Pearl Courson was born in Chicago in 1923, she met Columbus ‘Corky’ Courson who was an officer in the Navy during which time they traveled the world before settling in Weed, California and raised daughters Judith and Pamela. Pearl also known as ‘Penny’ had an artistic flair, she was a ‘connoisseur of the arts’ and worked as an interior designer. Her daughter Pam, who later opened the Los Angeles boutique Themis may have inherited her mother’s artistic streak.
Pam Courson met Jim Morrison in Los Angeles while The Doors were still a small band playing dive bars on the Sunset Strip. Though Courson’s and Morrison’s relationship was tumultuous, both had other intimate affairs and experimented freely with drugs. Courson’s and Morrison’s relationship weathered his fame as a rock ‘n’ roll star and they remained together until Morrison’s death in Paris in July 1971. Morrison left his entire estate to Courson, when Pam died in 1974 the estate went to Courson’s parents.
After a brief legal battle with Morrison’s parents over the estate the Courson’s retained the rights to Jim Morrison’s poetry and they worked with The Doors, Jim Morrison’s producer of choice for his poetry album John Haeny, and Frank Lisciandro to produce the 1978 album of Morrison’s poetry “An American Prayer.” In the late 80’s the Courson’s again worked with Lisciandro to release two books of Morrion’s poetry “Wilderness” and “The American Night.”
In later years the Coursons became staunch defenders of their daughter’s memory. One of conditions for the use of Jim Morrison’s poetry in Oliver Stone’s “The Doors” was that the movie project Pamela’s character in a positive manner. In more recent years though they have refused requests to release any more of Morrison’s writing. Those close to them were unsure as to why.
Columbus Courson died in 2008 at age 90. Pearl will buried next to her husband of 64 years. She is survived by her daughter Judith Courson Burton, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held August 16th in Santa Barbara. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Jim Morrison Film Award at UCLA, or the Santa Barbara Hospice which helped Courson in her final years.
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