While it is not uncommon for child stars to fall under bad influence, some have come as a shock to their fans, and one such death was "Our Gang" child star Scotty Beckett.
Scott Hastings Beckett was born in California, but his family relocated to Los Angeles when he was just a toddler. Soon after settling down in the "City of Angels," his dad fell sick and was hospitalized.
While in hospital, little Scotty made it his duty to entertain his dad, and during one of these entertainment sessions, a casting director noticed his unique talent. Scotty was on his way to fame.
Tommy Bond, Spanky McFarland, Scotty Beckett and Stymie Beard in a publicity shot for the "Our Gang" series later to be know as "The Little Rascals." Image dated January 1, 1934. Inset: Scotty Beckett | Source: Getty Images
He starred in his first movie, "Gallant Lady," in 1933, followed by "Our Gang" in 1944. He would go on to feature in the shorts until two tears later when he left the show.
At the time of his leaving, Scotty was one of the most successful child actors of his time, so he did not struggle to find work. He went onto appear in films such as "My Favorite Wife," "Conquest," and "Dante's Inferno," among many others.
Around 1950, with all the fame surrounding him, Scotty started hanging out in bars. He would often be spotted in the company of other young stars such as Edith Fellows, Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Powell, and Roddy McDowell.
At far left is Eileen Bernstein and, from third left are George McFarland (1928 - 1993), Scotty Beckett (1929 - 1968) and Billie Thomas (1931 - 1980). Matthew Beard (1925 - 1981) | Source: Getty Images
It also became clear that the young star prioritized his nocturnal activities over his acting career. Soon after, Scotty was making headlines with the irresponsible behavior that would riddle his life until his end.
At only 19 years, Scotty had his first run-in with the law and was arrested after crashing into another vehicle while driving under the influence. That same year, he also got married to Beverly Baker.
However, the marriage was short-lived, and five months in, Baker wanted out, accusing Scotty of being controlling and jealous. His second marriage was to Sunny Vickers, three years later, and they had a son, Scott Hastings Beckett, Jr.
A scene from the show "Our Gang" in the '20s | Source: Getty Images
This was his third attempt at suicide, and the "Our Gang" star was only 38.
With his divorce and negative publicity following his reckless drunk behavior, Scotty's career suffered, and directors were skeptical of casting him any roles. And yet, trouble kept following him.
In 1954, there was a robbery at the Cavalier Hotel, and $130 was stolen. The robber seemed to have gotten away with it until they found Scotty passed out with a knife and a gun in the hotel basement.
:Our Gang" poster in the '20s | Source: Getty Images
He was arrested but soon after, posted bail, and fled to Mexico with his wife and son. While there, he did anything but keep a low profile. He got into altercations with the Mexico Police and was once again put in jail.
When he got out three months later, he attempted to get his life back on track and even appeared in movies such as "The Oklahoma" and "Monkey on My Back," but his self-destructing behavior soon had him back to abusing alcohol.
Scotty would soon be arrested for possession of illegal drugs and again for drunk driving two years later. That same year, he drove into a tree and suffered multiple fractures on his head, hip and thighs.
"Our Gang" kids celebrating Easter outdoors |Source: Getty Images
The injuries were so severe that Scotty would remain disabled for the rest of his life. And yet, he was still the same old Scotty, always getting arrested for this and that. Lenald Maltin, a film critic, wrote of Scotty:
"It was a particularly sad end for someone who, as a child, had shown so much easy charm and talent. Scotty Beckett was not the first child star casualty and he would not be the last. But his story is certainly one of the saddest."
The cast of "Our Gang/Little Rascals" TV show, Hal Roach, MGM production. Spanky McFarland holding the football. | Source: Getty Images
Scotty would continue getting in trouble with the law, and in 1968, he got a severe beating in what was suspected to be backfired drug deal, after which he checked himself into a nursing home.
Two days later, Scotty was dead, gone from what was thought to be a barbiturates overdose. This was his third attempt at suicide, and the "Our Gang" star was only 38. He'd left behind a note and a son who'd have to live his life hearing about his father's misdoings.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.
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