June Marlowe, the actress best known as teacher Miss Crabtree in the “Our Gang” Little RascalsRin-Tin-Tin films, died today in 1984. Now WE know em

June Marlowe - c. 1930s

Gisela Valaria Goetten was born November 6, 1903 in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

She then moved to Los Angeles with her family in 1920.

Then while performing in a high school play at Hollywood High, she was noticed by director Malcolm St. Clair who helped her get an agent and arranged for her to debut in the 1923 movie “Fighting Blood.”

June Marlowe

As a result, she was signed by Warner Brothers in 1924 as June Marlowe, and billed as “The Most Beautiful Girl on the Screen.”

Warner cast her in five silent adventure sagas opposite their canine superstar Rin-Tin-Tin.

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In 1926, June Marlowe appeared with John Barrymore in the prestigious film “Don Juan” but she had a salary dispute and left Warner Brothers only to have her name then removed from the films credits.

Those who knew June at the time felt her kind, gentle spirit didn’t have the stomach for the Tinseltown rat race.

Then by chance one day while she was shopping in a Los Angeles department store, Robert McGowan noticed her.

Our Gang

Robert McGowan was the director for the Our Gang children’s comedy films and had been searching for an actress to portray a schoolteacher when he noticed June.

McGowan asked her to try out for the part, but producer Hal Roach wanted a blond to match the hair of lead child star Jackie Cooper.

The brunette June Marlowe donned a blond wig and was awarded the part of Miss Crabtree.

In 1930, she appeared in her first Our Gang film “Teacher’s Pet” as teacher Miss Crabtree.

The part had been originally planned as a gag, however producer Hat Roach later said of June: “She wasn’t a great actress; you just liked her, and that was enough”.

Movie audiences liked her enough to turn this one-time appearance into a recurring character in the full length 1930 film “School’s Out.”

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June’s indelible character was sweet and understanding with the Little Rascals, and the perfect fantasy schoolmarm any red-blooded American boy could develop a crush on.

This success led to the 1931 films “Love Business” and “Little Daddy.”

Also in 1931 (without the blond wig), June appeared in Laurel and Hardy’s first feature film “Pardon Us.”

June then made two more Our Gang comedies in 1932, “Shiver My Timbers” and “Readin’ and Writin.”

She married Hollywood businessman Rodney Sprigg in 1933 and retired from the Hollywood scene once more, this time to become a housewife.

June would continue to refuse offers from Hal Roach to reprise her role as Miss Crabtree until he sold the rights to Our Gang to MGM in 1938.  MGM then discontinued Our Gang in 1944.

After World War II, Hal Roach renewed popularity in the series via reruns on television with the name “The Little Rascals.”

With this successful revival, a publisher commissioned June Marlowe to write a series of children’s books.

June was delighted that people still remembered her as Miss Crabtree and completed two books before the effects of Parkinson’s Disease forced her to abandon the project.

June Marlowe died March 10, 1984 in Burbank, California.

Originally she was buried at San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, however she was later reinterred in the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Downtown Los Angeles in 2002.

Now WE know em

 Misscrabtree_schoolsout

 

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