Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Our Gang Curse: Tragic Deaths of the Little Rascals

Curses. Nothing strikes our curiosity more than when tragedy strikes several people who all have a common connection. Soon we speculate as to the reason why such a dark cloud descended upon them.  Is it karma? Is it a curse?

Curses that surface from the entertainment industry are much more common, simply because the public is engulfed in entertainment every day. One “curse” that is particularly disturbing is that of Hal Roach’s Our Gang series. Personally, I remember watching the show as a child and I enjoy them just as much as an adult. The talent of the young actors of that time made the Our Gang series fiercely popular which resulted in 221 films that were made in a span of 22 years from 1922-1944.

Throughout that time, 176 children starred in the series. Some actors, such as Spanky, Alfalfa, and Darla became the cornerstones of the series, while many other characters came and went. Banking on the popularity of Our Gang, many thought their careers would flourish, and, as many child actors realize, breaking into films as an adult, is much more difficult.

These are the stories of some of the actors of the Our Gang series and their unfortunate ends that have led many to call it The Our Gang Curse.

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer

Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer – Switzer found bit parts as an adult actor which included the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Failing to make any substantial money as an adult actor, Switzer took many odd jobs to make a living such as a bartender, dog trainer, and hunting guide. Switzer was shot and killed at the age of 31 while involved in a fight with his business partner over $50. His death was ruled justifiable homicide because his partner acted in self defense.

Harold Switzer

Harold Switzer – Harold is Carl’s older brother and also appeared in the Our Gang series. He committed suicide in April 1967 after murdering his girlfriend.

William "Buckwheat" Thomas

William “Buckwheat” Thomas – Thomas became a film technician for Technicolor Corporation. A neighbor, concerned when he didn’t see Thomas for several days, entered his home and found him dead. Thomas died of a heart attack at the young age of 49.

Robert "Wheezer" Hitchens

Robert “Wheezer” Hitchens – Hitchens became a cadet in the Army Air Corps. A few days shy of his 20th birthday, he crashed while landing his plane during a training exercise and was killed.

Matthew "Stymie" Beard

Matthew “Stymie” Beard- Beard dropped out of high school and soon found himself in and out of prison for the next several years. Beard wrestled with a heroin addiction for 20 years and reportedly became clean in the 1970’s. Developing pneumonia following a stroke claimed his life in 1981 at the age of 56.

Darla Hood

Darla Hood – Hood contracted acute hepatitis during minor surgery. She died suddenly of heart failure due to the hepatitis in 1979 at the age of 47.

Norman "Chubby" Chaney
Norman “Chubby” Chaney – Chaney suffered from a glandular problem that resulted in him gaining more than 300 pounds by the age of 17. He underwent surgery that corrected the problem and brought his weight down to approximately 130 pounds. The surgery proved to be too late. Chaney never regained his health and died in 1936 at 18 years of age.

Scotty Beckett
Scotty Beckett –A history of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, trouble with the law, and two failed marriages plagued Beckett’s adult life. He checked himself into a Hollywood nursing home in 1968 when  an unknown person or persons physically assaulted him. Beckett died two days later. A suicide note and an empty bottle of pills were found by investigators, but the coroner never stated whether it was the beating or the pills that ended his life. He was only 38 years old.

William "Froggy" Laughlin

William “Froggy” Laughlin – Laughlin’s life ended at the tender age of 16 when a truck struck the back of his motor scooter while he was delivering newspapers.

Richard "Mickey" Daniels

Richard “Mickey” Daniels – Daniels, estranged from his wife and children, died alone at the age of 55 in a San Diego hotel room in 1970 of cirrhosis of the liver. At the time of this death, Daniels was labeled a John Doe due to lack of identification. His family identified his remains 21 years later and Daniels is now buried in an unmarked grave.

Bobby Blake
Bobby Blake (Mickey Gubitosi) – Blake may be best known for starring in the 70s show Barretta as an adult. Blake found trouble when he met Bonnie Lee Bakely in the 1990s. Bakely, an alleged con artist, wanted to have a child with a famous actor and apparently hooked Blake. Bakely gave birth to their daughter in 2000 and five months later Blake and Bakley married. A year later, on May 4, 2001, after having dinner at a restaurant, Bakely was shot and killed while waiting for Blake in their car. Blake, arrested for the murder, was found not guilty in March 2005. Many believe Blake got away with murder. He says, because of his legal trouble, he is now destitute.

Robert "Bonedust" Young

Robert “Bonedust” Young – In 1951, Young fell asleep in bed while smoking a cigarette which led to the fire that claimed his life. Young was 33.

Jay "Pinky" Smith

Jay “Pinky” Smith – Smith bought a paint store upon returning home from serving in World War II and was able to retire to the islands of Hawaii. Smith soon found his way to Las Vegas and befriended a homeless man. In 2002, at the age of 87, Smith’s body was found in the desert outside Las Vegas. The homeless man stabbed Smith to death and then dumped his body.

Dorothy Dandrige

Dorothy Dandridge – Dandridge starred in the “Teacher’s Pet” episode of Our Gang. She went on to become a famous actress and singer, but she cut her life short in 1965, when she committed suicide by overdosing on drugs. Her death came after losing all of her money in a phony investment scheme.

Kendell "Breezy Brisbane" McComas

Kendell “Breezy Brisbane” McComas- McComas became an electrical engineer and worked at the U.S. Naval Weapons Center in China Lake California. He committed suicide in 1981 at the age of 64, two weeks before being forced into retirement.

Darwood "Waldo" Kaye

Darwood “Waldo” Kaye – Kaye, a Pastor, died in 2002 at the age of 72 when he was struck and killed while walking on a sidewalk.

Pete the Pup

Pete the Pup – An unknown assailant poisoned the first dog that played Pete in 1930.

Several other Our Gang cast members lost the fight to cancer:
Johnny Downs – Age 81
Mary Kornman – Age 58

Jackie Condon – Age 59
Harry Spear – Age 84

Allen “Farina” Hoskins – Age 59
Many Our Gang cast members were never touched by the “curse” and others passed away of natural causes. Whether their demise resulted from their own hand, their bad choices, forces beyond their control, or their carelessness, it is unsettling that a group of children who brought so much joy to so many, had such tragic events touch their lives.

Do you believe in the Our Gang Curse?

Kerri L. Schultz

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

On this Day - Devon's Devil Footprints

The hillsides of Devon, England are the playground of the Devil, or so some people believe. February 8 , 1855, citizen’s awoke to find single tracks of cloven hooves decorating the hillsides newly fallen snow. Panic arose in the town quickly when the tracks couldn’t be identified. They weren’t simply spanning across fields, hoof prints were found on houses, roofs, haystacks and other odd places where it would be almost impossible for a hoofed animal to walk on.

The tracks spanned almost 100 miles and were reported as being 4 inches long, 3 inches across and 8 to 16 inches. Rumors of sightings of a devil-like figure roaming around the area fueled the panic that among Devon’s inhabitants. People found comfort in arming themselves, and groups hunted the creature with no success.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


In Native American lore, a skinwalker is a person with supernatural abilities that can turn into any animal he or she chooses. The Navajo called it naaldlooshii meaning, he goes on all fours refers to he or she using their powers to travel in animal form.

A skinwalker is a strange animal like figure 6 foot tall. Often a mutated version of the animal that they take form of, they are very fast, agile and impossible to catch. They avoid light, in human form their eyes glow yellow like animals. In animal form their eyes do not glow.

They have the power to read minds. They can make any animal or human sound they want. You do not want to lock eyes with one. They have the power to take over your body. They don’t leave footprints. They like to use charms such as human bones, bone dust to do harm to their victims.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ironic and Unusual Physical Deaths

Prior to incarnating on earth, it is believed that our soul creates a contract detailing what lessons we will focus on learning while on the physical plane. These contracts also include contracts with other people, geographic location, who will be our family, etc. Built into this contract, of course, is free will, and it is believed that in each contract we build in 5 exit points or events where we can choose to leave our physical bodies and cross over to the other side. I do believe this concept, however, I personally also believe the God’s will also plays a part.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Jamaican Boy's Haunting Caught on Tape?

This story was originally reported in 2010, but it is nevertheless, startling and intriguing. An 11 year old Jamaican boy was being tormented by ghost or a Duppy as it is called in Jamaica and some disturbances were caught on video. Unlike some videos claiming paranormal activity that typically appear on a television show, this video was actually reported by the area’s local news.

The boy is claiming that he is being tormented by a classmate who passed away. Some are claiming that it is an evil spirit or even djinn that may be responsible. Viewing the news footage, as you can see below, it is quite unsettling what is happening to the boy. In one portion of the video, the young man is sitting on a chair being interviewed by the news crew when the chair suddenly is pulled back. The open doorway behind the chair makes this event questionable. Is it possible that something was rigged behind him?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mirror Mirror, the lore of mirrors

Since ancient times mirrors or other reflective surfaces, have been considered portals to the unseen realms of spirits. Spirits have been summand through mirrors for ages. They also could be used to see the past or the future. Standing water whether it be natural or in a bowl was used like a mirror. Other items used were polished metals and crystal balls.

 In folklore mirrors are soul stealers, they have the power to rip the soul right out of bodies. It is also said that demons can enter through mirrors. Actually any spirit can use a mirror as a doorway into our world. If you see your reflection in a mirror in a room that someone has died in, it is considered an omen of death. Mirrors are said to hold souls if you would break a mirror the soul is also broken.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Stigmata: A Blessing or Sign of Mental Illness

All of us are in search of authentic proof that life continues after death and that ghosts, spirits, and angels, to name a few, actually exist. Religions of the world teach that we must have faith and believe that we continue once our physical body dies. The Catholic faith also teaches us to have this faith; however, there is a phenomenon that occurs for a rare few that brings the mystical into reality. This condition is known as the stigmata.

The stigmata is the appearance of the wounds that Jesus suffered during his passion of the cross. Jesus’ was nailed to the cross when he was crucified and it created a hole in both hands and both feet. Another wound was created in his side when a soldier pierced his to see if he was still alive. Those who claim to have the stigmata, have these same wounds Jesus suffered and for extended periods of time. Stigmata wounds never heal and are often reported to smell of a sweet fragrance. Accompanying this condition is the ability to go long periods of time with little or now food or water. It is taught in the Catholic faith that the stigmata is a blessing bestowed on the most holy and devout.

St. Francis of Assisi was the first Catholic saint that is reported to have had the stigmata. Several other saints have also had the stigmata, but St. Padre Pio is the most recent saint to exhibit the wounds. St. Padre Pio, was a miraculous healer and exhibited the stigmata for fifty years until his death in 1968. Both St. Francis and St. Padre Pio were subjected to tests and observation to validate their authenticity.

St. Padre Pio

Modern scientific research on the phenomenon believes that the stigmata was not mystical at all, but a result of possible dissociative identity disorders. These types of disorders have a link between self starvation, dissociative mental states, and self mutilation.

It’s very possible the stigmata was the result of nothing more than mental disorder. But to countless Catholics, it is physical proof that life not only exists after this world, but that the Divine is truly working within our reality.

Kerri L. Schultz

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Legend of the Jersey Devil

The legend starts in the Pine Barrens 2000 square miles of dark forest. These Pine Barrens are home to much wildlife but there is said to be another creature lurking in these woods, the Jersey Devil.

The Jersey Devil is a strange looking creature its 4ft tall, has the head of a horse, a serpentine body, large bat-like wings, cloven hoofs and a forked tail.

Legend tells us that in 1735 mother Leeds was pregnant with her 13th child, being she already lived in poverty and could not afford to have another child, she cursed the child and said let it be the devil.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Ghosts of Alcatraz

Just for a moment, reflect upon one day in your life and all of your freedoms. You wake up when you want, eat when you want, drive wherever you want, go see a movie, have a steak dinner, bathe as many times a day or week as you want, or just decide to watch a good movie until midnight then crawl into your nice soft bed.

Now, imagine that your life was controlled through a series of strict routines that are designed to break the hardest of criminals. A whistle blows to signal the beginning and end of every task throughout the day. Your told, when to get up, when to eat, when to stop eating, when to go to work, and every evening you are locked in a cell from 5pm until 6:30am the next morning with lights out at 9:30pm. This is your routine every night. You are not permitted to sing or talk loudly. You may quietly talk or play a game with a person in a neighboring cell, but that is it. You are entitled to food, clothes, shelter, and medical attention and anything else is a privilege you must earn. Punishment for rule breaking is severe. Now imagine, you are facing several years of this routine. Ahead of you are years of depression, and years inside a violent pressure cooker of dangerous criminals.

Now imagine that your life ends while in this despair, whether it was a failed escape attempt, suicide, or you were murdered by another inmate.  And now, either denying you are dead or afraid of judgment, you are trapped.  Each day, you are reliving the same routine you experienced when your life ended, always lingering between the physical plane and the other side. You are scared, untrusting, and confused and what was once the possibility of getting released has turned into an eternity of misery. This is the life of the ghosts of Alcatraz.

Researching the topic of the ghosts of Alcatraz, I found myself compelled to dig deeper into the daily routine of the prisoners and the history of the prison. The more information I uncovered the more claustrophobic I became envisioning the confinement and control that was placed on these men. I too may have become desperate to get out in any way possible. I do not condone the crimes these men, who still dwell in the cell blocks, have committed, but I find myself wondering when their debt to society is paid in full and they can move on from Alcatraz.

Some of the Claims of Paranormal Activity at Alcatraz

Cell 14D – This Cell on D block has been reported by many as one of the main areas of activity dating back to when the prison was still in operation. A story has been told by some of the guards that in the 1940’s an inmate who was kept in Cell 14D began screaming that something with glowing red eyes was in his cell. For hours, the inmate screamed and then abruptly stopped. The following morning, the inmate was found dead with hand marks on his throat. The cause of death was listed as "non-self-inflicted strangulation." The next day, when the guards did a head count, their tally kept coming up one extra. A former prison guard said that he saw the man who died the night before in line, but he then vanished.

The Utility Corridor – The Utility Corridor is the area where three inmates lost their life while trying to escape in the Battle of Alcatraz. Bernard Coy, Marvin Hubbard, and Joe Cretzer were shot to death in a standoff that also took the lives Guards William A. Miller and Harold Stites.

Many claim that the Utility Corridor is one of the areas with the most paranormal activity. There have been reports of an eerie clanging come from inside the area with no definite cause.

Cell blocks A, B, and C visitors claim to have heard crying and moaning. A psychic visiting the prison wrote that he allegedly came upon a disruptive spirit named Butcher. Prison records show that another inmate in block C murdered Abie Maldowitz, a mob hit man whose nickname was Butcher.

Al Capone on the Banjo – Al Capone spent several years at Alcatraz but was ultimately transferred when his health declined due to syphilis. It is reported that Capone took up playing the banjo with the prison band and practiced in the shower room rather than the yard. There have been several reports, many in recent years, that a banjo can be heard being played.

Alcatraz Island was first used as a Civil War prison in 1861 and was closed as a Federal Penitentiary in 1963. Throughout its 102 years as a prison, Alcatraz Island has been surrounded by rumors of torture and severe, cruel punishment in addition to numerous murders, suicides, and deaths from natural causes. Clearly, from the current visitors to Alcatraz, some inmates are still serving time.

For More Information about Alcatraz and its Prisoners:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Poltergeist Phenomena - Psychological or Paranormal

Poltergeist is a German word for noisy ghost. When I say noisy ghost I don’t mean a simple knock on the wall or a tap on a window. If it is a true poltergeist it would be more like banging on the wall, windows or doors slamming shut, objects tossed around the house, TV’s and radio’s turning on by themselves full volume.

So what causes these phenomena? No one really knows for sure. The old theory of poltergeist’s, it’s a ghost or a haunted home. The new theory of poltergeist’s, it’s a haunted person. 

Here are some symptoms that are always involved.