Dark Secrets Of The Cast Of CSI

The following article contains references to death, sexual assault, and drug misuse.

Before the true crime boom, which regales devotees on a seemingly daily basis with serial killer podcasts and Netflix shows on chilling IRL murders, there was "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." For years, the hit series was the go-to forensic investigative drama, satisfying amateur sleuths with plots focused on increasingly grisly murders and sinister crimes. Accordingly, the show arguably set the blueprint for successors such as "Bones" and "NCIS."

The series' original cast, headed by William Petersen's eccentric forensic investigator Gil Grissom, was a huge hit with fans. Much of the show's popularity lay in its puzzle solving, as the audience avidly engaged to unravel the progressively complex mysteries of each episode. Indeed, it was once declared "the most-watched show in the world." It's no surprise, then, that when the series ended in 2015, fans weren't exactly satisfied. Subsequently, "CSI" spawned numerous spinoffs, such as "CSI: NY" and the more recent "Vegas" sequel. 

Throughout its run, the crime drama covered incredibly dark subject matter, but sometimes real life is more gruesome than the narratives that are woven on screen. "CSI" may have been notorious for its graphic, often stomach-turning depictions of autopsies, but many of the show's actors have pretty much admitted to being desensitized to the more graphic content due to their own harrowing personal experiences. Here, we unravel the macabre and dark secrets that have been kept largely under wraps by the cast of "CSI." To paraphrase the show, brace yourself for a killer rundown.

William Petersen had a near-death experience

For almost a decade, William Petersen portrayed Gil Grissom on "CSI." As a crime scene investigator, Grissom delved into the gruesome and gory details of Las Vegas' criminal underbelly. Petersen was highly popular as the eccentric investigator, raking in over 20 million viewers a week, per Entertainment Weekly. Little did audiences know, however, that he himself has traveled to the other side. Or, so he says.

In an interview with Playboy (via Insight State), Petersen described an eerie encounter with death in the '80s. At the time, he was acting in a play in Chicago when his finger got cut in half in a freak accident. What happened next was equally disquieting. "I could hear the doctors working on me, saying that they had lost my vital signs," he recalled. "I was on the 'All That Jazz' escalator with a long tunnel and a lot of white light. Then I specifically remember a dominant male voice saying, 'It's not your time. Get off the escalator.'" He then awoke from surgery, his finger intact. Petersen said that the experience led to his firm belief that an afterlife does exist. "Something in me changed, a sort of knowledge that somewhere on the Other Side, it's good," he added.

The actor elaborated on his newfound spiritual beliefs in an interview with Men's Health, in which he admitted that he doesn't fear death, but finds beauty in it. "It gives me great peace to see people in death," he darkly mused.

Robert David Hall lost his legs in an accident

Of all the characters on "CSI," no one had a job quite as gruesome as chief medical examiner Dr. Al Robbins. In each episode, he was left with the task of dissecting dead bodies. The actor who plays Robbins, Robert David Hall, has suffered his own trauma away from the cameras.

In 1978, when Hall was 30, he was involved in a serious traffic collision when a truck crashed into his car, causing his gas tank to explode, per Ability Magazine. Police were initially warned not to pull Hall from the wreckage out of fear of another explosion. "When I heard that cop I started screaming my lungs out like I've never screamed before and I hope to never scream again," he recalled. Thanks to the help of two passers-by, he was rescued and saved from certain death. Having suffered severe burns to 65% of his body, both his legs were amputated and he had to undergo facial reconstruction, per Headlines and Global News. Hall now uses prosthetic limbs. "The summer of '78 was a tough one, but I came through it on the other side," he told the outlet.

As noted by The Telegraph, Hall's experience led to him being desensitized to the gory aspects of his role on "CSI." For instance, he was once asked to assist with IRL autopsy prep and didn't flinch.

Andrew Prine was suspected of murder

Veteran actor Andrew Prine guest starred in "Grave Danger," the Emmy-nominated Season 5 finale of "CSI." Additionally, he has appeared in numerous other TV shows, such as "Bonanza," "Six Feet Under," and "Boston Legal." Although an esteemed actor, he has a rather shady past.

In 1963, actor Karyn Kupcinet was found murdered in her apartment, aged 22, per The Times of Northwest Indiana. At the time of her death, which occurred just days after John F. Kennedy's assassination, Kupcinet was dating Prine, making him suspect number one. Karyn's father, gossip columnist Irv "Kup" Kupcinet, fought to get Prine convicted of his daughter's murder, attempts that proved fruitless.

As noted by The Chicago Tribune, Prine admitted that he and Karyn had been arguing in the lead-up to her murder. Indeed, the case got even messier when police discovered that Karyn had been faking death threat letters, which she addressed to herself and Prine in an effort to bring them closer. According to Karyn's diary entries, she wanted to marry Prine, but he was seeing other women, per Chicago Magazine. "He just thought he was the greatest thing that ever happened," her aunt, Kari, said. Subsequently, Karyn's mom, Essee Kupcinet, strongly believed that Prine killed her daughter and made sure that word got out about this theory. Prine's career suffered as a result and he was reduced to bit parts. Although he was questioned by police, Prine was never arrested. As of this writing, the murder remains unsolved.

Ted Danson cheated on his wife with another star

Ted Danson joined the cast of "CSI" in Season 12, playing crime scene supervisor D.B. Russell following Laurence Fishburne's departure, per The Washington Post. With his personable performance on the long-running series, along with his iconic depiction of lovable womanizer Sam Malone on "Cheers" and, more recently, as Michael on "The Good Place," Danson has always appeared relatively contention-free. But in the '90s he was embroiled in a major controversy that would no doubt blow up gossip forums if it happened today.

In 1979, Danson's then wife, Casey, suffered a stroke during childbirth and half of her body was left completely paralyzed, per People. Thereafter, Danson became her full-time carer. Although Casey eventually made a recovery, she was left with a limp. But when he was still married to Casey, Danson embarked on an affair with Whoopi Goldberg, per "Cheers TV Show." The couple first met in 1990 during an appearance on "The Arsenio Hall Show" and quickly became smitten. At the time, Danson had been working on his marriage and he and Casey became closer, which made the infidelity all the more painful for her. Discovering the affair, Casey became deeply depressed and was hospitalized.

In 1995, two years after divorcing Danson, Casey opened up about the distress the affair caused her. "I was devastated, torn apart, and grievously wounded," she told Weekly World News. "Life became unbearable. My daughters were chased by photographers between our home and their school. I was furious with Ted."

Jorja Fox's mysterious gag order

Temperamental forensic scientist Sara Sidle, played by Jorja Fox, was often deemed one of the most disliked characters on "CSI." "Sara is socially awkward and stands by her guns no matter what. That can be grating to people," Fox told Entertainment Weekly. "She never cared that much about being popular. She cared about getting to the truth of things." Truth may have been paramount for Sara, but when Fox was younger she was barred from speaking the truth, something she deeply regrets.

Speaking with The Chicago Tribune, Fox revealed her "worst moment" in which she was coerced into signing a gag order. At the time, she was working for a company, which she couldn't name for legal reasons, and discovered something unsettling. "I was invited to never talk about something for the rest of my life... I just happened to be privy to information that sort of challenged or maybe brought into question an accepted narrative and an accepted truth," she explained. "And I was someone who would have been able to speak against that narrative." 

Fox admitted that the gag order was her biggest regret in life. The actor said she feared repercussions had she not signed an NDA, but believed she would have acted differently with the maturity and wisdom she has since gained. "So I try to be kind to myself and think, yeah, I was young. And didn't have a lot, but at the same time I had a lot to lose," she added.

Gary Dourdan's frequent legal woes

As with his "CSI" character Warrick Brown, actor Gary Dourdan has had to contend with numerous personal demons. In 2008, Dourdan departed the series, but the reason for his exit was shrouded in secrecy, per Entertainment Weekly. That year, the actor was arrested on drug charges, though it's unknown whether this was related to him being written out of the show. As People reported, Dourdan pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and ecstasy and was put in a drug treatment program. Though he said he was grateful for the opportunity to seek help, his legal woes did not end there.

Three years later, he was arrested in Los Angeles for a DUI. Per The Star, he was in possession of the opioid oxycontin after crashing into two parked cars. Shortly after, TMZ reported that he faced foreclosure on his house, owing $61,558.90 in overdue mortgage repayments. The following year, he pleaded no contest to domestic violence, but he denied claims that he broke his girlfriend's nose, per E! News. "I have been waiting a long time and I haven't had a voice," Dourdan told the outlet. "It has been rough, but [the public needs to get] all the right stuff. I did not do this."

By 2015, things took a turn for the worse. People obtained court documents that showed Dourdan was left with $904.35 in his bank account and just $84.50 in savings after filing for bankruptcy.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

George Eads allegedly fought with a pregnant woman

On "CSI," forensic investigator Nick Stokes was known for being an avowed empath among a cast of characters who had become thoroughly desensitized to the violence and mayhem they encountered on a daily basis. One of Stokes' most harrowing moments came in the Season 5 finale "Grave Danger" in which he had to escape being buried alive. In spite of the emotional gravitas he bestowed the character, George Eads' time on the series came to a surprisingly controversial end.

As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Eads was placed on leave after apparently getting into an altercation with one of the show's writers, the latter of whom was pregnant at the time. The actor was reportedly dissatisfied with the direction his character was headed. As a result, he allegedly fought with the writer, though it is unclear whether it was a physical or verbal altercation. Eads denied that the altercation ever happened, with his rep stating, "He has nothing but the greatest respect for the creative and professional choices of the producers and writers that are behind CSI." It was later confirmed that he would miss a number of episodes following the incident, with his role on the series heavily diminished in Season 15.

While his character returned to the series, albeit sparingly, his days were numbered. A year later, Eads exited "CSI" once and for all. At the time, he was the last remaining original cast member on the show.

Wallace Langham assaulted a gay man

Four years prior to scoring his role as germaphobic technician David Hodges on "CSI," actor Wallace Langham was arrested for assaulting a gay reporter. According to The New York Post, Langham got into a physical fight with a reporter for the tabloid Star after the latter allegedly made disparaging remarks about Langham's girlfriend's tattoos. Langham allegedly used homophobic slurs during the altercation, and the unnamed reporter required hospitalization. At the time of the incident, Langham was portraying a gay character on the Kirstie Alley sitcom "Veronica's Closet."

Subsequently, Langham was charged with committing a hate crime, though his reps denied that he was motivated by homophobia. "This incident was the furthest thing from a hate crime," his rep claimed. "He also believes that it is despicable for an individual to provoke a fight and then characterize it as a hate crime in order to leverage the incident for his personal financial gain."

Per The Los Angeles Times, Langham pleaded no contest to battery and was ordered to undergo 450 hours of community service at LGBT charities. He had to give The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center $10,000 and also paid the victim $5,400. Having enjoyed a prosperous television career thereafter, Langham appears to have successfully buried his past hate crime arrest.

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

A CSI alum impersonated a cop to assault a woman

Douglas Brian Irvin Jr. had a minor role as a police officer on two episodes of "CSI," per IMDb. However, his budding acting career would be cut short when life sinisterly imitated art. Shortly after appearing on "CSI" in 2011, Irvin Jr. was arrested for pretending to be a police officer as a means of sexually assaulting a woman.

According to reports, he acted inappropriately with a masseuse, purporting that he would give her $10,000 if she had sex with him, per ABC News. After refusing to wear a condom, he showed the masseuse a fake police ID badge, warning her that she would get arrested if she refused to have sex with him. Realizing that Irvin Jr. was a fraud, the victim went to the police and he was swiftly arrested. She stated that the bit-part actor was eerily believable when pretending to be a cop. Subsequently, he faced five counts of sexual assault and impersonating a cop. As noted by The Las Vegas Sun, Irvin Jr. claimed that his police ID card was from his role on "CSI."

According to The Sentinel-Tribune, Irvin Jr. was sentenced to jail a decade later for various sex crimes, including acts of child abuse. He denied all charges and his lawyer stated he was seeking to appeal.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Brandon Jones was jailed for weapons offenses

Baby-faced Brandon Jones didn't exactly look the part of an alleged murderer when he played Charlie Russell on "CSI." Likewise, the cherubic actor, who also appeared on "Pretty Little Liars," certainly didn't seem like he'd be embroiled in some pretty serious weapons offenses IRL. But that's exactly what happened in 2016 when Jones was arrested for threatening his neighbor with a gun. The Los Angeles Times reports that he was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three years of probation for the offenses. He was also ordered to attend anger management classes.

The incident arose when Jones and his girlfriend found drug paraphernalia in their trash, supposedly planted by their neighbor, and returned the bag. Thereafter, Jones was confronted by the neighbor and the actor retaliated by getting out a gun. His rep gave a statement to TMZ, claiming, "It is our understanding that the gun in Mr. Jones' possession was fully legal and registered, that he was on his girlfriend's private property, and that he and his girlfriend felt that they were under threat in a dispute with neighbors."

But that wasn't his only weapons offense. In a separate incident, he brandished a knife and a gun at a different neighbor, per People. Since serving his sentence, he has struggled to salvage his career, appearing in bit parts in "Empire" and the little-known short film "Boy Eats Girl: A Zombie Love Story," per his IMDb page.

Jaclyn Smith's stepson was murdered

Best known for her role as Kelly Garrett on "Charlie's Angels," Jaclyn Smith appeared on "CSI" as David Hodges' mom, Olivia. Sadly, her own family life away from the cameras has been clouded by tragedy. In 1978, Smith wed fellow actor Dennis Cole, who had a son, Joe Cole, from a previous relationship, per People.

Tragically, Joe was murdered in 1991. A roadie for hardcore punk band Black Flag, Joe and the group's frontman, Henry Rollins, were held at gunpoint by robbers, who stole $40 before shooting Joe dead, per the Los Angeles Times. He was 30. Per The Guardian, Joe was Rollins' best friend, and the singer himself narrowly avoided being killed, having missed the bullet that struck Joe. Per the book "Babes in Toyland," Smith faced scrutiny by the paparazzi following her stepson's murder.

In an article for Los Angeles Weekly, Rollins graphically described the bloody aftermath of Joe's death. "I went back to the front lawn of the house I was renting, where Joe Cole was killed," he wrote. "I had to clean up his remains before his parents arrived." Rollins blamed Joe's murder on American gun violence, as well as the prison industrial complex, arguing that the state pits people against each other, which breeds animosity and paranoia. The killers were never caught and the crime remains unsolved.

Annabella Sciorra was raped by Harvey Weinstein

Annabella Sciorra, who is famed for her roles in Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever" and "The Sopranos," appeared on "CSI" as Jim Brass' wife, per The Hollywood Reporter. But for years, she hid a dark secret.

When Ronan Farrow published his 2017 exposé on Harvey Weinstein's long history of abusing women, Sciorra contacted the journalist to reveal that she was one of the movie mogul's victims, per the New Yorker. Following an event for the 1993 film "The Night We Never Met," Weinstein arrived at Sciorra's apartment, forced his way inside the property, and raped her. She said she was made to feel ashamed and didn't tell anyone. Thereafter, Weinstein had her blacklisted from the industry. "From 1992, I didn't work again until 1995," she explained. "I just kept getting this pushback of 'we heard you were difficult, we heard this or that.' I think that that was the Harvey machine." He attempted to assault her on numerous other occasions once her career picked up.

During Weinstein's sexual assault trial, Sciorra was one of several women who testified. "I was punching him, kicking him... he raped me," she stated, per The New York Times. Weinstein was found guilty and sentenced to 23 years in prison. Following the trial, Sciorra conceded that while recalling her ordeal was traumatic, it was necessary in securing justice for Weinstein's innumerable victims. "We pave the way for a more just culture, free of the scourge of violence against women," she said, per The Guardian.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).