Every body has a story.
Every body has a story.
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August 17, 1968—February 16, 2010
PLEASE NOTE: This article contains information about a mental health issue. This article was researched and written by a journalist, not a licensed medical professional. DO NOT consider any information included in this article as medical advice or an acceptable substitute for consultation with a doctor about any health concern.
Content warning: this article contains potentially disturbing content, including references to death, depression, oppression, and the ultimate self-harm. Please use your best judgment as to whether you wish to read this content. Language is PG-13.
Joshua Andrew Koenig (you say KĀ-nig, I say KŌ-nig) was born on August 17, 1968, in Los Angeles, California, to parents Walter and Judy Levitt Koenig. Trekkies will recognize the name Walter Koenig as the actor who portrayed the youthful and chipper Pavel Chekov in the iconic 1964-1966 television series Star Trek (affiliate link). (If you don’t know what a Trekkie is, you’re probably not one.) Koenig became a brother in 1973, when his sister, Danielle, was born.
Koenig the younger achieved literary immortality before the age of ten. His father’s buddy, writer Harlan Ellison, used him as inspiration for his award-winning short story, Jeffty Is Five, first published in “The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction” in 1977. (Spoiler alert: Jeffty, too, comes to a premature and unhappy end.)
Ellison said of Koenig (when he was still called Josh):
I had been awed and delighted by Josh Koenig, and I instantly thought of just such a child who was arrested in time at the age of five. Jeffty, in no small measure, is Josh: the sweetness of Josh, the intelligence of Josh, the questioning nature of Josh.
Here are a few of the accolades the short story received—it won the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Short Story, 1978 Hugo Award for Best Short Story, 1978 Locus Award for Short Fiction, and 1979 British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story; it was nominated for the 1978 World Fantasy Award for Short Fiction and 1979 Balrog Award for Short Fiction.
With a father in “the business,” it’s not surprising that Koenig gave acting a shot at a young age. He performed in at least one stage play, “Falstaff,” in 1982. Besides that, he had a bit part on an Adam-12 episode when he was five (don’t blink or you’ll miss him—the fake baby got more screen time). He didn’t appear in another televised production until a dozen years later when he landed the role of Richard “Boner” Stabone, sidekick and co-conspirator of lead character Mike Seaver (played by Kirk Cameron), on the situation comedy Growing Pains (affiliate link).
Although the show ran from 1985 through 1992, for reasons unknown Koenig left the show in 1989. Perhaps the showrunners thought his character was getting stale and wanted to switch up the cast. (We can’t blame Leonardo DiCaprio for it, though—he didn’t join the series until 1991.)
Koenig got a few other television acting gigs during and after his four-season stint on Growing Pains; he guest starred in one episode each of My Sister Sam (1987), 21 Jump Street (1988), and My Two Dads (1989). It seems that he officially changed his professional name from Josh A. Koenig to Andrew Koenig sometime in the summer of 1987, between television “seasons.” From 1990-1991, he voiced two characters on the G.I. Joe cartoon series. Neither of the characters were the “stars” of the show, but he is credited as playing “Ambush” and/or “Night Creeper Leader” in 19 episodes. In 1993 he made a one-episode appearance on the hour-long series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (affiliate link), one of the many (so, so many) spin-offs of the show his father helped make a classic almost 30 years earlier.
He also tried his hand—successfully—at directing, writing, and editing. He also worked for? with? his brother-in-law on the podcast Never Not Funny, credited in 25 episodes as videographer.
When not working, Koenig devoted much of his free time to championing for the human rights of the people of Burma (now Myanmar), even getting arrested for protesting once or twice.
He had a long struggle with depression. He was open about it with his friends and family, and he sought treatment. About a year before his death, he stopped taking his medication. A few months later he started gifting his personal belongings to his friends and eventually gave up the lease to the apartment he had lived in for over a decade. His latter behavior might have been warning signs that his depression was getting worse, but sadly, many people with the illness become masters at hiding the severity of their condition.
In early February 2010, Koenig went to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He wasn’t the only one—Vancouver was hosting the Winter Olympics at the time, and the area was jam-packed with tourists. However, it does not appear that he was interested in viewing the games. He had an affinity for the city and had several friends who resided there. The friends he was visiting last saw him on February 14th. On February 16th, four significant things happened: Koenig missed his scheduled flight to California, he used his cell phone for the last time, he conducted banking for the last time, and his parents received a letter from him, which they described as having a “despondent tone.”
When no one had heard from him between then and the 18th, his family reported him missing. Shortly thereafter, some of his friends and family members organized search parties to look for Koenig in the places around Vancouver where they knew he liked to go. On the 25th of February, friends found him hanging from a tree in a wooded area of Vancouver’s Stanley Park. It was determined almost immediately that there was no foul play involved.
Koenig was cremated and interred in Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where he is resting amid many fellow entertainers, such as Don Adams (Agent Maxwell Smart of Get Smart); Mel Blanc (voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and many other characters, both alliterative and not); actors Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.; Judy Garland (The Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy) and her little dog, too (“Toto’s” [real name Terry] cenotaph); Estelle Getty (Sophia on The Golden Girls); two original members of rock/punk band The Ramones, guitarist Johnny and bassist Dee Dee; actor and centerfold Burt Reynolds; and actor and serial-groom Mickey Rooney. That place is a veritable who’s who of who’s dead.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or addiction, please call your regional or national substance abuse and mental health helpline. In the United States, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s 24/7 National Helpline is 1-800-662-HELP (4357).