Top LA Legends #25: Mummy found in Long Beach amusement park

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A failed train robber took a .32 to the thorax and died. His body was embalmed for entertainment-purposes, used as collateral for loans, re-emerged in Long Beach, and was killed a second time by hanging. A cyborg, known as El Hombre Nuclear in Mexico and Peru, was getting powdered in a funhouse when one of his assistants yanked the arm off of a mannequin, only to discover a human bone. The cyborg’s assistants sent the mannequin of human bones to Oklahoma for a funeral, which some of them attended.

Truth, Truthy, or Lie? The answer after the jump.

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Truth. The mummified remains of a failed bandit, Elmer J. McCurdy was found at The Pike, a Long Beach amusement park that ran from 1902-1979 (which is now The Pike At Rainbow Harbor). Elmer was discovered in December 1976 during the shoot of “Carnival of Spies” for the TV show The Six Million Dollar Man. A crew member was asked to move a strange waxy mannequin hanging from a rope. He did so and, whoopsie, an arm fell off – revealing either a human bone or a really thorough method of mannequin design (it was the former). Forensic analysis revealed it was Elmer, who died of a .32 caliber gunshot wound from a train robbery debacle.

Viewing cadavers, especially cadavers of criminals, was a popular and lucrative form of entertainment back then (unlike today). In that way, cadavers were an investment. At one point in the 1930s, a former sheriff acquired Elmer for his wild west show as collateral on a $500 loan. Later, two con men claimed Elmer was their brother, took possession of him, and headed for California. They also encased him in wax.

After his discovery by the crew of The Six Million Dollar Man, he was buried at the Summit View Cemetery in Guthrie, Oklahoma on April 22, 1977. The state medical examiner ordered two cubic yards of concrete poured over McCurdy’s casket, so that he wouldn’t be passed around again. Some of the crewmembers attended his funeral.

A few things that struck me about this legend:
1. There once were people named Elmer. It wasn’t just something you ate in preschool.
2. Elmer’s body was used as collateral on a loan. Even back then, they’d give a loan to anybody.
3. Then and now, many entertainers were embalmed corpses.

Don’t believe me? Click here, here, here, and maybe here.

Click here to see LA’s other Top 25 Legends.

One Reply to “Top LA Legends #25: Mummy found in Long Beach amusement park”

  1. “he Pike, a Long Beach amusement park that ran from 1902-1979 (which is now The Pike At Rainbow Harbor)”

    Sanjay, I have to take issue with this wording. Besides the name, the location and a sculpture made to look like a roller coaster, nothing from the old Pike has anything to do with the outdoor mall called the Pike now. In fact, the only thing still around that has any connection to the old Pike–Loof’s Lite-A-Line–is at a used car dealership on LB Blvd. near Memorial.

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