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The Double Murder/Suicide of Gig Young and His Troubled, Tortured, and Tumultuous Life

Herbie J Pilato


He was a handsome, talented, and successful actor.

But he was also an abusive, self-destructive individual who drank too much and eventually killed himself after he murdered his wife.

His name was Gig Young, who many remember from the "Walking Distance" episode of TV's classic anthology series, The Twilight Zone. In that episode, Young played a man who, when reminiscing about a simpler time, finds himself meeting his younger self in the past.

Did that possibly reflect Young's silent true yearnings in real life? To flee the hustle and bustle of Hollywood for a more tranquil life?

According to TheLifeandTimesofHollywood.com, decades ago, Young 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...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?"

As detailed on Wikipedia.com, alcoholism plagued Young's later life:

"Cast in Blazing Saddles (1974) as the Waco Kid, he was replaced by director Mel Brooks with Gene Wilder on the first day of filming because he was suffering from delirium tremens on the set.

"Young married his third wife, actress Elizabeth Montgomery (star of TV's Bewitched), 20 years his junior, on 28 December 1956. They divorced in January 1963 amid rumors of domestic violence.

"Young's fourth wife, Elaine Young née Williams (married in October 1963), became a prominent Beverly Hills real estate agent in the 1970s and she brokered many transactions over the ensuing years with myriad Hollywood luminaries. Elaine Young, who died in April 2006, was also noted for overcoming disfiguring plastic surgery and for her outspoken crusade for reforms against improperly trained cosmetic surgeons.

"On 27 September 1978, aged 64, he married his fifth wife, a 31-year-old German art gallery employee named Kim Schmidt. On 19 October 1978, three weeks after their marriage, they were both found dead at home with gunshot wounds to the head in their New York City apartment. Police theorize that Young first shot his wife and then turned the gun on himself in a suicide pact.

"The murder/suicide occurred at The Osborne Apartments on West 57th Street between Seventh Avenue and Broadway, a co-op building. On the day he died, Gig Young taped an episode of the Joe Franklin TV show (which never aired) and then went home and committed the murder-suicide."

It was a sad ending to if not a wonderful life but a brilliant, though uneven career.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS: A TREASURE HOUSE OF DECEMBER MEMORIES REVEALED, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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