On This Date in History: When I was growing up, there were all sorts of rumors about what had happened to child stars. A big one went that Alice Cooper was really Eddie Haskell from Leave it to Beaver. Truth was, at the time, actor Ken Osmond was a cop in Los Angeles. He has since showed up again portraying Eddie Haskell as an adult. Another one said that Beaver Cleaver was killed in Viet Nam. Truth was that actor Jerry Mathers was alive and well and he too has reprised his role as Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver several times. I had been told that Mr. Green Jeans was really Alice Cooper. An offshoot of that was that Frank Zappa was the son of Mr. Green Jeans. Then there was Alfalfa from Our Gang aka The Little Rascals. I heard he had died of a herion overdose or that he was really Alice Cooper. At least part of the Alfalfa rumor was true and was part of a series of misfortunes that came upon many of the Our Gang/Little Rascals actors. Some say it’s a curse.
Carl Switzer was born in Paris, Illinois on August 27, 1927. Hal Roach was producing the successful Our Gang movie shorts when in 1935, Switzer was added to the cast as Alfalfa. His appearance made him easily distinguishable to audiences. He was a tall skinny kid with freckles and a distinctive cowlick that pointed skyward consistently regardless of how much he tried to slick his hair. He also had an interesting singing voice that only added to the comedy. In an episode called The Pitch Singer, Alfalfa famously crooned off-key the tune I’m in the Mood For Love.
Kids grow up and times move on. In 1940, the Our Gang series ended but it later returned to television under the title The Little Rascals. Switzer tried odd jobs after Hal Roach ended the series. He was a bartender, a shoeshine boy and a tour guide. Switzer tried to stay in acting and actually got small parts in some 60 films. but, they were often uncredited roles. A few of the films were quite popular, even classics, such as My Favorite Blonde (1942), The Human Comedy (1943), Going My Way (1944), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), State of the Union (1948), Pat and Mike (1952). We might even be able to find him as a slave in Cecile B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956) though it might be tough considering it was the proverbial “cast of thousands.”
As it turns out, somehow Switzer never received any money for his work in Our Gang, even though he appeared in 75 film shorts. TV had not gotten going and no one thought about royalties or syndication. I haven’t figured out how or why he appeared in the films without being paid or how his parents allowed that to happen. Anyway, in 1958 Switzer got a break and landed a good role in Stanley Kramer’s The Defiant Ones. But,until its release, he needed to earn a living. Apparently, Switzer liked the outdoors because he had several brushes with the law in the 1950’s, one of which involved illegally cutting down trees in the Sequoia National Forest. Though his acting career seemed to have been on the rise in 1958, he was shot in a San Fernando Valley bar,but he recovered. So, to pick up some extra money, he came up with a part time gig leading bear hunting expeditions. Some of his customers included Henry Fonda and Roy Rogers. So, apparently he was pretty well liked and well known.
Seems that Switzer borrowed a guy’s hunting dog. The dog escaped and he put out a $50 reward for its return. When a man found the dog, Switzer not only paid him the $50 but he also bought him about $15 worth of drinks,which was quite a bit of booze back in the day. A few days later, Switzer got loaded himself and decided to go to the dog owner’s house and demand that he be reimbursed for the $50. The two men got in a fight and Switzer ended up shot to death. The death was ruled as justifiable homicide because the story was that Switzer had hit the other man on the head with a lamp or a clock, then forced him into a closet. Switzer supposedly came after the man with a hunting knife claiming he would kill him and the man responded by shooting him at close range with a pistol on this date in 1959. However, some accounts claim that the knife was really a jacknife (or penknife) and the blade was closed. There are many conflicting reports detailing the killing of Carl Alfalfa Switzer, but in general they are consistent. Nevertheless, Alfalfa was dead but the public generally didn’t know about it because it just do happened that Cecil B. DeMille died on the same day as Carl Switzer, which may be the root cause of the rumors that followed. So, Alfalfa is not Alice Cooper and he did not die of a heroin overdose, yet, he remains dead.
Weather Bottom Line: Story remains consistent in the weather department with Saturday being the best day of the weekend, best day for the month of January and best day you will get for the forseeable future. The pokey low I”ve been telling you about will be moving on by and, as it approaches overnight, will kick off t’storms to our south where there have been much warmer temperatures of late than we’ve seen around here. In fact, there is a slight chance of severe weather in Western Kentucky, maybe even as close as Bowling Green on Thursday afternoon. I betcha the high for the day is actually after sunset on Thursday. I suspect that showers will linger for early Friday but by midday the rain will end though we still won’t get out of the 40’s. Then another system approaches and this time we get the benefir of warmer air. Saturday will feature partly cloudy skies and an afternoon high pushing 60…and that will set the stage for potential thunderstorms on Saturday night, rain on Sunday and then late Monday or more likely Tuesday…we may get a little snow. After that, the long term is a little up and down and not clear, but it does appear that we will be getting into a pattern of going from around average temperatures to periods of below average temperatures as we have a parade of storm systems moving through in a progressive manner…in other words more like Gumby, not Pokey.