Tag: Depression

ST ELSEWHERE

The tragic end of a great actor

Remembering Ed Flanders who died February 22, 1995.

One of my favorite TV series in the early 1980s was St. Elsewhere, the hospital drama that ran from 1982 to 1988. At the time I was a divorced writer living with my 17-year-old son in a weekly-rate motel in Topanga Beach, California. We never missed an episode.

The award-winning series was about the lives and dedication of the doctors and nurses at run-down, under-funded St. Eligius Hospital in the slums of South Boston that became “a sanctuary for the underdog and the downtrodden,” to quote a reviewer.

LEADER OF THE TEAM

One of the best actors among a marvelous cast that included Denzel Washington, Mark Harmon, Ed Begley Jr. and David Morse, was Ed Flanders, who played Dr. Westphall, the Director of Medicine who was regarded as the heart and soul of the hospital.

Flanders received eight Emmy nominations as Outstanding Lead Actor in a TV Series and won three times.

EMMY WINNER

RECLUSE IN A TINY TOWN

He left St. Elsewhere in 1988. After three divorces, a crippling back injury from a near fatal car accident in 1989, and a lifelong battle with depression (his mother was killed in a car crash when he was 14), he became a recluse on his 190-acre ranch in the tiny hamlet of Denny in northern California.

Ed Flanders was an alcoholic who had gone through rehab in the late 1980s, but went back to the bottle.

Denny, California, so small it doesn’t show up on a map.

BAR STOOL NEAR THE DOOR

On his daily 30-mile drive into Willow Creek, the closest town large enough to have a post office, he would pick up his mail and frequent the local bars.

“He came in by himself,” one bartender recalled, “and always sat in the same place, on the bar stool near the door. He was a very lonely man.”

Ed Flanders spent his final days in a depression “so deep he rarely left his sofa,” according to reporter Tom Gliatto.

.30-06 RIFLE

Then, on the morning of February 22, 1995, he took a .30-06 rifle from a closet, positioned the barrel against his right temple and pulled the trigger. He was 60 years old. There was no suicide note.

Ed Flanders had many other successes on screen and stage, including a Tony Award for Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten on Broadway. See bio HERE.

SINGING

‘Tears are falling and I feel the pain’

DID PROZAC KILL DEL SHANNON?

I’m walking in the rain

Tears are falling and I feel the pain

Wishing you were here by me

To end this misery

On February 8, 1990, Del Shannon, whose megahit ‘Runaway’ had rocketed to the top of the Billboard charts, shot himself in the head with a .22 caliber rifle. He was 55.

His wife, LeAnne, returned to their home in Santa Clarita, Califoria, at 11:30 p.m from shopping to find him slumped in a chair, the rifle next to his body.

Del Shannon, whose real name was Charles Westover, suffered from depression and alcoholism. Shortly before killing himself he had started taking the antidepressant Prozac.

HIS WIDOW SUED THE DRUG COMPANY

LeAnne sued Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Prozac, alleging it contributed to his suicide. The lawsuit claimed the company did not properly test the drug and failed to warn doctors of its possible side effects.

His behavior became erratic when he started on Prozac, his wife said, drastically altering his moods and personality.

LEANN (BONNIE)

The suit was eventually dropped, but the case brought attention to the possible connection between suicides and drugs like Prozac.

CRIME STORY

Del Shannon’s 1961 hit ‘Runaway’ sold at a rate of 80,000 singles a day, and became the theme song for the NBC drama series Crime Story that ran for two seasons from 1986 to 1988.

Del Shannon, who was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, and into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame in 2005.

WIKIPEDIA BIO HERE 

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