she organized a vocal group called the Enchanters with four boys. Shortly after graduation, the quartet was booked by producer and star Ken Murray for his famous "Blackouts," a stage variety show. The group remained with Murray's Blackouts during its long run in New York and Hollywood.
Hood then went out on her own with singing engagements in nightclubs and guest appearances on TV. She was a regular on The Ken Murray Show from 1950 to 1951. In 1955, she was a leading lady in the act of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. She had a hit record in 1957, I Just Wanna Be Free, and appeared in the movie Calypso Heat Wave singing a duet with Johnny Desmond .
Hood had two marriages, insurance salesman Robert W. Decker (married 1955-divorced 1957) and record company head Jose Granson (married 1957). She and Granson had three children.
In January 1959, she released a new record, Quiet Village. Joe Rivkin, who discovered her as a child, saw the cover and cast her in her first adult role in a movie. She played a secretary in the suspense drama The Bat (1959) with Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead.
Hood was a guest on such TV shows of the early 1960s as Tell It to Groucho starring Groucho Marx and The Jack Benny Show, where she appeared as "Darla" in a spoof of the old Our Gang shows with Jack Benny. She did singing and voice-over on TV commercials, which included Campbell Soup and Chicken of the Sea Tuna. And she appeared in her own nightclub act at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles, the Copacabana in New York and the Sahara in Las Vegas.
During the 1960s and 1970s, she went to many Our Gang/Little Rascals festivals and conventions, meeting and greeting the various generations of fans.
At forty-seven, Hood died in North Hollywood, California, of acute hepatitis contracted while in the hospital for a minor surgery.
Darla Hood is interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood.
Last updated: 05-14-2005 14:13:04