Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer

August 7, 1927 – January 21, 1959

The same day that renowned director Cecil B. DeMille died, a fight broke out in a Mission Hills, California home. The fight was over $50 and left a 31 year-old former child star dead of a gunshot wound. The newspapers the next day were all about DeMille, but if one looked hard enough, they would see that Carl Switzer – “Alfalfa” from the Our Gang (Little Rascals) shorts of the 1940s – had been killed.

Alfalfa was arguably the most famous character of the film series which saw dozens of children come and go over its 22 year run.Along with other members like “Spanky,” “Darla” and “Buckwheat,” Switzer’s cowlick’d, off-key prankster helped define what many consider the “classic” line up.

Carl (and his brother, Harold) were known to break into song and dance growing up. So, when the Switzers visited L.A. for vacation and toured the Hal Roach Studios, it was no surprise to anyone that the brothers would start up an impromptu performance in the studio’s commissary. Well, no surprise to anyone except Hal Roach himself, who just happened to be eating lunch at the time. Roach was impressed and immediately signed the boys on to the Our Gang series. Within months, 7 year-old Alfalfa was a bona fide star.

After 5 years with the ‘Gang,’ Switzer moved on. He fought typecasting admirably, appearing in films such as It’s a Wonderful Life and television variety shows. He also became a hunting guide and dog trainer. It was as a trainer that he befriended the likes of Roy Rogers, Jimmy Stewart and a man named Moses Stiltz. After a mix-up with Stiltz’s dog while under his care, Switzer offered a reward for its return out of his own pocket. The dog was found. The reward was paid. But, Carl felt that Stiltz should be responsible for the money since it was, in fact, his dog. So, on January 21, 1959, he went to Stiltz’s house to demand the money, a fight broke out and Stiltz shot and killed Switzer in either self-defense or cold-blood…depending on who you ask. He was buried in what was then known as Hollywood Memorial Park, just down the road from Cecil B. DeMille.

Burial

Hollywood Forever Cemetery – Los Angeles, CA

Specific Location

Garden of Memory, grave 6, lot 26; from Maple Avenue, look north for 3 cypress trees bunched together about 15 ft (2 rows) from the curb, Carl is buried just in front of these trees, a space or two to the left (west).

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