Dorothy Adelle DeBorba (March 28, 1925 – June 2, 2010) was an American former child actress who was a regular in the Our Gang series of short subjects as the leading lady from 1930 to 1933.
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.
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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: Oh, my darling, can you hear my pleas in my whispers.
Dorothy: Darling, I hear the fleas in my whiskers.
Chubby: If love is like a rose, I will nip my rose in the 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.
This "smart-alecky compulsion" gave her the nickname "Echo" at the Hal Roach Studios.
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. Her last appearance ending in Mush and Milk (1933). "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.
DeBorba died of emphysema on June 2, 2010 at age 85 while residing in Walnut Creek, California. She is survived by her two children.