Robber, Mummy, Dummy
This is the story of Elmer McCurdy, a failed plumber from Bangor, Maine, who drifted west to become a failed outlaw. He arrived in Oklahoma a few decades after the golden age of outlaws and attempted to resurrect the lost art of train robbing.
After a short spree of comically bungled robberies, a sheriff’s posse caught up with him and shot him dead. In death, Elmer McCurdy accidentally found fame.
From the Oklahoma funeral home that propped up his preserved corpse and charged a nickel-a-look, to the sideshows of the Great Patterson Carnival, where he was exhibited as a felled outlaw, McCurdy became big business. His post-mortem career in show business lasted until he was discovered painted orange and hanging by the neck in a California amusement ride.
In December of 1976, a Universal Studios camera crew arrived at the Nu-Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach, California, to film an episode of the television action show, the Six Million Dollar Man. In preparing the set in a corner of the fun house, a worker moved the “hanging man,” causing one of this prop’s arms to come off. Inside it was human bone. This was no mere prop. this was a dead guy! Even though he was painted neon orange, he was weirdly realistic.
The crew guessed he was made out of paper mache. The crewmen grabbed him, tried to pull him down and the hangman’s arm ripped right off. Everyone laughed at first, until they took a closer look. Inside the arm was a human bone. The hanged man was a real, mummified corpse.