In 1911, a small-time crook was shot dead by authorities, who inadvertently became a showbiz star after death. One of the oddities in American culture as the dead outlaw found his way through nooks and crannies of American entertainment until he was buried over 50 years later.

Petty crook dies in a failed train robbery and becomes fame star

The petty criminal Elmer McCurdy was shot dead and killed by lawmen on October 7, 1911, after getting tracked to a farm in Oklahoma. Unknowingly, that would be the start of his fame in showbiz than a failed criminal.

What made him less famous is a mockery of a hold-up panned a joke for only $46 and some items. He and his accomplice were supposed to score $400,000 in cash via payment by the US government, but the fools robbed the wrong train.

McCurdy died in a shootout that lasted an hour, but his odyssey would end decades later that would make him 'remarkable,' reported the Daily Star.

Small Time Crook Shot Dead in 1911,  His Mummy Became a Famous Sideshow Star and Inspired He-Man’s Skeletor  Years Later
(Photo : W. G. Boag, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

When no relatives came to claim his body, the local undertaker decided to make money off the outlaw's corpse and put him out for all to see in exchange for a nickel to compensate for his effort.

To add insult to injury, the spectators would drop the money in the mouth of the corpse, like a gross piggy bank.

The enterprising undertaker had earned through this, so he decided not to bury him. Instead, he let the body dry out to mummify him, right in his funeral parlor, cited Brink Wire.

The mummy's journey as famous sideshow star

Later, carnival owners, James and Charles Patterson claimed the body, claiming they were relatives, who fooled the undertaker from his cash cow.

This small-time crook shot dead in 1911 became a part of The Great Patterson Carnival Show, with the renowned name, 'The Outlaw Who Would Never Be Captured Alive.'

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In 1933, the mummy's origin was forgotten and was used in an exploitation film, 'Narcotic.' Its director Edwin Esper said it was a drug fiend killed in a gunfight.

Over the years, many owned the dried corpse and became a regular freak show, but his body parts were falling off him in time. In 1976, it became part of the Laff in the Dark funhouse exhibition in the California amusement park called The Pike.

Owners of The Pike thought it was a creepy dummy, with the deteriorated state of the body.

Mark Taylor, the He-man toy designer, saw the McCurdy dummy as a young boy and stuck him as the inspiration for the villain Skeletor. Taylor told a documentary later, recalling that he smells like someone was dead at the sideshow. When he saw the mummy and had no doubt, it was a real person.

On the set of one episode in The Six Million Dollar Man, a 70's show at the Pike, reveals that McCurdy was no 'Dummy,' but circumstances that led to his death might classify him as such, noted Techno Trendz.

Mummy revealed to be a human corpse after over 50 years

When a member of the show's crew moved the mummy and a body part broke off and was revealed to be a human corpse. Later, the Coroners' office declared the body was the hapless train robber, and show owners covered it with wax and painted on the corpse over the years.

One more sideshow offered to buy the mummy but was turned down, leading to the last part of the journey was laying McCurdy to rest after his stint. Buried in Boot Hill cemetery in Guthrie, Oklahoma, the small-time crook shot dead in 1911 finally ended his career in showbiz.

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