PCA Profiles: Karyn Kupcinet





Chicago debutant and Hollywood starlet Karyn Kupcinet - did she know too much, or was she the victim of her aspiring leading man boyfriend?

Like many young starlets in Hollywood struggling to make it big, Karyn Kupcinet had many of the same sort of issues – loneliness, drugs, eating disorders, fear of failure and wondering where your next paycheck would come from.  However, unlike most starlets, Karyn Kupcinet’s life came to an end when she was murdered in a crime that has never been solved.  Yet, being murdered on the evening of November 28th, 1963, only days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, speculation has been made that Karyn Kupcinet knew something about the president’s death that she shouldn’t have, and the motive for her death was to make sure that she didn’t talk.

Karyn Kupcinet with her influencial Chicago family - father sports columnist, mother socialite Essie and younger brother Jerry

Karyn Kupcient was the daughter of popular Chicago Daily Times sports journalist Irv Kupcinet and lived a charmed life amongst Chicago’s elite.  A gorgeous brunette with deep dark eyes, she was encouraged by her mother to take up acting.  Making her stage debut at the age of thirteen, Karyn was eventually enrolled into the prestigious New York’s Actors Studio.  As a result of her father’s many connections, Karyn found producers to be easily accessible and taking the screen name Tammy Windsor, she made her Hollywood debut in a bit part in the 1962 Audie Murphy and Sandra Dee vehicle The Wild and the Innocent.  Further bit roles followed in Roger Corman’s Little Shop of Horrors and Jerry Lewis’ The Ladies Man.  However, Karyn made most of her headway on television, where she got guest roles on such shows as Wagon Train, Hawaiian Eye, Perry Mason, The Donna Reed Show and The Andy Griffith Show.

Karyn with boyfriend, and the primary suspect in her murder, Andrew Prine. Although they were a good looking couple, their relationship was filled with obsession, threats and drug abuse

Yet life in Hollywood was not easy for the Chicago socialite.  Although she was getting steady work, it wasn’t always easy to survive and in 1962 she was charged with shoplifting.  Also, being forever concerned with her weight, Karyn became addicted to diet pills, and was known for abusing both those as well as other prescription drugs.  However, many of her troubles revolved around her stormy relationship with character actor Andrew Prine.  Prine, who had just gotten divorced, did not want to make their relationship exclusive, despite the fact that Karyn was pregnant with his child!  Getting an abortion, the pair broke up and Prine began dating another actress.  As a result, Karyn became obsessive amd she began stalking Prine, and at one point even created a note out of letters cut from a magazine that uttered obscenities and threats towards Prine and his new lover.  But this harassment would end three weeks later when Andrew Prine would be visited by the LAPD and asked to come with them to the police station.  The reason?  Because he was suspected for the murder of Karyn Kupcinet!

In the days leading up to her death, Karyn was displaying paranoid behaviours, and was emotionally distraught according to "Lost in Space" actor Mark Goddard. Goddard and his wife would discover Karyn's body on November 28th, 1962

On the night of Karyn’s death she spent the evening dining with Lost in Space star Mark Goddard and his wife Marcia.  During police questioning about her final days, the couple testified that Karyn was acting very odd the night that she died.  She was quite, cold and distance, hardly touching her food and her voice was coarse.  When Mark questioned her about her strange disposition Karyn burst into tears and made up a strange story about a baby being left on her doorstep.  This story was a lie.  Karyn didn’t stay long and left the house by taxi cab at 8:30 pm and promised the Goddard’s that she would call them soon.

Returning to her apartment, she was paid a visit by two friends, writer Edward Stephen Rubin and actor Robert Hathaway.  The three watched The Danny Kaye Show, but Karyn fell asleep between her two visitors.  After the show was over the two men woke Karyn up, who went to her bedroom and the men turned off the television, locked her door and let themselves out.  They would be the last two people to see Karyn alive. 

Karyn Kupcinet was found naked and lifeless in her Hollywood apartment, murdered by strangulation. Her murder has never been solved

Two days later, when Mark and Marcia Goddard had not heard from Karyn they went to her apartment to pay her a visit.  Despite being able to hear the television on inside, nobody answered the door.  Stating during his testimony that he had a strange foreboding feeling, Mark Goddard forced his way into the apartment where he and Marcia found Karyn’s naked dead body on the couch.  Suspecting that she had died of a drug overdose, the Goddard’s called for help, but an investigation proved that it was not drugs that killed Karyn Kupcinet.  She had been strangled!

Andrew Prine was the primary suspect in the murder, but he was able to provide an alibi and was quickly cleared.  After a brief investigation, the case was closed and was left unsolved.  Karyn’s family had her body flown to Illinois where she was laid to rest. 

Was the assissination of JFK and the murder of Karyn Kupicent related? Both took place in the same week, and conspiricy theorists feel that there is evidence to say that they were. Did someone in the Kupcinet family know to much?

However, Karyn’s story would not end here.  In 1967 JFK assassination consiprist Penn Jones Jr, in his book Forgive My Grief, theorized that Karyn Kupcinet was the identity of a mysterious caller that had called a telephone operator the day before JFK’s assassination from Oxnard, California stating that the president was going to be killed in Dallas.  Obviously someone in the LA area knew of the assassination well in advance.  It was known that Karyn’s father Irv Kupcinet was an acquaintance of mobster Jack Ruby, and it was theorized that Ruby had told Irv about the assassination, who in turn told Karyn.  Thus, in order to send a message to Irv Kupcinet to keep his trap shut about what he knew, Jack Ruby had Karyn murdered.  Sure, this is a farfetched idea, but it is interesting that a woman in the LA area knew in advance that JFK was going to be killed and she never spoke again.  Could the murder of Karyn Kupcinet have silenced that voice?

Karyn Kupcinet's final resting place in Chicago, Illinois

Of course Irv Kupcinet viciously denied this theory and stated that he had his own suspicions who murdered his daughter, but he never revealed his suspect because, as he said, he wasn’t able to prove it.  Irv would be forced to defend his daughter’s memory again in 1991 when Oliver Stone featured Karyn’s story as part of the film JFK.  Irv himself passed away in 2003 at the age of 91, taking with him his own theory as to who really killed his beloved little girl.  Thus, just as we’ll never truly know who was behind the assassination of JFK, we will also never know who killed Karyn Kupcinet.

  1. Serito’s avatar

    hi sam,
    Good article. Fair and circumspect. Do you know if Karyn spent any time in Dallas before she became a moderately well known actress, say anywhere between 1956-1960..
    thanks in advance if you do,

  2. ANNE’s avatar

    Not sure if Karyn was in Dallas, but her father supposedly knew Jack Ruby, so there’s some info. Not sure how accurate it is though. The poor girl, it’s sad no one was ever arrested for her death. Very strange story.

  3. Kathleen Collins’s avatar

    There are several inaccuracies in the above account. Karyn did not know anything about the Oxnard call or the assassination. The autopsy was performed by a man who had a fetish for strangled women. Two women were exhumed and they did not die of strangulation. This puts doubt on the findings of the coroner. Irv’s friends believed she died from suicide. Nothing was missing from her apartment except 100 Desoxyn methamphetamine pills. Also, Ruby was not an acquaintance of Kup’s. Irv called a mobster about Ruby early in the morning. This man couldn’t believe it. “Sparky wouldn’t do that. He’s a nebbish kind of guy.” The man was surprised Irv found him in Palm Springs. Karyn Kupcinet was also in Palm Springs that weekend. And she never went by the name of Tammy Windsor. That is a separate woman.
    And Karyn didn’t know a thing about the assassination of President Kennedy!


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