A “True Hollywood Story” – The Mysterious Death Of Actress Carol Wayne! From The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson To A Strange “Accidental” Death…

The True Hollywood Mystery Of Carol Wayne!

Here’s a “True Hollywood” mystery for you!

For millions of late-night TV fans in the 1970’s, Carol Wayne was one of the most well-known – and beloved – parts of pop culture!

Actress Carol Wayne appeared in a number of TV shows and movies in the 70’s and 80’s, but she is remembered for her appearances on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” – as the “Matinee Lady” in the “Art Fern’s Tea Time Movie” sketches.

She was voluptuous, but had an innocent charm that captivated viewers, and was featured in many popular TV shows at the time, while always being a fixture on Johnny’s iconic late night show.

Here’s a clip from that show, when she was a guest!

Carol’s Tragic “Hollywood Story!”

So what happened? How did someone who was so prominently featured on TV’s biggest show end up dead? And was it an “accident?”

Let’s look at the wild life and sad death of Carol Wayne…

Wayne said she was “discovered” at a Hollywood party and auditioned for The Tonight Show – her appearances made her famous, and led to small parts in a number of films…

Wayne’s career, however, didn’t get the big “break” that you may have expected – after all, she was extremely popular thanks to The Tonight Show, but the roles she got were small – so she did what many of that era did to get attention…

Carol’s Playboy Pictorial!

In February 1984, Carol appeared nude in a pictorial for Playboy – no doubt looking for the breakout role that would continue to move her career forward…but as it turns out, there was much darkness underneath this Hollywood story.

The same year that Wayne appeared in Playboy, she filed for bankruptcy. According to several stories about the Actress, she wasn’t landing movie or TV roles, which led to financial problems – and she reportedly became dependent on drugs and alcohol as a result.

That same year, Wayne made her final film appearance. It was called “Heartbreakers”. My friend Lawrence Levin sent me this note about the film:

Lawrence noted:

HEARTBREAKERS (1984) It’s on YouTube. She plays a dominatrix who has the hots for Peter Coyote who is a starving pin up artist.

He thought I would be interested in Wayne’s story, and I was – because while “breakthrough” roles are few and far between, it was odd that her exposure on Carson’s show wouldn’t have helped her more…

Carol was 41 years old when she made the film – which did poorly at the box office and didn’t create more opportunities for the Actress.

So, while she appeared in a number of TV shows and films, none were able to help her break out to become a star…

Carol’s Mysterious Death…

Now, the story take a sad and troubling turn.

Reports from that time say that Carol was on vacation in Santiago Bay, Mexico with her boyfriend, car salesman Edward Durston on January 10, 1985.

Allegedly, the couple had an argument, Wayne went for a walk along the beach, and Durston headed to the airport, where he left her bags.

That was the last time anyone saw her alive. A local fisherman found her body floating in shallow bay waters three days later.

Among the questions surrounding her death: Mexican police wondered how Carol drowned in water four feet deep, fully clothed.

She had no cuts or abrasions, ruling out the possibility she could have accidentally fallen from rocks nearby. The coroner stated that death occurred 3 – 4 days earlier – meaning she died while on her “walk alone.”

Carol’s body also tested negative for drugs and alcohol, suggesting she didn’t drunkenly pass out in the water.

Ultimately, her death was ruled “Accidental” and the caae was closed.

So, what happened to Carol Wayne? We will never know. The boyfriend who left her at the resort, Edward Durston, died in 2007…but if you look online you will find some intriguing theories…due to the fact that Durston was also with TV Host Art Linkletter’s daughter when she jumped out of a window years earlier, apparently on LSD.

Durston’s name came up in relation to the Manson murders as an acquaintance of one of the victims of that horrible crime..other than that, nothing can be found to suggest police ever seriously suspected him of involvement in Wayne’s death…

Carol Wayne’s death was called an accident, even with all of the suspicious circumstances. And another sad, cautionary tale of Hollywood – and how tough it is to survive in this town.. .recently, I shared another “True Hollywood Story” about a fallen sex kitten:

Yvette Vickers was the star of “Attack Of The 50-Foot Woman”, but was found dead, isolated and alone, in her house decades later…see the whole story by clicking here:

Tragic Story Of Hollywood Starlet Yvette Vickers! Star Of “Attack Of The 50-Ft. Woman”!

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Categories: Books / Media, Cult Movies, Hollywood, Memoirs, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities, TV Show

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36 replies

  1. After all of these years since her passing, Carol deserves justice! How stupid can the mexican police be to believe that anybody could drown in 3-4 feet of water! Carol had a charm and busty beauty that still visits the minds of men today who admired her either up close of from a far.


  2. Was there an insurance policy and who was the benificiary.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I always loved Carol Wayne. Her brand of dumb blonde was brilliantly played. She seemed like a very sweet person as well and I was sad to hear about her drowning (?) back in the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I never knew what happenf to her until just now; sad life and story! I liked on The Tonight Show, saw her as great looking and funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What strikes me weird about her life and death:

    1. Once she is pronounced dead under mysterious circumstances it seemed like no one from her family, not even an ex-husband, child, or sibling would barely talk about it. Seems like perhaps she was estranged from her entire family. Normally there is a family member maybe writing a book or pushing for a movie to be made about this deceased person’s life but in this case nothing. They did not appear to put any pressure or interest into the investigation of her death. Just accepted it and moved on. Another telling sign about family dysfunction is the fact that her children lived with their father and not her. Normally in custody situations the woman gets custody of the children but from what little information posted out there apparently the children lived with the father.

    2. Carol seemed very aloof. On the tonight show she would acknowledge Johnny Carson of course but she would not shake hands with the other guests, just sort of a tiny wave. Watch her appearances on the Tonight Show.

    3. On 1973 Carol appears on the Tonight Show as a guest alongside Don Rickles and Burt Reynolds and she and Burt both say they have never met, but Carol points out that some of the Indian artifacts used in Burt’s film THE MAN WHO LOVED CAT DANCING belonged to her then husband and herself. Burt Reynolds and Carol appear again on THE TONIGHT SHOW in 1979 and both state they have never met each other before even though they appeared on the same show together in 1973. Very weird.

    4. That last appearance on the tonight show she seemed rather ‘”manic” and much more aggressive then past appearances. Almost a weird desperation to it all, but of course that same year I think she was dealing with bankruptcy etc. so that would make a person stressed.


    • You sense that there are a lot of strange connections in the world…of our past. Expanding like a mold into our preset. And they are every bit of ‘strange’ and simply amazing as you suggest. These things are in line with the world we don’t see…where EVERYTHING (thus everyone) is connected…and one SEEING/ASCERTAINING the connections…is on their Apian way to (THE) TOTAL truth that we all seek. There was an episode of the Night Gallery (and an episode of the Animated Star Trek Series) where an object/device was had that allowed a person to see literally ANYTHING they requested to see. Such a device would make a person mad within knowledge of even THREE degrees of Bacon’s ‘separation’. There was another ‘old-school’ episode of ‘Thriller’, with Boris Karloff, where the character was able to ask an object, in this case a mirror, to show him who and what he REALLY was. It was a brilliant episode because it was so honest…something these old/er, ‘paranormal’ shows kind of couldn’t help deviate TOO far away from (i.e. the extensive satanic themes, revelations of Jack Parsons/Aleister Crowley reverence, in these in these shows of this time. Add to THAT what you will.). At any rate…the mirror showed the man who he REALLY was. A diseased, dirty, rotten being. Such a compelling theme. WHO are we. WHAT are we. WHAT…will we do/be. It’s ALL rhetorical in a way. Some lives, things and realities…’weirder’ than others…but ultimately connected.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a painfully sad story. When appearing for Playboy, you’d never imagine a beautiful star like this could feel so desperate for a breakout role and be filing for bankruptcy simultaneously. I wonder how the boyfriend felt and reacted at the news, if indeed he last saw her alive. It’s very strange to think there were no marks on her body though. If she didn’t fall or jump then she wasn’t pushed either. Did someone strangle her and slip her in the water, but surely there’d be ligature marks or petechiae. Very, very strange. Poor woman. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so sad because she was very well known, but couldn’t get past a few small “sexpot” roles…and the Playboy shoot is usually a sign of a career that is struggling to stay relevant…as for the mysterious death, all of the actions of the boyfriend are certainly suspect….a sad story, thanks for reading it

      Liked by 1 person

    • The author of this post is misleading in that statement. By the time she posed for Playboy she was 41 years old — she certainly wasn’t looking for a “breakout” role at that age. But filing for bankruptcy indicates she was in need of money, and Playboy pays its models well.


      • Posing for Playboy is ALWAYS an attempt to get publicity and many have done it to help with a comeback, an attempt for a role that will resurrect her career. If you don’t agree with my story, that’s fine, but there is much evidence to support my original statement so it will remain.


  7. I haven’t heard of the lady but unfortunately, there have been a few unexplained deaths of celebrities over the years…The sad and tragic face of fame or the search for fame …

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My memories of her leave me the impression of a sweet woman stuck in the “blond bimbo” mold. I didn’t know she met such a tragic end.😔

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I had no idea this happened, I remember her well- very sad

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve not heard of Carol Wayne and have never watched the Johnny Carson show but I have heard of it. A sad story, particularly since it’s remained a mystery.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Intriguing… but very sad. I remember her as a dumb blonde on several TV shows, small guest parts.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Was this on your other blog, John? For some reason, I feel I have seen it before.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

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