Updated: September 12, 2022
IN MEMORY OF ACTOR TED CASSIDY
Theodore Crawford Cassidy (July 31, 1932 â€" January 16, 1979) was an American actor noted for
his tall stature at 6 ft 9 in (206 cm) and deep voice; he tended to play unusual characters
in offbeat or science-fiction series such as Star Trek and I Dream of Jeannie, and may be best
known for the role of Lurch on The Addams Family in the mid-1960s. He is also known for
narrating The Incredible Hulk TV series.
Cassidy was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, of Irish ancestry, and raised in Philippi, West
Virginia. In his youth, he was academically gifted and attended third grade at age six. During
his freshman year of high school, at age 11, he was on the football and basketball teams.
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, where he played college basketball for the Hatters and was active in the student
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 midday DJ 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, and was among the first to
interview eyewitnesses W. E. Newman Jr. and Gayle Newman.
Cassidy's height gave him an advantage in auditioning for unusual character roles. His best-known
role is Lurch on The Addams Family, in which he feigned playing the harpsichord (although he was in
fact an accomplished organist). 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.
Cassidy reprised 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. 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 postapocalyptic 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
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 Andre the
Giant in a previous two-parter). Cassidy reprised the role in the 1977 episode "Bigfoot V". Ted also
starred in Bonanza's "Decision in Los Robles" in 1970.
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 voice 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 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.
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).
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
Cassidy underwent surgery at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles to have a benign tumor removed from his
heart. The tumor had formed as a result of the long-term effects of the condition acromegaly, which was also
responsible for his iconic deep voice, facial structure, and overall tall stature. 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. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered in his backyard.