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 ft 9 in (Script error: No such module "Math". m), 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 and performing the opening narration of the 1970s TV series The Incredible Hulk (TV series).
- 1 Biography
- 2 References
- 3 External links
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 as the radio station did not start recording its broadcasts until about 1:45 PM). He also interviewed the manager of WFAA-AM 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.) It was Cassidy who came up with the "You rang" line, which was so funny that it was incorporated in the show, where the Lurch character had originally been intended to be nonspeaking.
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.
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".
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" in which he plays Jeannie's cousin.
In the two part episode titled "The Return Of Bigfoot", Cassidy appeared as "Bigfoot" (played by André the Giant in a previous two parter). He even provided the vocal effects for Bigfoot. He reprised the role in the episode Bigfoot V.
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.
In the episode, "The Thief from Outer Space," he plays a slave to the alien thief who threatens the Robinsons.
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 (1969)" in which his already deep voice was enhanced with a deep reverb & echo to give the character an exaggerated super-hero sound. 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 co-produced with Toho. 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-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 and in the 1999 film Inspector Gadget.
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, 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, and died at the age of 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.
- 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.
- Ted Cassidy at the Internet Movie Database
- Ted Cassidy at Find a Grave
- Ted Cassidy at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Hear The Ted Cassidy Song "The Lurch"
- Watch a video of Ted Cassidy performing his song "The Lurch"