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Skeletor & The Characters Connection to Long Beach, CA

Elmer McCurdy is a name that might not immediately ring a bell for most people, but his life story is one that is both fascinating and bizarre. McCurdy was a criminal and outlaw who lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and his notoriety has persisted to this day thanks to a strange connection to the character Skeletor from the popular children’s TV show He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. In this article, we will explore the life of Elmer McCurdy and his unlikely connection to Skeletor.

Elmer McCurdy Mugshot

Elmer McCurdy was born in Washington, Maine, on January 1, 1880. As a young man, he worked odd jobs before eventually enlisting in the United States Army in 1900. He served in the Philippines during the Philippine-American War, and was honorably discharged in 1903. After leaving the military, McCurdy struggled to find steady employment and began to drift from place to place, taking odd jobs and engaging in criminal activities.

In 1911, McCurdy joined a group of bandits who robbed a train in Oklahoma. The robbery was not successful, and McCurdy was killed in a shootout with law enforcement. However, his body was not immediately claimed, and it was embalmed by a local undertaker. When no one came forward to claim the body, the undertaker put it on display in his funeral home as an oddity, charging visitors a nickel to view the “outlaw who wouldn’t give up.”

Over the years, McCurdy’s body was sold several times and exhibited in various venues, including carnivals and sideshows. In 1976, a film crew discovered McCurdy’s mummified body in an amusement park funhouse in Long Beach, California. The body was eventually identified through a DNA test and returned to his family, who buried him in Oklahoma.

Elmer McCurdy’s Resting Place

Now, what does Elmer McCurdy have to do with Skeletor from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe?

Skeletor from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

The answer lies in the creation of the character’s design. Mark Taylor, Former Mattel Artist, recounts when his mother took him to the same funhouse at The Pike in Long Beach, CA as a child. In the Netflix docu-series, ‘The Toys That Made Us’, Taylor says he saw a prop-skeleton jump out at him while inside the attraction. However, it scared him so much it stayed in his mind for years to come, and he believed the skeleton to be an actual body. Struck by the preserved body’s eerie appearance Mark Taylor claims he used it as inspiration for the design of Skeletor. It wasn’t until years later that he was able to confirm his suspicions of what he saw as a child while watching TV on a random day.

Elmer McCurdy when he was first embalmed (left) and years later after the body was found (right).

“I knew that was a real person,” he explained. “Over 60 years later, I’m watching the Discovery Channel, it turns out he was a real guy and he was really at the Long Beach Pike! It confirmed all my suspicions!”

Local authorities pulling Elmer’s remains out of Laffin the Dark at The Pike in Long Beach, California

It’s clear that there are some similarities between McCurdy’s mummified body and the character of Skeletor. Both have exposed bones and a skeletal appearance, both have been preserved in a state of death, and both have that greenish glow. The owner of The Pike funhouse decided to paint McCurdy’s mummified body that glowing green color when he arrived in Long Beach, which made its way into the character design. 

In conclusion, Elmer McCurdy was an outlaw from Maine who had once served his country, but Skeletor is from Long Beach, an un-official character and mascot for the Playanese people, and another piece of history showing us how much influence the place we live in has in many places we never thought to look.