Ray Combs’ Former HouseOct 10th, 2013 | By Lindsay | Category: Celebrity Homes
One Haunted Hollywood location that I learned about back in January thanks to the fabulous book Hollywood Death and Scandal Sites, which was written by fellow stalker E.J. of The Movieland Directory, was the Glendale-area home where former Family Feud host Ray Combs was taken into custody shortly before his 1996 suicide. I was an avid watcher of the Feud during my teenage years and remember being heartbroken upon learning of Ray’s death, so I was, of course, immediately intrigued. I ran right out to stalk the residence just a few days later and have been absolutely itching to blog about it ever since. So here goes.
Ray Combs was born Raymond Neil Combs Jr. in Hamilton, Ohio on April 3rd, 1956. He met his future high school sweetheart/wife, Debra, in the first grade. During his senior year at Garfield High, Ray was class president, a Boys State representative and the lead in the school play. Talk about most likely to succeed! After graduating in 1974, he received a nomination to West Point, but turned it down to instead embark on a two-year Mormon mission in Arizona. Upon his return, he married Debra and became a furniture salesman in Indianapolis. The job didn’t float his boat, though, and in 1982 he packed up his family and moved to Hollywood with stars in his eyes. He quickly gained success, winning an L.A. stand-up competition in 1984 and then an appearance on The Tonight Show in 1986, after which he received a standing ovation. Following that performance, he was offered a job hosting The Family Feud. Ray and Debra subsequently purchased a two-story, six-bedroom, two-bath, 1,987-square-foot home located at 1318 Sonora Avenue in Glendale in 1988. The dwelling, which sits on 0.26 acres, was originally built in 1925 and boasts a swimming pool and spa.
In early 1994, due to poor ratings, producers decided to let Ray go and bring back former Feud host Richard Dawson. Click below to watch Ray’s final appearance on Family Feud, in which a contestant fails to earn a single point during the Fast Money round, causing the comedian to say, “You know, I’ve done this show for six years and this could be the first time that I had a person that actually got no points and I think it’s a damn fine way to go out. Thought I was a loser till you walked up here and you made me feel like a man.” Then when the credits start to roll, Ray bolts from the stage, leaving the winning family cheering by themselves.
This clip is also amazing, by the way.
As is this one. But now I’m really getting off topic.
1994 was not kind to Combs. Besides losing his hosting gig and almost-$1-million-a-year paycheck, the comedian was in a car accident in July that rendered him temporarily paralyzed and left him with lingering spinal pain. Sadly, 1995 was no better. His family home of over 11 years in Ohio was foreclosed upon and he and his wife also separated and filed for divorce. Ray subsequently moved into an apartment in North Hollywood, while Debra and the couple’s six children remained at the Glendale residence.
According to the Find a Death website, on the night of May 31st, 1996, Ray telephoned Debra from his apartment and informed her that he had swallowed some pills. She called 911 and Ray was taken to Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank (which I blogged about here). He contacted Debra again early the next morning informing her that he was being released and that he needed a ride home. During the drive, Ray became agitated that Debra wanted to take him to her place and wound up jumping out of the car – barefoot – and running onto the Ventura Freeway where a passerby picked him up. According to the Los Angeles Times, he was then taken to a friend’s residence and appeared to be “in a rage.” He told the friend that he was going to his family’s home “to hurt his wife and destroy the place.” His friend called the police and notified them of Ray’s plans. Detectives then made their way to Debra’s house, where they found Combs destroying furniture and bashing his head against walls. The comedian was again taken to a hospital, this time Glendale Adventist Medical Center, where he was placed on a 72-hour suicide watch. It did no good. In the early hours of June 2nd, Combs tied his bed sheets together and hung himself from a rod in the closet in his room. He was found by a hospital orderly at 4:10 a.m., dead at the age of 40.
At the time of his death, Ray had accumulated a debt of $500,000 (not including the $470,000 mortgage on the Glendale home), largely amassed from the failure of two shuttered comedy clubs he had owned in Ohio. According to an October 1996 People magazine article, the Glendale property was foreclosed upon shortly thereafter and Ray’s family subsequently moved into a two-bedroom rental. During that time, Johnny Carson, the man largely credited with giving Ray his big break, sent Debra a check for $25,000 along with a handwritten note that said, “I understand you are having some problems. I hope this will ease the burden.” Unfortunately, I could find no information on the Combs family whereabouts today.
For more stalking fun, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And you can check out my other blog, The Well-Heeled Diabetic, here.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Ray Combs’ former home is located at 1318 Sonora Avenue near the Kenneth Village area of Glendale.