Carl Dean "Alfalfa" Switzer (August 7, 1927 – January 21, 1959) was an American child actor, professional dog breeder and hunting guide, most notable for appearing in the Our Gang short subjects series as Alfalfa, one of the series' most popular and best-remembered characters.
Switzer was born in Paris, Illinois, the second son, fourth and last child of Gladys C. Shanks (née Doerr) and G. Frederick Switzer. He was named Carl after the Switzer family and Dean after many relatives on his grandmother's family. He and his older brother, Harold Frederick Switzer, became famous around their hometown for their musical talent and performances; both sang and played a number of instruments.
The Switzers took a trip to California in 1934 to visit with family members. While sightseeing they eventually wound up at Hal Roach Studios. Following a public tour of the facility, 8-year-old Harold and 6-year-old Carl entered into the Hal Roach Studio's open-to-the-public cafeteria, the Our Gang Café, and began an impromptu performance. Producer Hal Roach was present at the commissary that day and was impressed by the performance. He signed both Switzers to appear in Our Gang. Harold was given two nicknames, "Slim" and "Deadpan," and Carl was dubbed "Alfalfa."