"Suddenly Susan" Costar's Final Hours

Actor killed time with a "working woman" and topless dancer before hanging himself--and missing a drug-related court appearance, reports say

By Joal Ryan Mar 24, 1999 3:00 PMTags
He was supposed to be at work. He was supposed to be in court. Instead, he checked into a Las Vegas motel, knocked back some beers, played fortune teller with a prostitute, killed time at a topless bar and, then, hanged himself.

This is how actor David Strickland spent his final hours, new reports say. The 29-year-old Suddenly Susan costar was found dead Monday from an apparent suicide.

Court records obtained by the Associated Press show that the TV star had been busted for cocaine possession last Halloween. He pleaded no contest to the charge on December 21 and was placed on 36 months' probation.

On Monday--the day a maid at the off-the-Strip Oasis Motel began "freaking out" at the site of his fully clothed corpse--Strickland was due in a Los Angeles court for a progress report hearing, the wire service said.

Monday also was the start of a work week on Suddenly Susan. The NBC sitcom was to tape a new episode--one of just two left in its third season. Now, with Strickland's death, production has been halted temporarily. It's not known how, or if, his character's absence will be explained. Strickland played Todd the music critic on the Brooke Shields-headlined comedy.

Police say the actor, romantically linked to ex-Beverly Hills 90210 star Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, left behind no suicide note. Rather, he apparently imparted some of his last words to a "working woman," Oasis owner Peter Napoli told Reuters.

The prostitute "was around here talking to a desk clerk, and while she's talking she sees a guy walking by," Napoli said. "She says, 'You look familiar. Are you from TV?' And he says, 'No.' And then he asked her who she thought he looked like and they started talking."

Strickland joined the unidentified woman in her room--and, at about 2 a.m. Monday, returned to the front desk to check into one of his own, all the while swigging a beer, Napoli said. Police later found six drained beer bottles in the actor's small, $64-a-night rental.

The prostitute said Strickland "didn't seem too sad, but a little strange in a way," Napoli recounted. They spent 20 minutes together. Before they parted, the star told the woman, "Important changes are going to happen in your life," according to the motel owner.

After the encounter, CBS Las Vegas affiliate KLAS-TV says Strickland headed to Glitter Gulch, a popular downtown topless bar, where he hooked up with fellow NBC sitcom star Andy Dick.

Dick and unnamed others flew into Vegas with Strickland on Sunday, the publicist for the NewsRadio star confirmed. The two actors had met just last Friday, the rep said.

Dick was not with Strickland at the Oasis.

"Although I knew David for only a brief time, I very much enjoyed his company and was looking forward to a new friendship," the comic actor said in a statement. "His death comes a tragic shock to me."

Dick said his "heart goes out to Tiffany [sic]"--an apparent reference to Tiffani-Amber Thiessen.

While at Glitter Gulch, KLAS-TV reported, dancer Kimberly Braddock performed for Strickland.

"David was really out of it," Braddock told the station. "He had big bags under his eyes and didn't look too good. I said, 'Are you hung over?' and he said, 'Yeah, we've been partying all night and I don't feel good.'"

His body was found at about 11 a.m. Monday.

"David was a good friend, a good man and a truly gifted comic actor," Suddenly Susan costar Judd Nelson said in a statement. "...I miss him already."

Strickland appears in the current box-office hit, Forces of Nature, starring Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck.