|Born||Pamela Susan Courson
December 22, 1946
Weed, California, U.S.
|Died||April 25, 1974
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
(c. 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 high school principal in Orange, 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.
Young Courson did well in school until junior high, when records show that her family was contacted about truancy. Courson hated high school, attending Orange High School, and her grades declined when she was 16-years-old. That spring, she left for Los Angeles, where she and a friend got an apartment. Rumor has it that Neil Young wrote the song "Cinnamon Girl" about her, as well as "The Needle and the Damage Done", but both have been denied.
One biography states that Courson and Morrison met at a 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, a lesser-known nightclub.
Courson's relationship with Morrison was tumultuous with loud arguments and repeated infidelities by both partners. For a time Courson operated Themis, a fashion boutique that Morrison bought for her.
Deaths of Morrison and Courson
On July 3, 1971, Courson reportedly awoke to find Morrison dead in the bathtub of their apartment in Paris, France. The official coroner's report listed his cause of death as heart failure, although no autopsy was performed. Questions persist over the actual cause of death. 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.
After Morrison's death, Courson continued to live in Los Angeles. Former Doors employee Danny Sugerman became friendly with her in Los Angeles after Morrison's death. Many years later Sugerman wrote in Wonderland Avenue about an experience of taking quaaludes and snorting heroin with Courson.
On April 25, 1974, Pamela Courson died of a heroin overdose on the living room couch at the Los Angeles apartment she shared with two male friends. A neighbor said she had talked about looking forward to seeing Morrison again soon. Her parents intended that she be buried next to Morrison at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, and they listed this location as the place of burial on her death certificate, but due to legal complications with transporting the body to France, 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 "Morrison" was never part of Courson's legal name. Several months after her death, her parents, Columbus and Penny Courson, 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.
- Hopkins, Jerry; Sugerman, Danny (1995). No One Here Gets Out Alive. Mass Market Paperback. p. 68.
- "Courson, Pearl "Penny", Passed Away Peacefully Friday July 11". 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.
- Hopkins, Jerry; Sugerman, Danny (1995). No One Here Gets Out Alive. Mass Market Paperback. p. 265.
- Sugerman, Danny. Wonderland Avenue: Tales of Glamour and Excess. London, United Kingdom: Abacus, 1991. pg. 276.
- Hopkins, Jerry; Sugerman, Danny (1995). No One Here Gets Out Alive. Mass Market Paperback. p. 377.
- Kagan, Norman. The cinema of Oliver Stone. Continuum, 2000. p. 312. ISBN 0-8264-1244-0.