|Born||Dorothy Adelle DeBorba
March 28, 1925
Los Angeles, California
|Died||June 2, 2010
Walnut Creek, California
|Cause of death||Emphysema|
|Other names||Dorothy DeBorba Habereitter|
DeBorba was a native of Livermore, California. Of Portuguese Azorean ancestry, she came from a show business background. Her mother was a singer-dancer-actress, and her father was a drummer in Paul Whiteman's band.
Dorothy DeBorba began her career at age five. She impressed Hal Roach for her ability to cry on cue. Her debut was an auspicious one: in Pups Is Pups (1930), she plays Jackie Cooper's sister, a little girl who, in a running gag throughout the two-reeler, runs out of her house and jumps straight into a mud puddle. Her mother (Lyle Tayo) cleans her up and re-dresses her straightaway, only to have her run out and jump right back into the puddle again. The gag ends the film, in fact, when Mother loses her balance and falls in the mud herself.
With her trademark curls and elaborate hair bows, Dorothy quickly became an audience favorite. Her mother made those bows and would spend two hours every night brushing and putting Dorothy's hair up in curlers. Her natural energy and mischievousness added to her appeal. Although she stated that "the boys [in the series] were given all the best lines," in Love Business Dorothy has some of the funniest lines in the entire series, delivered while Chubby is practicing his seductive patter on an oversized cutout poster of Greta Garbo in front of a movie house:
- Chubby: Darling, can you hear the pleas in my whispers.
- Dorothy: Darling, can you hear the fleas in my whiskers.
- Chubby: If love is like a rose, I will fix my rose in a bud.
- Dorothy: If love is like a rose, I will stick my nose in the mud.
- Chubby: My heart is filled with joy. I want to trip and dance.
- Dorothy: My heart is filled with joy. I want to rip my pants.
In 1931 Dorothy became the leading Lady after Mary Ann Jackson left the series.
She appeared in twenty-four Our Gang comedies over three years with her last appearance coming in 1933's Mush and Milk. "It was like we had the biggest playhouse in the world," she said. "We were always playing when we weren't working or going to school. 'Uncle' Bob McGowan had a real terrific way with children." However, "It wasn't really much fun, working every day and going to school besides. By the age of ten, of course, the movie careers of most of us were finished."
DeBorba graduated from Van Nuys High School and then worked at Republic Pictures. In later years she was a senior clerk in the School of Journalism at UC-Berkeley. She married twice, and had two children.
- Pups Is Pups (1930)
- Teacher's Pet (1930)
- School's Out (1930)
- Helping Grandma (1930)
- Love Business (1931)
- Little Daddy (1931)
- Bargain Day (1931)
- Fly My Kite (1931)
- The Stolen Jools (1931)
- Big Ears (1931)
- Shiver My Timbers (1931)
- Dogs Is Dogs (1931)
- Readin' and Writin' (1932)
- Free Eats (1932)
- Spanky (1932)
- Choo-Choo! (1932)
- The Pooch (1932)
- Hook and Ladder (1932)
- Free Wheeling (1932)
- Birthday Blues (1932)
- A Lad an' a Lamp (1932)
- Fish Hooky (1933)
- Forgotten Babies (1933)
- The Kid from Borneo (1933)
- Mush and Milk (1933)
- McLellan, Dennis. "Dorothy de Borba dies at 85; child actress in 'Our Gang' comedies." June 5, 2010. Los Angeles Times
- Distinguished Americans & Canadians of Portuguese Descent The Portuguese American Historical & Research Foundation Archived May 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- Dorothy DeBorba at the Internet Movie Database
- Dorothy DeBorba at the TCM Movie Database
- Dorothy DeBorba at AllMovie
- The Dorothy DeBorba page
- Historical survey of Our Gang / The Little Rascals
- Our Gang and the Little Rascals
- "Teacher's Pet" movie site
- Meeting Dorothy DeBorba in 2000
- Dorothy Deborba at Find a Grave