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Mon, 08.09.1920

Allen Hoskins, Child Actor born.

Allen Hoskins

*Allen Hoskins was born on this date in 1920. He was a Black child actor and rehabilitation counselor.  

Allen Clayton Hoskins was born in Boston, but 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," and Hoskins's aunt, Edith Fortier was his guardian on set; his parents divorced in 1926. By then, he was six years old and an experienced child actor, and as "Farina," he made more money than most working adults in 105 Our Gang short films from 1922 to 1931.

The Our Gang comedies of Hal Roach Studios were in Culver City, California. Their school was required for child actors. Hoskins and the other Roach studio children attended school on the lot at the "Little Red School House." In addition to acting in the Our Gang short films, the children also made personal appearances. Hoskins' last contract with the Hal Roach Studio called for $350 a week, more than any other cast member earned then. When he finally outgrew the series, he was replaced by Matthew Beard Jr. in 1931.

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. Hoskins volunteered to serve in the Army in August 1940 and was stationed at Monterey, California. At the close of World War II in 1945, Hoskins, now 25, started to drift away from performing and retired his stage name.

On the July 24, 1953, episode of You Asked For It that reunited some members of the Our Gang cast, Hoskins explained why he abandoned acting: "I preferred a job that allowed me to eat regular."  Hoskins had survived the war but could not find work back in Los Angeles as an actor. To make matters worse, he was then called for questioning by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). The government investigated many industries for communist ties, but it was Hollywood that received the most publicity.

Known to his friends as Al, he and his wife, Franzy, moved to Santa Rosa in the 1950s, where they raised their children and where he began his career in rehabilitation. The exact date he began working at Sonoma State Hospital, located in Eldridge, California, has yet to be discovered, but by 1963 he was the Sheltered Workshop Director. Allen Hoskins died on July 26, 1980.

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