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Richard DeNeut, ‘Our Gang’ Actor and Globe Photos West Coast Chief, Dies at 84

Richard DeNeut, who appeared in Hal Roach’s “Our Gang” comedies but eventually became West Coast bureau chief for Globe Photos, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday from a combination of pneumonia, kidney disease and congestive heart failure. He was 84.

DeNeut was keenly interested in the movie industry — films, stars, directors, award winners — and eagerly predicted and critiqued each year’s Oscar winners, and over time, became involved in various book projects, including “Inside Hollywood” (Könemann, 2001), a large-scale compendium of treasures from Globe’s photo archives.

He maintained a decades-long friendship with Dolores Hart, who abandoned her acting career for the cloistered life of a Benedictine nun. DeNeut became a frequent guest at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn., working with Reverend Mother Dolores in developing the Patricia Neal autobiography “As I Am” (1977), and later on Mother Dolores’ own memoir, “The Ear of the Heart” (2013).

DeNeut was recruited at age 4 from the ranks of the Meglin Kiddies and ultimately cast in six of Hal Roach’s “Our Gang” comedies in the 1930s, including the series’ only feature film. He appeared in movies, including “City Without Men,” the 1940 remake of “The Bluebird” with Shirley Temple, “The Song of Bernadette,” 20th Century Fox’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” and MGM’s “Boys’ Ranch” (1946) all before he was a teen.

He attended Glendale College, then UCLA, where he staged a theater arts department talent show featuring Carol Burnett, a freshman who had partnered with him in an acting-class scene.

“Dick was my first buddy in Estelle Harman’s acting class at UCLA,” Burnett recalled recently. “I was scared beyond belief, but then we paired up to do a scene together — from Nöel Coward’s “Red Peppers” — and wound up getting As. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a performer.”

In 1956, after college and Army service mainly in Alaska, DeNeut joined the staff of Globe Photos, eventually becoming West Coast bureau chief and retiring after 27 years. He oversaw photography of celebrities at movie premieres, awards ceremonies, parties and nightclubs.

DeNeut is survived by his sister, Patricia DeNeut.

His burial will take place at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Connecticut.

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