Gordon Lee, 71, the chubby child actor who played Spanky McFarland's little brother, Porky, in "The Little Rascals" comedies, died Oct. 16 in a Minneapolis nursing home. He had lung and brain cancer, said Janice McClain, his partner of 13 years.
Mr. Lee played one of the younger members in the "Our Gang" shorts in the 1930s, appearing in more than 40 from 1935 to 1939. The comedies, produced by Hal Roach, became known as "The Little Rascals" when shown on TV in the 1950s.
Mr. Lee also appeared in the films "Bored of Education," which won an Oscar in 1937 for best one-reel short subject; "Our Gang Follies of 1936"; "The Awful Tooth"; and "Roamin' Holiday," as well as others.
In a 1998 interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Fort Worth, Tex., native said he was 2 years old when his mother sent his picture to studio executives who were seeking an actor to play McFarland's brother.
"We were on the next train to L.A., and I had a contract within a few days," Mr. Lee said. "Fat kid got lucky.
"My memories are not about making movies. We played with our toys, and the adults played with theirs," he said, referring to the cameras.
In many of the comedies, he and Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas teamed up against older boys Spanky and Alfalfa. The Porky character is credited with helping popularize the catchphrase "O-tay!" meaning "Okay!"
In the interview, Mr. Lee recalled a warm friendship with his black costar when they were children and praised their interracial relationship on screen, saying, "Buckwheat played an absolute equal part in the gang."
Mr. Lee told friends his career ended when a growth spurt made him thinner. "They wanted Porky to be a chunky fellow, so they looked for someone else," McClain said.
Mr. Lee was a schoolteacher, living in Colorado for a time. He moved to Minnesota after he retired to be closer to his son, Douglas, said a friend, Tracy Tolzmann. In recent years, Mr. Lee sold autographed photos of himself as Porky.
"Before that, he felt like he was forgotten," McClain said. "It really made him feel good about himself."