Birthday: August 7, 1927
Died At Age: 31
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Carl Dean Switzer
Born in: Paris, Illinois, United States
Famous as: Actor
Spouse/Ex-: Dian Collingwood (m. 1954–1957)
father: George Frederick Switzer
mother: Gladys C. Shanks
children: Lance Switzer
Died on: January 21, 1959
Cause of Death: Assassination
U.S. State: Illinois
Who was Carl Switzer?
Carl Switzer, born as Carl Dean Switzer, was an American actor, professional dog breeder, and hunting guide. He started his acting career as a child artist, appearing as Alfalfa in the Our Gang short subjects. As a youngster he played supporting roles in numerous movies, including ‘Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch’, 'Going My Way', 'The Great Mike', 'The Human Comedy', 'It's a Wonderful Life', 'On Our Merry Way', ' White Christmas' and 'The Defiant Ones'. He also worked on television, appearing in six episodes of ‘The Roy Rogers Show’ as well as guest-starring on 'The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show', 'Lux Video Theatre' and 'Science Fiction Theatre'. The American actor had many unaccredited roles in his acting career as well. These include roles in the movies ‘A Letter to Three Wives’, ‘House by the River’, ‘Here Comes the Groom’, ‘Not as a Stranger’, ‘Francis in the Navy’, ‘Dig That Uranium’, ‘The Ten Commandments’ and ‘Between Heaven and Hell’. Coming to his personal life, Carl Switzer was a divorcee and had one child. In January 1959, he died after he was shot by an acquaintance over a dispute about money. He was just 31 at the time of his tragic death.
Childhood & Early Life
Carl Switzer was born as Carl Dean Switzer on August 7, 1927 in Paris, Illinois, USA, to George Frederick Switzer and Gladys C. Shanks. He had three siblings: sister Janice, brother Harold, and another brother who died young.
At a tender age, Switzer started performing along with his brother Harold. Their musical talent and performances made them popular in their hometown.
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In 1934, Carl Switzer, along his brother Harold, visited the Our Gang Café operated by the Hal Roach Studio and started an impromptu performance. The producer of the studio was impressed after seeing their performance and signed them to appear in Our Gang productions. The brothers first appeared in its short ‘Beginner's Luck’.
Soon after this, the brothers were cast in some of the gang’s short films, including ‘Teacher's Beau’, ‘Sprucin' Up’ and ‘Our Gang Follies of 1936’ in 1935. Then in 1936, Carl appeared as Alfalfa in Our Gang shorts ‘The Lucky Corner’, ‘Arbor Day’ and ‘Spooky Hooky’.
In 1937, he acted in a handful of short films such as ‘Reunion in Rhythm’, ‘Rushin' Ballet’, ‘Mail and Female’ and ‘Our Gang Follies of 1938’. In 1940, Carl Switzer's tenure on Our Gang ended, at the age of 12. He then went on to co-star in the comedy ‘Reg'lar Fellers’.
After this, he had supporting roles in the movies ‘Johnny Doughboy’, ‘Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch’, ‘Henry and Dizzy’, ‘There's One Born Every Minute’ and ‘The War against Mrs. Hadley’.
The actor then had uncredited roles in the 1943 films ‘The Human Comedy’ and ‘Dixie’. Later on, he got featured in the flicks ‘Rosie the Riveter’, ‘Going My Way’, ‘The Great Mike’ and ‘Together Again’.
Switzer played the role of Freddie Othello in the Christmas film ‘It's a Wonderful Life’ in 1946. The same year, he acted in the movies ‘Gas House Kids´ and ‘Courage of Lassie’. The following year, he starred as Alfalfa in the comedy films ‘Gas House Kids Go West’ and ‘Gas House Kids in Hollywood’ respectively.
He then was cast in the comedy flick ‘On Our Merry Way’ as well as the drama flick ‘State of the Union’ in the year 1948. The same year, he played Frankie Snead on the radio series ‘Big Town Scandal’. During 1949 and 1950, the American artiste had uncredited roles in the movies ‘A Letter to Three Wives’ and ‘House by the River’.
In 1952, Switzer switched to television and joined the cast of ‘The Roy Rogers Show’. He performed various roles in the show until 1955. During this time, he also had roles in a few films, such as ‘I Dream of Jeanie’, ‘Island in the Sky’, ‘The High and the Mighty’, ‘Track of the Cat’, ‘Not as a Stranger’ and ‘Francis in the Navy’.
After this, he appeared in an episode each of ‘The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show’, ‘Lux Video Theatre’ and ‘Science Fiction Theatre.’
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In 1956, he had an uncredited role in the flick ‘Dig That Uranium’. The same year, Switzer worked in the biblical epic film titled ‘The Ten Commandments’ as well as in the war film titled ‘Between Heaven and Hell’. Two years later, he became a part of the crime flick ‘The Defiant Ones’.
In 1938, Carl Switzer appeared as Alfalfa in several Our Gang’s short films, including ‘Canned Fishing’, ‘Came the Brawn’, ‘Hide and Shriek’ and ‘Football Romeo’. During 1939 and 1940, he reprised his role as Alfalfa in the Gang’s shorts ‘Duel Personalities’, ‘Clown Princes’, ‘Time Out for Lessons’, ‘Alfalfa's Double’, ‘Good Bad Boys’ and ‘Goin' Fishin'’.
In 1954, Carl Switzer went on a blind date with Diantha Collingwood, heiress of the grain elevator empire Collingwood Grain. The couple got along well and married later on.
In 1956, their son Justin Lance Collingwood Switzer was born. Switzer and Collingwood divorced a year later.
Carl Switzer decided to train a hunting dog for an individual named Moses Samuel Stiltz. That dog got lost and Switzer offered an award of $35 for its return. The dog was then found by a man who returned it to Switzer who paid him the reward and also bought him $15 worth of drinks.
On January 21, 1959, Switzer told Stiltz that he should pay him the reward money. Stiltz decided not to give the money and the two men started fighting. The fight became deadly and Stiltz shot Switzer in the groin. Switzer suffered severe internal bleeding and was pronounced dead on arrival when taken to the hospital. He was interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery located in Hollywood, California.
Carl Switzer was a distant cousin of actor David Switzer.
He and filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille died on the same day. Coincidentally, one of Switzer’s final acting roles was in the movie ‘The Ten Commandments’, the last flick which DeMille directed.
In the 1954 movie ‘White Christmas’, the photograph that Vera-Ellen shows Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby of her brother Bennie is actually a photo of Switzer.
Switzer’s brother and father were buried next to him.