The Cowboy Bandit’s Body That Was Used As A Movie Prop
Many of us dream of being a movie star... but we also hope to be alive to experience it.
The video below is the story of Elmer J. McCurdy (January 1, 1880 – October 7, 1911). He was not anything like a movie star. He was a bank and train robber who was killed in a shoot-out with police after robbing a Katy Train in Oklahoma in October 1911. Dubbed "The Bandit Who Wouldn't Give Up."
Elmer's body went unclaimed, so the undertaker decided to make some money off of him.
Back in those days some rather odd things were done with bodies. Posing them in life like positions and taking pictures of them for the family, for example. Elmer's mummified body was first put on display at an Oklahoma funeral home and then became a fixture on the traveling carnival and sideshow circuit during the 1920s through the 1960s. He was even displayed in The Museum Of Crime, and later was posed outside of a movie theater to promote a gangster film.
Elmer's body was bought and sold several times. Eventually, his remains wound up at The Pike Amusement Zone in Long Beach, California. That was Elmer's big show business break. He was thought to be a mannequin and was used in several movies in the background.
Elmer was even displayed at an exhibition at Mount Rushmore. But he was sold again due to damage he suffered during a wind store and was considered not lifelike enough to exhibit.
The TV series The Six Million Dollar Man was filming scenes for the "Carnival of Spies" episode at The Pike. A prop man moved what was thought to be a wax mannequin that was hanging from a gallows. It was discovered that he was real when one of Elmer's arms broke off, a human bone and muscle tissue were visible.
Police were called and the mummified corpse was taken to the Los Angeles coroner's office. An autopsy found a gunshot wound to the chest. The body was petrified, covered in wax and had been covered with layers of phosphorus paint. A few fingers were missing.
Elmer was finally buried in an actual cemetery under several feet of concrete, so no one would be tempted to dig him up and use him again.
I'm giving you the overview. There are many more details to this story that you can learn about in the video, below.