Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer

Active - 1932 - 1958  |   Born - Aug 7, 1927 in Paris, Illinois, United States  |   Died - Jan 21, 1959 in Mission Hills, CA  |   Genres - Comedy

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Juvenile performer Carl Switzer and his brother, Harold, began singing at local functions in their Illinois hometown. While visiting an aunt in California, the Switzer boys accompanied their mother to Hal Roach Studios, then proceeded to warble a hillbilly ditty in the Roach cafeteria. This performance won them both contracts at Roach, though only Carl achieved any sort of stardom. Nicknamed "Alfalfa," Carl became a popular member of the Our Gang kids, his performances distinguished by his cowlicked hair, vacuous grin, and off-key singing. Few who have seen The Our Gang Follies of 1938 can ever forget the sight of Alfalfa being pelted with tomatoes as he bravely vocalizes the immortal aria "I'm the Bar-ber of Sevilllllle!" The boy remained with Our Gang when Roach sold the property to MGM in 1938; his last Gang short was 1940's Kiddie Kure. Switzer found it hard to get film roles after his Our Gang tenure, especially when he began to mature. By the early '50s, his movie appearances had dwindled to bits. Switzer's handful of worthwhile adult film roles include a 100-year-old Indian in director William Wellman's Track of the Cat (1954); he was also a semi-regular on Roy Rogers' TV series. Throughout most of the 1950s, he supported himself as a hunting guide and bartender. Miles removed from the lovable Alfalfa, 32-year-old Carl Switzer was killed in a boozy brawl over a 50-dollar debt.

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Factsheet

  • He and his brother performed an impromptu song and dance number on a tour of the Hal Roach Studios; he was subsequently signed to a contract.
  • Was known to stage elaborate pranks on the set of Our Gang, to the point of delaying production for hours.
  • Became a hunting guide after his acting career ended; his clientèle included Roy Rogers and James Stewart.
  • Despite his trademark off-key singing in Our Gang, he was actually a skilled singer.
  • His brief marriage produced a son, whose name has never been divulged by his family.