For the Love of Miss Crabtree

June Marloew Miss Crabtree0000458288-31916L    For many young boys and girls their first innocent crush is on a  school teacher.  I was  no different except my crush was on the Hal Roach Studio celluloid princess, Miss Crabtree.   Miss Crabtree was actually actress June Marlowe, a former model whose acting career began in silent films. In 1925, she appeared opposite Rin Tin Tin in two films, “Below the Line” and “Clash of the Wolves.” That same year she had a role in the film version of Willa Cathers novel, “The Lost Lady”,  and in 1926 June had the role of Trusia opposite John Barrymore in “Don Juan.”  Other silent films followed but with the advent of sound, June’s career changed course.

June was one of  the WAMPAS Baby Stars  of 1925. This was an award given to starlets who showed promise. In other years, winners  included Clara Bow, Loretta Young, Joan Crawford and Ginger Rogers.

In 1930, June appeared as herself in the Charley Chase comedy “Fast Work”, her first sound film and her first for the Hal Roach studios. That same year, she would be reunited with her canine co-star Rin Tin Tin in “The Lone Defender.”

crabog-dorothy    The year 1930 would continue to be a busy year for June as she appeared for the first time in what would turn out to be her most memorable role, that of the sweet, attractive, heart throbbing Miss Crabtree. “Teacher’s Pet” was her first Our Gang film.  June, a brunette, wore a wig in her role as Miss Crabtree which the filmmakers felt complemented Jackie Cooper’s golden locks. In all, she made six Our Gang comedies,  some of the best in the series.  They included, “School’s Out” and “Love Business”, both with Jackie Cooper who she became friends with on and off the screen. As you watch their scenes together you can feel a real connection going on between them.  Jackie left the Our Gang series around this time however, June made three more films as the charming  Miss Crabtree, “Little Daddy”, “Shiver My Timbers” and “Readin’ and Writin.”   During this period, June also had a small part in Laurel and Hardy’s first feature, “Pardon Us.”

One of my favorite Miss Crabtree scenes is in “School’s Out” when she attempts to give the kids a history lesson and their responses all, unknownly, come from a joke book.  She asked Farina, “What was Abraham Lincoln Gettyburg Address” and he relies knowingly, “Sixteen forty four South Main Street.”   Frustated, she asked Jackie, “Who was the Hunchback of Nortre Dame?” and Jackie responds “Lon Chaney.”  With each question came another wrong answer and we see her facial expression go from surprise to shock to frustation and finally she is  livid.  It’s a beautifully done scene and funny.

Marlowe’s career abruptly ended in 1932 when she married and retired from the movies. Little did she realize at the time the role of Miss Crabtree was her seminal role and would fuel the dreams of many prepubescent boys for multiple generations to come.

June Marloew Miss Crabtreejcjm01

June Marloew Miss0000454206-78602L

June Marlowe and Our Gang0000156388-11016L

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June on the cover of Moving Picture Stories Magazine…….talented….beautiful…..

June Marlowe Mag Coverjunemag2

…..and athletic too!

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39 comments on “For the Love of Miss Crabtree

  1. :D Me, too! Circa 1977…age six.

  2. Sam Juliano says:

    What a fantastic remembrance here!!!! I am preparing my own massive piece on the OUR GANG COMEDIES (Maltin did have this one great big moment in the sun with his definitive work here) and I have been using episodes all week in school!!!!!

    The Crabtree films are wonderful for sure.

    My favorite Our gang comedy ever? DOGS IS DOGS (1930)
    Runner-Up: THE KID FROM BORNEO (1933)

    My favorite rascal of them all? “Wheezer” Hutchins, who sadly died in a plane accident near the end of the war at age 20.

  3. Judy says:

    A fascinating posting – I’ve never seen any of these films, but loved reading about them, and also loved the stills you found to illustrate your piece.:)

  4. John Greco says:

    C.K. She truly was the essence of young boys dreams.

  5. John Greco says:

    Sam,

    I don’t know if I could select my favorites, there are just too many to list. Certainly, the two you mention and of course the Miss Crabtree series. “Mush and Milk”, “Hi, Neighbor”, “Wild Poses” and “Boxing Gloves” are just a few others.

    I was unaware of Wheezer’s early death. Myu own favorite is they young George “Spanky” MacFarland.

    I read Maltin’s wonderful book, truly his best and a work of pure love.

    And Sam, Certainly looking forward to your own piece on the Our Gang/Little Rascals.

  6. John Greco says:

    Judy – Are the Our Gang/Little Rascals films available in England? Have they ever been? Just wondered, since they are very Americana, still kids are kids everywhere.

  7. Judy says:

    John, these movies aren’t available here now and I hadn’t come across them – I don’t know whether they were ever shown here in the past. I would think they might well have been shown at cinemas here in the 30s, but that’s just guessing!

  8. Eric says:

    Ah, yes, the school teacher crush. Mine was on my 7th grade science teacher. Too bad she was engaged to one of the Denver Broncos :(

  9. Sam Juliano says:

    I showed a classic OUR GANG episode to fifth graders today, titled “Aladdin and His Lamp,” which is the one where Stymie’s brother Cotton is by subterfuge, turned into a monkey. The kids loved it so much that they are now begging for more.

  10. John Greco says:

    That is great to here that kids today still appreciate the Our Gang films. I an sure your enthusiasm must help in the kid’s motivation.

  11. This is a fabulous post! As a boy child of the late 70’s, I too had a huge crush on Miss Crabtree, thought she was gorgeous. Haven’t thought about her in years but your swell article brought back floods of memories. Thank you so much for sharing! (Great photos too).

    Rupert

  12. Wentz says:

    June Marlowe was so beautiful. Oh! Whatever happened to those times? To be in Los Angeles in the 1920s!

    • John Greco says:

      It must have been an amazing period to have participated in, Chaplin, Griffith, the Gish sisters, Fairbanks, Keaton, Lloyd and so many others. Thanks for commenting. Hope you stop by again.

  13. Jill says:

    Terrific article. I loved watching Our Gang in the 70s as a child (still do), and seeing glimpses of my grandma & grandpa’s Los Angeles (both born in Hollywood, 1927; grandpa looked exactly like Spanky and lived across the street from Tom Mix). I adored Miss Crabtree, but especailly admired her roadster! I would love to borrow one of your pictures of it for my blog!

    • John Greco says:

      Jill -thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed the article. the out gang comedies are always a real treat and Miss Crabtree was my first crush. Feel free to use the photos. I got them off the internet myself.

  14. Chubsy-Ubsey says:

    Oh Miss Crabtree, you can call me, “Chubsy-Ubsey”

  15. Robert says:

    What ever happened to Alfalfa? I heard so many different stories on how he died, does anyone know the true story?

    Thanks!

    Rob

  16. richard mirissis says:

    ” i bet jack don’t hug and kiss me and call me mooney-mooney and tootsie-tootsie, i bet!”

  17. John Greco says:

    LOL!!!

  18. daja says:

    “Miss Crabtree, I’ve got something heavy on my heart…..”

    “Your gonna have something heavy on your nose”

    classic

  19. zeno says:

    the jackie cooper and miss crabtree episodes are priceless gems.
    thanks for your post.

  20. I’ve been rewatching the Little Rascals this summer for the first time in many years and the Miss Crabtree shorts are among the best. I was dying watching “School’s Out” with the question and answer session you describe in your post – the reaction shots of the kids and Miss Crabtree – priceless! My favorite might be the answer to “What did Paul Revere say when he came by on his horse?” and the kid, so confident and with accompanying body language imitating pulling on the reins says, “Whoaaaaa!”

    And man, that June Marlowe was a fine specimen indeed! Always makes me wonder though – if she was that pretty….how pretty must’ve the mythical Miss McGillicutty been?

  21. John Greco says:

    “And man, that June Marlowe was a fine specimen indeed! Always makes me wonder though – if she was that pretty….how pretty must’ve the mythical Miss McGillicutty been?”

    Good thought on Miss McGillicutty, she must have been something. The Miss Crabtree shorts are all excellent. The entire history Q & A scene is hysterical, priceless reaction shots throughout. Having grown up in a city environment I even now appreciate the quaint country atmosphere of the school setting, far different from the school’s I attended.

  22. Howie Slater says:

    One favorite episode was when the boys wanted to play football, but Tubby had to babysit his younger sister. She imitated and said everything he said.

  23. Howie Slater says:

    Miss Crabtree asked Buckwheat to use the word “ISMUS”, like the word Ismus of Panama. Buckwheat said “Teacher, ismuss be my lucky day!”

  24. [...] For the Love of Miss Crabtree « Twenty Four FramesJun 7, 2009 … Chubsy-Ubsey says: November 8, 2009 at 2:07 am. Oh Miss Crabtree, you can call me, “Chubsy-Ubsey”. Reply. John Greco says: November 8 … [...]

  25. Kevin Buck says:

    For those readers of this thread, I am about to release a book titled “Looking for Miss Crabtree” (subtitle: And Other Confessions of a Gravehunter). If you enjoyed this piece on June then you may enjoy my book on her and may other impact players on the baby boomer psyche.

    • Richard J. Kennedy says:

      Kevin, Please post more information about your book when it hits the street. Also, up until the end of December 2012 there was a website dedicated to the life and career of June Marlowe under the domain name: dspears.com. The site was run by a guy named Don Spears but it went dark at the end of 2012. I have been unable to reach him as to why the site was disestablished. If anyone has any info about it please speak up!

      • John Greco says:

        Richard,

        Kevin’s book is available via Barnes and Noble and Amazon websites!

      • Kevin Buck says:

        Richard, I also noticed that Don’s site had gone away. Unfortunately, it seems to happen too often.

        As John notes, my book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

        I priced it fairly cheap just beacause I wanted to get it out there. If you order through CreateSpace (go to the purchase page at lookingformisscrabtree.com or http://www.kwbuck.com) and use discount code AERQ99E6, you will get $1.00 off.

        Please let me know what you think.

    • John Platts says:

      Kevin, I’ve just downloaded a Kindle copy of your book, I look forward to reading it.
      Miss Crabtree/ June Marlowe… every time I see a picture of her my nearly 60 year old heart heaves a sigh!

  26. BRE-DEZZY says:

    IM A CRABTREE MY NAME IS BRIJON CRABTREE
    AND MY GRANDMOTHERS NAME IS SANDRA PRICILLA CRABTREE OR LEE PRICILLA ONE THE ONE NAME FOR HER. BUT SHES ALSO BORN ON 7-7-1945. AND I LOVE HER THATS MY GRANDMA. ROCK ON TO ALL THE CRABTREES. WE ROCK!

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