The Bizarre Death and Mysterious Burial of a Hollywood Oscar Winner

- March 2nd, 2011

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Almost nobody remembers Gig Young now, but 41 years ago he was the toast of Hollywood.

The Academy Awards for 1969 were presented on the evening of April 7, 1970, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.

It was the second year the Oscars were televised worldwide and it was also the second year there was no host — a brief interregnum between the Bob Hope era and most of the 1970s when hosting was done by committee (before one last hurrah for Bob Hope and the beginning of the Johnny Carson era).

Winning the Oscar for Best Picture was Midnight Cowboy, the only X-rated film in the history of the Academy Awards to win Best Picture.

John Wayne got the only Oscar of his career as Best Actor for his role of crusty Rooster Cogburn in True Grit and Maggie Smith won Best Actress as an eccentric Scottish teacher in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

Goldie Hawn (in  one of those typical Oscar “huh?” decisions) got the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Cactus Flower.

And the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor goes to … Gig Young for his performance as Rocky, the sleazy and manipulative promoter of a Depression-era dance marathon in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

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It was a popular choice in Hollywood, where Gig Young had established himself over the previous 30 years as a charming, genial party guy who often played the role of a charming, genial lush onscreen  — and on the Tonight Show couch as a frequent, amusing guest of Johnny Carson.

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Young had been nominated for Best Supporting Actor twice before, for 1951′s Come Fill The Cup and 1958′s Teacher’s Pet, but the 1969 win was the pinnacle of his career — and the beginning of the end.

Actually the beginning of the end for Gig Young began with the birth of Byron Elsworth Barr in St. Cloud, Minnesota, on Nov. 4, 1913.

For most of the next three decades, Gig Young was Byron Barr, a charming, genial kid and aspiring actor.

According to most biographies, Byron was raised in Washington, D.C. (more about that later) before winning a scholarship at the end of high school to the famous Pasadena Community Playhouse in California, where he worked on his acting chops before being picked up as a contract bit player by Warner Bros. in the late 1930s.

The young actor was still known as Byron Barr — and got the occasional screen credit under that name — until his breakout role in 1942′s The Gay Sisters, in which he played a character named … Gig Young.

Warner Bros. decided “Gig Young” was a catchier name than “Byron Barr” (and — unbelievable as it may seem — there was another young supporting actor kicking around Hollywood at the time also named Byron Barr) so “Byron Barr” stopped being a charming, amiable second-string actor and “Gig Young” stopped being a movie character’s name.

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Gig Young, actor, then reverted to Byron Barr, pharmacist’s mate in the U.S. Coast Guard, for the duration of World War II.

When the war ended and Byron Barr returned to civilian life, Warner Bros. dropped his contract. But Byron Barr decided to keep his Warner Bros. stage name and Gig Young quickly became a solid, busy Hollywood presence in movies like Wake of the Red Witch, The Three Musketeers and Only the Valiant.

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In the mid 1950s he was hosting the television series Warner Bros. Presents while keeping up his busy movie career and busier social life.

By 1956 he was on to his third wife, Elizabeth Montgomery, daughter of famed Hollywood actor Robert Montgomery. Elizabeth Montgomery would go on to superstardom in the 1960s as Samantha Stephens, the nose-twitching hexess in TV’s Bewitched (1964-72).

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But first she had to dump Gig Young. Montgomery divorced him in 1963, citing physical and emotional abuse fuelled by her husband’s alcoholism.

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The Gig Young party gig was starting to run low on steam, but there were still two more wives, a pretty good TV series called The Rogues and that 1969 Academy Award to go before the whole charming, amiable Gig Young persona blew apart in a million pieces.

He married his fourth wife, Hollywood real estate agent Elaine Williams, shortly after the Montgomery divorce and daughter Jennifer — Byron Barr/Gig Young’s only child — came along in April 1964.

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Of course, Williams was divorcing Barr/Young within three years (physical-emotional abuse/alcoholism) and in the subsequent child support proceedings Barr/Young proclaimed that Jennifer was not his biological child and he was not responsible for her upkeep. The court ruled against him, but more about that later.

So Gig Young staggered into the 1970s, clutching his Oscar, with a few more movie roles to come but far more trouble.

Typical was his experience in 1973 when Mel Brooks picked Gig Young to play the Waco Kid — a role ultimately assumed by Gene Wilder — in the groundbreaking western comedy Blazing Saddles.

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Let’s let Mel Brooks tell you what happened on the first day of filming when Cleavon Little’s character Bart and the Waco Kid (Gig Young), a broken-down, drunken gunslinger, meet for the first time in jail:

“We draped Gig Young’s legs over and hung him upside down. And he started to talk and he started shaking. I said, ‘This guy’s giving me a lot. He is giving plenty. He’s giving me the old alky shake. Great.’ And then it got serious, because the shaking never stopped, and green stuff started spewing out of his mouth and nose, and he started screaming. And, I said, ‘That’s the last time I’ll ever cast anybody who really is that person.’ If you want an alcoholic, don’t cast an alcoholic… Anyway, poor Gig Young, it was the first shot on Friday, nine in the morning, and an ambulance came and took him away. I had no movie.”

Gene Wilder flew from New York to Los Angeles over the weekend and was playing the Waco Kid on Monday morning, but that’s another story.

The DTs didn’t deter Gig Young and he was still firmly on his downward spiral when he hooked up with director Sam Peckinpah (another guy on a downward spiral) to make a couple of ultra-violent, nihilistic movies — 1974′s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and 1975′s The Killer Elite.

(It seems to be during the making of these films that Gig Young started collecting guns.)

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There were two more movies after that and one more marriage before Gig Young’s ignominious end.

Young was an invisible presence in a terrible movie, The Hindenburg, also released in 1975, and then he hit rock bottom in 1978 when he was cast in a patchwork reworking of an unreleased kung-fu movie called Game of Death — incomplete footage of which was shot prior to star Bruce Lee’s death in 1973.

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So Gig Young’s last movie had him in a minor supporting role to an action star who had been totally inactive for five years.

Not really a good mental and emotional place to be for his fifth marriage on Sept. 27, 1978, to 31-year-old German actress Kim Schmidt (sometimes erroneously listed as 21 and sometimes erroneously listed as Australian).

I’m not sure why Kim Schmidt married him — maybe it was true love, maybe it was Oscar love, maybe it was just something to do — but it was a bad decision.

Three weeks after the wedding Gig Young ended the marriage in their condo apartment, Suite 1BB of the Osborne Apartments on West 57th Street in New York City, on Oct. 19, 1978.

He ended it by loading a Smith & Wesson .38-calibre revolver — one of many, many firearms he kept in the apartment — and putting one slug through his wife’s head and one slug through the roof of his mouth.

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Exit, Gig Young.

But not gracefully.

Adding insult to felonious injury, his will left the bulk of his estate to his 1970s agent, Marty Baum of CAA, and $10 to his putative daughter, Jennifer Young. (How creepy is that, taking as your real last name the fictional name of a guy who had disowned you as his daughter?)

In the end, it was up to Gig Young’s sister, Genevieve Barr Merry, to bury her brother. Which she did, in the Green Hill Cemetery in Waynesville, North Carolina.

And that is where Gig Young’s story ends and mine begins.

A couple of years ago, I took an extended road trip down the east coast of the U.S., partly to write travel stories, partly to heal wounds of a dissolved marriage and partly to feed an eccentric hobby of mine — visiting the graves of interesting dead people.

I must admit that Gig Young didn’t meet the main criterion of my search for dead people — for the most past they were people I admired or, at least, could stand in awe of.

People like Rod Serling, creator of the Twilight Zone (a simple stone on a rural hillside in the Finger Lakes district of upper New York); Mark Twain ( a grotesque monument in Elmira, N.Y., erected 30 years after his death by his daughter to jointly honour her dead Russian composer husband); Billie Burke, the actress who played the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz, alongside her previously deceased/bankrupt husband Flo Ziegfield of Ziegfield Follies fame (simple graves on a hilltop outside New York City shaded by a huge statue Burke erected in honour of her mother). People like that.

But my ultimate destination was North Carolina, the place of my birth and the place where I had scattered my father’s ashes over his parents’ graves the better part of a decade earlier.

I was doing some travel writing/gathering up in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains first and that was where I stumbled across the fact that Gig Young was buried in Waynesville.

That was also when I became aware that Young — an actor I was very familiar with from my childhood — had died in a bizarre murder-suicide. And I couldn’t figure out what he was doing buried in a small mountain town in North Carolina , far away from Hollywood and New York City and even Washington, D.C., where he supposedly grew up.

So driving down the Blue Ridge Parkway chasing 19th Century inns, steam locomotives and a moonshiner named Popcorn Sutton, I stopped off at the Green Hill Cemetery on a hot, sunny June afternoon to look up Gig Young.

One major thing that distinguishes American cemeteries from Canadian cemeteries is the number of little flags erected at gravesites. Those flags are usually put there by the American Legion and other post-service fellowships to honour departed members.

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In a normal U.S. cemetery, a third to a half of the graves will be showing flags, in part because of higher American war death tolls in the past half century and in part because mandatory conscription — and thus an extended base of former military personnel — was in effect in the U.S. from the early 1940s through the 1970s.

Then there’s another quirk: The further south you travel, the more Confederate flags you see intermingled with United States flags in cemeteries. Those flags are maintained by organizations like the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy to honour the southern dead of a war fought 150 years ago.

I tell you this because the Green Hill Cemetery is so old it has far more graves sprouting Confederate flags than U.S. flags.

I like cemeteries: They’re calm and peaceful and have interesting stories to tell. And I generally like people who work in cemeteries: They tend to be calm and peaceful and have interesting stories to tell too.

And when you’re looking for a needle — one single grave — in a haystack — a cemetery with anywhere between 300 and 300,000 (Arlington) graves — the people who work there are a good place to start the search.

Since there aren’t usually a lot of living people in a cemetery on a midweek afternoon, it didn’t take long to find caretaker Lonnie Higgins.

Lonnie was a nice guy but a fairly young guy, cemeterily speaking, so he didn’t have quite the sense of historical ownership I was looking for.

Lonnie could direct me to a grist stone once operated by Daniel Boone (everything in the mountains of North Carolina has some connection to Daniel Boone), to the car dealer buried in a Model T Ford and to the grave of the very last serving Confederate officer (Alden Howell, died 1947 age 106), but he had no idea who Gig Young or Byron Barr was or where he was buried.

Lonnie thought a little more.

“And we’ve got that actress here, the one from Bewitched.”

“Elizabeth Montgomery?” I asked in disbelief.

“No, not Samantha. Her mother.”

“Agnes Moorehead?”

“I guess. I heard she was buried here but I’ve never seen her grave myself.”

That was just too weird: The guy once married to Elizabeth Montgomery and the woman who once played her mother on TV buried in the same rural cemetery in the middle of nowhere.

And then, thankfully, Fred Rathbone drove up in his truck.

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Fred was the former Green Hill caretaker, retired now, but the main man for 35 years and the repository of knowledge I had been looking for.

And yes, Fred was related to Basil Rathbone, the Sherlock Holmes actor whose urn crypt in a New York mausoleum I had recently been locked out of.

“He was my daddy’s second or third cousin.”

Well, everybody in North Carolina is pretty much related to everybody else, including Daniel Boone, so the Rathbone connection was no surprise.

With the pleasantries over, I asked Fred about Gig Young.

“Oh, yes, he’s here but not under that name. Under the family name.”

“Barr?”

“Yeah, that’s it. I’ve seen it many times but I don’t remember right where now. Over that way somewhere. There’s a family monument and then the individual markers.”

“And Agnes Moorehead? She’s buried here too?”

Fred looked confused.

“Lonnie told me Agnes Moorehead, the mother from Bewitched, is buried here too.”

Fred’s furrowed brow cleared.

“Oh, no. The Bewitched connection is to Gig Young. He was married to Samantha, you know. Lonnie just got his witches mixed up.”

Lonnie and Fred and I had a good chuckle about that one.

So Lonnie and Fred went on talking and watching birds and listening to the wind in the trees while I went grave hunting.

And about 45 minutes later — after finally turning 90 degrees from the direction Fred had pointed me in — I found the Barr family plot.

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And under the Barr monument there were five gravestones:

John E. Barr 1877-1975

Emma C. Barr 1879-1944

Donald E. Barr 1906-1949

Floyd H. Barr 1883-1969

Byron E. Barr 1913-1978

So there was Gig Young, buried with his family under a modest stone stained with I don’t know what, except maybe shame.

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I went to find Fred and Lonnie and showed them the grave.

Fred told me John and Emma were Gig/Byron’s parents, Donald was his older brother and Floyd was his uncle.

And Fred told me Gig/Byron’s father, John, had served in the Philippines in the Spanish-American War (1899-1901) with Fred’s grandfather.

“So the family was here for a long time?”

“Oh yeah, they owned a cannery.”

“Well, all the published information says Gig … um, Byron … was born in Minnesota and grew up in Washington.”

“Well, John and Emma were away for a while but they came back when Byron was six or so and he grew up here. That’s for sure. I grew up with him. I was a lot younger than he was but I saw him around.”

So that’s why Gig Young is buried in Waynesville, N.C. At the end of his sad, broken life, his sister took him home to be buried with his family in the little mountain town where he spent his childhood.

And that’s pretty much it.

Except for the daughter, Jennifer.

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Even though her father had denied her and spurned her in his will, Jennifer Young grew up in Hollywood claiming some reflected glory from her famous/infamous father/non-father.

She has a music career of sorts now and is trying to find backers for a documentary on her father, but she was known as a fixture on the Hollywood party scene for years and made headlines in the past 15 years for two things.

1. Jennifer was BFF and former roommate of Beverly Hills madam Heidi Fleiss, although Jennifer denied persistent accusations that she was one of Heidi’s stable of high-priced Hollywood hookers. Charlie Sheen, a Heidi client, could shed more light on that if he didn’t have troubles of his own that probably outweigh most self-inflicted career setbacks endured by Jennifer’s father/non-father. (I really think Charlie should take a good look at Gig Young’s lifestyle choices. But he won’t. See you at the end of the road, Charlie.)

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2. In the mid-1990s, Jennifer launched a highly publicized campaign to get possession of her father’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar from agent Marty Baum, who had claimed it in a round-about way under the terms of Gig Young’s will. In a tripartite agreement involving Baum, Jennifer Young and the Academy  of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (legal owners of the statue), Baum agreed to turn over the Oscar to Jennifer on his death.

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Well, Marty Baum died in November 2010. Jennifer Young got the Oscar in December and the Academy says she can keep it for 48 weeks of every year until she dies. That’s about as close to a happy ending as this story can get.

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71 comments

  1. Gary Morris says:

    Actors are people they get paid to act they do great thingst and stupid things.
    Gig Young was no different.
    He died yes through suicide.
    Why not keep it at that and say I enjoyed his work good or bad.
    He was an actor for the best of times and the worst of times

  2. terry says:

    You forgot to mention the movie he was in with Elvis. The movie was kid galahad. However this article was quite good

  3. alan.parker says:

    I didn’t forget anything, Terry, I just didn’t mention most of the dozens and dozens of films Gig Young appeared in — like Desk Set, That Touch of Mink, Strange Bedfellows, Lovers & Other Strangers and on and on …

  4. Ian Corley says:

    I had just watched the movie ” Young at Heart ” I was interested in Gig Young life I remember reading somewhere that he was married to a well know Actress Elisabeth Montgomery , I was not aware the circumstances of his death this was a shock to say the least and is so,so sad that an Actor as well known as this would decide to end his life as well as someone else’s .

    I would assume that the New York Police who are known to be one of the best Police Forces in the world carried out a complete investigation , but were sadly unable to ascertain as to why Mr Young decided to not only end his life but end the life of his New wife of only 3 weeks.

    A sad end to a once great Actor.

  5. Jeff says:

    That was a great read. I love cemetery’s too! Spent lots of time in them while doing family tree research. I was doing some research on Gig Young and found this. Really sad, I loved him in Walking Distance.

  6. David says:

    Thank you for this wonderful Blog about Gig Young. I always thought he was a handsome actor. I probably knew he was once married to Elizabeth Montgomery, but I had forgotten.

    At this moment, I am watching Teacher’s Pet. That is why I Googled his name.

    This blog has told me so many things I wanted to know. Good job! (I wish I could have gone to lunch with him about a year before his death… I would have tried so hard to make him want to live.)

  7. Judy Washington says:

    Nothing is mentioned about why did he have to murder his wife when he decided to kill himself!!

  8. Adele Winston says:

    It would be kind to take time to add that his performances in ‘Young at Heart’ and ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?’ were quite splendid. He really was an extremely talented actor.

  9. Brandon says:

    Wow, that was really interesting. Thanks for that! I love that bit about Blazing Saddles- “Never hire an alcoholic to play an alcoholic!” Sage advice Mr. Brooks.

  10. erica says:

    Great article- I have one thing I have to say, Billie Burke’s husband’s last name was Zigfeld, not Zigfield. Sorry, I am a stickler for stuff like that. Loved reading about Gig, thank you!

  11. Ryan says:

    Interesting article. One thing wasn’t clear to me though. Is Elizabeth Mongomery’s grave site being there as well just coincidental?

  12. scott tunnicliff says:

    Talented guy, Gave joy to alot of people through some stellar performances. Come fill the cup is really something. I recall seeing him in an uncredited scene from The Male Animal (1942) with Henry fonda and Olivia DeHavilland. The Rogues was one of the most critically acclaimed series of its time too. Missed by many.

  13. Anthony says:

    Gig was friends with George Reeves who also died by “lead poisoning” (whether it was suicide or not is debated to this day). Apparently they both met while at the Pasadena Playhouse. Gig reputedly was a pall bearer at George’s funeral. Would much appreciate anyone who could shed any more light on their relationship or any stories they would be kind enough to share.

  14. Celia says:

    I was surprised to read that Gig Young shot his wife and then himself. I was 23 when he died and I was quite sure he committed suicide by jumping out of a building in NYC. When I googled his name…after googling a few others…for some reason Gayle Hunnicutt’s name popped in my head…then George Peppard. Don’t know what me think of Gig Young…but I was expecting to read that he jumped out of a building. All these years I had the wrong story? Did they cover it up back then? Maybe someone knows of a male actor who did do that back in the 70′s. Any information would be appreciated.

  15. Sue says:

    I’ve been a fan of Gig’s for many years and was watching “The Gay Sisters” a couple days ago and saw him and that his character was named “Gig Young” so I went over to imdb.com and read his Bio and Filmography. He made some good movies and a lot of bad movies. His selfish choice to be an alcoholic and take another life is not forgivable.

  16. Daisy says:

    I seen Him in many tv shows over the years, but toward the end like in the movie,”KILLER ELITE “, He seem a bit drunk an his eyes were glassy an even was sluring his lines . The guy was a good looking guy in his early years , but I guess that booze got the best of him.

  17. Gina says:

    Great article, thank you for doing this research. (Ryan, you dont read very well, do you? EM not buried in this cemetary, duh) I just watched The Gay Sisters and was curious about Gig Young playing himself, but as an artist. So, of course, I had to dig up the dope on this. So sorry to learn the circumstances of his demise. I have heard of him over the years but have not seen any of his other pictures–I will have to check them out. I really enjoyed his performance in The Gay Sisters. Thank you so much.

  18. Gina says:

    One more thing, when not with Jennifer Young, where does Oscar spend his 4 week vacation?

  19. Tony Veitch says:

    Interesting to see his fifth wife Kim referred as a German actress, she was an Australian citizen and was raised at Eildon weir in Victoria where her family lived and then known as Ruth. I attended school with her and her sister Irmi. She is buried in the Eildon cemetery alongside her parents with the headstone reading Ruth Schmidt Young.

  20. margie thompson says:

    Interesting, informative article. Am rediscovering old elvis flicks and am watching kid galahad tonight. Forgot how good an actor gig young was. Remember neon ceiling…? One of my favs. Enjoyed, too, reading about your cemetery wanderings…

  21. Carol Rapozo says:

    I too am watching Kid Galahad. Saw Gig Young and thought I’ve seen him before. So I googled him. Thanks for the story of his career and demise. I’m sure at the time how he killed himself, but forgot. Enjoyed reading about his life and hope his daughter is doing well.

  22. Alan Parker says:

    Hi folks,
    I’m the writer of this blog post and I want your help. I wrote this piece more than two years ago and it’s since had a life of its own. There will be sudden bumps of readership and comments on this particular piece (and a few other unrelated but very specific subjects), so I know a link to the piece has just been re-blogged or put out on Twitter or whatever. I’m fascinated by this whole pattern of Internet tides and currents and I’d love to know how, exactly, anyone reading this blog post has come to it. There’s nothing underhanded or manipulative about this interest — just pure, unadulterated curiosity. I might write another blog post about it later if interesting patterns or coincidences show up, but that’s it in terms of any possible blowback. If you’re reading this piece on Gig Young and see this note, please leave a fast comment just telling me how you came to it.
    Thanks very much. Hope to hear from you.
    Alan

  23. Susan Nunes says:

    There is nothing unusual about famous people being buried in the family plot in the town where they were born or where they grew up; it happens all the time.

    Another example of a famous person being buried in the family plot is Ava Gardner, also in North Carolina.

  24. Alan Parker says:

    I know that, Susan — but nobody (apart from family, of course) knew why he was buried in North Carolina and why the family plot was there until I went down. And, yes, I know Ava’s grave is in North Carolina. My father went to university with her, half my family’s buried within 50 miles of her and yes, I’ve, been to her grave — and left flowers. Alan

  25. omar cunningham says:

    Great read. Very familiar with Gig and his life/death. To answer your question about how I came across your blog, i am presently watching “Pitfall” (1948) with Lizbeth Scott and William Powell and wanted to know the name of the character who played Lizbeth’s fiance to see what became of him (films/life etc). Well his name is…..Byron Barr…the ‘other’ “Byron Barr” who was kicking around this town (I’m in Hollywood) at that time. Any idea how he passed at such a young age…49yrs? In my search, ‘the great god google’ led me to your story. Again great read and I enjoyed your writing style. Take care! :)

  26. Steve Shapiro says:

    I am watching That Touch of Mink and wondered what had become of Gig Young. I googled his name and came across your blog. Your blog is better written than the movie and diverted my attention. I love Blazing Saddles and Gene Wilder and was shocked at the connection. Sad story, great blog.

  27. Melanie says:

    Hi Alan – I really enjoyed your blog. I had not heard of Gig Young and was only 3 at the time of his death. Oddly enough, I was researching Dr Jack Startz after watching HBO’s Behind the Candelabra and read that the doctor performed some blotched silicon injections on Gig’s ex-wife, Elaine (Jennifer’s mom). I saw a mention of Gig’s unusual name and decided to google him and came across your article, totally by chance but I am glad I did. What a sad end to an accomplished actor but his story seems to be more the rule rather than the exception in Hollywood. Thank you for telling this story.

  28. Geir Olsen says:

    Great story, Alan! Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us :)

  29. Tracy says:

    As one thing leads to another, I was watching Agnes Morehead in ‘Dark Passages’ and read her Wiki bio, which lead to reading Elisabeth Montgomery’s, where I was surprised to see her married so many times. In then linking to Gig Young, I was quite shocked to see he was buried in Waynesville (my family’s vacation home for 30years and now permenant home, incidentally, right across from the cemetery!). Googling ‘why is Gig Young” immediately auto-filled ‘why is Gig Young buried in Waynesville’ -guess I’m not the only one-and your post popped up first.

  30. Laurie Nightingale says:

    I really enjoyed your article. I loved Gig Young in Walking Distance on Twilight Zone the best. You asked ho we found your article, I just googled “Gig Young” and your article came up. Thanks again for a great one.

  31. LW says:

    Thanks for this piece – a lot of detail and I like the personal touch.

    You asked how readers came to find this article – I must admit, whilst clicking through a few links online about a certain actor (not GY) I got to a list of celebrities who had killed people (relevant actor being on the list!), and the name of Gig Young, an actor I had not heard of before, came up, so I did a search for him. He does seem to be a forgotten Hollywood actor despite his Oscar – no doubt the decline in his career and the apparent circumstances of his and his wife’s demise contribute to the present obscurity.

  32. Debbie Green says:

    I was watching a Mel Brooks interview with Conan, it’s Mel’s birthday today, which had a link to a Gene Wilder interview with Robert Osborne where he talked about Blazing Saddles. Gene said that Gig was cast in the part, but during a shoot Gig started foaming at the mouth and was taken away to the hospital. Mel called Gene Wilder and the next day he was there in Gig’s place. I was curious what caused the foaming to occur. So I googled Gig Young death and landed here. Very informative article. Thanks.

  33. Debbie Green says:

    It seems to me that Tony Randall took up some of the character parts that Gig Young would have had. His part in Pillow Talk was a carbon copy of some of Gig Young’s parts as the devil-may-care, alcoholic playboy sidekick.

  34. Tisl says:

    I was watching behind the scenes on a dvd of Twilight Zone and it told about Gig and his troubled life and death. So I Googled him and found your blog. Great job by the way!

  35. Sue says:

    I am so tired of individuals like yourself making a name for yourself by reporting stories of famous actors who are dead and cannot speak for themselves.
    Actors are just human beings trying to make a living. What is this need these days, thanks to the Internet, to make pseudo celebrities out of nobody’s rehashing facts and stories already told over and over?
    Let them rest in peace. Haven’t they given all of themselves already?
    Get a life…

  36. Jon says:

    Great read about Gig Young……Alan, i am from North Bay in Canada and found this article when i googled Gig’s name. I usually just read the wikipedia bio but for some reason i was drawn to this? Story’s like this always intrigue me as i love reading about actors lives AWAY from the big screen.(before, during and after their success) I still remember, as a boy, watching ‘they shoot horses dont they’ with my father and thinking how brilliant that performance was. Btw, my favorite is Edward G Robinson………..

  37. Bob McDermott says:

    I was watching That Touch of Mink with my wife the night before last… last night we were watching Desk Set and both of them had Gig Young in them. My wife didn’t think it was the same guy so we made one of our many “Million Dollar” bets, and then of course I went straight to the internets to prove myself right (It happens at least once a year) and I went down the IMDB rabbit hole of links which eventually led me to your blog. I read part of it out loud to her to which she said, “Why did you tell me that, I don’t want to know bad stuff about classic movie actors!” No one has ever paid off one our bets to this day after fourteen years of marriage… I’ll settle just for being “Ha, ha… I was right!” once in a while!

  38. Christyann says:

    Interesting blog. . . I came upon this site when I Googled Gig Young. I just rented They Shoot Horses Don’t They?, and wondered what had become of Mr. Young. I had no idea! Very interesting. Does anyone know about the family of the poor girl he killed? Very sad.

  39. B G says:

    I am watching this beautiful man in ”The Woman in White”. He is sooooooooo sexy and hot I am drooling. I would love to have made love to this hunk. He would be close to my age and I always worshipped him then and still love to watch him now. UUUMMMMmmmm what a man.

  40. Diana Rich says:

    Just finished watching “The Woman in White” on TCM (starring Gig Young), and like poster Bob McD., I also “went down the IMDB rabbit hole of links”, which eventually led me to your blog. I did not know the circumstances of Mr.Young’s death. Very sad. I did enjoy reading it. Thanks.

  41. Lilly says:

    You made me curious, if his daughter gets the Oscar for 48 weeks each year, so what happens to the best supporting actor Oscar the other 4 weeks of the year? Also, I don’t understand why he would spurn his only daughter, there must be more to it than that, although maybe it was anger at her Mom for leaving him. Very sad for his daughter, who seems genuinely devoted :( He obviously had an (undiagnosed?) mental illness, but of course alcoholism is a mental illness.

  42. Katherine McVarish says:

    Like another commenter, I was watching the Mel Brooks interview where he told the Gig Young/Waco Kid story and I googled Gig Young. I had always loved him and grew up watching many of his films. Never realized he had died that way. Ignore the person who said let these people rest in peace since they can’t speak for themselves.You did not disparage anyone…merely told the truth. I personally believe, they would LOVE to know they are still being thought of and talked about!
    Where can I read more of your interesting stories of famous people and their gravesites?

  43. S. Maxwell says:

    I read that George Sanders had committed suicide because he was bored. I decided to find out more and came across a web page entitled ‘Actors who committed suicide’ … which had the information about GS. I then became fascinated by just how many actors had self-destructed. There was a piece about Gig Young informing he had first murdered his wife before committing suicide. Wanting to know more, I googled him for more information and came across your blog, which was much more detailed and extremely interesting. You will probably find the web page I referred to above most interesting if you are still tracking down interesting grave sites.

  44. R. Bumbaugh says:

    I came to your site by virtue of reading Dominick Dunne’s book on the O.J. Simpson trial. (Another City, Not My Own) In it he talks about Gig Young and the fact that he murdered his fifth wife, although he referred to her as his “fourth” wife, I believe. Beyond the very interesting info regarding Young I was most interested in the graveyard story as I am also fascinated by cemeteries and the history they hold. But I was flabbergasted when I read that Mr. Young was buried in Waynesville, N.C. I moved to N.C. sometime ago and had just recently been to Waynesville. WIll plan to stop in on my next trip to see this for myself. Thanks again for the article.

  45. mark foley says:

    well I must say that was a real good read ,sir thank you Hollywood ,not only makes stars, it takes people away from others ,so sad to see a end like that for gig and is wife ,and child
    thank you again sir
    mark foley in the uk

  46. Jean Morrell says:

    Thank you for a really interesting and informative article on Gig Young. I remember him very well and have seen most of his films including “The Desperate Hours” starring Humphrey Bogart. I thought he was a very handsome man
    but he obviously had many demons. Such a sad and tragic ending of his story.

  47. Ken zyer says:

    Very funny actor. Love teacher pet. Never knew about his ending until i read your blog. The tears of a clown. Very aad.

  48. Ruby Doo says:

    Interesting and well researched. I came across it because this morning I randomly wondered what kind of cancer Elizabeth Montgomery died of (I had wrongly assumed it was lung cancer from smoking). So I googled her, learned of her marriage to Gig Young, and then googled him. I appreciate your healthy curiousity about what makes people arrive at your article.

  49. R Ball says:

    Recently saw old movie with James Cagney on TCM, the host pointed out that Gig Young was cast as one of the pilots as Byron Barr. I was familiar with the name but couldn’t place the face until looking on the ‘net. Fascinated when I found out he is buried only 30 miles away and wondered why. Found your well written blog and now I know!

  50. V.A.K. SARMA says:

    From Bangalore, India. I was working on Merl Reagle’s Sunday Crossword 09-29-2013 when I came across a clue ‘stage name Byron Barr’ and got the link to yr blog from Google. Was a great fan of the movies for decades (79 now) and remembered Gig Young, esply as Porthos in 3 Musketeers (Gene Kelly, Van Heflin, Lana Turner). The Internet provides me hours of memories of the early days. Your article was revealing, I didn’t know he had got an Oscar, albeit for supporting actor. Thank you for a good half-hour of entertaining reading, which now will lead me far away and to distant times. I salute your persistence in delving into such snippets of history.

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