Scotty Beckett: It Was One Tragedy After the Next For the "Our Gang"/"Little Rascals" Former Child Star

Herbie J Pilato

Unfortunately, the list is long of former child stars who led tragic lives and had even more tragic deaths. Gary Coleman, Dana Plato, Rusty Hamner, and as it turns out, several cast members of the Our Gang/Little Rascals short films. And that includes Scotty Beckett.

For starters, when Beckett was just 4 years old, his father, Ralph Beckett, died. Around the same time, Scotty began acting and started making feature films in the late 1930s. He signed on with MGM, one of the biggest and most influential movie studios in history. But near the time Beckett became an adolescent, he and the entertainment industry ultimately parted ways. Then, in May 1968, Beckett died at only 38 years old.

A Closer Look

Beyond his own sad demise, several family members of Scotty Beckett's also passed away within a year of his leaving this world. His mother died at age 76 one week after what would have been his 39th birthday on October 11, 1968. His former wife Sunny Vickers died on November 27, 1968, just one month before her 40th birthday. Beckett's brother James died on January 18, 1969, at the age of 49.

At least, Scotty Becket left an indelible mark on film. For example, he played Louis-Charles, Dauphin of France (the titular King Louis XVII), in both The King Without a Crown (1937) and Marie Antoinette (1938). And he was in five movies that were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture: Anthony Adverse (1936), Love Affair (1939), Kings Row (1942), Heaven Can Wait (1943), and Battleground (1949).

Random Bits of Beckett's Life and Career

Scotty Beckett sang "Shuffle off to Buffalo" and "In the Good Old Summertime" (in pig Latin) for Walter Lang while he was visiting his father in the hospital. Impressed by the boy, Lang gave him a toy dog.

Beckett was not an original member of the Our Gang film series, which began in 1922 before he was born. Beckett's son, Scott H. Beckett Jr., was born on November 6, 1951.

Eight years later, Beckett was in a serious serious accident when his car crashed his car into a tree. As fate would have it, back in 1936, Beckett played a six-year-old who crashed his kiddie car into a tree.

According to the Eugene-Register Guard, Beckett was arrested multiple times on drunkenness or drunk driving charges, and in 1957, he was booked again for allegedly trying to cross the U.S.-Mexican border while possessing "250 stimulant pills." He logged a long list of other reported run-ins with the law, stemming from various alleged offenses like hitting his teenage stepdaughter and writing bounced checks. "During one of Beckett's appearances in court, a judge told the former child star to 'grow up and start acting like a man,'" reported the Eugene-Register Guard.

Beckett's Sad Final Years 

In 1962, Beckett allegedly tried to kill himself. Six years later, in May 1968, he died two days after checking into a rest home. The autopsy was inconclusive, but an overdose was suspected.

[Note: Unless otherwise indicated, certain facts and information in this article were resourced from various entertainment news and media outlets including,,,,, and]

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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