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Ted Cassidy 1932-1979

Country : Pittsburgh, PA
Profession : Actor
Date of birth : 1932-07-31
Date of death : 1979-01-16
Cause of Death : Heart Failure

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26173 Cassidy

Theodore Crawford Cassidy (July 31, 1932 - January 16, 1979), known as Ted Cassidy, was an American actor and voice actor who performed in television and films. Extremely tall at 6 feet 9 inches (205.74 cm), he tended to play unusual characters in offbeat or science-fiction series such as Star Trek and I Dream of Jeannie. He is best known for playing the part of Lurch, the butler on the 1960s television series The Addams Family.


Early life and career

Although born in Pittsburgh, Cassidy was raised in Philippi, West Virginia, 120 miles south of Pittsburgh. He played basketball (center position) and football (tackle) for Philippi High School. At that time, he was an imposing figure in both venues, being the tallest player in the conference. Early in his academic career, Cassidy attended West Virginia Wesleyan College, in nearby Buckhannon, WV, where he was a member of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. He later attended Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, as a Speech major. Active in student government, he also played basketball for the Hatters, averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds in his only season as a player. Upon graduation with a degree in speech and drama, he married Margaret Helen in 1956, and they moved to Dallas, Texas His acting business took off when he worked as a mid-day disc jockey on WFAA-AM in Dallas, Texas. 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. An accomplished musician, Cassidy moonlighted at Luby's Cafeteria in the Lochwood Shopping Center in Dallas, playing the organ to entertain patrons. In 1957, Margaret gave birth to their son, Sean, and in 1960 daughter Cameron was born. On November 22, 1963, shortly after the John F. Kennedy assassination, Cassidy interviewed several of the witnesses, including two very close witnesses, William and Gayle Newman, after the Newmans had appeared on WFAA-TV, but before they left to go to the Dallas Sheriff’s office (No tape exists of that interview for the radio station did not start recording their broadcasts until about 1:45 PM). He also interviewed the manager of his radio station who was in the Book Depository and saw a man run out of the building shortly after the shooting. The manager offered several times to talk to Dallas police who repeatedly refused to interview him.

The move to television

The Addams Family

Cassidy's unusual height (6 feet 9 inches tall, or 206 cm) gave him an advantage in auditioning for unusual character roles. He is probably best known for playing the tall butler, Lurch (in which role he feigned playing the harpsichord), and the "helpful hand in a box" character named Thing, on the 1960s American television series, The Addams Family (A crew member would take over the "Thing" role in those scenes which had both characters)

The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Cassidy had a regular role on NBC's The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as the blood-foe of Tom Sawyer and Huck, Injun Joe.

Star Trek

Cassidy portrayed the voice of the more aggressive version of Balok in the Star Trek episode "The Corbomite Maneuver", and he played the role of the android Ruk in the episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?." He also voiced the Gorn in the Star Trek episode "Arena".

Cassidy did more work with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in the early 1970s, playing Isiah in the pilots of the post-apocalyptic dramas Genesis II and Planet Earth.

I Dream of Jeannie

Ted appeared in several episodes of I Dream of Jeannie in 1968. Once appearing as the master to Jeannie's devious sister in part 3 of the 4-part episode "Genie, Genie, Who's Got the Genie?", and again in the episode "Please Don't Feed the Astronauts."

The Six-Million Dollar Man

In the two part episode entitled "The Return Of Bigfoot", Cassidy appeared as "Bigfoot" (played by André the Giant in a previous two parter).

The Beverly Hillbillies

In the episode "The Dahlia Feud" 12 April 1967 (Season 5, Episode 30) he played Mr. Ted, a large, muscular gardener who was planting Dahlias for Mrs. Drysdale.

Voice acting and 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. Cassidy also voiced Ben Grimm aka The Thing in the 1978 animated Fantastic Four. Cassidy went on to perform the roars and growls for Godzilla in the 1979 cartoon series,that Hanna Barbera coproduced with Toho. His was the basis for the gurgling voice of Black Manta, as well as Brainiac and several others on Super Friends.

After The Addams Family, Cassidy began to add more voice-over 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. He detested being compared or confused with acromegalic actor Richard Kiel, who played "Jaws," the assassin with stainless steel teeth, in two James Bond films.

Other film work included his appearances in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Mackenna's Gold, Goin' Coconuts, The Last Remake of Beau Geste, Poor Pretty Eddie, Harry and Walter Go to New York, The Slams, The Limit, and Charcoal Black. He also co-wrote the screenplay of 1973's The Harrad Experiment, in which he made a brief appearance.


Cassidy suffered from health issues as he grew older. Cassidy died in 1979 at age 46 from complications following open-heart surgery. Fellow actor Sandra Martinez assisted and took care of Ted during his final years. Cassidy's remains were cremated, and later buried in the backyard of his Woodland Hills home. It is believed by some that when the house was eventually sold, his ashes were left behind as they were paved over or no one could remember where they were buried. An Addams Family movie was dedicated to him.

The Addams Family Lurch

The Last Remake of Beau Geste (15-Jul-1977)
Harry and Walter Go to New York (17-Jun-1976)
Genesis II (23-Mar-1973)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (23-Sep-1969)
Mackenna's Gold (18-Mar-1969)

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