“Children in my day were either cornfed or milk-fed. I was both.” –Joe Cobb
Joseph “Joe” Frank Cobb was among the many children cast in the early iteration of Our Gang, spending his tenure in the hit comedies from 1922 to 1929. He was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, on November 7, 1916, to James Cobb and Florence “Flossie” Jewel McComas Cobb. By age five, he was discovered as a new talent when vacationing with his father in Los Angeles, California. There, his father sent him to audition for Hal Roach’s Our Gang, leading him to appear in some of the earliest shorts, including The Champeen (1923) and The Big Show (1923). Notably, he would appear in the last silent short in the series, entitled Saturday’s Lesson (1929). In the same year, he appeared in the first Our Gang sound short, Small Talk (1929).
By age 12, he was phasing out of the series. Essentially, his replacement would be Norman Chaney as “Chubby,” with both Chaney and Cobb appearing in Boxing Gloves (1929). His final appearance as a regular in the series was in Lazy Days (1929), though he did make three additional cameo appearances in the years to come.
In the 1940s, his acting career came to a close after carrying out various minor film roles. He worked as an assembler for North American Aviation in Downey, California, for several decades, retiring in 1981. During those years, he was also a master of ceremonies for Our Gang publicity tours and made appearances for the Sons of the Desert Laurel and Hardy fan society. He passed away in a convalescent home on May 21, 2002, in Santa Ana, California, at age 85. Cobb was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park—Glendale.
In the 1930s, Cobb and his family resided at 836 S. Spaulding Ave., Los Angeles, California. At this point, he was an established child actor. His mother had just passed away in 1929. Here, he resided with his father, siblings Loretta and Lucile, as well as his great aunt and uncle, Arvila and Charles Mechler. His father worked as an attorney. The home stands today.
In the 1940s, Cobb lived at 2175 Broadview Terrace, Los Angeles, California, per his draft card, which also listed him as unemployed. This home still stands.
In the same decade, he resided with his uncle and aunt, George and Mattie Cato, at 4328 W. Normandy Ave., Dallas, Texas, as well as with lodger Joe Goldstein. In 1950, he lived at 4353 S. Bonnie Brae, Los Angeles, California, while working as an assembler. Both of these homes have since been razed.
Today, Cobb’s grave marker cites him as a member of Our Gang.