Theresa Duncan

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Theresa Duncan
Born Theresa Lee Duncan
(1966-10-26)October 26, 1966
Lapeer, Michigan
Died July 10, 2007(2007-07-10) (aged 40)
East Village, Manhattan, New York
Nationality American
Occupation Game designer
Partner(s) Jeremy Blake

Theresa Duncan (October 26, 1966 – July 10, 2007) was an American video game designer, blogger, filmmaker and critic.


Theresa Lee Duncan was born in Lapeer, Michigan to Donnie and Mary Duncan. She had a sister, Deanna, and a brother, Scott.[citation needed] Duncan was a writer, filmmaker, and computer-game creator who became known in the 1990s for developing graphic adventure games for girls, notably Chop Suey. She lived with partner Jeremy Blake in New York during the 90's while working for an interactive agency, and in Los Angeles until 2007, after which time Duncan and Blake moved to back to Manhattan.[1]

On her blog, The Wit of the Staircase, 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: Chop Suey, Smarty, and Zero Zero. 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 and narrated by then-unknown author David Sedaris, was named "1995 CD-ROM of the Year" by Entertainment Weekly.[1] [2] (In 2015, all three games were restored and made playable online by the Internet-based arts organization Rhizome.[3]) She wrote and directed an animated film, The History of Glamour, which was selected for the 2000 Whitney Biennial.[4]

Duncan's writing was published in Artforum, Slate, and Bald Ego.


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.[1] 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.[5] After her death, two posts appeared on her web log (presumably written prior to her death).[6] The last one appeared on New Year's Eve, 2007.

In popular culture[edit]

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.[7]

The Law & Order episode "Bogeyman" in season 18 is loosely based on the deaths of Duncan and Blake.[8] 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 legal 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.

The Dot Hacker song "The Wit of The Staircase" is written about Duncan and Blake. Josh Klinghoffer was quoted as saying “That song (The Wit Of The Staircase) is based on Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan. They were a couple that killed themselves one week apart from each other. Their story fascinated me. One of the lines in the song, “May it come, the time, we will fall in love with” is something Theresa said once. I love that. I heard Bret Easton Ellis was writing a screenplay based on their story. I should look forward to that!”

Baron von Luxxury (aka Blake Robin)'s 2012 full-length album "The Last Seduction" featured several songs about Duncan and Blake,[9] both of whom were friends of his.[10] Duran Duran's John Taylor[11] named Robin's song "The Lovely Theresa" among his top 20 songs of 2012.


  1. ^ a b c Amsden, David. "Why Did Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake Commit Suicide?" New York Magazine, August 20, 2007.[1]
  2. ^ Burr, Ty. "1995 The Best & Worst/Multimedia", Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on May 27, 2009.
  3. ^ Robertson, Adi. "The girl game archival project that's rewriting geek history". The Verge. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  4. ^ Lee, Chris (3 August 2007). "In a cocoon of their making". Los Angeles Times: 2. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Sales, Nancy Jo (January 2008). "The Golden Suicides". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2007-12-26. 
  6. ^ "Dead Woman Blogging". Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  7. ^ Krentcil, Faran; Will, Kelly (2008-11-30). "Tragic love story to hit the big screen". Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  8. ^ Dupuy, Tina. "Law and Order Depicts Theresa Duncan's Death". FishbowlLA. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  9. ^ "Baron Von Luxxury on His Friends' Double-Suicide, Five Years Later". LA Weekly. 
  10. ^ "Making Sense of a Double Suicide Through Tumblr". Buzzfeed. 
  11. ^ "Duran Duran". 

External links[edit]