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Carolyn Jones
April 23, 1930 - August 3, 1983

"Black is such a happy color."

We knew her best as Morticia Addams on the 60's TV show The Addams Family. Her role in the Vincent Price 3-D House of Wax is worth mentioning as well. She was also cast as a "ruthless, filthy rich, old broad" (her words, not mine) on the show Capitol, but had to drop out after the first season, because of her illness.

Carolyn Jones was born and raised in Amarillo, Texas, but had dreamt of going to Hollywood since childhood. She excelled in speech and dramatics in high school, but she felt out of place in the Texas Panhandle. She graduated at age 17 and faked appendicitis to get out of graduation ceremonies. Her step-grandfather paid for her education at the Pasadena Playhouse, although she often claimed to have financed it herself with a stint as a radio disc jockey. Soon after graduation, she married fellow Pasadena graduate, Don Donaldson, but the couple separated weeks later. Despite her training as an actress, Carolyn couldn't find work or representation. By the time their divorce was final, Carolyn had endured painful plastic surgery, a nose job, and soon after found an agent, offers, and several men who suddenly wanted to date her.

Carolyn's second husband was Aaron Spelling who was then a struggling actor, but she threatened to leave him if he didn't give up acting and pursue what he truly loved, writing. As Aaron became more successful, Carolyn saw her own career slowly decline. The couple separated in 1964, the year Carolyn, at Aaron's urging, took the role of Morticia in The Addams Family. Despite their split, Aaron was grateful for Carolyn's help during their lean years, and he repaid her with career advice and job offers.

In 2013, new color photographs of the Addams Family set surfaced.  These were taken by photographer, Richard Fish.  

After The Addams Family ended, Carolyn grew dissatisfied with the direction of her career.

Her third marriage was to Broadway producer, Herb Greene, whom her friends blamed when she decided to leave Hollywood and move to Palm Springs. In her boredom and resentment, Carolyn wrote a novel, Twice Upon a Time, a scathing indictment of the film industry. With Greene, she authored another book, but writing was not her passion. She missed acting and wanted to return to Hollywood. By then The Addams Family had been off the air for a decade, and she had to take whatever roles came along. Her first return to the silver screen was a low budget thriller, Eaten Alive, which co-starred Robert Englund of Freddy Krueger fame. Carolyn left Herb Greene in 1977.

Carolyn was living in this sweet bungalow in West Hollywood, California.

.

Carolyn had been diagnosed with colon cancer in February of 1981. She had vomited blood, and when doctors did tests, they discovered that cancer had ravaged her colon and spread to her liver. Surgeons removed two thirds of her colon, and Carolyn continued on, the best she could. She told friends that she was having treatments for ulcers.

In the meantime, Carolyn quietly went through treatment. She worked during the day, and went to the hospital for chemo at night. No one knew. She kept her illness a complete secret.

It seemed that the cancer had gone into remission, but in late 1982 - it returned and spread like, well, cancer. Doctors retaliated with massive injections of drugs, to no avail.

Seeing that the end was near, in October 1982 - Carolyn wed her boyfriend, actor Peter Bailey-Britton. She wore a lace and ribbon cap to hide the fact that she lost her hair to chemo. The wedding was attended by John Astin, Richard Egan, Jim Backus, June Allyson, Sally Struthers and Red Buttons.

The very next month, Carolyn, completely ravaged by the disease, fell into a coma in her home. She died there on August 3, 1983, with Alicia Buttons (Red's wife) at her side. She was 53.

Carolyn was cremated the very next day.  There was a private funeral.  John Astin gave the eulogy and attendees included Carolyn's family, June Allyson.  Aaron Spelling didn't show, on the advice of his wife, Candy.

Carolyn was inurned with her mother in Melrose Abbey Memorial Park.  She requested that her urn be placed upon her mother's casket, above her mother's heart.

Trivia:  Carolyn donated her Morticia wig to the Academy of Mother Picture Arts and Sciences, never to be seen again I'm sure.

Trivia:  Carolyn underwent a hysterectomy at Cedars-Sinai at the very same time Lenny Bruce was in the hospital recuperating from a fall.  Bruce taught Carolyn new curse words.  I love new curse words.

Trivia Announcmeent:  I think this is almost the greatest thing I have ever read:

Carolyn threw a Halloween party/engagement to celebrate her relationship with Budd Moss.  

"The party, held in the backyard of her Beverly Hills home, was decorated with Morticia in mind.  "She arranged with the producers of The Addams Family to bring a lot of sets that they were able to move and put out around her swimming pool," recalls Budd.  "and many people from the studio got dressed up as the characters from the show... I am almost positive that Carolyn did wear her Morticia outfit."

A two-headed stuffed tortoise glided in the frothy waters of a swimming pool filled with dry ice.  Amide Addamsesque props like a guillotine and a mummy's case, guests danced the watusi and the frug.  Among those in attendance were Lana Turner, Milton Berle, Danny Thomas, Jim Nabors, David Janssen, and Rod Taylor.  A special guest was Charles Addams, someone whom Carolyn's Hollywood friends met for the first time.

Updated text information from Jones' biographer, James Pylant.

 

The Addams Family cast

 

John Astin

John Astin played Gomez Addams. He's been pretty much typecast (as all the good ones are) as Gomez, and pretty much lives up to it. I've seen him around at autograph shows, and in theatre productions here and there. I met him once, no comments on the picture.

  Faggin' hard, as usual. Me, not him. Keep in mind, it was 1992.

 

Jackie Coogan

  

Jackie Coogan played Uncle Fester. His daughter once said that it was the only character part he ever really loved. 
That’s pretty all right, eh? He was once married to Betty Grable.

.

From Findadeath.com friend, Kelly:  Hello Scott - I just discovered your website two weeks ago, and am totally addicted.  Keep up the great work!  Here is a link to a picture that I found to satisfy my curiosity about the Uncle Fester/Pin-Up Queen marriage.

Findadeath.com friend, Joe Tanner, sent me this very interesting tidbit.  Check it out!  "It was in 1942, in Burma where Jackie was arrested at a cathouse. All military personal were ordered to stay out of these homes off ill repute. My father was an MP and was called to a scene that had many service men at the site. One of these men was Jackie Coogan. He was already known from his films, and my father was one of the men who arrested him. Jackie was given some time to serve and according to my Mom's version (of what she remembers my father telling her) was that Jackie was demoted a couple of notches in rank. "

How really interesting, Joe.  Thank you for sending that!

In March of 1984, Jackie was visiting his daughter, Leslie, in Malibu, when he suffered a heart attack. At noon on March 1, 1984 - he was admitted to the Santa Monica Hospital, and he died there at 1:37 in the afternoon. He had been suffering from heart disease and hypertension for quite a while. He was 69 years old.

His funeral was held in the mausoleum of  Holy Cross cemetery.  Findadeath.com friend, Bob Siler, attended the event, and told me that John Astin read the eulogy, going on about his friendship with Jackie, and that the cast of the show saw him as their own uncle.  Others in attendance were Don Stroud , Hank Worden, and Dead End Kids, Huntz Hall (who was passing out autographs. Tacky.) and Gabe Holzer who snapped this fantastic picture of his casket

Bob also told me that it was open casket.  Bob remembers, "Now, when they opened the coffin lid, I turned to Greg and said, "They should have had a light bulb in his mouth".
Don Stroud, who was next to us, looked at us and kind of smiled. Yeah, he thought it was funny."  Thanks a bazillion, Bob.

Thanks again to Findadeath.com friend, Steve Goldstein, of www.beneathlosangeles.com  for his link.  Check out his page.  Great stuff there.

UPDATE December 2004, from Findadeath friend, Mark:


Scott, Am enjoying your website - very interesting.  Here's some Jackie Coogan trivia.  In the early 1930's Jackie Coogan was a student at Santa Clara University.  His frat brother and friend was the scion of a San Jose merchant family that owned a local dept. store.  In 1933, two drifters kidnapped the young man (Brooke Hart) for ransom. His body was later found in the shallows of San Francisco Bay near the town of Newark.  The two drifters, John Thurmond and ______ Holmes were being held in the local county jail.  Upon the discovery of Hart's body, the town folk went nuts, stormed the jail, knocked down the doors with battering rams, and proceeded to hang the two kidnappers from a tree in nearby St. James Park.  How does Jackie Coogan fit into this story?  He reputedly coiled the rope that was used to hang the two men. Eye witnesses placed Coogan at the scene of the crime.  The lynching was the last public hanging in California and was the subject of a book in early 1980's by a now-retired San Jose Mercury-News reporter named Harry Farrell.  The book was titled "Swift Justice" and is available on amazon.com or at many public libraries.

Thanks, Mark!

This just in, February 2005, from Findadeath friend, Michael:

Here's a little trivia that not everyone knows regarding Jackie Coogan.  A federal law (The Coogan Law) was named after him.

The Coogan Law was enacted in 1939, to assure that child actors receive a portion of their earnings when they reach majority age. 

Coogan had filed suit against his parents to recover the $4 million fortune he had made as a popular child star. 

Unfortunately for Coogan - and for hundreds of other child actors, a minor's earnings were legally the property of the parents or guardians. As a result, Coogan entered adulthood penniless, even though he had earned millions.  

Also, current actor Keith Coogan is his grandson.

Thanks, Michael!

Also February 2005, from Findadeath friend Matt:

Scott, As you probably know, Jackie starred in the 1921 six reel classic, "The Kid", with Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin had tested Coogan in a movie (A Day's Pleasure) two years prior to make sure he could handle the strain of shooting and re-shooting scenes. He did, and the rest is history. If you've ever seen Jackie in "The Kid" you'll no doubt remember his heart wrenching scenes where he is separated from Chaplin, and sobs his heart out. 

Anyway, cut to 1972, when Chaplin was brought back to the US for an honorary Oscar. This is after years of living in seclusion after being in deported from the US essentially by J. Edgar Hoover. Well, who should meet the 83 year old actor at the airport, but Jackie Coogan. The two men reportedly broke down crying, and Chaplin replied, "There is no else in the world I would rather see than you."

Thanks, Matt!

 

Blossom Rock

Blossom Rock played Grandmama. In 1967, Blossom suffered a massive stroke, sold her home and moved into the Motion Picture Country Home. 

Thanks tons to Steve Goldstein for that photograph. 

A lot of people don't know that she was the older sister of Jeanette MacDonald.  Thanks LP.  Blossom missed the 1977 reunion movie, but she watched it on television. (Almost got away with missing it. Poor her. Must have been agony.) She died in the home on January 14th, 1978. She was 82.


The cronies at Forest Lawn Glendale buried her.

 

Ted Cassidy

Ted Cassidy played Lurch, and "Thing" if you can believe it. Ted lived in Woodland Hills on a street called De La Luz. 

His house was located at 21858.

Ted was beefcake.

and he had a freakin' song.




In late December 1978, Ted had open-heart surgery in the hospital, to remove a non-malignant tumor. Doctors had given him the all clear, and he was sent home. He went back into St. Vincent's Hospital, in LA.  

On the 16th of January, he went in to cardiac arrest. At 1:48 in the afternoon, he died there. He was only 46 years old.

He had a private funeral at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills the following Friday. After the service, he was cremated. Now it gets interesting. His children buried Ted's urn in the backyard of the home, then MOVED AWAY. I swear it's true. There is one unproven rumor that some gardeners stumbled upon it, and stole it, but I'm not sure I believe it. None the less, Lurch is missing in action. That's pathetic. Steve didn't chance getting busted photographing the yard, and I can't say I blame him. It's back here.

March 2000:

I just found your website, and am going thru it now. In '77 I lived in Hollywood, and Ted Cassidy was always very visible and accessible. He would always say hello, or return a greeting. One thing many people probably don't know is that he drove a red Valiant I think it was, from the back seat! His height always amazed me as did the astonishing fact (to me) that he was bald.

Robert C. Stanfield  (Thanks Robert!)

Findadeath.com friend, Grant Brenna, writes in: I attended a Star Trek convention in Dallas some time in early 1977. Ted Cassidy was a featured speaker. He was in one Star Trek episode which everyone viewed before he spoke. Anyway, he stayed to sign autographs. One guy had a poster of the scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where Butch (Paul Newman) kicks Cassidy in the crotch. The poster was a shot of the instant Newman's boot hit Cassidy's crotch. Cassidy was very kind and signed it right over the boot/crotch part of the picture. He said that he was often asked to autograph that shot and that is the spot he always signed.

February 20, 2001

Findadeath.com friend, John Bowers, writes in:  I read somewhere in the early '80s, that Ted Cassidy (Lurch, Addams Family), did the growling sound for The Incredible Hulk (Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno).... I'm sure this info. can be found true somehow by your connections. I noticed this wasn't included in Ted's info. in your site, and thought it would be an interesting bit of history.

I just verified that it's TRUE!  I didn't know that, John.  Thanks tons for that.

UPDATE February 2005, from Findadeath friend, Leroy:

 
 Hi Scott, I was browsing through your sight and started reading the articles on the deceased celebs I remembered on TV shows I watched as a child in the 70's and 80's.
 
 I was reading Ted Cassidy's tribute and it made me remember he had a role in the Bionic Woman in the early 70's. 
Leroy

Big Findadeath.com thanks to Steve Goldstein again for those pics. Steve is a huge contributor, and I am very grateful.

 Wanna see his mailbox?

Ken Weatherwax and Lisa Loring played Pugsley and Wednesday, the two Addams kids I was so jealous of, when I was a kid. Still am, actually. Ken works in the industry, and God knows what Lisa does now. I met her once a few years ago, and she was really nice, and signed this picture for me. 

She was also involved with the death of another actor, Eraserhead's Jack Nance.

Ken Weatherwax is the nephew of clod-hopper Ruby Keeler.


Thanks again Bob Siler and Steve Goldstein for all the help.

April 2002 - new Findadeath.com friend, Annie, writes us:

I saw the surviving cast of the Addams family on the CBS early show and it was just sad. Lisa Loring prattled on about her new project or something. I had a hard time listening after the "took 14 years off to raise a family" line. After reading your site it was really hard to swallow. I copied their bios from the Early Morning show so you could see for yourself. I also included an Addams family website that actually shows some scenes from the show.

Here are the bios:

John Astin (Gomez Adams) is touring with a one man show based on Edgar Allan Poe, called Edgar Allan Poe: Once Upon A Midnight. He is also a visiting professor of drama and directing at John Hopkins University. His son Sean Astin was recently seen in The Lord of the Rings as Samwise 'Sam' Gamgee.  Ken Weatherwax (Pugsley) quit acting after the show. He works as a grip. He has been doing that for 23 years.  Lisa Loring (Wednesday Friday) is returning to acting after taking 14 years off to raise a family. She has a production company and is producing two films. She is single again.
And the link:
http://www.addamsfamily.com/
Take care,
Annie

Thanks Annie!