A funny thing happened while watching the Alfred Hitchcock Hour last night. The Photographer and the Undertaker (1965) was the episode I watched. I realized I had viewed it before, but today it had a new meaning. As I watched the show I was also researching Jack Cassidy. He is the main character of the episode. He is the original Mad Man character actor. He was married to actress Shirley Jones. After their divorce, he seemed to melt down into alcoholism and mental health issues. I’m saddened by my research because to me he always seems like a sharp, upbeat and intelligent swinger. He has a deep history in music and brilliant acting career. It is his demise that shocked me.
In this episode, or story, Cassidy’s character is a photographer who gets wise to a scheme that he is a focus of a hit man. He is scheduled to be killed. Cassidy turns it around and catches the hit man at his own game and kills him. To cover the evidence, he burns his darkroom down. In the news it is confirmed the next day. The photographer is burned to death. Cassidy’s character collects the money from the man who hired the hit man and assumes a new life. A great story with some ironic twists and turns.
As I was watching the story unfold I was thinking how clever Cassidy’s character was, and how he cheated death, something hit me hard. As I watched the flames burn the dark room and the hit man….I realized something. At that moment I read something profound. Ten years later, in real life, this is how Jack Cassidy dies (1976).
Cassidy returned to his apartment alone, by which time he was drunk, as he had consumed alcohol at various bars across West Hollywood that evening. In the early morning hours of December 12, Cassidy lit a cigarette and fell asleep on his Naugahyde couch.  He then dropped the cigarette, which ignited the couch. The flames quickly spread throughout the apartment and the building.  At 6:15 a.m., the blaze was discovered by Deputy Sherriff Jon Dimeter, who evacuated the building and entered Cassidy’s apartment. A charred corpse was found in the doorway of the apartment. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Cassidy
I felt a terror over come me. What a strange revelation to perceive. I quickly said a prayer for the man. Last night he whispered a short story in my heart of his ironic demise.