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Carroll O'Connor's Son Took His Life at 32 Leaving behind Kid Who Is Now Grown & Looks Like Him

Edduin Carvajal
Oct 24, 2021
07:20 A.M.

"All in the Family" star Carroll O'Connor faced a parent's worst nightmare when his son, actor Hugh O'Connor, committed suicide in 1995. He left behind a two-year-old son who now looks just like him.

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To the public, Carroll O'Connor had it all: fame, money, a successful career, and a seemingly happy family. What people didn't know was that his son, Hugh O'Connor, was fighting demons.

Hugh dealt with drug issues for years, and a few days before turning 33, he called his dad to say his final goodbye before taking his own life.

Carroll O'Connor and his son, Hugh, in New York in the 1980s | Photo: Getty Images

Carroll O'Connor and his son, Hugh, in New York in the 1980s | Photo: Getty Images

HUGH O'CONNOR'S PASSING

Born in Rome, Italy, in April 1962, Hugh was adopted by Carroll and his wife, Nancy. As a kid, he dealt with Hodgkin's disease but got better at the age of 16.

He briefly followed in his famous dad's footsteps by portraying James Flynn in 1984's "Brass" and Lonnie Jamison in "In the Heat of the Night" from 1988 to 1994.

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Carroll O'Conner on March 17, 2000 in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images

Carroll O'Conner on March 17, 2000 in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images

Before becoming an actor, Hugh worked as an assistant stage manager in New York, so he was involved in the entertainment industry most of his life.

Unfortunately, things took a tragic turn on March 28, 1995, when a crisis negotiator and the New York Police Department's Special Weapons team members found Hugh's lifeless body at his home.

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The police went to Hugh's home after Carroll called them to report that his son had guns and was in low spirits with no will to keep living. Authorities ruled the death a suicide and found a note.

It is essential to point out that Hugh had been addicted to different drugs and substances for 16 years. At the time of his death, Hugh was survived by his parents, his wife Angela Clayton, and his two-year-old son Sean. More on Sean later.

Hugh died on the day of their third wedding anniversary.

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OUTCOME OF HUGH'S PASSING

Shortly after Hugh's death, Carroll declared on TV that Harry Thomas Perzigian was a "partner in murder" as he had been sharing cocaine with Hugh. Carroll added that he wanted to harm Perzigian in "the worst way."

Perzigian was eventually arrested and sentenced to one year behind bars for the possession of cocaine and furnishing it to Hugh. However, he claimed he was not involved in Hugh's death.

The songwriter admitted to sharing and supplying drugs to Hugh for years. Still, he claimed he never made money out of it as he and Hugh were good friends. Instead of selling him cocaine, Perzigian would reportedly split the cost of his recreational supplies.

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Perzigian was so sure that he had nothing to do with Hugh's suicide that he even filed a slander lawsuit against Carroll for describing him as a "partner in murder." He was seeking $10 million in damages.

In court, Hugh's family shared some details about him and his final hours alive. In tears, Clayton revealed that Hugh died on the day of their third wedding anniversary.

She called him to see how he was doing, but he wasn't okay. Hugh's widow explained that he was hallucinating and thought their conversation was somehow broadcast over the neighborhood.

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Shortly after they hung up, Hugh called Carroll. After revealing that he would shoot himself, he said his last words: "So long, Pop." That's when the "All in the Family" actor broke down in tears and contacted the police.

[Carroll] didn't blame the rest of Hugh's friends who may have helped him get drugs.

COURT BATTLE

As expected, Carroll was questioned by Perzigian's attorney about his TV statements. The actor admitted that he said he wanted to harm Perzigian, but not physically. He also pointed out he never intended to incite violence against Perzigian.

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About his "partner in murder" comments, Carroll said he believed people would understand he was talking figuratively. He revealed he made his comments on TV to let everybody know that they should not be ashamed of addiction but fight it. He explained:

"I knew this was going out all over the country. My heart might be breaking, but I was not ashamed."

Perzigian and his girlfriend, Samantha Polk, also took the stand. They said they owned a scale similar to the ones used by drug dealers because he liked to weigh his vitamins.

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His lawyer also asked why Perzigian kept sharing drugs with Hugh even though he was a severe drug addict, and he responded that he never saw Hugh in a worrying state.

Carroll's attorney, Lucy Inman, asked the actor if attacking Perzigian right after the suicide wasn't arguable. He responded that it wasn't because, although his son was gone, the "evil still lingered."

The "Archie Bunker's Place" actor pointed out that he didn't blame the rest of Hugh's friends who may have helped him get drugs because they all apologized to him. The only one who didn't was Perzigian.

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HELPING OTHERS

Denise Nicholas, who worked in "In the Heat of the Night," once confessed that Hugh's suicide broke Carroll's heart as the latter never stopped trying to save his son from drugs. Carroll once admitted:

"Nothing will give me any peace. I've lost a son. And I'll go to my grave without any peace over that."

Even if he couldn't find peace, he did all he could to help others. He was vocal about the Drug Dealer Liability Act, which went into effect in California in 1997 and allows people to sue drug pushers who cause users' death.

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According to Steve Boreman, an attorney who worked with the actor on the law, he was very supportive and felt something needed to be done about the people who profited from selling "poison."

The person who lost the most with Hugh's passing was his son Sean, who became fatherless at two years old. On March 28, 2013, Sean honored his parents by posting a photo of their wedding day, a ceremony held in Malibu, California, in 1992.

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He prefers to keep the details of his life away from the spotlight and is not involved in the entertainment industry, but judging by his pictures on social media, he looks just like his late dad.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "help" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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