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Scotty Beckett
Born Scott Hastings Beckett
October 4, 1929(1929-10-04)
Oakland, California, U.S.
Died May 10, 1968 (aged 38)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1933–1957

Scott Hastings "Scotty" Beckett (October 4, 1929 – May 10, 1968) was an American child actor. He is best remembered for his parts in the Our Gang and Rocky Jones, Space Ranger series.


Early career

Born in Oakland, California, Beckett got his start in show business at age 3 when a casting director heard him singing by chance. Beckett was in a hospital visiting his father who was recovering from an illness, and was entertaining him by singing songs. A studio casting director who happened to be nearby noticed the child, and told his proud parents he had movie potential. Scotty auditioned, and landed a part in Gallant Lady (1933). The same year, his father died.

Our Gang

Beckett appeared as a regular in the Our Gang short subjects series from 1934 to 1935. In the gang, Beckett played George "Spanky" McFarland's best friend and partner in mischief. His trademark look was a crooked black baseball cap and an oversized black sweater, exposing one shoulder. His role was taken over by Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer in 1935, and Beckett left the series for features after that year.

He became a prolific and well-regarded child and young adult actor from the late 1930s to the early 1950s, sharing the screen with some of the biggest stars of the day. In 1939, he returned to Our Gang as Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer's nerdy cousin Wilbur for two episodes. He appeared as one of the unborn children in Shirley Temple's The Blue Bird (1940). His most notable feature role was playing Al Jolson as a teenager in The Jolson Story (1946), with his singing voice being provided by fellow child actor Rudy Wissler.

Rocky Jones, Space Ranger

Beckett went on to play the copilot "Winky" on the 1954 TV space opera Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. Winky was to be his last major role; the character was dropped when Beckett was jailed on weapons charges. He made only a few subsequent TV and film appearances, some uncredited bit parts, before leaving show business forever.

Hard life and death

Beckett's later years were plagued by a series of profound problems and self-destructive behavior: bad checks, failed marriages, violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, crippling auto accidents and suicide attempts. He drifted from job to dead-end job and had frequent run-ins with the police, one of which involved an extended shoot-out. On May 8, 1968, Beckett checked into a Hollywood nursing home for injuries caused by a recent beating. He was found dead in his room two days later. Sleeping pills and a note were found near his body, but an autopsy ruled the cause of death "inconclusive". He was 38.

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