Jenny Lee Arness was the daughter of the famous actor James Arness, best known for his role as Marshal Matt Dillon in the long-running TV series Gunsmoke. She was born on May 23, 1950, in Los Angeles, California, and had two brothers, Craig and Rolf. She grew up in a wealthy and privileged family, but her life was far from happy. She suffered from mental illness, had a troubled love life, and eventually committed suicide at the age of 24. What led her to take such a drastic step? Here is the tragic story of Jenny Lee Arness.
A Broken Family
Jenny Lee’s parents, James Arness and Virginia Chapman, were both actors who met in drama school and married in 1948. They had three children together, but their marriage was not a happy one. James Arness became a successful and busy actor, while Virginia Chapman felt neglected and unhappy. She also struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction. According to IMDb, they divorced in 1960, when Jenny Lee was only 10 years old.
James Arness got full custody of the children, while Virginia Chapman had visitation rights. However, she was not a stable or reliable mother. She often missed her appointments with the children or showed up intoxicated. She also attempted suicide several times. According to CelebSuburb, she died of an accidental drug overdose in 1977, two years after Jenny Lee’s death.
A Failed Career
Jenny Lee followed in her parents’ footsteps and tried to become an actress. She appeared in two episodes of Gunsmoke in 1964, playing Laurie and Amy, two young women who encounter Marshal Dillon. However, she did not pursue acting further. According to Popular Bio, she did not enjoy the fame and attention that came with being an actor’s daughter. She also did not have the talent or charisma that her father had.
Jenny Lee preferred to live a quiet and simple life. She worked as a secretary and a waitress at various times. She also enjoyed painting and writing poetry. She had a few friends, but she was mostly a loner. She did not have any ambitions or goals for her future.
A Troubled Love Life
Jenny Lee had a long-term relationship with a man named Greg Allman, who was a musician and a drug addict. They met in 1971 and moved in together shortly after. They had a tumultuous relationship, marked by frequent fights and breakups. Greg Allman was abusive and unfaithful to Jenny Lee. He also introduced her to drugs, which worsened her mental condition.
According to CelebSuburb, Jenny Lee broke up with Greg Allman for good in 1975, after he cheated on her with Cher, who later became his wife. Jenny Lee was devastated by the betrayal and felt hopeless and lonely. She decided to end her life.
A Tragic Death
On May 12, 1975, Jenny Lee Arness took an overdose of pills and slit her wrists in her Malibu apartment. She left a note that read: “I’m sorry for everything I’ve done to hurt anyone I love.” She was found by her brother Rolf, who called for help. However, it was too late to save her. She died at the age of 24.
James Arness was heartbroken by his daughter’s death. He blamed himself for not being able to help her or prevent her suicide. He also felt guilty for being absent from her life due to his work commitments. He said in an interview: “I wish I could have spent more time with her.”
A Possible Cause
According to some sources, Jenny Lee suffered from schizophrenia, a rare psychological disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may experience hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and other symptoms that make it hard for them to cope with reality. The disorder usually develops in late adolescence or early adulthood and can be triggered by stress or trauma.
Some sources claim that Jenny Lee inherited schizophrenia from her mother, who also showed signs of the disorder. According to Dead or Kicking, Jenny Lee was diagnosed with schizophrenia shortly before her death and was undergoing treatment. However, the treatment was not effective enough to prevent her from committing suicide.
The exact cause of Jenny Lee’s death may never be known for sure. However, it is clear that she was a troubled young woman who needed more love and support than she received. Her death was a tragic loss for her family and friends who loved her dearly.
Jenny Lee Arness cause of death is a sad reminder of the importance of mental health awareness and prevention of suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental illness, please seek help from a professional or call a suicide hotline. You are not alone. There is hope and help available.