|"This here ...
this here ain't natural ... Young lives cut short, long before their time."
In 1991 during the series finale of The Young Riders, we gathered before our television sets and watched as Anthony Zerbe's character Teaspoon Hunter uttered the words above at Noah Dixon's funeral. The unnatural thing he is referring to is, of course, the Civil War.
Nine years later, we gather once again, this time in front of our computers, to grieve over the passing of another young man close to our hearts. But the thing is, this time we are not saying good-bye to a fictional character, but to a former cast member of our favorite western show.
Christopher Pettiet, who played the young Jesse James in the third season of The Young Riders, died April 12 of an accidental drug overdose, according to his manager, Bob Villard.
His death "ain't natural". But then, drug use "ain't natural".
Mr. Villard had sent a very emotional letter regarding Chris' problem and his futile attempts to intervene. I have a feeling you will have conflicting feelings after reading the letter -- sadness, confusion, possibly even anger. I did. Click here to read the letter.
One post on the message board asked if I could provide a link to a story about Chris's death. Sadly, there is none that I could find. Maybe the reply to that post holds more than a grain of truth. Chris's isn't famous enough that his death is covered by the industry magazines.
The industry might have forgotten, but we haven't. And I think that counts.
Webmistresses are welcome to use the banner above for their pages as a symbol of mourning and remembrance.