January 22, 1934 – November 21, 1993
“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.
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 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?
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…