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Actress June Fairchild, who was memorable as the Ajax Lady in Cheech and Chong’s 1978 comedy Up in Smoke before her career – and her life — quickly unraveled, has died. She was 68.
Fairchild, who is given credit for coming up with the unusual name for the band Three Dog Night, died Tuesday of liver cancer at a Los Angeles convalescent home, her friend told the Los Angeles Times.
She battled drug and alcohol addictions as her acting career fell apart and spent time on skid row living in a cardboard box in Los Angeles, the newspaper reported in 2002. She spent her final years in downtown hotels getting by on Social Security disability payments, the Times said.
A prom queen from Manhattan Beach, Calif., Fairchild played a party girl who mistakes Ajax cleanser for cocaine and rapidly snorts lines of the powdery stuff off a paper plate in Up in Smoke.
Earlier, she was one of the comely high school students targeted by an unknown serial killer in Roger Vadim’s Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971), starring Rock Hudson and Angie Dickinson.
Fairchild also appeared in two films written by Jack Nicholson: The Monkees’ comedy Head (1968) and Drive, He Said (1971), a basketball movie that Nicholson also directed. She was in director Michael Cimino’s first film, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), starring Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges, and showed up in Sextette (1978), which was to be her — and Mae West’s — final feature.
Fairchild was the live-in girlfriend of singer Danny Hutton, and, according to commentary included with the 1993 CD set Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Story, 1965–1975, suggested the name for the band after reading an article about indigenous Australians.
She learned that on cold nights, these Australians would sleep in a hole with a dingo (a wild dog) to keep warm. They would need two dogs if it were colder, and if were really cold, then that would be a “three dog night,” Fairchild explained.
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