Friday, December 5, 2008

Jesse Pearson died 29 years ago

Actor (in Bye Bye Birdie) Jesse Pearson was born on August 18, 1930 in Oklahoma. Mr. Pearson died on December 5, 1979 in Monroe, Louisiana.

49 comments:

Brenda said...

Why is there no information on any of the internet sites about this actor? Bye Bye Birdie is a classic movie. He also appeared on episodes of Andy Griffith and The Beverly Hillbillies. It is interesting there are no photos available of him and no information readily available, not even on Wikipedia!

Ҫჯ said...




Pearson was friends with Rod McKuen...

Some personal memories of him by McKuen here: Click

Interesting.


Roger Ritthaler said...

Here is a photo.

Anonymous said...

Jesse Pearson was my mother's cousin. His real name was Bobby Wayne Pearson. My mother loved him and has fond memories of their childhood friendship. Later he came to Monroe, LA to spend the last months of his life with his mother, who was my great aunt. They were a loving family. I have quite a few of his photos, possibly part of a portfolio. He was a very handsome man and very photogenic.
Heather

Mrs. Mack said...

7/30/10 - Having just watched the Andy Griffith show with guest star Jesse Pearson, I wondered what else this fine actor/singer may have done. I already knew he was the one who played the lead in Bye Bye Birdie. I was sad to see he had died at the age of only 49. However, at least while he was here, he made unforgettable contributions to the world of entertainment. You'll live forever in film, Mr. Pearson. Thank you for sharing your talents and REST IN PEACE.

Mitch Persons said...

Jesse Pearson was most unlike the boorish bully Conrad Birdie that he played in 1963's "Bye Bye Birdie."

Birdie was supposed to be an Elvis Presley counterpart, and like Elvis, Pearson was an amazingly charismatic individual. Ironically, Pearson also died an early and untimely death.

I once worked as a messenger at General Service Studios in Hollywood, where "The Beverly Hillbillies" was filmed. Pearson was cast to play a rock 'n' roller (what else) in one of the episodes. I was busy sorting the mail in the mail room, when I felt a presence behind me. I turned, and there at the door stood Jesse Pearson. He asked me where the office of "The Beverly Hillbillies" was. I told him, and he gave a most polite and beaming "thank you."

Seeing Pearson was one of those fast flashes of life that have happened to all of us. Now, over fifty years later, I can still feel his charisma.

Mitch Persons said...

Jesse Pearson was most unlike the boorish bully Conrad Birdie that he played in 1963's "Bye Bye Birdie."

Birdie was supposed to be an Elvis Presley counterpart, and like Elvis, Pearson was an amazingly charismatic individual. Ironically, Pearson also died an early and untimely death.

I once worked as a messenger at General Service Studios in Hollywood, where "The Beverly Hillbillies" was filmed. Pearson was cast to play a rock 'n' roller (what else) in one of the episodes. I was busy sorting the mail in the mail room, when I felt a presence behind me. I turned, and there at the door stood Jesse Pearson. He asked me where the office of "The Beverly Hillbillies" was. I told him, and he gave a most polite and beaming "thank you."

Seeing Pearson was one of those fast flashes of life that have happened to all of us. Now, over fifty years later, I can still feel his charisma.

Anonymous said...

One of those actors who was a good man, family loving midwestern raised, who was humble about his fame. Died young and many actors and actresses today should take a lesson from this man and others like him during this great period in America. Bye Bye Birdie will always be a classic and the most remade play and musical in all High Schools and local stages in the world due to Ann Margaret, Bobby Rydell and this nice man Jesse Pearson.

Sucarol said...

As a big fan of Jesse Pearson, I am glad for the little information on this site. I looked him up hoping/expecting to find out a lot, like has happened to people that have done much less. At least this was here. Thank you to the cousin who contributed.

Anonymous said...

But what did Jesse Pearson die of/from?

Anonymous said...

On another site it stated that Jesse Pearson died of cancer. Just have to keep looking for info on this actor. I just love the movie:"Bye Bye Birdie". Watching it as I am writing this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this which also made way for the comments.
Info I did not know. Bye Bye Birdie is one of my fave movies of all time (I was born in 1968) and have seen it so many times on tv in the 1970s and 80s, I wonder if it still gets played anywhere?

somecka said...

He became a hardcore porn director in the last couple of years of his life, after failing to capitalize on his most famous role, his debut as Birdie. A sad, wasted life.

Anonymous said...

He became a hardcore porn director in the last couple of years of his life, after failing to capitalize on his most famous role, his debut as Birdie. A sad, wasted life.

Roger Ritthaler said...

To the last Anonymous:

In a free society, exactly what parts of Jesse Pearson's life are "sad" and "wasted"?

Anonymous said...

Bye Bye Birdie is constantly being shown on TCM as it is 2nite

Rita Moore said...

One of my favorite movies continues to be Bye Bye Birdie. Jesse Pearson played the part beautifully. I was 11 years old when that movie premiered and was star-struck by him then and all these years later, I still am.

Anonymous said...

How would one even find out about the porn stuff with no info on the net? That's disturbing lol geez. I can't believe the lack of info and pictures on this man. Underrated.

:(

Anonymous said...

Was he queer?

Roger Ritthaler said...

Does it matter?

bklynsteph said...

It sure doesn't matter. He was talented, I'm watching Bye Bye Birdie now.

Anonymous said...

Me too.

Anonymous said...

I love Bye Bye Birdie,!!!!!! Jesse was awesome. I was shocked to,learn he died so young. He had such great potential. R.I.P. you are not forgotten.

Anonymous said...

Jessie's role as Conrad Birdie was flawless, he exuded total confidence in his performance. I had never seen him in any other production. It is a shame he was not recognized for his talent. We may have had a chance to enjoy him a few more years before his death...

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the relative who was kind enough to share her memories of her cousin. It's a shame that some people are still so ignorant to ask if he was "queer" and suggest that he wasted his life.

Guy Mann said...

Jesse Pearson was most entertaining in one of the best Musical scene in history " A Lotta Livin To Do" with Ann Margret and Bobby Rydell in Bye Bye Birdie .. Very sad to hear of his early death ...

Anonymous said...

Yes, he was gay.

NYcat13 said...

Watch the Beverly Hillbillies...episode called ....Teen Idol.... One of the early episodes. He was great on that show...His character was named Johnny Polk. .

Taylor Sartre said...

Thanks for posting this comment- says it all perfectly

Taylor Sartre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Taylor Sartre said...

http://musicweird.blogspot.com/2014/02/jesse-pearson-aka-conrad-birdie.html?m=1

Here's a link to a great article about Jesse Peaeson!

Taylor Sartre said...

http://musicweird.blogspot.com/2014/02/jesse-pearson-aka-conrad-birdie.html?m=1

Here's a link to a great article about Jesse Peaeson!

Taylor Sartre said...

http://musicweird.blogspot.com/2014/02/jesse-pearson-aka-conrad-birdie.html?m=1

Enjoy this article about Jesse Pearson!

Taylor Sartre said...

(sorry about duplicate posts- don't know what's up here)

Taylor Sartre said...

(sorry about duplicate posts- don't know what's up here)

Anonymous said...

During my military tour of duty in Germany in 1967, I happened to turn my radio to AFN (Armed Forces Network). The station was featuring a review of a new album by Anita Kerr and The San Sebastian Strings with words of poetry written by Rod McKuen. The Narrator of the Album - "The Sea" - was JESSE PEARSON. ('Do you know my friend, the sea?...He watches everything we do....'). That time in my life...hearing his voice speaking the words to the songs are just as vivid to me now as they were almost 49 years ago. I will never forget !! (Ironically - I grew up and continue to live less than 40 miles from Monroe, Louisiana. Wish I had gotten to meet him before he left us.

Bronxgirl said...

Watching bye bye birdie and thinking what happened to the actor who played Conrad birdie? Sad to hear he passed. So much talent there and no one even talks about him or remembers him. I thought he was Native American with those rugged good looks. He could dance and sing and act so why didn't Hollywood help him do more with what he had? R I P Jesse Pearson.

Unknown said...

I was actually thinking the same as "anonymous". A) He more than likely was gay, and didn't likely die of cancer but AIDS. B) If he did indeed end up directing porn, I'm sure that too might've had a hand in why there's so little info about him to be found as well. Both of which this native new yorker could care less about UNLESS it was the reason why. If so, I feel THAT to be the biggest wrong. I love, love, LOVED him in bye bye birdie!! And, had a mad crush on him. I'm baffled why in the 21st century with the stuff they're showing on regular television is this actor's bio shrouded as it were in secrecy. He was a damned fine actor, funny and handsome. May he rest in peace.

Karen Ryan said...

I totally agree with you! I had such a crush on him ! I love ..love..his voice and I'm so disappointed there's no album from him !

Karen Ryan said...

I totally agree with you! I had such a crush on him ! I love ..love..his voice and I'm so disappointed there's no album from him !

Unknown said...

If it's not fact, it's opinion.
You need to keep those to yourself.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say - so what? - people die, get over it,

Anonymous said...

Like everyone here I was, & still am, mad about the man. My VERY FAVORITE is the scene where he's receiving the Key to the City & sings Sincere, (short title) - OMG, he's so electrifying that to this day I still feel my heart racing. Frankly, I feel aweful & unfair saying this, but I can't watch anyone else ever trying to be Conrad Birdie. With that said, I must comment on the 'gay' thing, something I became curious about because of a few suggested comments I read. First, it doesn't matter at all & I personally feel it's no ones business. However, & this is going to sound a bit silly, but there are those of us who like to close their eyes & fantasize & lets be frank here for a minute, when a female has a mad crush on a male star, we dream he's straight. I'm guessing it's the same ( or visa versa) if you're gay. I really hope I'm phrasing this correctly as its not my intention to offend anyone. (I'm guessing that nearly 95% of my friends growing up were gay & for some reason many chose me to 'come out' to!). I never thought of that gorgeous man as anything more or less than a gorgeous, exciting, talented man that the worlds been cheated out of by his early death. R.I.P. Conrad Birdie, I'm sure your singing & dancing away on a cloud, the same place you left all of us when you were here!

sas said...

Unbelievable: a famous person dies at the early age of 49 and narrow-minded, homophobic people just assume he was gay & died of Aids! Who cares? Would you make the same assumptions about a local friend or neighbor?
Be Humble and Kind. You will feel better! :)

Anonymous said...

I guess he was visiting family in Eunce NM because he viewed a silly little talent show and was very sweet to me after I played bongos to buttons and bows. Guess he was born too late or he would have been a big hit on Broadway

wendy said...

Feb 24th and bye bye birdie is on. Pearson was dripping with charisma and I would have loved to see him in other productions. Maybe the suits in H-wood just didn't know what to do with him.

Tracy Garvin said...

He died in 1979. The first deaths of AIDS in the US didn't really happen until the 1980s. Very doubtful that he died of AIDS.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_HIV/AIDS

Jane Buchanan said...

According to a relative, Jesse became very ill. He arrived in Louisiana with his male partner. I'm glad he had loved ones with him at the end and didn't pass away all alone. Definitely a handsome, talented man.

jack robinette said...

I was the producer of "MEDITATIONS IN PSALMS, and AND JESUS SAID". In discussions about quality of music in various categories,and the lack of it, I talked to friends and came to the conclusion that we could do quality work. My friend Jaime Mendoza-Nava and i had worked together previously, I knew Jess well, and we just put their talents together for the recordings. Our sound engineer was George Porter, winner of fourteen "Emmys" for his work. The result: these two albums. Now they are availableon Amazon and many other platforms, including YOUTUBE. If you are interested in in more information or backstory please let me know.
mark1@jackrobinette.com