Bill Bixby

January 22, 1934 – November 21, 1993



 

Bill Bixby
Bill Bixby

“I resent the use of a laugh track.”

Didn’t he just seem like the nicest guy? In My Favorite Martian, and especially in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, he was just so laid back, and nice.  Look little Brandon Cruz turned out.

 

 

Bill himself had a rather tragic personal life.

In 1981 his six-year-old son Christopher, whose mother was actress Brenda Benet, died of a rare bacterial infection. A year later, Brenda took her own life.

 

 

Bill was diagnosed with prostate cancer in April of 1991. In March of 1993, he was rushed to Cedars where it was confirmed that he was losing his battle.

 

 

Bill started dating an artist named Judith Kliban about a year before he died. She’s the widow of the guy that drew those dreadful cat cartoons.

 

 

Bill and Judith married about a month before he died. Ker ching.

On Nov. 15th, he was directing an episode of Blossom, when he became very weak, and finished the job from a sofa. He and his wife returned to their townhouse where he was eventually bedridden.

 

 

Six days later, on Sunday November 21, 1993, with his wife at his side, Mr. Eddie’s Father slipped into a coma and died.

He was 59 years old.

 

Bill Bixby's Death Certificate
Bill Bixby’s Death Certificate

 

 

There was a private family funeral at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.  Three days later a memorial service took place at the Bel Air Hotel. Bob Newhart, Mike Connors, Richard Crenna, Paul Williams, Mariette Hartley and Lou Ferrigno attended. The entire Blossom cast showed, sans the star Mayim Bialik, who was on vacation with her family. Bill’s widow showed up, driving Bill’s last purchase, a black $150,000 Ferrari.

There has been a lot of speculation about what happened to Bill’s ashes. Brandon Cruz told me that Bill’s family and wife were feuding over the cremains. According to Findagrave.com, Bill’s ashes were scattered over his home in Hawaii.

Why did he have to end his career directing episodes of Blossom?

 

 

Hey, whatever happened to Mrs. Livingston?  Findadeath.com friend Stepin Fetchit writes:

“Miyoshi Umeki played her.  I’m told Umeki quite literally vanished off the face of the Earth. One day she was going on casting calls, the next day her house was empty, the phone unplugged. Legend has it she returned to Japan to marry a farmer. Since the early 1970s she hasn’t been seen or heard from. NOBODY knows her whereabouts. NOBODY.”

A Find a Death mystery!

 

 

More on the mystery – March 2001 Findadeath.com friend David Mize tells me:

Through the 70’s-80’s and at least the early 90’s, she lived in the Toluca Lake/Studio City areas of Los Angeles. Up until about 10 years ago, she owned a school of Japanese dance in North Hollywood. She is married (she was married to a TV producer in the 1950’s named Winnifield Opie) and has at least one son. She is now retired and living in Hawaii.

Thanks, David.

 

 

Thanks Colleen Tebo!

 

 

Mrs. Livingston is gone – August 2007.  Thank you to many Findadeath friends for emailing me:

Miyoshi Umeki, the Japanese-born singer and actress who became the first Asian performer to win an Academy Award, for her touching role as Red Buttons’ wife in the 1957 film “Sayonara,” has died. She was 78.

Umeki, who also was known for playing the housekeeper on the TV series “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” died of complications of cancer Aug. 28 at a nursing home in Licking, Mo., said her son, Michael Hood.

A longtime resident of North Hollywood, she moved to Missouri nearly five years ago to be near her family.  In addition to her son, Umeki is survived by two grandchildren and extended family members in Japan.

 

 

UPDATE February 2005, from Findadeath friend Evan:

I have been browsing your site and find it interesting (if not a bit bizarre!)

About Bill Bixby: Apparently his ex-wife Brenda Benet was/became a bisexual/lesbian after her son died, and had an affair with the then 17 year old Tammy Bruce. Tammy later became the president of the L.A. chapter of  N.O.W. She has since become a fairly well known commentator/writer.
I know this info is true because Tammy writes about it in one of her books.|

According to Tammy, Brenda called her over to her house and actually killed herself while she was in the bathroom, and Tammy was in the other room. Talk about nice, huh?
The event freaked Tammy out so much she had to be hospitalized, and guess who paid the bill? Yep! Bill himself! How’s that for a postscript?

Thanks, Evan!

 

 

Findadeath.com friend Doug Walker sent in this piece of information:  “You should cut Kliban some slack—he was a hallucinogen-fueled, demented genius cursed by the popularity of his cat drawings among clueless idiots who didn’t quite get it (including me – Scott). He made fun of people who sent him pictures of their cats, as if he gave a rat’s ass. He also drew cartoons for Playboy for several decades. I recommend “Whack Your Porcupine” or “Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head” (collected drawings, minimal cats, and some really fucked-up hilarious shit).  Thanks Doug.

 

 

More, June 2001 from a findadeath.com friend screamfist:

Did you know that Kliban grew to HATE drawing those goddamned cats? He needed the money, so he kept it up. He loved cats, but not the commercial bullshit that ensued…

If you want to see his REAL work, check out ANY of his SEVEN other books. they are not just “good”. the guy was a fucked up savant. History will treat him well. at least I hope so. I assure you that it will at least address him…

Great.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Bill Bixby

  • April 14, 2021 at 12:30 pm
    Permalink

    I mentioned the following to my friends, at the time, and we have all talked about it a few times since:

    In 1979, I believe it was, I was living at the Gilbert Hotel on N Wilcox, in Hollywood (between Selma and Sunset) and one of the regular desk clerks there had a second job which he said he could help influence my getting, as well: Security Guard at Universal Studios. It turned out that the security was provided by Burns International Security Services, Inc, and I began my job at Universal as an overnight guard making hourly walking rounds. Some of the rounds were in the original tower that housed the corporate offices (I recall seeing the famed record awards hung by elevator doors on some floors). I then passed on to driving rounds that went around on the backlot. I also made rounds of the soundstages. In those days, we had a bulky device that we had to insert a key into, at each location, which made a particular notch in an internal tape of sorts, we were told, and supposedly, each key had something distinctive about it (I couldn’t vouch for that!) and the timing was definitely discernible because the outside of the device had a clock, so our timing and the notch was supposed to verify that we had been to each of our intended locations, without dawdling, to see that all was secure.

    Eventually, I became the swing-shift security guard at the main gate of the studio: The gate farther north along that main street where those entire grounds are located along, was considered a truck gate, for deliveries. The BACK gate, farther toward the Hollywood hills and past the backlot, was for most employees who worked there daily. The main gate was for studio and show executives and talent, including both cast regulars and guest stars. My job was to verify that people entering were either regulars (identified by a sticker usually placed on the windshield side of their rear-view mirror) or that they had a paper pass already displayed on their dashboard, or that they were on a list provided by the main security office, which was then located next door to the area where the famed special effects shed was located.

    On a number of occasions, in the evening, I would receive a telephone call in that guard shack and the called would identify himself as Bill Bixby. it definitely sounded like him. He would always begin his conversation with me by saying:

    “Hi, this is Bill Bixby. I suppose I should call the main security office…”.

    Now, I had been instructed that the stars on that lot – the money-makers, the TV series leads and film personages – were to be given virtually anything wanted, within reason. I would, therefore, always interject to say: “No, that’s all right Mr. Bixby…”

    He would then proceed to say that he was calling because his girlfriend was planning to come and join him for dinner and that he would appreciate it if I might please give her a pass to enter the lot by car at my gate.

    I would always agree, of course!

    As I recall, he was actually living in what was always referred to as a bungalow – the personal small-suite buildings on the lot that were used by the highest level of series, film and other talent.

    I seem to recall that the girlfriend’s name was Judith; however, the blog above my post, here, suggests that Mr. Bixby only began dating her about a year before his death. If he died in the 90s and I was there in the late 70s, then maybe I am mistaken about her name?

    On MOST occasions, that was the entire extent of our conversations. However, there was ONE time when our talk went on a lot longer… I can clearly recall two times during that talk when I said “I’m sorry Mr. Bixby, but somebody is arriving at the gate” meaning that I would have to let him go and attend to the arriving person; however, in both instances – to my considerable surprise – Mr. Bixby said “That’s OK, I’ll wait.”

    And he did!

    In that talk, I remember several things he mentioned:

    He was apparently at the end of his series filming season (it was springtime) and he said that he was looking forward to directing the opening episode of the next season.

    He had been doing his own stunts, or he was about to do some (I cannot recall which) but I DO clearly remember that he referenced James Garner having done his own stunts for a long while and the ultimate negative effect that it had on his mobility.

    He mentioned that his son lived full-time with his ex-wife in Oklahoma and said that during the upcoming summertime, he planned to have his son with him in Oregon, where he had some property.

    That’s all I recall, but it left me with an overwhelming appreciation for him as a person, not just as a series lead on what he was then involved with (‘The Incredible Hulk’ with Lou Ferrigno) and his prior work (I hadn’t seen much of ‘The Courtship of Eddie’s Father’, but I do recall ‘My Favorite Martian’). He seemed like such a nice person over that telephone call and I have never forgotten it (well, I mean, here we are about 42 years later, now!).

    I seem to recall reading with great sadness about an episode where his son choked on a piece of steak not very long after that conversation, I believe.

    And, of course, his battle with cancer was a very public one, and I was quite saddened at our loss of him and his talent and personality.

    That is my memory of the man.

    Reply
  • January 12, 2021 at 3:08 pm
    Permalink

    Bill Bixby, always appeared to be a true down-to-earth nice guy
    was sad when he passed away

    Reply
  • September 30, 2020 at 11:29 am
    Permalink

    I Missed you too much Bill Bixby good incredible hulk tv show been years and movie too that why long time tv channel ended in 1990 then returned 1996-2000 then 2003-2008 then 2012-2019 that good show

    Reply
  • September 26, 2020 at 6:34 pm
    Permalink

    Don’t know if it’s true or not but recall during or just after “Courtship of Eddie’s Father” ended it was reported that Bill wanted to adopt Brandon Cruz! Cruz’s parents declined the offer. Also recall joint talk show appearance & Brandon had bright green hair! Could tell Bill wasn’t crazy about it but taking it in stride as a youthfull expermentation phase.

    Don’t know how it holds up today, but enjoyed Bill’s series “The Magician”. World class magician living on his jet with the white Corvette stowed in the cargo hold. His LA pied à terre being an apartment in real private club “The Magic Castle” in Hollywood.

    Wonder if the club gave him an honarory membership as technically he wasn’t an actual magician; which is the mandatory club entrance requirement?

    Reply
  • July 18, 2020 at 2:13 am
    Permalink

    Dominick Dunne wrote that someone told him that Brenda was having a fling with AC Cowlings of OJ fame. The duo wanted to take a trip and Bill felt it wasn’t in the best interest of the child. The duo ignored him, went on trip, child got sick & died.

    Reply
  • May 28, 2020 at 2:39 pm
    Permalink

    Checking in again on the site and enjoying it.Was reading more about Miyoshi Umeki. Were you aware she DESTROYED the Oscar she won for Sayonara. Website I included reported her son seeing his mom scratching out her name on the Oscar and then throwing it away! Never heard that before.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: