Childhood and Our Gang work
Lee was born in Fort Worth, Texas, as Eugene Lee, and was adopted.
Lee got his break in motion pictures in 1935, after producer Hal Roach noted how much the 18-month-old toddler resembled Our Gang star George McFarland, also from Texas. The Lee family traveled from Texas to Culver City, California, and Eugene Lee, nicknamed "Porky" by the studio, joined the cast as Spanky's little brother. Porky appeared in 42 Our Gang comedies over four years. Lee, McFarland, and Our Gang co-stars Carl Switzer, Billie Thomas and Darla Hood constituted what is today the most familiar incarnation of Our Gang.
This group moved from Hal Roach Studios to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1938 after Roach sold the series. When Lee grew several inches in height during early 1939, to the point that the 5-year-old was the same height as 10-year-old McFarland, MGM replaced him with Mickey Gubitosi, later better known by the stage name of Robert Blake.
After leaving the Our Gang series, Lee retired from motion pictures, and entered public school. As an adult, he became an alternative school educator at Broomfield High School in Colorado. Lee changed his name and began going by Gordon Lee (naming himself after his favorite Our Gang director, Gordon Douglas) to avoid any correlation with his former acting career.
After retiring, Lee moved to Minnesota to be closer to his son Douglas. In the early 1980s, Lee began appearing at Little Rascals reunions and began a business selling "Porky"-related merchandise. Finally embracing his past, Lee was known to tell Our Gang fans, "We are relics of history."
In March 1984, Lee sued Hanna-Barbera Productions for nearly $2 million, claiming that the animated character of Porky was a complete copy of the original, whom he portrayed from 1935 to 1939. The series continued airing on ABC afterward, which may imply that the case was settled out of court. Some speculated that the lawsuit settlement may have led to the cancellation of the series, while some others speculated that the lawsuit was settled because it was confirmed by that point that the series was not being renewed for a third season. The lawsuit may be the reason for no U.S. cable reruns nor home video releases to this day.