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May 04, 2020

Closer Weekly: Carroll O'Connor Became Anti-drug Crusader after His Son's Death

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Since his son's death in 1995, "All in the Family" actor Carroll O'Connor has become an open supporter against drug abuse.

Hugh, the only son of O'Connor, died by suicide after a long battle with drug addiction in March 1995. He was 32.

"Nothing will give me any peace," O'Connor said, as reported by Closer Weekly. "I've lost a son. And I'll go to my grave without any peace over that."

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A RESPONSE TO HIS SON'S DEATH

In any case, the actor was settled not to allow Hugh to have passed way in vain. He helped campaign for a California law called Drug Dealer Liability Act, which permits dead addicts' family members to sue narcotics pushers.

The law has also been adopted in many other states. It became known as the Hugh O'Connor Memorial Law.

Steve Boreman, the lawyer who worked with O'Connor on the legislation, told Closer Weekly that the actor "was 100 percent supportive, and it was perhaps cathartic for him to have something he could do in response to his son's death."

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DISCOVERED MEANING

Boreman added that O'Connor, whose television career spanned four decades, felt like something should have been done as far as the individuals who are benefitting from selling poison. 

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In the end, O'Connor discovered significance in his son's life and death. "The biggest part of my life was the acquiring and loss of a son, nothing was as important as that," he said. "Get between your kids and drugs any way you can if you want to save their lives."

O'Connor and his wife since 1951, Nancy, adopted Hugh in Rome, Italy.

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SLANDER LAWSUIT

As reported by AP, following his son's death, O'Connor had alleged that Harry Perzigian was Hugh's drug supplier.

Outside his son's home in Pacific Palisades, O'Connor said, "These dealers, they kill people. They make a living giving people the means to kill themselves. Harry, I want to see you someday.″

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Perzigian then filed a slander lawsuit against him, asserting he was defamed by the statements of the actor made. In 1996, Perzigian was sentenced for possessing cocaine for personal use and furnishing cocaine to Hugh.

O'Connor and his wife since 1951, Nancy, adopted Hugh in Rome, Italy. Hugh filled in as a courier on his legendary father's series "Archie Bunker's Place" in its last season in 1982-1983 after graduating from Beverly Hills Preparatory school, AP reported.

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O'Connor, who met Nancy at the University of Montana while both were performing in a play, said that for 16 years, his son had been dependent on different drugs and substances. 

In 1989, O'Connor underwent heart bypass surgery. Nine years later, he underwent angioplasty to prevent a stroke. In June 2001, he died from a heart attack due to complications from diabetes in Culver City, California. He was 76.

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