Karyn Kupcinet’s Former ApartmentOct 18th, 2013 | By Lindsay | Category: This and That
Back in June, while reading Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s fabulous book Killing Kennedy, I was reminded of an unsolved death tied to the former president that took place in November 1963 in West Hollywood – the murder of 22-year-old actress Karyn Kupcinet in her Monterey Village apartment on North Sweetzer Avenue. Figuring that the place would fit in perfectly with my Haunted Hollywood theme, I ran right out to stalk it shortly thereafter.
Karyn Kupcinet was born Roberta Lynn Kupcinet on March 6th, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. The only daughter of Chicago Sun-Times gossip columnist Irv Kupcinet and his wife, Essee, Karyn lived a life of privilege. There were cracks in the surface, though. Essee, a perennial stage-mom, started molding Karyn to be a star from the get-go. The youngster landed her first role at the age of 13. It was around that same time that Essee began encouraging Karyn to take diet pills. (Nice woman.) It was a habit she would continue for the rest of her life. Karyn eventually headed east to New York to try her hand at Broadway. While living in the Big Apple, she underwent several plastic surgery procedures and began abusing prescription drugs. In 1960, she moved to Hollywood (initially to an apartment on Hollywood Boulevard and then to the one at Monterey Village, where fellow stalker E.J., of The Movieland Directory website, tells me Cary Grant and Randolph Scott once lived) and landed her first onscreen appearance in the Jerry Lewis film The Ladies Man. She went on to win more bit roles in The Donna Reed Show, Hawaiian Eye, Perry Mason, and The Wide Country. It was during the filming of The Wide Country that Karyn met and began a relationship with actor Andrew Prine. When Prine broke things off in July 1963, the raven-haired starlet went a little cray and began spying on him and his new girlfriend. She also sent him threatening notes constructed from words and letters that she had cut out of magazines.
On November 27th, Karyn had dinner at the Beverly Hills home of actor Mark Goddard and his wife, Marcia Rogers Goddard, who were close with her parents. After the meal, Karyn returned to her apartment (you can see her exact unit on the Find a Death website here) and was visited by her friends Edward Rubin and Robert Hathaway. Robert was one of Prine’s roommates. (I know, sounds suspect, right?) At some point, Karyn went to sleep in her bedroom and Robert and Edward continued to watch TV. They left about 11:15 p.m., locking the door behind them.
On November 30th, the Goddards, worried that they hadn’t heard from Karyn for several days, went to her place to check on her. They discovered the starlet lying nude on her living room couch, dead. Several prescription bottles were found inside the apartment, as well as an odd note that reportedly read, “I’m no good. I’m not really that pretty. My figure’s fat and will never be the way my mother wants it. I won’t let it be what she wants. . . . What happens to me – or my Andy? Why doesn’t he want me?” And while Mark and Marcia initially assumed that Karyn had overdosed, her passing was officially ruled a homicide. Due to the broken hyoid bone in her throat, the coroner listed the cause of death as strangulation. And here’s where things get really strange.
President Kennedy had been assassinated the week prior and around that same time an AP news story was published stating that on November 22nd, a woman most likely in the Oxnard-Camarillo area had dialed a telephone operator and proclaimed that JFK was about to be shot. Twenty minutes later, he was. While police investigated, the woman was never found. Then, in the 1967 book Forgive my Grief II, author Penn Jones claimed that the caller was Karyn. Irv had ties to several mafia figures including Jack Ruby and Penn believed that Jack had told Irv about the assassination prior to it happening. Irv then told Karen and Karen called not the police, but a random telephone operator. Penn asserts that Karyn was killed by the mob a few days later in retaliation for that phone call. Yeah, sounds pretty far-fetched to me, too.
There are also those who believe that Karyn’s death was the result of a much less sinister occurrence. Prolific crime fiction writer James Ellroy is one of them. In a February 2011 Pittsburg Post-Gazette article, he is quoted as saying, “People love to think something is inherently more dramatic, more secret, crazier, uglier, more vicious and vile. People love the inside scoop and will deny all the facts even when they are hit directly over the head with them. It’s a very, very, very common phenomenon to ascribe more intrigue to a prosaic event than the prosaic event truly demands.” Ellroy maintains that Karyn fell down and hit her neck on a coffee table while “dancing around, bombed out of her mind.” Scott Michaels, of the Find a Death website, disagrees with that assertion, saying, “Another theory held by exactly one individual, writer James Ellroy, is that Karyn was stoned to the gills, danced alone naked in the apartment, fell or hit her neck on an object and fell face down on the couch and died. He bases his theory on the fact that a book on the benefits of naked dancing was found in the apartment and the coroner may have been a drunk prone to mistakes. Thanks for playing Ellroy – we have some lovely parting gifts for all of our contestants . . . “ LOL Whatever the true story may be, Karyn’s death remains unsolved and the L.A.P.D. considers it an open case to this day.
On a side-note – I would like to wish my friend Melissa a big CONGRATULATIONS on her upcoming nuptials! She is getting married tomorrow and is having a movie-themed wedding. The event is even being held in a theatre – a woman after my own heart, I swear! As part of the décor, Melissa and her betrothed re-created several movie posters that are going to be hung on the walls. How incredibly cute is that? Pictured below are a few of their poster re-creations. LOVE IT!
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Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Karyn Kupcinet’s former apartment is located at 1227 1/2 North Sweetzer Avenue, in the Monterey Village complex, in West Hollywood.