Pamela Susan Courson
December 22, 1946
|Died||April 25, 1974 (aged 27)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
(1965–1971; his death)
Early life and involvement with Morrison
Courson was born in Weed, California. Her father, Columbus "Corky" Courson, had been a navy bombardier (becoming a commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve) and became a junior high school principal in Villa Park, California. Her mother, Pearl "Penny" Courson, was a homemaker who did interior design and was described as a "connoisseur of the arts". Pamela had one sibling, a sister. She attended Orange High School in Orange, California.
One biography states that Courson and Morrison met at a lesser-known nightclub called the London Fog on the Sunset Strip in 1965, while she was an art student at Los Angeles City College. In his 1998 memoir, Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors, keyboardist Ray Manzarek states that Courson and a friend saw the band during their stint at the London Fog.
Courson's relationship with Morrison was tumultuous with loud arguments and repeated infidelities by both partners. For a time, Courson operated Themis (1969–1971), a fashion boutique that Morrison bought for her with his royalty check from the album Strange Days.
Death of Morrison
Courson stated that on July 3, 1971, she awoke to find Morrison dead in the bathtub of their apartment in Paris. The coroner's report listed his cause of death as heart failure, although no autopsy was performed. Under Morrison's will, which stated that he was "an unmarried person", Courson was named his heir, and therefore in line to inherit his entire fortune. Lawsuits against the estate would tie up her quest for inheritance for the next two years.
Return to the States, death and estate controversy
After Morrison's death, Courson continued to live in Los Angeles. Former Doors employee Danny Sugerman became friendly with her in Los Angeles during this time and later wrote in Wonderland Avenue about an experience of taking quaaludes and snorting heroin with Courson.
On April 25, 1974, Courson died of a heroin overdose on the living room couch at the Los Angeles apartment she shared with two male friends. Her cremated remains were interred in the mausoleum at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana, California. The plaque reads "Pamela Susan Morrison 1946–1974", despite the fact that "Morrison" was never part of Courson's legal name. Several months after her death, her parents inherited her fortune. Jim Morrison's parents later contested the Coursons' executorship of the estate, leading to additional legal battles. In 1979 both parties agreed to divide the earnings from Morrison's estate equally.
Friend Diane Gardner is quoted as saying in the book Break on Through by Riordan and Prochnicky, that
Pam was one of the funniest people I ever met. She was beautiful, she looked like the Snow Queen and yet she did things like collect Lugers. She had a vicious sense of humor. She loved travel because she said you never had to think about it. When you were traveling and you were a tourist, you got up and life happened to you. I liked her. She was the most dangerous girl I ever met. After Jim died and we were both just out of our heads we would do things like go to Tijuana and get crazy. We'd check into sleazy hotels and go down to Rosarito Beach and drink everything in sight. One time this guy that was with us yelled some really bad things to La Policia and they came after us. One guy was trying to take the keys to Pam's new VW away, so I hit him over the head with my shoe. And we had to pay off on our MasterCard. We ran it through at a hotel and they actually let us charge our bribe. I don't behave like that normally. Pam had that kind of effect on me.
- Hopkins, Jerry; Sugerman, Danny (1995). No One Here Gets Out Alive. Mass Market Paperback. p. 68.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
- "Courson, Pearl "Penny", Passed Away Peacefully Friday July 11". The New York Times. 2014-08-03.
- Davis, Stephen. Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend. New York: Gotham, 2005. ISBN 978-1-59240-099-7.
- Ray Manzarek (15 October 1999). Light My Fire. Penguin Publishing Group. pp. 162–. ISBN 978-0-698-15101-7.
- Kaitlyn (2011-05-16). "Born Late: The Store Where the Creatures Meet". Born-late.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2017-06-26.
- Steffie Nelson (2014-01-24). "Cosmic L.A. Style: Tune In, Try On – Los Angeles Magazine". Lamag.com. Retrieved 2017-06-26.
- Features / 10 Nov 2014 / by Max Bell (2014-11-10). "L.A. Woman And The Last Days Of Jim Morrison – Classic Rock". Teamrock.com. Retrieved 2017-06-26.
- Hopkins, Jerry; Sugerman, Danny (1995). No One Here Gets Out Alive. Mass Market Paperback. p. 265.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
- Sugerman, Danny. Wonderland Avenue: Tales of Glamour and Excess. London, United Kingdom: Abacus, 1991. p. 276.
- Hopkins, Jerry; Sugerman, Danny (1995). No One Here Gets Out Alive. Mass Market Paperback. p. 377.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
- Kagan, Norman. The cinema of Oliver Stone. Continuum, 2000. p. 312. ISBN 0-8264-1244-0.