(written from a Production point of view)
Theodore Crawford Cassidy (31 July 1932 – 16 January 1979; age 46), better known as Ted Cassidy, was a very tall (6' 9"), gravel-voiced actor who played Ruk in the Star Trek: The Original Series first season episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" and who also did voice over roles for the series. He was best known, however, for portraying the macabre butler Lurch on the television series, The Addams Family.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Cassidy was raised in West Virginia. He played college basketball at Stetson University in Florida and was married soon after graduation. His first career was in news radio, working for WFAA in Dallas, Texas, and he was part of the ongoing coverage of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
He started working in films in 1960, voicing the Martian in the science fiction film The Angry Red Planet. In 1964, he made his television debut as Lurch on The Addams Family. While auditioning for the role of Lurch, which was supposed to be a non-speaking role, Cassidy ad-libbed the famous "You rang?" line, which was written into the series. Cassidy also played the role of Thing (the disembodied hand) on The Addams Family, a role that was credited to "itself". The only times Cassidy did not play Thing were in those scenes in which Lurch and Thing appeared together. For these scenes, the show's associate producer lent a hand by "playing" Thing.
The Addams Family ended after only two years, but the series has achieved cult status and continues to thrive in reruns. Cassidy reprised the role of Lurch several more times, including a gag appearance in an episode of Batman and in voice-over for an Addams Family animated series in the 1970s.
Cassidy's large size earned him roles as physically impressive characters, such as the villainous Injun Joe on the short-lived television series The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the bully Harvey Logan in the classic 1969 Western film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (co-starring fellow TOS guest actors Jeff Corey and Don Keefer and DS9 guest actor Kenneth Mars), and even as Goliath in James L. Conway's 1978 mini-series Greatest Heroes of the Bible (also featuring fellow Trek alumni Michael Ansara, Paul Carr, Jeff Corey, Frank Gorshin, Ed Lauter, Julie Parrish, Nehemiah Persoff, John Schuck, and Dean Stockwell). In the meantime, his deep bass voice was sought after for voice-over roles, such as Metallus on Space Ghost, the Thing on The Fantastic Four, and Brainiac and the Black Manta on Challenge of the SuperFriends, which also starred Frank Welker.
In 1973, Cassidy played Isiah in Gene Roddenberry's unsold pilot entitled Genesis II, which also featured Mariette Hartley, Majel Barrett and Percy Rodriguez. Cassidy would reprise his role in the pilot's 1974 re-working Planet Earth, in which Barrett, Diana Muldaur and Craig Hundley appeared. Those two pilots, which featured the exploits of a Rip Van Winkle/Buck Rogers-type hero named Dylan Hunt, served as the basis for Roddenberry's Andromeda, the lead character of which had the same name.
Besides Star Trek, other shows on which Cassidy has guest-starred included Lost in Space (starring Bill Mumy in an episode also guest-starring Malachi Throne), The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Beverly Hillbillies, I Dream of Jeannie (two episodes in 1968, including one with Lou Antonio and Susan Howard), Tarzan (with Barbara Bouchet), Mannix (with his "Little Girls" co-star Michael Strong), Bonanza (with George D. Wallace), and a two-parter on The Bionic Woman (with Vince Howard). He made his film debut opposite Julie Newmar in 1969's Mackenna's Gold and also appeared in such films as 1976's Harry and Walter Go to New York (with Bert Remsen and Seamon Glass), 1977's The Last Remake of Beau Geste (co-starring Henry Gibson and line produced by Bernie Williams) and 1978's Goin' Coconuts (with Kenneth Mars and Marc Lawrence). In addition, he had a role in Susan Oliver's 1977 short film Cowboysan. Cassidy was an early auditioner for the title role of The Incredible Hulk television series, and wound up providing the opening voice-over narration for each episode of that show, in addition to supplying some part of the Hulk's roars and growls.
Association with Star Trek
During the filming of "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", Cassidy – in full Ruk make-up – once participated in a gag in which he pretended to be Gene Roddenberry in order to fool a suit salesman who had come to the studio. In addition to his role as Ruk, Cassidy was also the voice of Balok's puppet in the show's first regular episode, "The Corbomite Maneuver", and voiced the Gorn captain in "Arena".
While playing Injun Joe on The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Cassidy made a surprise gag visit to the Star Trek set during the filming of "Bread and Circuses". As seen in the blooper reel, Cassidy, in Injun Joe make-up and costume, picked up William Shatner during a take on "Bread and Circuses" and carried him away.
Death and legacy
Cassidy died of complications following open heart surgery in 1979, leaving behind a long-time girlfriend and two children, Sean and Cameron, both of whom are now attorneys. Cassidy's final work – Filmation's animated sci-fi TV movie Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All, which also featured the voices of David Opatoshu and Vic Perrin – aired three years after his death.
In the 1990s, Cassidy's most famous role, Lurch from The Addams Family, was assumed by TNG guest star Carel Struycken for the Addams Family feature films: The Addams Family in 1991, Addams Family Values in 1993, and Addams Family Reunion in 1998. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock actor Christopher Lloyd played Uncle Fester in the first two of these films.