Allen Hoskins

Movie Actor

Allen Hoskins was born on August 9th, 1920 in Boston, Massachusetts, United States and is the Movie Actor from United States. Discover Allen Hoskins's biography, age, height, physical stats, dating/affair, family, hobbies, education, career updates, and networth at the age of 59 years old.

Date of Birth
August 9, 1920
United States
Place of Birth
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Death Date
Jul 26, 1980 (age 59)
Zodiac Sign
Actor, Film Actor
Allen Hoskins Height, Weight, Eye Color and Hair Color

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About Allen Hoskins

Allen Clayton Hoskins (August 9, 1920 – July 26, 1980) was an American child actor, most famous for portraying the character of Farina in 105 Our Gang short films from 1922 to 1931.

Acting career 1920–1936

Born in Boston in 1920, Allen Clayton Hoskins was just one year old when his tenure with Our Gang began. His character stayed in the series through the silent years and the transition to talking pictures, and he left the series in 1931 at the age of eleven. With his pigtailed hair and patchy outfits, Farina resembled a pickaninny in the tradition of the character Topsy from Uncle Tom's Cabin, but as the character became more popular, and as Allen Hoskins got older, Farina developed his own personality separate from that of Topsy. The name "Farina", derived from a type of cereal, was chosen because its gender was ambiguous: As a toddler, Farina was portrayed as both a boy and a girl, sometimes both genders in the same film.

He was born in Boston in 1920, but soon afterward his parents, Clayton H. Hoskins and Florence A. Fortier Hoskins, moved the family to Los Angeles and in 1922 his acting career began. His younger sister Jannie also appeared in the series as "Mango" (1926–1929) and Hoskins's aunt, Edith Fortier, was his guardian on set. Variety, the magazine devoted to entertainment, reported that his parents divorced in 1926. By that time he was 6 years old and an experienced child actor, and as "Farina" he made more money than most working adults.

The Our Gang comedies were created by Hal Roach Studios, located in Culver City, California. School was required for child actors. Hoskins and the other Roach studio children attended school on the lot at the "Little Red School House". The children were taught by Fern Carter. In 1959, a retrospective article about Fern Carter and her career as a teacher in Hollywood's "Little Red School House" was published. The article explained that she was teaching there when the series began in 1921 and taught over 300 students in a career that lasted 23 years. She often said that Farina was the brightest student she ever had.

The Studio was a family affair and often relatives, staff and other Roach Studio stars appeared in cameo roles or as extras in many of the films including Harold Lloyd, Oliver Hardy, Stan Laurel, Ernie Morrison's father, Ernie Morrison Sr. and Fern Carter's daughter, Wadell Carter. In 1929 Hoskins' aunt and guardian on set, Edith Fortier, also appeared as an extra in the films Noisy Noises and Small Talk.

In addition to acting in the Our Gang short films, the children also made personal appearances. In 1927, the Oakland Tribune published an article about such an appearance. "Countless millions of boys and girls have seen Our Gang comedies but this good luck doesn't befall orphans very often. East Bay orphans, however, are going to get their chance to see these popular screen stars in person..."

During his time in the Gang, Farina became both the series' anchor and its most popular character. While he was not the first black child actor (or even the first black Our Gang kid), Farina became arguably the first black child star. Hoskins' last contract with the Hal Roach Studio called for $350 a week, more than any other cast member was earning at that time. When he finally outgrew the series, he was replaced by Matthew Beard in 1931.

When his career in Our Gang comedies ended because of his age, several newspaper columnists took notice. In 1931, Columnist Jack Lait wrote the following in his Highlights of Broadway, from the Circle to the Square column:

On the same date, a column, with no byline, was published in The Register of Sandusky, Ohio:

At the end of the studio's 1930-1931 season, Hoskins aged out. Other child actors were let go at the same time, including Norman "Chubby" Chaney and Mary Ann Jackson. While working as actors, all the children attended parties and special events at the studio, including Christmas, when they received any gift they asked for. In January 1931 Farina was a star, earning $350 a week, but by July 1931 he was unemployed.

In 1928, when Joe Cobb became too old for his part, 20,000 boys auditioned to replace him in a contest sponsored by Roach.

In 1926, several newspapers, including one in Lima, Ohio, carried a story about Farina simply because (it was reported) he wanted to quit playing a girl. "But of course you may not know that Allen Clayton Hoskins is the "sure-enough" name of Little Farina who is having a birthday party out in Hollywood he's getting pretty big and he wants to wear trousers and be a boy on the screen as well as off it..." Exactly one year later (again on his birthday) the same newspaper carried a new story about how Farina learned to act (from his "brother", who did not exist).

Hoskins did not have a brother, but he did have a younger sister, Jannie. She rated her own story when she, too, began to appear in the comedies in 1926. The Oakland Tribune carried a "Movieland" column out of Hollywood, by Jack Wooldridge: "Janie [ [sic]] the little sister of Farina had been added to the cast of Our Gang at the Hal Roach Studios...Janie is two years, 4 months old, black as midnight and all animation..."

Many stories about the Gang appeared from time to time and these were carried in various newspapers throughout the country. Most of them were related to release of a new film. The films, called "shorts", were usually two reels in length and local trade papers, such as "Motion Picture News" and "Motion Picture World", wrote about the Our Gang shorts every time a new one appeared. In 1923 alone, fourteen were released. The children were stars to their fans, both children and adults. The early comedies were silent, but when talkies emerged the studio quickly made this transition and so did Farina. Maltin wrote in his book about the excitement when the first talkie by Our Gang was released

As an indication of Hoskins's popularity, the song "Lil' Farina (Ev'rybody Loves You)," words by Harrison G. Smith and music by Alvano Mier, was published in 1925. The cover included a photograph of Hoskins (with his screen and real names), and an approbation from Harold Lloyd.

The fact that all of the children would eventually grow too old and their contracts would not be renewed was also considered newsworthy. An article that appeared in a 1937 Abilene, Texas, newspaper attempted to explain how this worked.

After Hoskins grew too old for his part, in 1931, he returned to Roach Studios for several cameo appearances but was not chosen for a long-term role. He was given a cameo role in an unusual short film called The Stolen Jools.

After his career with the Our Gang comedies ended in 1931, Farina and his sister Jannie toured in a vaudeville act accompanied by their mother, Florence Hoskins, in 1932. The exact dates that they toured are not known, but early 1932 found them on tour in Jefferson City, Missouri. The article notes "...Today you are to have the opportunity to see him in person at the Miller Theater. Accompanied by Mango, his sister, the star will do a comedy skit..." The article also praises the other two acts. "...The Five Juggling Jewels...are all that their name suggests when it comes to juggling Indian Clubs... [and] "Diversion A La Carte" offered by Jack Fulton and Peggy Parker...just good fun and songs and that's enough..."

In February 1932, they performed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 2010, Toronto columnist and historicist Jamie Bradburn published a retrospective piece about the events surrounding Farina's vaudeville appearance in Toronto in February 1932: "Like children elsewhere across the continent, young Toronto moviegoers in the 1920s and 1930s eagerly awaited the next instalment of the Our Gang series of shorts...Having grown out of Our Gang after 1931's Fly My Kite, Hoskins and his younger sister, (aka Mango) developed the vaudeville act that brought them to Toronto... On matinee day the STAR featured a front page interview with both children and their mother. Reporter Archibald Lampman (not the nineteenth century poet) noted that Janey "didn't think we were so hot". Bradburn notes that the girl's instincts were on target as the printed interview with "the doggy pickanins of the movies" was a shambling sometimes condescending affair. The occasion was special and the newspaper set up "chairs all around" Bradburn goes on to say that "...Lampman made lame attempts to act as if he was trying to keep up the façade of dignified reporter before giving in to a case of the cutes whenever Hoskins flashed a toothy grin..." The engagement began on February 12, 1932, with a Friday night spot as a special attraction at the Imperial Theatre...The next morning they performed at a matinee at the Imperial, then made brief appearances for adoring fans at two Kresge stores..."

Many of the original advertisements and photographs are included in this article. The siblings are pictured together signing a copy of the "Just Kids Safety Club" card sponsored by The Globe (a copy of the card with his signature and his Los Angeles address are displayed in the column). There is also mention of an interview with Farina's mother. "Mrs. Hoskins hinted at the discrimination the family faced, noting that she seemed far more accepted on the west coast than the east. With a voice that Lampan described as "flowing like an old darky melody" she praised the efforts of Scopes Trial Lawyer Clarence Darrow to improve conditions for blacks in America (presumably a reference to the Ossian Sweet case) and believes that her children's generation would overcome prejudice..." Also of interest is an advertisement promoting Farina's singing ability: "...Appearing this week at the Imperial Theatre, [he] will entertain you...singing the sensational hits Home (Where Shadows Fall), Fox Trot and Save the Last Dance for Me,, waltz. Copies of these songs, 25 cents at Kresge's stores..."

While Hoskins did find some work after Farina, it was short term. Soon after leaving Our Gang one of his first roles was as the "Host" of the 13th episode of the Voice of Hollywood (second series). Among the guests were John Wayne, Gary Cooper and Jackie Coogan, but this was just a one-time event. In 1933 Hoskins, along with fellow graduates Mickey Daniels, Joe Cobb and Mary Kornman returned to "Our Gang" for an encore appearance in Fish Hooky, but nothing more came of it. Hoskins kept his relationship with the studio, though, and in 1936 he was part of an "Our Gang" tour and later appeared with the Gang on the You Asked for It show in the 1950s.

After his vaudeville appearances, Hoskins returned to Los Angeles, where he auditioned for movie roles. When he appeared in his first full-length movie, You Said a Mouthful starring Joe E. Brown, various papers carried the "news" that Farina cut off his braids for the movie and placed them in the family Bible. After this movie ended, Hoskins continued to audition for other movie roles. From 1932 to 1936 he made appearances in seven full-length films, but most were not credited and his career in movies did not flourish.

Professional rehabilitation career, 1955–1980

Known to his friends as Al, he and his wife, Franzy, moved in the 1950s to Santa Rosa, where they raised their children and where he began his career in the field of rehabilitation. The exact date he began working at Sonoma State Hospital, located in Eldridge, California, is not known, but by 1963 he was the Sheltered Workshop Director. In addition to working full time, he became concerned about the problems of youth in the South Park area of Santa Rosa, where they lived. In his spare time he developed a proposal for "Weekend House - an Evening and Weekend Training and Counseling Center" for youth. In the Introduction he wrote, "The beginnings of future problems if not met now, can and will develop into serious community problems that left to its own uncontrolled development, will lead to the type of area and social breakdown that have been experienced by other communities in the past..." Part of the problem, he stated, was that "...there are no parks or recreational facilities in the district..." . In his proposal, Hoskins identified these issues and offered solutions. A copy of this survives, but it is not known if he submitted it to the local government.

In 1965 he left Sonoma State Hospital for a better position, and the family moved to Hayward, California. He was now the Sheltered Workshop Director at the Walpert Center, part of the Association for Retarded Children of Southern Alameda County. His career was followed in the local papers, not because he had been a child star called "Farina", but because of his work as an advocate for disabled people. In 1966 he appeared in the local paper, The Argus, reporting on the Workshop's effort to seek funding to complete an expansion: "We're using every inch of available space...We think we have a worthwhile program and we'd like the chance to do an even better job and serve more people..."

In 1968 an article appeared in the Oakland Tribune regarding his efforts to strengthen Sheltered Workshops in his area:

In February 1969, Hoskins was chosen to be Director of the 10th Annual Conference on Rehabilitation Workshops. "The problems of administrating and operating Rehabilitation Workshops for the Handicapped is the subject of the California Association of Rehabilitation Workshops' 10th annual conference... Allen Hoskins, director of the Hayward Retarded Children's Center, 1101 Walpert St. is the program director for this year's convention."

Under his guidance, the Oakland Tribune reported that the workshop was now employing 1,000 clients, double what it had the previous year. "Handicapped workers represent a vast economic resource which has been barely tapped," according to Hoskins, who was also at that time President of the Bay Area Association of Rehabilitation Workshops, which represented 40 Workshops in the Bay Area.

Hoskins spoke at a press conference marking the observance of Workshop Week, which was proclaimed by Mayor John H. Reading of Oakland and other mayors throughout the state. "I have yet to find a business operation in which there is not some item of work which could not be best handled by one of our shops", Hoskins said..."they're a sleeping giant...You call us and we'll survey your company, tell you what we can do for you and make you an offer... What we're looking for is work not a handout."

While working full time, Hoskins also continued to develop creative projects and opened his own studio. In 1976 the Oakland Tribune reported that he was volunteering to help young actors learn their craft at a local nonprofit group, the Experimental Group Young People's Theatre Co., where he was an advisor to the group, "...volunteering his expertise..."