Urban Legends

Is This  Hanged Man Real?


Urban Legend: The "hanging man" in a funhouse turns out to be the corpse of an outlaw. This one is supposedly true.

The Story: 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 funhouse, 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!

The body was that of Elmer McCurdy, a young man who in 1911 had robbed a train of $46 and two jugs of whiskey in Oklahoma. He announced to the posse in pursuit of him that he would not be taken alive and the posse obliged by killing him in a shoot-out.

McCurdy's body became a sideshow attraction right after his embalming. It is claimed that the local undertaker though he had done such a wonderful job at restoring McCurdy that he let the towns folk see him for a nickel a piece. The nickels were dropped into the corpse's open mouth , later collected by the undertaker.

No one ever  showed up to claim McCurdy's body, so, legend has it that undertaker  kept him around to collect nickels for a few years after the embalming. Carnival promoters wanted to buy the stiff, but the undertaker turned them down. He didn't want to lose his most steady form of income.

In 1915 two men showed up, claiming that McCurdy was their long lost brother. They took McCurdy away, supposedly to give him a decent burial in the family plot. In actuality, the long lost  McCurdy "brothers" were carnival promoters. It was a scam to get the body that they had wanted for years. They exhibited McCurdy throughout Texas under the same title that the undertaker had given him -- "The Bandit Who Wouldn't Give Up."

It seems that McCurdy's body popped up everywhere after that, in places such as an amusement park near Mount Rushmore, lying in an open casket in a Los Angeles wax museum, and in a few low-budget films. Before the Six Million Dollar Man crew discovered this prop to be a corpse, McCurdy had been hanging in a Long Beach funhouse for four years.

In April 1977, the much-traveled Elmer McCurdy was laid to final rest in Summit View Cemetery in Guthrie, Oklahoma. To make sure the corpse would not make its way back to the entertainment world, the state medical examiner ordered two cubic yards of cement poured over the coffin before the grave was closed. McCurdy hasn't been seen hanging around amusement parks since.

Whether all this is true or not, we don't know. Was there ever an amusement park in Long Beach, California called the Nu-Pike Amusement Park? This tale is just one of those that we'll never know the truth of.

UPDATE:
Submitted by
Brett Lathrope of Long Beach, California

Reference: Elmer McCurdy, the Hanged Man Legend.

Your site reads: Whether all this is true or not, we don't know. Was there ever an amusement park in Long Beach, California called the Nu-Pike Amusement Park? This tale is just one of those that we'll never know the truth of.

I submit the following:

Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram article: Mummy at Pike turns out to be real corpse (12/9/76 - Section A, Page 1, Column 1)

Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram article: Mummy was murdered, autopsy bares bullet in Pike exhibit (12/10/76 - Section A, Page 1, Column 3)

Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram article: Pike Mummy believed to be long-dead outlaw (12/11/76 - Section A, Page 3, Column 1)

Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram article: It's Official: Pike Mummy really outlaw (4/14/77 - Section A, Page 1, Column 4)

Further: Excerpt from Long Beach Police Report #765-0028, filed December 8, 1976:

"Filing officer and Criminalist E. Williams went to the Nu-Pike in company with the Fire Department Personnel. The Laff in the Dark (sic) located at 210-A-A-A West Pike Avenue was entered, and their attention was drawn to the human-like display, which was hanging from a rope. Criminalist E. Williams and filing officer examined the display, (sic) and noted beneath the outer covering there appeared to be bone-type structure having bone-like joints. There was also noted to be a small trace of hair on the back leg. The display remarkably resembled a human cadaver in size and proportion."

My point, there was most definitely a Nu-Pike, and this aint no Urban Legend.  :)

Be well,
Brett Lathrope,
Long Beach, California

Guess this puts this story to rest ..........it is very much true!!

!emocleW

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