Rod Lauren was an American singer and actor who had a brief career in the 1960s. He is best known for his hit song “If I Had a Girl” and his role in the horror film The Crawling Hand. He was also the husband of Nida Blanca, a famous Filipino actress who was brutally murdered in 2001. Lauren was the prime suspect in her killing, but he fled to the United States and avoided extradition. He died by suicide in 2007, leaving behind many unanswered questions.
A One-Hit Wonder and a B-Movie Star
Rod Lauren was born as Roger Lawrence Strunk in Fresno, California, on March 20, 1941. He started his career as a singer, recording several songs for RCA Victor. His biggest hit was “If I Had a Girl”, which reached #31 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1960. He performed the song twice on The Ed Sullivan Show that year.
He also ventured into acting, appearing in several TV shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Combat!, and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. His most notable film was The Crawling Hand (1963), a low-budget sci-fi horror movie that featured a severed hand that came to life and killed people. The film was later mocked on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
A Love Story and a Tragedy
In 1968, Lauren went to the Philippines to star in a war film called Once Before I Die, directed by John Derek. There, he met Nida Blanca, one of the most popular and respected actresses in the country. Blanca had starred in dozens of films since the 1950s, mostly comedies and musicals. She was also a TV star, known for her long-running sitcom John en Marsha.
The two fell in love and got married in Las Vegas in 1979. They settled in Manila, where Lauren continued to work as an actor and singer. Blanca also pursued her career, becoming a member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, a government agency that regulates film and TV content.
On November 7, 2001, Blanca was found dead in the back seat of her car in a parking lot in San Juan City. She had been stabbed 13 times and beaten. Her death shocked the nation and sparked a massive investigation. The police soon identified Lauren as the mastermind behind the murder, alleging that he had hired a hitman to kill his wife because she had disinherited him from her will. Blanca had an estimated net worth of ₱85 million, including properties in the Philippines and the United States.
Lauren denied any involvement in the crime and claimed that he loved his wife dearly. He also accused the police of framing him and planting evidence. He fled to the United States and successfully fought extradition to the Philippines to face trial. He maintained his innocence until his death.
A Suicide and a Mystery
Lauren’s suicide left many questions unanswered about his role in Blanca’s murder. The Philippine authorities never closed the case and continued to pursue other suspects, including the alleged hitman and some former police officers. However, none of them were ever convicted and the case remains unsolved.
Rod Lauren’s cause of death was a suicide, but his motive and his involvement in his wife’s murder remain a mystery. He was a singer and an actor who had a brief moment of fame and a tragic end. He was also the husband of Nida Blanca, a beloved star who was brutally killed. Rod Lauren cause of death is a sad and puzzling story that haunts his fans and friends to this day.