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Rick Jason, actor, 74

Tuesday October 17 5:55 PM ET

'Combat' Star Rick Jason Kills Self 

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Rick Jason, who starred as the tough
infantry officer Lt. Gil Hanley on the 1960s television series ``Combat!''
committed suicide at his home just outside of Los Angeles, authorities
said on Tuesday.

He was 74 years old and had been depressed over personal matters, they

Jason was the second Hollywood actor to take his own life this
month. Veteran character actor and stuntman Richard Farnsworth, a two-time
Oscar nominee, shot himself to death at his home in New Mexico on
Oct. 6. He had been diagnosed with terminal bone cancer.

Jason died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, said Craig
Stevens, the senior deputy medical examiner for Ventura County. The actor
was found by his wife at about 5 a.m. Monday in their home in Moorpark,
about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

``It has been ruled a suicide,'' said Stevens, adding that Jason had been
despondent over personal matters, though he left no note. Stevens said the
actor was not known to have been physically ill.

Jason's death comes about a week after he and fellow cast members of
``Combat!'' attended a three-day gathering for fans in Las Vegas,
according to the show's official Web site.

Starred As Compassionate Lieutenant

The hourlong drama, which aired on ABC from 1962 to 1967, focused on a
fictional U.S. Army platoon fighting its way across Europe following the
D-Day invasion. Jason starred as the hard-boiled but compassionate
lieutenant commanding the battle-weary GIs.

The show, the longest-running World War Two series in television history,
also starred Vic Morrow, who was killed in a helicopter crash in 1982 on
the set of his film ``Twilight Zone: The Movie.'' Another cast member,
Dick Peabody, who played the ``gentle giant'' Littljohn on the series,
died of prostate cancer last December at age 74.

Born in New York City, the only son of a stock broker and well-to-do
mother, Jason served in the Army Air Corp during World War II and later
studied acting under the GI. Bill.

Prior to becoming a household name on ``Combat!'' Jason appeared in a 1956
television movie ``The Fountain of Youth,'' directed and co-written by
Orson Welles, and starred in the short-lived 1960 series ``The Case of the
Dangerous Robin,'' playing a suave insurance investigator.

His stint on the syndicated drama made Jason one of the first actors to
use martial arts on television.

During the 1970s and '80s, he appeared in such prime-time series as ``Matt
Houston,'' ``Police Woman,'' ``Murder She Wrote,'' ''Wonder Woman,''
Fantasy Island'' and ``Dallas.'' He also was a regular on the CBS soap
opera ``The Young and the Restless.''

Jason is survived by his wife, Cindy. 

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