Tuesday, January 20

Carl Switzer, The Sad End to a Wonderful Life

By Art Cashin

On this day (+1) in 1959, a man was killed by a gunshot during a drunken brawl outside a saloon in California. Even in 1959 this was not a totally remarkable event in California. Unless, of course, the victim was a celebrity, someone that the American public might see as part of its history.

But the police report simply listed the deceased only as one Carl Switzer, a former movie actor. At the time, only grade "B" movie buffs would recognize the name. Not until a few years later, when TV tried to fill time by rerunning old Hal Roach movies, would hotshots be able to say "Hey, that's Alfalfa!" The strident singing star of a series called either "Our Gang" comedies or "The
Little Rascals." His only other notable role was as the teenager who turned the switch that opened the gym floor above the pool in Frank Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life."

Police records don't say if Carl went down singing (in screeching falsetto) "Happy Birthday Mr. Hood - Happy Birthday to Ya."

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

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