Ted Cassidy

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Ted Cassidy
Ted Cassidy Cheeta Storybook Squares 1969.JPG
Cassidy as Tarzan with Cheeta in Storybook Squares (1969)
Theodore Crawford Cassidy

(1932-07-31)July 31, 1932
DiedJanuary 16, 1979(1979-01-16) (aged 46)
Alma materStetson University
Years active1959–1979
Height6 ft 9 in (206 cm)
Margaret Helen Jesse
(m. 1956; div. 1975)

Theodore Crawford Cassidy (July 31, 1932 – January 16, 1979) was an American actor, noted for his tall stature at 6 ft 9 in (206 cm),[1] and his unusual facial features and deep voice which were due to acromegaly. He tended to play unusual characters in offbeat or science-fiction works such as Star Trek and I Dream of Jeannie,[2] and he played Lurch on The Addams Family in the mid-1960s.[2][3] He also narrated The Incredible Hulk TV series and voiced The Hulk in the show’s first 2 seasons.[2][4]

Early life[edit]

Cassidy was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, of Irish ancestry, and raised in Philippi, West Virginia. In his youth, he was academically gifted and attended third grade at age six.[2] During his freshman year of high school, at age 11, he was on the football and basketball teams.[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 Jesse in 1956, and they moved to Dallas, Texas. His acting career launched when he worked as a midday DJ 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]


Cassidy (right) in The Addams Family with Jackie Coogan in 1966

Cassidy's height gave him an advantage in auditioning for unusual character roles.[1] His best-known role is Lurch on The Addams Family, in which he feigned playing the harpsichord (although he was in fact an accomplished organist).[9] He also played the character named Thing, though associate producer Jack Voglin would take over the role in scenes involving both characters. Though the character of Lurch was originally intended to be mute, when Cassidy ad-libbed "You rang?" in response to the butler call, it was an immediate hit. It became his signature line, and he was given more lines. Several episodes were written to feature Lurch.[10]

Cassidy reprised the role of Lurch in later appearances. In the Batman episode "The Penguin's Nest" (1966), he appears during the heroes' familiar climbing scene up the side of a building, as a tenant who is playing the Addams Family theme on a harpsichord prior to sticking his head out of the window and speaking to Batman and Robin. He voiced Lurch in an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972), and in the 1973 animated series adaptation of The Addams Family. According to Thomas "Duke " Miller, a TV/movie/celebrity expert, Cassidy also had a small role opposite George Peppard in one episode of the TV movie series "Banacek." Cassidy played a worker in an auto scrapyard who attempted to kill Banacek because the investigator was trying to get a conviction on the brother of Cassidy's character. 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-enemy 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 postapocalyptic 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 plants 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 two 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 provided the body and vocal effects of Bigfoot (the role was originally played by professional wrestler André the Giant in a previous two-parter). Cassidy reprised the role in the 1977 episode "Bigfoot V".

Cassidy also starred in Bonanza's "Decision in Los Robles" in 1970.[11]

Other film and TV 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, and even reprising Lurch on several occasions for Hanna-Barbera productions (most notably for the Addams Family animated series in 1973-74). 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 ("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 voice 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. Cassidy's final role was as King Thun of the Lion Men in the 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 using Cassidy's performance and broadcast in prime time in 1982. In live-action productions for the TV series The Incredible Hulk, he provided narration of the title sequence, and the Hulk's growls and roars. In deleted scenes from the original Battlestar Galactica TV pilot movie, "Saga of a Star World", Cassidy can be heard providing temporary voice tracks of the Cylon Imperious Leader, before actor Patrick Macnee was contracted to voice the character.[12]

Other film work includes Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Mackenna's Gold (1969), The Limit (1972), Banacek (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). Alongside Michael Werner, he co-wrote the screenplay of 1973's The Harrad Experiment, in which he made a brief appearance. During that time, he also worked with Noel Marshall, the executive producer of Harrad Experiment, on the adventure-comedy film Roar (released two years after his death).[13]

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.[14] 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![15]


Cassidy underwent surgery at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles to have a benign tumor removed from his heart. The tumor had formed as a result of the long-term effects of the condition acromegaly,[citation needed] which was also responsible for his deep voice, facial structure, and tall stature. Complications arose several days later while he was recuperating at home. He was readmitted to the same hospital, where he died on January 16, 1979, at age 46.[16][17] He was cremated and his ashes were scattered in his backyard.


Year Title Role Notes
1959 The Angry Red Planet Martian Voice, uncredited
1964–1966 The Addams Family Lurch 64 episodes
1966 The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Tullio Episode: "The Montori Device Affair"
1966 Lost in Space Slave Episode: "The Thief from Outer Space"
1966 Batman Lurch Episode: "The Penguin's Nest"
1966–1967 Star Trek Gorn / Balok's Puppet (voice) / Ruk Three episodes
1966–1967 Frankenstein Jr. and The Impossibles Frankenstein Jr. Voice, 18 episodes
1967 The Phyllis Diller Show Maxie Episode: "Portrait of Krump"
1967 The Monroes Teddy Larch Episode: "Wild Bull"
1967 Jack and the Beanstalk The Giant Voice, TV movie
1967 Laredo Monte Episode: "The Small Chance Ghost"
1967 The Beverly Hillbillies Mr. Ted Episode: "The Dahlia Feud"
1967 Mr. Terrific Bojo Episode: "Stanley Joins the Circus"
1967 Super President Spy Shadow Voice, one episode
1967 Birdman and the Galaxy Trio Meteor Man Voice, twenty episodes
1967 Insight The Jury Episode: "Fat Hands and a Diamond Ring"
1967 Fantastic Four Galactus Voice, episode: "Galactus"
1968 Daniel Boone (1964 TV series) Sam "Gentle Sam" Episode: "The Scrimshaw Ivory Chart"
1968 I Dream of Jeannie Hamid / Habib Two episodes
1968 Tarzan Sampson Episode: "Jungle Ransom"
1968 Mannix Felipe Montoya Episode: "To Kill a Writer"
1968–1969 The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Injun Joe / Morpho / Monster Voice, 20 episodes
1969 Mackenna's Gold Hachita
1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Harvey "Kid Curry" Logan
1970 Bonanza Garth Episode: "Decision at Los Robles"
1971–1976 McDonaldland Officer Big Mac Voice, five episodes
1972 The New Scooby-Doo Movies Lurch Voice, Episode: "Wednesday Is Missing"
1972 The Limit Donnie "Big Donnie"
1972 Ironside The Wrestler Episode: "Who'll Cry for My Baby"
1972 Charcoal Black Striker
1973 Banacek Jerry Crawford Episode: "Ten Thousand Dollars a Page"
1973 Genesis II Isiah TV movie
1973 The Harrad Experiment Diner Patron Uncredited
1973 The Addams Family Lurch Voice, sixteen episodes
1973 The Slams Glover
1974 Planet Earth Isiah TV movie
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
1976 The Bionic Woman Bigfoot Episode: "The Return of Bigfoot: Part 2"
1976–1977 The Six Million Dollar Man Bigfoot Two episodes
1976–1979 Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle Phobeg Voice, 36 episodes
1977 The Great Balloon Race
1977 Benny and Barney: Las Vegas Undercover Jake Tuttle TV movie
1977 The Last Remake of Beau Geste Blindman
1977 Space Sentinels Agent Kronos Episode: "The Time Traveler"
1977 The All-New Super Friends Hour Crag Two episodes
1977 Halloween with the New Addams Family Lurch TV movie
1977–1979 The Incredible Hulk Voice of Incredible Hulk / The Narrator 76 episodes
1977–1980 Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels Creature / Bruno / Additional voices Voice, 39 episodes
1978 The Flintstones: Little Big League Police Officer Voice, TV movie
1978 Sugar Time! Episode: "Sugar to the Rescue"
1978 Man from Atlantis Canja Episode: "Scavenger Hunt"
1978 Chico and the Man Bruno Episode: "Help Wanted"
1978 Dr. Strange Demon Balzaroth Voice, uncredited, TV movie
1978 Dinky Dog Additional voices Voice, 16 episodes
1978 Goin' Coconuts Mickey
1978 Fangface Additional voices Voice, Two episodes
1978 Yogi's Space Race Additional voices Voice, seven episodes
1978 Greatest Heroes of the Bible Goliath Episode: "David and Goliath"
1978 Jana of the Jungle Montaro Voice, 13 episodes
1978 The Fantastic Four The Thing Voice, 13 episodes
1978 Challenge of the Superfriends Black Manta / Brainiac / Diamond Exchange Man / Barlock / Gorilla Guard #1 / British Soldier Voice, 16 episodes
1978 Cowboysan Baddie Short film
1978–1979 Godzilla Godzilla Voice, 26 episodes
1979 The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone Frankenstone Voice, TV movie
1979 The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show Additional voices Voice
1981 Roar Additional script material, posthumous release
1982 Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All Prince Thun Voice, TV movie, final film role, posthumous release


  1. ^ a b c "Ted Cassidy Biography – Television Actor (1932–1979)". biography.com. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Hal Erickson (2016). "Ted Cassidy". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 18, 2014.
  3. ^ "From Stetson gym to TV stage". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Florida. October 4, 1964. p. 12, All Florida.
  4. ^ "Ted Cassidy, Lurch in TV Series". The New York Times. January 24, 1979. Archived from the original on May 11, 2018. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  5. ^ Plaisted, Ed (March 22, 1995). "Ex-coach remembers Stetson days when 'Lurch' played basketball". The Volusian. Florida. p. 1B. Archived from the original on September 28, 2020. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  6. ^ "Stetson University". 1955 Hatter (Yearbook). Archived from the original on April 9, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Heimer, Mel (August 16, 1967). "'Lurch' moves on, 'Injun Joe' soon". Bryan Times. Ohio. King Features Syndicate. p. 5. Archived from the original on September 28, 2020. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  8. ^ JFK's Assassination (11/22/63) (WFAA-Radio; Dallas) – via YouTube.
  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 though Cassidy was an accomplished organist, Mizzy played all the parts. This is shown in the Snap Snap special feature.
  10. ^ "Ted Cassidy, You Rang?". Legacy.com. January 16, 2014. Archived from the original on September 4, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  11. ^ "Bonanza Staffel 11, Folge 24: Entscheidung in Los Robles" – via www.fernsehserien.de.
  12. ^ Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Epic Series (DVD).
  13. ^ Hasan, Mark R. (June 18, 2015). "Film: Roar (1981)". KQEK.com. Archived from the original on January 28, 2019. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  14. ^ "Ted Cassidy: The Lurch/Wesley". Discogs. Archived from the original on May 11, 2018. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  15. ^ Foote, Ken (May 19, 2017). "The Foote Files: Remembering Ted Cassidy". CBS. Archived from the original on May 11, 2018. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  16. ^ "Ted Cassidy's death almost unreported". The Hour. Norwalk, Connecticut. UPI. January 24, 1979. p. 6. Archived from the original on September 28, 2020. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  17. ^ "Deaths elsewhere: Ted Cassidy". Toledo Blade. Ohio. Associated Press. January 24, 1979. p. 12. Archived from the original on September 28, 2020. Retrieved May 13, 2016.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Actors portraying Moltar
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Actors portraying Metallus
Succeeded by
Michael Tew