Stuart Gordon, the filmmaker behind cult-favorite horror flicks, passed away on March 24, 2020 at the age of 72. Besides a blood-curdling legacy of horror movies, Gordon leaves behind a family, including his wife, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon. Horror buffs might recognize Carolyn as the woman who is always brutally killed off in Stuart Gordon’s movies. Carolyn had a big part in Stuart’s life, both personally and professionally. So our Carolyn Purdy-Gordon wiki turns the spotlight on Stuart Gordon’s own “Final Girl.”
|About Carolyn Purdy-Gordon
|June 3, 1947 Michigan
|Stuart Gordon December 1968 - March 2020
|Margaret Gordon, Jillian Gordon, Suzanna Gordon
|Dr. Marshall Purdy
|University of Wisconsin-Madison
Carolyn Purdy’s Father Was a Doctor
Carolyn Purdy was born on June 3, 1947 in Michigan, but she is considered a native of Janesville, Wisconsin. Carolyn, her older sister, and younger brother are Dr. Marshall Purdy’s children with his first wife.
Dr. Purdy passed away in 2016 at the age of 100. Stuart Gordon paid tribute to his father-in-law in an article he wrote shortly after Carolyn’s father passed away. The filmmaker described Dr. Purdy as a “self-made man who lived a long life of service.”
Carolyn’s father had an internal medicine practice in Janesville. In his eight-decade-long medical career, he served during World War II. Gordon recalled in his article that Dr. Purdy had a narrow escape from a kamikaze attack while he was serving on the hospital ship, USS Comfort.
Gordon would meet Marshall Purdy the first time in 1968 when he sought the man’s approval to marry Carolyn.
Dr. Purdy agreed to their union and all was fine…at first. Shortly after their meeting, Gordon’s directorial work would sour his relationship with his father-in-law for years.
Purdy and Gordon Were Arrested in College
Stuart Gordon and Carolyn Purdy began dating when they met while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Gordon had always been interested in films, but the film-making class was full. That led him to take an acting course and work in theater. He went on to write and produce plays with the university theater troupe.
After Gordon and Purdy took part in a political protest, Gordon was inspired to stage an avant-garde production of Peter Pan.
Stuart Gordon’s version of Peter Pan portrayed the characters in a hippy setting. And instead of going to Neverland, the characters embarked on a psychedelic LSD trip in a scene staged with a light show and naked dancers. Carolyn Purdy was included among the dancers.
When word about naked actors in the play got out, the local DA warned them that they would be arrested on obscenity charges. Gordon and his fellow students believed it was a violation of their free speech and went ahead with the show.
This led to Gordon getting arrested for obscenity. Purdy was the only one among the seven dancers who was recognized, so she was arrested along with Gordon.
According to Gordon, this incident ruined his relationship with Carolyn Purdy’s father.
A week after their arrest, Dr. Purdy came to Madison to pull Carolyn out of college and take her home. Gordon and Dr. Purdy argued in Carolyn’s apartment until she kicked both of them out.
But something good did come out of that. “We got married because we were living together at the time, and our defense attorney said that’s not going to look good when you go to trial,” recalled Gordon.
When Stuart Gordon met Dr. Purdy, he and Carolyn had planned to get married the following year, once they had graduated. They instead married in December 1968.
Dr. Purdy agreed to walk his daughter down the aisle, but didn’t respond to the question, “Who gives this bride?” He didn’t stay for the reception either.
The obscenity charges were dismissed before their wedding, allegedly because their accuser turned out to be a child molester.
Now happily married, Stuart Gordon dropped out of college a semester before graduation to get a head start in his directorial career.
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Purdy-Gordon Worked in Her Husband’s Movies
Carolyn Purdy-Gordon worked with her husband to found the Organic Theater Company in 1970. They wrote and performed out of the Holy Covenant Church in Lincoln Park, Chicago, putting on their own original adaptations of classic works such as Homer’s Odyssey and George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Organic Theater went on to enjoy success with original productions as well, such as “Sexual Perversity” and “Warp!”
They moved their theater several times to locations in Chicago and New York, running it for 16 years. Now under new artistic direction, the theater continues to thrive in Chicago to this day.
Stuart Gordon went on to create cult-level horror flicks like Re-Animator (1985), From Beyond (1986), and The Dolls (1987). His wife Carolyn Purdy-Gordon starred in these and many of his other movies, including Fortress (1992). She often played the female character who ends up getting killed brutally.
Carolyn Purdy-Gordon is the wife of Stuart Gordon and has appeared in many of his films. You’ve seen her in Re-Animator,…
But she wasn’t just in her husband’s movies. The actress appeared once in TV sitcom E/R and was featured in a horror flick called, Snow White: A Deadly Summer, among other projects.
Purdy-Gordon extended her acting career to the stage, appearing in Organic Theater productions such as “Switch Bitch,” “Sexual Perversity in Chicago,” “Bleacher Bums,” and “The Forever War.”
The actress was nominated for a 1976 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actress in a Principal Role in a Play. This was for her performance in “Switch Bitch” at the Organic Theater Company.
Purdy-Gordon also tried her hand at writing, co-writing a play called Bleacher Bums that was adapted into a TV movie. In 1984 and 1985, she actually did a lot of writing for a short-lived sitcom called E/R, including credits on the pilot. This sitcom’s not to be confused with the later medical drama ER, though two of its stars did go on to star in the hit dramatic series: Mary McDonnell and George Clooney.
It seems Carolyn Purdy-Gordon may have had a secret talent as a chef! Besides acting and co-writing credits, she also did the catering or worked as chef on sets for movies, such as Ring of Darkness, Alien Presence, and Unlucky Charms.
In recent years, Stuart Gordon found success in his return to directing theater, with Purdy-Gordon’s support and assistance. He brought adapted his classic Re-Animator to be a musical theater show, delighting his old and new fans with songs and plenty of fake blood.
Purdy-Gordon and Gordon Had Three Daughters
On top of their creative work throughout the years, Purdy-Gordon and Gordon raised three daughters: Suzanna (born November 25, 1977); Jillian (born February 1, 1982); and Margaret (birth date unpublished).
It appears their daughters now live in California with their respective families. Carolyn Purdy-Gordon and her late husband have four grandchildren.
Stuart Gordon was on thin ice with his father-in-law, because Carolyn was arrested because of him. But the birth of their daughters had thawed out their frozen dynamic.
Stuart Gordon passed away on March 24, 2020, at age 72, according to a statement by his family. He is survived by Carolyn, their daughters, and their grandchildren.