Ted Cassidy

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Ted Cassidy
Fester lurch 1966.JPG
Jackie Coogan and Cassidy (right)
on The Addams Family
BornTheodore Crawford Cassidy
(1932-07-31)July 31, 1932
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedJanuary 16, 1979(1979-01-16) (aged 46)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of deathComplications following
heart surgery
NationalityUnited States
Alma materStetson University
OccupationActor
Years active1964–1979
Height6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
Spouse(s)Margaret Helen Jesse
(m.1956–1975, divorced)
Children1 son, 1 daughter

Theodore Crawford Cassidy (July 31, 1932 – January 16, 1979) was an American actor of radio, television and film and voice artist.[1][2] Noted for his tall stature at 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)[3] and his deep bass voice, he tended to play unusual characters in offbeat or science-fiction series such as Star Trek and I Dream of Jeannie,[1] and is best known for the role of Lurch on The Addams Family in the mid-1960s.[1][4] He is also known for narrating The Incredible Hulk TV series.

Early life and career[edit]

Cassidy was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but raised in Philippi, West Virginia. In his youth, Cassidy was an academically gifted individual and attended third grade at age six.[1] During his freshman year of high school, at age 11, Cassidy was on the football and basketball teams.[3] Despite this, he was a frequent target of bullying by his much older peers, having already reached a height of 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) by then.[1]

After graduating from high school, Cassidy attended West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, where he was a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. He transferred to Stetson University in DeLand, Florida,[5] where he played college basketball for the Hatters and was active in the student government.[6]

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 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. He gave an in-studio report from WFAA radio station on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated,[7] and was among the first to interview eyewitnesses W. E. Newman, Jr. and Gayle Newman.[8]

Television[edit]

Cassidy as Tarzan with Cheeta for the children's game show Storybook Squares, 1969

Cassidy's notable height gave him an advantage in auditioning for unusual character roles.[3] His most famous role was Lurch on The Addams Family (in which he feigned playing the harpsichord).[9] He also played the character named Thing (associate producer Jack Voglin would take over the "Thing" role in scenes with both characters). Though the character of Lurch was intended to be mute, Cassidy ad-libbed his signature line, "You rang?" The subtle humor and the deepness of his voice was immediately a hit. Thereafter, it was a recurring phrase written into the script.[10]

Cassidy would reprise the role of Lurch in later appearances. In the Batman episode "The Penguin's Nest" (1966), he appears during Batman and Robin's familiar climb scene up the side of a building, as a tenant who is playing the harpsichord prior to sticking his head out of the window and speaking to Batman and Robin. He also voiced this character in an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972), which featured the family, as well as in the 1973 animated series adaptation of The Addams Family.

In addition to The Addams Family, Cassidy found steady work in a variety of other television shows.[7] He had a prominent 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 voices of the more aggressive version of Balok in the Star Trek episode "The Corbomite Maneuver" and the Gorn in the episode "Arena", and played the part of the android Ruk in the episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?". Cassidy did more work with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in the early 1970s, playing Isaiah 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.

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 1968, Cassidy appeared on Mannix in the episode "To Kill a Writer" as Felipe Montoya, on Daniel Boone in "The Scrimshaw Ivory Chart" as a pirate named Gentle Sam, and in episodes of I Dream of Jeannie: 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 two-part The Six Million Dollar Man episode "The Return of Bigfoot" (1976), Cassidy appeared as "Bigfoot" (the role was originally played by professional wrestler André the Giant in a previous two-parter). He even provided the vocal effects for Bigfoot. Cassidy reprised the role in the 1977 episode "Bigfoot V."

Voice acting and film work[edit]

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 Meteor Man in Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, as well as 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 (a.k.a. "The Thing") in The New 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; and was also the voice of Montaro in the Jana of the Jungle segments that accompanied Godzilla during its first network run. His was the basis for the sinister voice of Black Manta, as well as Brainiac and several others on Super Friends. Cassidy was the original voice of Moltar and Metallus on Space Ghost from 1966 to 1968. Indeed, Cassidy's final role was as King Thun of the Lion Men in the Filmation television animated feature film, Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All. That particular role was originally recorded shortly before Cassidy's death in 1979 until the decision was made to use the footage for a television series, The New Adventures of Flash Gordon. As such, Cassidy's death necessitated his role being recast for the series with Allan Melvin. After the series' conclusion, the original feature film and soundtrack were reassembled and broadcast in prime time in 1982 with Cassidy's performance used.

After The Addams Family, Cassidy began to add more voice 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 [1978]), 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 (1969), Mackenna's Gold (1969), The Limit (1972), Charcoal Black (1972), The Slams (1973), Thunder County (1974), Poor Pretty Eddie (1975), Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976), The Last Remake of Beau Geste (1977) and Goin' Coconuts (1978). 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.[11] 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![12]

Death[edit]

Cassidy underwent surgery at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles to have a non-malignant tumor removed from his heart. While recovering at home, complications arose several days later and he was readmitted. On January 16, 1979, Cassidy died at age 46 at St. Vincent Medical Center.[13][14]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1959 The Angry Red Planet Martian Voice, Uncredited
1969 Mackenna's Gold Hachita
1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Harvey Logan
1972 The Limit Big Donnie
1972 Charcoal Black Striker
1973 The Harrad Experiment Diner Patron Uncredited
1973 The Slams Glover
1974 The Great Lester Boggs
1974 Thunder County Cabrini
1975 The Intruder
1975 Poor Pretty Eddie Keno
1976 Harry and Walter Go to New York Leary
1977 The Last Remake of Beau Geste Blindman
1978 Goin' Coconuts Mickey

Video[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Ted Cassidy". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 18, 2014.
  2. ^ "Ted Cassidy, Lurch in TV Series". The New York Times. January 24, 1979.
  3. ^ a b c "Ted Cassidy Biography - Television Actor (1932–1979)". biography.com.
  4. ^ "From Stetson gym to TV stage". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Florida. October 4, 1964. p. 12, All Florida.
  5. ^ Plaisted, Ed (March 22, 1995). "Ex-coach remembers Stetson days when 'Lurch' played basketball". The Volusian. Florida. p. 1B.
  6. ^ "Stetson University". 1955 Hatter (Yearbook). Archived from the original on 2013-04-09.
  7. ^ a b Heimer, Mel (August 16, 1967). "'Lurch' moves on, 'Injun Joe' soon". Bryan Times. Ohio. King Features Syndicate. p. 5.
  8. ^ "JFK's Assassination (11/22/63) (WFAA-Radio; Dallas)". YouTube, appearance first at 0:43:05 and intermittent to end of clip.
  9. ^ According to the Addams Family, Season 1, Volume 1 DVD of the original TV series, music composer Vic Mizzy states that Lurch is playing on a dead keyboard, and that (despite Cassidy being an accomplished organist) Mizzy played all the parts. This is shown in the Snap Snap special feature.
  10. ^ "Ted Cassidy, You Rang?". Legacy.com.
  11. ^ "Ted Cassidy: The Lurch/Wesley". Discogs.
  12. ^ Foote, Ken (May 19, 2017). "The Foote Files: Remembering Ted Cassidy". CBS.
  13. ^ "Ted Cassidy's death almost unreported". The Hour. Norwalk, Connecticut. UPI. January 24, 1979. p. 6.
  14. ^ "Deaths elsewhere: Ted Cassidy". Toledo Blade. Ohio. Associated Press. January 24, 1979. p. 12.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
None
Actors portraying Moltar
1966-1968
Succeeded by
C. Martin Croker
Preceded by
None
Actors portraying Metallus
1966-1968
Succeeded by
Michael Tew