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If you watched the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson during the Seventies, you may remember sexy Carol Wayne. She was the big-busted, bubbly Matinee Lady of the 'Tea Time Movies with Art Fern' sketches that began in 1971 and stayed popular throughout the decade.
From You Tube - one of the Art Fern sketches:
Carol Wayne was also a frequent guest on game shows like Celebrity Sweepstakes and The Hollywood Squares, she also made quite a bit of money doing personal appearances. She had the ability to make the most innocent remark seem like a dirty joke with her little girl voice, wide "innocent" eyes and ultra-ample bosom.
It was often joked that Carol Wayne would never drown with those large breasts of hers - but ironically that's exactly how she did die. To this day, the exact circumstances leading up to her death in 1985 remain a mystery.
Carol Wayne's troubles started in 1980 when Johnny Carson threatened to quit his lucrative role as host of the popular 'Tonight' show. He demanded that NBC cut the show from ninety-minutes to sixty.
The network was having a very bad year, and the nightly talk show was its biggest profit center at the time ('The Cosby Show' changed that situation a few years later).
NBC had no choice but to reluctantly agree to Carson's demand. Freeing up this time led to the creation of 'Late Night with David Letterman', which became another hot property for the network and Carson Productions - so everyone came out a winner.
Well, everyone but Carol Wayne. The new sixty-minute format meant that Carson had less time for skits starring familiar characters like Aunt Blabby, Floyd R. Turbo, and Art Fern. As a result, Carol Wayne's appearances on the 'Tonight' show became fewer and farther between.
Carol Wayne was no longer in demand for daytime game show appearances either, that genre was dying on the vine. In 1980, she divorced her husband, bestselling writer Burt Sugarman.
In 1984 a thin, pale Carol Wayne declared bankruptcy due in large part to a cocaine and alcohol problem. It was said the entertainer was reduced to being an occasional escort for wealthy businessmen in order to make a living.
According to published reports, Carol Wayne was on vacation in Santiago Bay, Mexico with Los Angeles car salesman Edward Durston on January 10, 1985 when (it has been reported) the couple had a argument about where they were going to stay that evening (they were scheduled to fly back to Los Angeles the next morning).
Durston checked into a hotel and Wayne reportedly left to walk down the beach (to cool off?). That was the last time anyone saw her alive. Local fisherman Abel de Dios found her limp body floating in the shallow bay waters three days later.
Mexican authorities wondered how Carol Wayne came to drown in waters four feet deep, fully clothed. There were no cuts or abrasions, so a fall from the nearby rocks was ruled out. The coroner stated that death occurred 3 - 4 days earlier and the body tested negative for drugs and alcohol.
Suspicions were raised: Carol Wayne had to be identified by workers at the Las Hadas resort where the couple had been staying earlier in the week. When locals went to look for Wayne's traveling companion, they discovered that Edward Durston checked out three days earlier - leaving Wayne's luggage at the airport with a message that she would pick up her bags in the morning.
Carol Wayne could not swim, and reportedly did not like to go too near the water. So how did she happen to be found dead in calm and shallow waters?
"Carol Wayne's death is unsolved, certainly," the U.S. Consular William LaCoque was quoted as saying in 1990. "But I don't think it was a drowning. A drowning, yes, of course, but there is much more to it than that." What more, we may never know.
As an aside, many readers may remember the (alleged) LSD related death of Art Linkletter's daughter Diane. She jumped (or fell) from a sixth floor apartment building in 1969.
Art Linkletter basically ended his successful television career when he started crusading against drugs with a fervor that made it hard for middle America to find the afternoon talk show host funny anymore.
Not that it necessarily means anything, but Diane Linkletter's companion the night she was killed was Edward Durston.
DEATH OF CAROL WAYNE
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