Parody star's parents die in Fallbrook
By: JO MORELAND - Staff Writer
FALLBROOK ---- The elderly parents of parody recording star "Weird Al" Yankovic were found dead of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning Friday in their modest Fallbrook home.
An investigator from the county medical examiner's office identified the couple as Nick and Mary Yankovic and said they lived in the house at 226 Foxfire Lane.
A blaze had been in a fireplace in the hillside house when three family members discovered the couple about 1 p.m., said sheriff's Sgt. Conrad Grayson, a fire investigator.
"The house was full of smoke when they opened the door," Grayson said. "We examined the fireplace. They were burning wood. They (family) had found the flue closed. They opened it."
Shocked neighbors on the rural one-block street on a green hillside described the Yankovics as "sweethearts," nice people who were proud of their son.
"Everybody who came to the neighborhood knew Nick," said John Buehman, who lives across the street. "They're going to be missed, big time."
Attempts to reach "Weird Al" Yankovic through his New York-based booking agency, BookingEntertainment.com, Friday were unsuccessful. The winner of the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album in 2003 for his "Poodle Hat" album was scheduled to appear in Appleton, Wis., on Friday as part of the tour for the album.
The Yankovics' relatives went to the house in this rural North County hamlet because they hadn't seen the couple for a while and they were concerned, Grayson said. Neighbors said Mary Yankovic's sisters live nearby.
When the relatives discovered the bodies, Grayson said, they called the authorities.
San Diego County sheriff's patrol Deputies Joe Hammer and Richard Berry and the North County Fire Protection District responded at 1:05 p.m. to a report of smoke inside the residence and two dead adults in the home.
Paramedics found 86-year-old Nick Yankovic in a chair in the front living room and his 81-year-old wife lying on the bathroom floor, authorities said.
Sheriff's fire investigators were called to investigate the incident and determine exactly what caused the smoke, Grayson said.
Joe Fedorchak, a neighbor and owner of Fallbrook's popular El Jardin Restaurant, said the couple were "very sweet people."
"They were not particularly active in the community in recent years," Fedorchak said. "Nick just loved being outdoors enjoying nature and his little fruit garden."
Mary Yankovic liked to garden and work with plants, but had not been able to do much in the last few months, he said. Buehman said she has not been well recently.
"They were just really enjoying their retirement and having a quiet life," Fedorchak said.
The Yankovics had lived at the little house for more than a dozen years.
The two-bedroom, one-bathroom home was built in 1978 and its registered owner is a T.R. Yankovic, according to property records. It was previously listed in the name of Nick and Mary Yankovic.
"He would always tell me when and where his son was performing," Buehman said about Nick Yankovic. "Very proud of his son. He was always joking around. That's probably where Alfred got his sense of humor."
Known to his parents as Alfred Matthew Yankovic, the man the world knows as "Weird Al" Yankovic was born in 1959 in Lynwood, a suburb of Los Angeles. Buehman said the family lived there after Army veteran Nick Yankovic became a civilian.
"I know he was very proud of his duty in World War II," Buehman said. "Their son was a caring son, too. He would have a limousine come pick them up for film shoots."
He said Nick Yankovic was "so tickled" when his son married in 2001 "and he was going to have grandchildren." Granddaughter Nina Yankovic was born in February 2003.
"Nick said he'd waited a long time (for grandchildren)," said Buehman. "Nick was someone that everybody in the neighborhood knew and liked. When you met him, you just fell in love with him.
"He'd say, 'What a beautiful day. It's so nice to be alive.' I'd say, 'Nick, you're going to live a long time.' "
Staff writers Mark Walker and Anne Riley-Katz contributed to this story.