Actress Karen Kupcinet
March 6, 1941 - November 28, 1963
In 1962, she met and began dating a young actor named Andrew Prine. Karyn began to take the relationship seriously, talking family and marriage. Prine - not so much. While being seen with another fresh face in Hollywood was good for his career, her constant amphetamine-fueled whiney, clingy, needy, Hollwood actress act was wearing a bit thin and Prine began to pull back. In July of 1963 she was pregnant and with the help of family friends Marcia and Mark Goddard (of Lost in Space fame) drove Karyn down to Tijuana for an abortion.
On the last day of her life, Kupcinet had dinner with future Lost In Space cast member Mark Goddard and his wife, Marcia Rogers Goddard, at their house on Coldwater Canyon Drive in Beverly Hills (near Mulholland Drive). She was due there at 6:30 pm, but arrived an hour late by taxicab. The couple said Kupcinet only toyed with her food during their meal. Marcia Goddard told two officers from the L.A. County Sheriff's Office that during dinner with Kupcinet "... her lips seemed numb. Her voice was funny. She moved her head at odd angles." The Goddards noticed that her pupils were constricted. Mark Goddard told authorities that he confronted Kupcinet about her altered state during the meal, and she began to cry, putting her arm around him. At one point during the meal, Kupcinet told her friends an unsubstantiated story about a baby that had been abandoned on her doorstep earlier that day. At 8:30 pm, a taxicab arrived to take her home, and she promised to telephone the Goddards soon.
Kupcinet apparently went straight home after dining with her friends. She was visited by freelance writer Edward Stephen Rubin shortly afterward. The two were then joined by actor Robert Hathaway around 9:30 pm. They told detectives they watched TV, including The Danny Kaye Show, with Kupcinet. They all drank coffee until she fell asleep, sitting next to them on the couch. She awoke and went to her room. The men either turned the TV set off or simply lowered the volume (three days later it was still playing with a low volume), and they made sure the door was locked behind them before departing at about 11:15 pm. Hathaway said he and Rubin returned to his place and were later joined by Kupcinet's boyfriend, Andrew Prine, who was also Hathaway's neighbor. The three young men watched television and talked until approximately 3:00 am.
The Goddards went to Kupcinet's apartment on November 30, after she failed to telephone the couple as promised. Mark Goddard stated that he had a "funny feeling" that something was wrong. Upon arriving at Kupcinet's apartment, the couple found her nude body lying on the couch. Mark Goddard initially assumed that she had died from a drug overdose.
Upon searching Kupcinet's apartment, police found prescriptions for Desoxyn, Miltown, Amvicel, and other medications. Authorities also found a note written by Kupcinet that reflected in some detail her emotions regarding issues in her life (ie., parents, self-image, problems with boyfriend) and people she admired.
Coroner Harold Kade concluded that due to a broken hyoid bone in her throat, Kupcinet had been strangled. Her death was officially ruled a homicide.
Prine's alibi was that he was out on a date until the call came from Karyn, and didn't see her at all that night. Rubin and Hathaway stated that after leaving Karyn, they walked down to the Raincheck Room (Now the O Bar) for a drink. They were there less than thirty minutes and drove over to Hathaway's house and watched a movie. Prine showed up shortly after (he lived next door) and they all stayed until 3:00 am. Prine then stated he went to Gazzarri's Bar (demolished - where the Key Club is now) right after and then went to bed alone early that morning.
Karyn Kupincinet's Relationship to JFK Assassination
Kupcinet's death was first mentioned in connection with the assassination of JFK by researcher Penn Jones, Jr. in the self-published book "Forgive My Grief II." Jones connected Kupcinet to an AP wire service story about a woman who placed a call from Oxnard, California, approximately 50 miles north of Los Angeles. The woman stated that Kennedy was going to be shot. Jones theorized that Kupcinet was told of the assassination by her father (who was allegedly told by Jack Ruby, whom he met in Chicago in the 1940s and the woman who placed the call was Kupcinet attempting to warn someone of the impending assassination. Jones speculated that her death was a result of a mob hit to silence her and to send a message to Irv Kupcinet.
Irv Kupcinet denied that he or his daughter had prior knowledge of the assassination. This was backed by Karyn Kupcinet's friends, actor Earl Holliman, Holliman's then-girlfriend, and Karyn's boyfriend Andrew Prine, who traveled to Palm Springs with Kupcinet on November 22. Kupcinet reportedly seemed upset and shocked about the assassination and did not reveal any foreknowledge of the event.
Enter James Ellroy
Crime writer James Ellroy visited the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office in the 1990s to research Kupcinet's death. He theorized in Glamour Jungle that she could have sustained a fatal injury while taking a shower, dancing in the nude or otherwise moving her body awkwardly under the influence of a stimulant. According to Ellroy, a book that recommended naked dancing was found among Kupcinet's possessions. Ellroy has theorized that the actress followed the advice in the book and started dancing, fell and clipped her hyoid bone on a chair.
Ellroy also claimed that the coroner who performed Kupcinet's autopsy, Dr. Harold Kade, who had been called from his bed at 2 a.m. to respond to the death, had a dubious reputation among county officials as a sloppy alcoholic. He performed the autopsy on Kupcinet and concluded that her death was due to homicide.
Kupcinet's family have disputed Ellroy's theories and maintain that she was murdered.