Elmer McCurdy was an Oklahoma outlaw whose mummified body was discovered in The Pike amusement zone in Long Beach, California in December 1976.
McCurdy, who was a part of a gang of outlaws, was shot dead in a gunfight in 1911. A contemporary newspaper account gave McCurdy’s last words as “You’ll never take me alive!” His body was taken to the funeral home [but] When no one claimed it, the undertaker embalmed it and allowed people to see “The Bandit Who Wouldn’t Give Up” for a nickel. People would place nickels in McCurdy’s mouth, which the undertaker would collect later.
Almost five years later, a man showed up from a nearby traveling carnival claiming to be McCurdy’s long-lost brother. He indicated that he wanted to give the corpse a proper burial. Within two weeks, however, McCurdy was a featured exhibit with the carnival. For the next 60 years, McCurdy’s body was sold to successive wax museums, carnivals, and haunted houses. The owner of a haunted house near Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, refused to purchase him because he thought that McCurdy’s body was actually a mannequin and was not lifelike enough.
Eventually, McCurdy’s corpse wound up at “The Pike” seaside amusement zone, inside the dark-ride attraction “Laff in the Dark” where he hung with other props, many of them painted day-glo yellow.
In December 1976, during filming at [The Pike] of the television show The Six Million Dollar Man, a crew member was moving what was thought to be a wax mannequin when its arm broke off. It was discovered that it was in fact embalmed and mummified human remains. Later, when medical examiner Thomas Noguchi opened the mummy’s mouth for other clues, he [found] a 1924 penny and a ticket from Sonney Amusement’s Museum of Crime in Los Angeles. That ticket and archived newspaper accounts helped police and researchers identify the body as that of Elmer McCurdy.
He was finally buried in 1977. The state medical examiner ordered that two cubic yards of concrete was to be poured over McCurdy’s casket, so that his remains would never be disturbed again.
[ via The Oddment Emporium ]
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