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|Born||Theresa Lee Duncan
October 26, 1966
|Died||July 10, 2007
East Village, Manhattan, New York
Theresa Lee Duncan was born in Lapeer, Michigan to Donnie and Mary Duncan. She had a sister, Deanna and a brother, Scott. Duncan was a writer, filmmaker, and computer-game creator who became known in the 1990s for developing the story-based "girl-centric" computer games Chop Suey, Smarty Pants, and Zero Zero. She lived with Jeremy Blake in Los Angeles until 2007, when she and Blake moved to Manhattan.
On her blog, Duncan listed her interests as "film, philology, Vietnam War memorabilia, rare and discontinued perfume, book collecting, philately, card and coin tricks, futurism, Napoleon Bonaparte, the history of electricity."
Duncan produced three CD-ROM computer games. The games were designed to be alternatives to a traditionally male-dominated field. They are story-based and as such revolve around search and discovery. Chop Suey, created with Monica Gesue, was named "1995 CD-ROM of the Year" by Entertainment Weekly. She wrote and directed an animated film, The History of Glamour, which was selected for the 2000 Whitney Biennial. The film details the semi-autobiographical journey of a young woman from a small town to the glamour of New York; she ultimately rejects it all to return home to pursue her writing career.
Duncan's essays and film and literary criticism were published in Artforum, Slate, Salon, and Bald Ego. At the time of her death, Duncan was working on the film Nick's Trip with her longtime boyfriend Jeremy Blake.
Duncan was found dead in the East Village, Manhattan apartment she shared with Blake on July 10, 2007. The official cause of death was suicide as a result of the combined ingestion of Tylenol PM—a combination of acetaminophen and diphenhydramine -- and alcohol. Blake is believed to have killed himself a week later, having been seen walking into the Atlantic Ocean near Rockaway Beach by an anonymous 911 caller. According to friends of the couple, Duncan and Blake believed that they were being followed and harassed by Scientologists up to the point of their deaths. After her death, two posts appeared on her web log (presumably written prior to her death). The last one appeared on New Year's Eve, 2007.
In popular culture
On November 30, 2008 the New York Post's Page Six reported that Bret Easton Ellis is writing a screenplay about Duncan and Blake. Director Gus Van Sant has signed on as a consultant for the movie, which is being produced by Braxton Pope and Kevin Frakes.
It has been suggested that the Law & Order episode "Bogeyman" in season 18 is loosely based on the deaths of Duncan and Blake. In the episode, the body of the character paralleling Theresa Duncan has forensic evidence that calls into question her suicide, while the Jeremy Blake parallel character survives his suicide attempt. A case against him is disrupted by the cult group Systemotics, resulting in a near mistrial followed by a plea accepted after the ADA implies both he and the judge are connected to Systemotics.
- Burr, Ty. "1995 The Best & Worst/Multimedia", Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on May 27, 2009.
- Amsden, David. "Why Did Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake Commit Suicide?" New York Magazine, August 20, 2007.
- Sales, Nancy Jo (January 2008). "The Golden Suicides". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
- "Dead Woman Blogging". Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- Krentcil, Faran; Will, Kelly (2008-11-30). "Tragic love story to hit the big screen". nypost.com. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- Dupuy, Tina. "Law and Order Depicts Theresa Duncan’s Death". FishbowlLA. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
- The Wit of the Staircase, Duncan's blog
- The History of Glamour, a film by Theresa Duncan
- Mimi Smartypants Takes On the Assassins The New York Times, May 25, 1997
- The opposite of silence Ghost of a flea, July 25, 2007
- From Girl Games to Glamour Salon, Sept. 24, 1998
- No Pain, No Gain Slate, July 8, 2004 by Theresa Duncan
- Twin Bills, Selected for Gale's Best Literary Criticism
- Interview LAist, February 6, 2006
- Theresa Duncan Has Signed Off The Washington Post, August 1, 2007
- The Theresa Duncan Tragedy LA Weekly, August 1, 2007
- A Letter to Kate Coe: How You Got the Theresa Duncan Story Wrong August 9, 2007
- How Well Did Beck Know Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake? New York Magazine, December 11, 2007