Ted Cassidy

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

(1932-07-31)July 31, 1932
Died January 16, 1979(1979-01-16) (aged 46)
Nationality American
Alma mater Stetson University
Occupation Actor
Years active 1959–1979
Home town Philippi, West Virginia
Height 6 ft 9 in (206 cm)
Spouse(s)
Margaret Helen Jesse
(
m.  1956; div. 1975)
Children 2

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 deep bass voice, he tended to play unusual characters in offbeat or science-fiction series such as Star Trek and I Dream of Jeannie,[2] and may be best known for the role of Lurch on The Addams Family in the mid-1960s.[2][3] He is also known for narrating The Incredible Hulk TV series.[2][4]

Early life and career

Cassidy was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, of Irish ancestry, and raised in Philippi, West Virginia. In his youth, Cassidy was an academically gifted individual and attended third grade at age six.[2] During his freshman year of high school, at age 11, Cassidy was on the football and basketball teams.[1] He was a frequent target of bullying by his much older peers, having already reached a height of 6 ft 1 in (185 cm).[2]

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 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

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.[9] He also played the character named Thing, while associate producer Jack Voglin would take over the role in scenes with 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, the subtle humor and the deepness of his voice was immediately a hit. "You rang" became his signature line, and more speaking parts were written for him. Several episodes were written to feature Lurch.[10]

Cassidy would reprise the role of Lurch in later appearances. In the Batman episode "The Penguin's Nest" (1966), he appears during the heroes' familiar climb scene up the side of a building, as a tenant who is playing the Addams Family theme on 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.

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 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 performed as 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".

Film work

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 ("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. 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, on 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.[11]

Other film work includes 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). 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).[12]

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.[13] 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![14]

Death

Cassidy underwent surgery at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles to have a non-malignant tumor removed from his heart. 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.[15][16] He was cremated and his ashes were buried in his backyard.

Filmography

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: The Original Series Gorn, Balok's Puppet, Ruk 3 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, 1 episode
1967 Birdman and the Galaxy Trio Meteor Man Voice, 1 episode
1967 Insight The Jury Episode: "Fat Hands and a Diamond Ring"
1967 Fantastic Four Galactus Voice, Episode: "Galactus"
1968 Daniel Boone Gentle Sam Episode: "The Scrimshaw Ivory Chart"
1968 I Dream of Jeannie Hamid, Habib 2 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 Logan
1970 Bonanza Garth Episode: "Decision at Los Robles"
1971–1976 McDonaldland Officer Big Mac Voice, 5 episodes
1972 The New Scooby-Doo Movies Lurch Voice, Episode: "Wednesday Is Missing"
1972 The Limit Big Donnie
1972 Ironside 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, 3 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 2 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 2 episodes
1977 Halloween with the New Addams Family Lurch TV movie
1977–1979 The Incredible Hulk Voice of Incredible Hulk, Narrator 76 episodes
1977–1980 Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels 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 Voice, 16 episodes
1978 Goin' Coconuts Mickey
1978 Fangface Voice, 2 episodes
1978 Yogi's Space Race Voice, 7 episodes
1978 Greatest Heroes of the Bible Goliath Episode: "David & Goliath"
1978 Jana of the Jungle Montaro Voice, 13 episodes
1978 The Fantastic Four Ben Grimm / 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 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

References

  1. ^ a b c "Ted Cassidy Biography - Television Actor (1932–1979)". biography.com.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Ted Cassidy". 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.
  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) – 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.
  11. ^ Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Epic Series (DVD).
  12. ^ Hasan, Mark R. (June 18, 2015). "Film: Roar (1981)". KQEK.com. Archived from the original on January 28, 2019. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  13. ^ "Ted Cassidy: The Lurch/Wesley". Discogs.
  14. ^ Foote, Ken (May 19, 2017). "The Foote Files: Remembering Ted Cassidy". CBS.
  15. ^ "Ted Cassidy's death almost unreported". The Hour. Norwalk, Connecticut. UPI. January 24, 1979. p. 6.
  16. ^ "Deaths elsewhere: Ted Cassidy". Toledo Blade. Ohio. Associated Press. January 24, 1979. p. 12.

External links

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

Copyright