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Matthew "Stymie" Beard, Jr
Birth: Jan. 1, 1925
Los Angeles
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Death: Jan. 8, 1981
Los Angeles
Los Angeles County
California, USA

Actor. A popular member of "The Little Rascals", he played 'Stymie' in 36 "Our Gang" shorts from 1930 to 1935. One of 14 children born to a Los Angeles, California minister, in the summer of 1930 his parents brought him to an open call at Hal Roach Studios, where they were on a talent search for a child to replace Allen "Farina" Hoskins. Having already auditioned 350 boys for the role, director Robert McGowan took one look at little Matthew and hired him without a screen test. McGowan's enthusiasm was quickly justified, as the five year-old proved to be a natural performer. His screen character, named "Stymie" by McGowan because of his habit of getting in the director's way, evolved into a cool-headed con artist, able to outsmart any adversary. Stymie's onscreen trademark, an outsized derby hat, was a gift from comedian Stan Laurel, who was amazed by the youngster's skill. He appeared in such "Our Gang" classics as "Teacher's Pet" (1930), "Fly My Kite" (1931), "Dogs Is Dogs" (1931), "Free Wheeling" (1932), and "Mama's Little Pirate" (1935). After leaving the series Beard had small roles in "Captain Blood" (1935), "Jezebel" (1938), "Stormy Weather" (1942), and several other features. After growing into adulthood his negative experience mirrored that of other "Little Rascal" stars. Throughout his career as a child star he continued to live with his family in a Los Angeles ghetto. Desperate to fit in, he started using drugs and committing petty crimes to support his habit. He was serving his first jail term at 20, and the next two decades were a cycle in which he was either addicted to drugs or in prison. In 1966 Beard entered Synanon, a California program for recovering addicts, and began his recovery. In the 1970s he made appearances at "Our Gang" reunions and volunteered his time to talk to kids about the horrors of drug abuse. He also started acting again, with bits in films like "The Buddy Holly Story" (1979) and guest spots on televison's "Good Times", "Maude", and "Sanford and Son". His final role was as a bawdy house pianist in the 1981 miniseries "East of Eden". Shortly after his 56th birthday, Beard suffered a stroke in the motel room where he was living. He was found two days later, alive but paralyzed, and taken to the County USC Medical Center, where he died of pneumonia and other complications. (bio by: Bobb Edwards) 

Cause of death: Pneumonia
Evergreen Cemetery
Los Angeles
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Plot: Section L, Lot 315B
GPS (lat/lon): 34.04005, -118.19694
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jun 01, 1999
Find A Grave Memorial# 5560
Matthew Stymie Beard, Jr
Added by: Ron Moody
Matthew Stymie Beard, Jr
Added by: Robert A. Horton, Jr.
Matthew Stymie Beard, Jr
Added by: Marty Tommer
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