By the time he was 12, Ralph Hodges had some pretty impressive motion picture credits.
A headline in his hometown newspaper, the San Bernardino Sun, spread the news that “Juvenile Actor Gets Important Parts in New Pictures.”
The 1942 article pointed out the young Hodges, born in San Bernardino, was doing pretty well that year, first portraying a 12-year-old George M. Cohen in a scene in the classic movie, “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
The Sun on Jan. 4, 1942, also said he had just finished work on what would turn out to be another classic — “Holiday Inn,” starring Fred Astaire. “He does a dance with Mr. Astaire in the picture.”
That’s pretty heady stuff for a 12-year-old.
Hodges, who died three years ago at Big Bear Lake, was a promising young actor in the 1940s and 1950, but whose career afterward never really took off. He had many roles in so-called B movies some of which gave him some top credits.
He was also one of the last of the “Our Gang” kids whose comedies were so popular during the 1930s and later morphed into the “Little Rascals” for television syndication.
Hodges’ first acting appearance was in the 1940 film, “Young People,” after being hired out of San Bernardino’s Bud Murray School for young actors. He was one of two kids from San Bernardino in the cast that starred Shirley Temple, Jackie Oakie and Charlotte Greenwood.
It was also Temple’s “last” movie, or at least that’s what her mother announced in May 1940 so her daughter could “retire to the life of a normal child.” That retirement didn’t last very long.
Hodges, who was born in 1929, appeared in 1941 in…
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