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Jackie Coogan as Uncle Fester (left) with Ted Cassidy as Lurch (right) on The Addams Family
|Born||Theodore Crawford Cassidy
July 31, 1932
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||January 16, 1979
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Height||6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)|
Theodore Crawford Cassidy (July 31, 1932 - January 16, 1979), known as Ted Cassidy, was an American actor who performed in television and films. At 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) in height, he tended to play unusual characters in offbeat or science-fiction series such as Star Trek and I Dream of Jeannie. He is best known for playing the part of Lurch, the butler on the 1960s television series The Addams Family and performing the opening narration of the 1970s TV series The Incredible Hulk.
Early life and career
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Cassidy was raised in Philippi, West Virginia, 120 miles south of Pittsburgh. He played basketball (center) and American football (tackle) for Philippi High School. At that time, he was an imposing figure in both venues, being the tallest player in the conference.
Early in his academic career, Cassidy attended West Virginia Wesleyan College, in nearby Buckhannon, West Virginia, where he was a member of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. He later attended Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, as a Speech major. Active in student government (he was elected "Social Vice President" his senior year), he also played basketball for the Hatters, averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds in his three seasons as a player (1952-1955). In 1952 Ted became a member of the Ormond Beach, Florida Life Saving Corps and worked as a lifeguard in the Ormond/Daytona Beach area.
After graduating with a degree in speech and drama, he married Margaret Helen in 1956, and they moved to Dallas, Texas. His acting career took off when he worked as a mid-day disc jockey on WFAA-AM in Dallas. He also occasionally appeared on WFAA-TV Channel 8, playing "Creech", an outer space creature on the "Dialing for Dollars" segments on Ed Hogan's afternoon movies. Incidentally, he gave an in-studio report from the radio station on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. An accomplished musician, Cassidy moonlighted at Luby's Cafeteria in the Lochwood shopping center in Dallas, playing the organ to entertain patrons. In 1957, Margaret gave birth to their son, Sean; in 1960, daughter Cameron was born.
Cassidy's unusual height gave him an advantage in auditioning for unusual character roles. He is probably best known for playing the butler, Lurch (in which, despite being an accomplished organist, he feigned playing the harpsichord), and the character named Thing, on the 1960s American television series The Addams Family. (A crew member would take over the "Thing" role in scenes with both characters.) Cassidy originally ad-libbed the line, "You rang?" The subtle humor and the deepness of his voice, delivered more as a statement than a question, was immediately a hit. Thereafter, it was regularly written into the script, and it became his signature line.
In addition to The Addams Family, Cassidy found steady work in a variety of other television shows. He had a regular role on NBC's The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as Injun Joe, the blood-foe of Tom Sawyer and Huck. In the 1967 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode, "The Napoleon's Tomb Affair", Cassidy played a henchman, Edgar, who kidnaps, tortures, and repeatedly tries to kill Napoleon and Illya.
Cassidy also provided the voice of the more aggressive version of Balok in the Star Trek episode "The Corbomite Maneuver", the role of the android Ruk in the episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", and he voiced the Gorn in the episode "Arena". Cassidy did more work with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in the early 1970s, playing Isiah in the post-apocalyptic drama pilots Genesis II and Planet Earth. In the Lost in Space episode, "The Thief from Outer Space", he played the "Slave" to the alien "Thief" (Malachi Throne) who threatens the Robinsons.
Cassidy appeared on Daniel Boone in the 1968 episode "The Scrimshaw Ivory Chart" as a pirate named Gentle Sam. He also appeared in several episodes of I Dream of Jeannie in 1968. He appeared as the master of Jeannie's devious sister in the episode "Genie, Genie, Who's Got the Genie?", and Jeannie's cousin in the episode "Please Don't Feed the Astronauts". In The Beverly Hillbillies episode "The Dahlia Feud" from 1967, he played Mr. Ted, a large, muscular gardener who was planting Dahlias for Mrs. Drysdale.
In the two-part The Six Million Dollar Man episode "The Return of Bigfoot", Cassidy appeared as "Bigfoot" (the role was originated by André the Giant in a previous two-parter). He even provided the vocal effects for Bigfoot. He reprised the role in the episode "Bigfoot V".
Voice acting and film work
Concurrent with his appearances on The Addams Family, Cassidy began doing character voices on a recurring basis for the Hanna-Barbera Studios, culminating in the role of Frankenstein Jr. in Frankenstein Jr. and The Impossibles series. He was the voice of the hero in the Chuck Menville pixillated short film Blaze Glory, in which his already-deep voice was enhanced with reverb echo to give the character an exaggerated super-hero sound. Cassidy also voiced Ben Grimm (aka "The Thing") in the 1978 animated Fantastic Four. Cassidy went on to perform the roars and growls for Godzilla in the 1979 cartoon series that Hanna Barbera co-produced with Toho. His was the basis for the sinister voice of Black Manta, as well as Brainiac and several others on Super Friends.
After The Addams Family, Cassidy began to add more voice work work to his résumé; in that acting field, most notably, he narrated the opening of the TV series The Incredible Hulk. Cassidy also provided the Hulk's growls and roars during the show's first two seasons.
In deleted scenes from the original Battlestar Galactica TV pilot movie, "Saga of a Star World" (on the DVD collection Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Epic Series ), Cassidy can be heard providing temporary voice tracks of the Cylon Imperious Leader, before actor Patrick Macnee was contracted to voice the character.
Other film work included his appearances in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Mackenna's Gold, Goin' Coconuts, The Last Remake of Beau Geste, Poor Pretty Eddie, Harry and Walter Go to New York, The Slams, The Limit and Charcoal Black. He also co-wrote the screenplay of 1973's The Harrad Experiment, in which he made a brief appearance.
In 1965, he released a seven inch vinyl record on Capitol Records with two songs on it; "The Lurch", written by Gary S. Paxton, and "Wesley", written by Cliffie Stone and Scott Turner. He introduced the dance and performed the song "The Lurch" On September 11, 1965 on Shivaree! and performed it again on Halloween of the same year on Shindig!, along with Boris Karloff performing "Monster Mash".
Cassidy suffered from health issues as he grew older, largely due to his size. He died on January 16, 1979, at age 46 from complications following open-heart surgery. Fellow actor Sandra Martinez took care of him during his final years. Cassidy's remains were cremated, and later buried in the backyard of his Woodland Hills home. However, the exact location of his remains is unknown.
- "Stetson University". 1955 Hatter (Yearbook). Retrieved 03/05/55.
- According to the Addams Family, Season 1, Volume 1 DVD of the original TV series, Vic Mizzy (music composer) states that Lurch (Ted Cassidy) is playing on a dead keyboard, and that he (Vic Mizzy) played all the parts. This is shown in the Snap Snap special feature.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ted Cassidy (actor)|
- Ted Cassidy at the Internet Movie Database
- Ted Cassidy at AllRovi
- Ted Cassidy at Find a Grave
- Ted Cassidy at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)