Shirley Jean Rickert, 82, ‘Our Gang’ Star, Dies
The “Our Gang” cast in 1931, including Jackie Cooper, third from left, and Shirley Jean Rickert, third from right
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — Shirley Jean Rickert, who starred in several “Our Gang” film comedies as a child and later became a burlesque performer, died here Feb. 6. She was 82.
She died in a nursing home after a long illness, her daughter, Melody Kennedy, said.
Ms. Rickert, who later went by her married name, Measures, appeared in the “Our Gang” films in 1931 with Jackie Cooper and other pre-Spanky and Alfalfa characters, playing a coquettish Mae West-type character with a short blond bob. Between 1927 and 1934, she played Tomboy Teri Taylor in eight Mickey McGuire comedies alongside Mickey Rooney.
She performed in several other films, including “ ’Neath the Arizona Skies” with John Wayne and “Singin’ in the Rain” with Gene Kelly. After her movie career, she worked in burlesque in the 1950s, billed as Gilda and Her Crowning Glory, for her long blond hair. As Gilda, she performed in theaters and nightclubs across the United States and Canada.
She left burlesque in 1959, working in jobs that included being a bartender, a secretary and the sales director for a regional theater in Springfield, Mass. In the mid-’70s, she became a traveling saleswoman for industrial hardware.
“I walk in and they say, ‘Not another nuts-and-bolts salesman,’ ” Ms. Rickert told The Associated Press in 1993. “And then I open my sales folder and show them an 8-by-10 of me in ‘Our Gang.’ I say, ‘You grew up with me.’ Then they do a 360.”
Late in life, she performed in local theater productions, helped maintain a Web site for her fans and occasionally appeared at film festivals and conventions. She also sold her crafts at a local shop.