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Carroll O’Connor Blames Drugs For Son’s Suicide, Alleged Dealer Arrested

March 30, 1995 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Hours after the suicide of Carroll O’Connor’s drug-addicted son, police on Wednesday arrested a man the actor identified as his son’s dealer.

Harry Thomas Perzigian, 39, of Los Angeles was booked for investigation of cocaine possession, then the charge was upgraded to possession for sale after police seized what appeared to be more than an ounce of cocaine, along with drug paraphernalia and $1,700 cash, said Officer Rigo Romero. Police didn’t say what led them to arrest Perzigian.

Shortly after 32-year-old Hugh Edward O’Connor killed himself with a gunshot to the head Tuesday, the actor tearfully told reporters Perzigian was the drug supplier for his only child.

``These dealers, they kill people,″ O’Connor said outside his son’s home in Pacific Palisades. ``They make a living giving people the means to kill themselves. Harry, I want to see you someday.″

The 71-year-old actor best known for playing Archie Bunker in ``All In The Family″ had called police earlier Tuesday, saying his son was despondent and had access to guns.

A crisis negotiator and special weapons team were dispatched to the son’s home, but the younger O’Connor told them to go away and then shot himself. Police said they found a suicide note.

The younger O’Connor had a 16-year history of drug abuse and had enrolled in three drug rehabilitation programs over the years ``and could not face going into another one for perhaps six months or a year,″ his father said.

``On and off, he has fought it very gamely.″

O’Connor said he wondered whether it wouldn’t be better to legalize drugs.

``It’s not going to create more addicts,″ he said. ``It’s just going to put the crooks and criminals and killers out of business.″

O’Connor currently stars as the sheriff in the CBS series ``In the Heat of the Night,″ based on the movie of the same name. His son played a lieutenant on the show.

The younger O’Connor, who was adopted, was born in Rome, Italy. After graduating from Beverly Hills Preparatory school, O’Connor worked as a courier on his father’s CBS series ``Archie Bunker’s Place″ in its final season in 1982-1983.

He later moved to New York and worked as an assistant stage manager on Broadway before getting parts in television.

O’Connor’s death came on his third wedding anniversary. Survivors include his wife, Angela Clayton, and a 2-year-old son, Sean Carroll O’Connor.

A funeral will be held Saturday in Los Angeles but the rites will be private, said O’Connor’s publicist, Frank Tobin.

``My tragedy tonight is the tragedy of tens of thousands of other people. It’s nothing unusual,″ the bereaved father said of the drug problem affecting the nation.

In Provincetown, Mass., two men were charged with supplying the heroin that led to the drug overdose death of Tony Curtis’ son, Nicholas Curtis.

Joshua R. Laven, 23, and John C. Denaro, 26, were arrested Tuesday and pleaded innocent to manslaughter and distribution of heroin.

Curtis, 23, died of a heroin dose July 2, while visiting friends in Provincetown.

Police said an unidentified third person was still being sought in his death.