William Robert "Billy" Laughlin (July 5, 1932 - August 31, 1948) was an American child actor. He is best known for playing the character Froggy in the Our Gang short films in its final stretch, from 1940 to 1944.
Laughlin was born on July 5, 1932 in San Gabriel, California, to Robert Vine Laughlin (August 28, 1901 - September 30, 1972) and Charlotte C. Cruikshank (March 11, 1903 - June 4, 1992). According to Our Gang Films actor Robert Blake, Billy 'Froggy' Laughlin was a dearly loved, sweet, gentle soul. His mother and father showered his brother and him with love and affection.
Laughlin rose to fame at the age of eight when he appeared in his first Our Gang film, The New Pupil. His character was known for his strange, guttural voice, which was reminiscent of a frog's croak. Laughlin's last Our Gang short film was the last film of the series in 1944 called Dancing Romeo. Contrary to popular belief, Laughlin did the voice himself without dubbing (in the 1994 film, the character's voice was dubbed by E.G. Daily).
When Our Gang stopped production in 1944, Laughlin appeared in Monogram's Johnny Doesn't Live Here Any More, then voluntarily moved away from show business and enjoyed relatively peaceful teenage years.
Laughlin died at a hospital on August 31, 1948 after a speeding truck hit him while he was delivering newspapers and riding a Cushman Motor Scooter near his home in La Puente, California. John Wilbrand, a 16-year-old friend who was operating the scooter survived with minor injuries. The scooter was given to Laughlin by his parents two weeks prior to the accident. Laughlin lived the shortest life of the actors who appeared in the Our Gang films, dying at the age of 16. Laughlin is interred in a grave at the Rose Hills Memorial Park Cemetery in Whittier, California, in the same row as his parents.
1. Blake, Robert (2012). Tale of a Rascal: What I Did for Love. Black Rainbow Publications. p. 178. ISBN 0615591949.
2. (09-02-1948)."Youth Dies From Injuries". La Puente Valley Journal.
3. (10-05-1948). Certificate of Death No. 12160, William Laughlin, District 1951, County of Los Angeles, State of California.
4. (09-02-1948)."Crash Kills Youth of 16". Los Angeles Times.
5. Blake, Robert (2012). Tale of a Rascal: What I Did for Love. Black Rainbow Publications. p. 178. ISBN 0615591949.