Actor Eric Fleming

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on July 3, 2005

Can you tell me what happened to Eric Fleming, who played Gil Favor on Rawhide?
—Neats P., Wyoming

When the show ended in 1966, Fleming began filming a two-part adventure series called High Jungle in Peru. During a shoot on the Huallaga River on Sept. 28, 1966, Fleming, 41, dove into the turbulent water and drowned, just two days before his wedding. Born Edward Heddy in Santa Paula, Calif. (pop. 28,958), he hopped a freight train at age 8 to get away from his abusive father. He lived on the streets of Chicago for a while, until he was sent back to his mother, who had left his father. Before age 16, he lied about his age and joined the Merchant Marines. While stationed at a Seattle foundry, a 200-pound steel block fell on his face, requiring reconstructive surgery. He worked on the stage and in some early television specials in the 1950s, starring in Conquest of Space and Queen of Outer Space in 1954. He joined Rawhide in 1958.