5. Teresa Graves
On October 10, 2002, actress Teresa Graves, who appeared in TV’s “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” and “Get Christie Love!,” died in a fire at her Los Angeles home. She was found unconscious inside the home, and was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. Fire officials suspected a faulty heater started the fire. She was 53 years old. Graves was best known for her title role as a police detective in the ABC series “Get Christie Love”. Graves was one of the first African American actresses to play a lead in a prime time TV show.
4. Dennis Patrick
On Sunday, October 13, 2002, only days after the tragic death of Ms Graves, actor Dennis Patrick was also killed in a fire at his house, also in Los Angeles. The 84-year-old Patrick, who played Vaughn Leland in the hit soap Dallas, was found dead by firefighters, with the body of his dog Josh on the floor next to him. It took more than 50 firefighters 30 minutes to put out the fire, cause of death was smoke inhalation. His ashes, and those of his dog, were spread at sea. Patrick was well known for his role in the TV show Dark Shadows. He logged over 1800 guest roles on TV programs during his four-decade career. He also holds the curious distinction of having played televisions first vampire in 1951, in a production of the show Stage 13.
3. Royce Applegate
Amazingly, only ten weeks after the death of Dennis Patrick, yet another actor was to die in a house fire. On January 1, 2003 television and film actor Royce Applegate died at the age of 63, at his Hollywood Hills home. The cause of the fire is unknown. Applegate died of smoke inhalation. Two firefighters were seriously burned fighting the fire. Applegate appeared in such movies as “Splash”, “The Getaway”, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, and “The Rookie,” as well as TV series such as Dallas,” “CHiPs,” “Twin Peaks” and “JAG.”
2. Reg Evans
On February 7, 2009, veteran British/Australian actor Reg Evans and his partner, Angela Brunton, died in the 2009 Victorian bushfires. Also known as the Black Saturday bushfires, these were a series of bushfires that ignited or were burning across the Australian state of Victoria during extreme bushfire-weather conditions, resulting in Australia’s highest ever loss of life from a bushfire. 173 people died as a result of the fires, and 414 were injured. Evans is believed to have told friends he was planning to stay on to defend his property. Evans starred in many Australian TV series, as well as major motion pictures such as Mad Max, The Island and Gallipoli. His best-known role was as Keith Purvis in the TV series “Blue Healers.” He also appeared in ” “Matlock Police,” “Homicide,” and “Are You Being Served”.”
1. Jack Cassidy
On December 12, 1976, noted TV and film actor Jack Cassidy died in a fire at his West Hollywood apartment. He was 49 years old. Cassidy had fallen asleep while smoking and the cigarette had set fire to the couch. Apparently, he had been drinking (actually he had been out on the town that evening with actress Nanette Fabray), his blood alcohol level after death was 0.12%. The fire then spread throughout the apartment. His body was found on the floor as if he were trying to crawl to safety through sliding glass doors. He never made it. His body was burned and charred beyond recognition and had to be identified by dental remains, as well as Cassidy Family Signet rings on his hand. Official cause of death was ruled “extensive thermal burns of the body”. Cassidy was nominated twice for Emmy Awards, and starred in scores of TV series and films, as well as numerous stage productions. He was married to actress Shirley Jones who starred in the TV series, Partridge Family, with Cassidy’s son, David Cassidy. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Cassidy was an eccentric figure, once caught watering his lawn stark naked. In an odd coincidence, he had starred in a 1971 episode of the TV series Night Gallery, called “The Last Laurel”, in which he played a character who accidentally killed himself while sleeping.