Theodore Crawford "Ted" Cassidy (July 31, 1932 – January 16, 1979) was an American actor. Noted for his tall stature at 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 m), (A result of acromegaly) he tended to play unusual characters in offbeat or science-fiction series such as Star Trek and I Dream of Jeannie. He is perhaps best known for the role of Lurch on The Addams Family.
Early life and career
Cassidy was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but raised in Philippi, West Virginia. In his youth, Cassidy was an academically gifted individual. He attended third grade at age 6. During his freshman year of high school, at age 11, Cassidy was on the basketball and football team. 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.
After graduating from high school, Cassidy moved to attend West Virginia Wesleyan College, where he was a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. He later attended Stetson University. At Stetson, Cassidy was active in the student government and played basketball for the Hatters, averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds in his three seasons as a player (1952–55). In 1952, Cassidy became a member of the Ormond Beach, Florida Life Saving Corps and worked as a lifeguard in the Ormond/Daytona Beach area.
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. Incidentally, he gave an in-studio report from WFAA radio station on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and was among the first to interview eyewitnesses W.E. Newman, Jr. and Gayle Newman.
An accomplished musician, Cassidy moonlighted at Luby's Cafeteria in the Lochwood, Dallas, Texas shopping center in Dallas, playing the organ to entertain patrons. In 1957, Margaret gave birth to their son, Sean; in 1960, daughter Cameron was born.
Cassidy's unusual height (6'9" or 2.06m) gave him an advantage in auditioning for unusual character roles, such as Lurch on The Addams Family (in which, despite being an accomplished organist, he feigned playing the harpsichord). He also played the character named Thing (a crew member would take over the "Thing" role in scenes with both characters). Though the character 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.
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 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. He had a regular 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 voice of the more aggressive version of Balok in the Star Trek episode "The Corbomite Maneuver," the role of the android Ruk in the episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?," and he voiced the Gorn in the episode "Arena." Cassidy did more work with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in the early 1970s, playing Isiah 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.
Cassidy appeared on Daniel Boone in the 1968 episode "The Scrimshaw Ivory Chart" as a pirate named Gentle Sam. He also appeared in several episodes of I Dream of Jeannie in 1968. He appeared 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 Beverly Hillbillies episode "The Dahlia Feud" from 1967, he played Mr. Ted, a large, muscular gardener who was planting dahlias for Mrs. Drysdale.
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."
Cassidy guest-starred in episode 10 "Scavenger Hunt" (April 18, 1978) of Man from Atlantis as Chief Kanja, a Pacific island ruler.
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. He was the voice of 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.
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 ), 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. 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!, along with Boris Karloff performing "Monster Mash."
Cassidy underwent surgery at St. Vincent Medical Center to have a non-malignant tumor removed from his heart. He was recovering at home when complications arose several days later and was readmitted. He died there on January 16, 1979, at age 46.
Actress Sandra Martinez took care of him during his final years. Cassidy's remains were cremated, and later buried in the backyard of his Woodland Hills home. Rumors insist the ashes were stolen. The exact location of his remains is unknown.
1. "Ted Cassidy". The New York Times.
2. "Ted Cassidy Biography - Television Actor (1932–1979)". biography.com.
3. "Stetson University" Check |url= value (help). 1955 Hatter (Yearbook).
4. "JFK's Assassination (11/22/63) (WFAA-Radio; Dallas)". YouTube, appearance first at 0:43:05 and intermittent to end of clip.
5. According to the Addams Family, Season 1, Volume 1 DVD of the original TV series, Vic Mizzy (music composer) states that Lurch (Ted Cassidy) is playing on a dead keyboard, and that he (Vic Mizzy) played all the parts. This is shown in the Snap Snap special feature.
6. "Ted Cassidy, You Rang?". Legacy.com.
7. "Ted Cassidy's Death Almost Unreported". The Hour.