Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Shroud of Mystery Behind Thomas Ince's Death- Part 2

Ince and his wife w/ kids
As previously mentioned in Part 1 of "A Shroud of Mystery Behind Thomas Ince's Death,"  I wrote about the possible scenarios that may have transpired the night that Ince fell "ill" aboard W.R. Hearst's yacht on November 16, 1924. Could it have been that Ince was shot by Hearst himself, while in a jealous rage after seeing Chaplin and Davies together? Could it have been that Hearst mistook Ince for Chaplin when he pulled the trigger?

What about a possible fight between Chaplin and Hearst? Could the gun have went off accidentally and the innocent bystander in the middle, Ince, was shot fatally? Or what about the whole theory that included Abigail Kinsolving and her illigitimate child that she claimed was the product of rape by none other than Ince, that very night? So many possible scenarios, so many possible motives.

Needless to say, most people believe Ince was shot that night, and that he did not die from heart failure brought on by indigestion from eating salted almonds and alcohol. But if Ince was shot, and the guests aboard the yacht were aware of this, how did Hearst manage to keep everyone quiet after all these years?

 "Give Her An Ince, She'll Take A Whole Column"- Louella Parsons

The First Lady of Hollywood, or so some writers say, Louella Parsons claimed to have invented "celebrity gossip" from the very beginning. Personally after looking into this woman, you can thank Louella Parsons for all the terrible tabloid writers out there today (ex; TMZ, National Enquirer, etc) for I am sure she is their God (or Goddess). Louella started working for Essenay Studios in Chicago  as a"scenario editor," and later she went on to write about stars and their movies at the Chicago Tribune.  When W.R. Hearst bought the Chicago Tribune, Louella was out of a job. So she moved to New York and began writing a small column in the New York Morning Telegraph, writing about celebrities and movies once again. She caught Hearst's eye when she wrote a very flattering piece about Marion Davies (then Hearst's mistress). There is no doubt in my mind that Louella knew what she was doing. It's obvious she knew about Marion being Hearst's mistress, and perhaps due to the fact the media did not seem to pick up on Davies talent in the press, Louella seized the opportunity of a lifetime, giving Davies publicity that she knew one person in particular would notice, Hearst!

Once Hearst saw that Parsons was overly gracious about building up the talent and beauty of Miss Davies, Hearst called her out to work for him. She first started a small article for one of Hearst's papers, The New York American in 1923. The weekend of Ince's death she had been invited to Hollywood on her very first trip to California. Isn't it interesting that upon her return to New York, after Ince's death, Louella Parsons had signed a lifetime contract with Hearst writing for the Los Angeles Examiner and basically had his backing on any and everything the wrote from that point on?

Knowing the "Chief" had her back, Louella started her infamous writing career as a "Celebrity Gossip Journalist"- becoming one of the most hated people in all of Hollywood, although it was said that her talent was lacking as a true journalist. In fact, her tenacity and drive to out scoop other writers with scandalous gossip seemed to be the force she used to stay ahead of the curve, because she was not an eloquent writer at all. It was obvious that Louella was certainly more about quantity (of readers) and less about the quality of her work.  Well known to over embellish stories to fit her needs, Louella could make a story much worse than it was by adding more fuel to the fire to ruin a reputation or two if she chose to.

On the other hand, if she liked someone, she would build them up in the public eye, making them owe her a favor. In turn she would later use them as informants to retrieve secret inside Hollywood gossip that no one else knew about. She could basically make or break someone's career in Hollywood at her own disposal which made crossing Parsons a very dangerous thing to do in Hollywood. After signing the lifetime contract with Hearst, Louella's articles went from appearing in a few newspapers to over six hundred newspapers the world over, with a readership of more than twenty-million people.

Anyone with any common sense can see that there was a dramatic change in Parsons' career after Ince's death. I find it also interesting that Davies denied that Parsons was aboard, although there were witnesses at the studio who stated they saw both Davies and Parsons together just before leaving to board the Oneida that weekend. Also, why did Parsons' deny having been to California at all, when she knew very well that people saw her in California? It's obvious that as long as Davies and Parsons obeyed whatever W.R. Hearst told them to say, he protected them and took care of them, financially of course.

The Grieving Widow- Elinor Ince 

And what about "Nell" or Elinor Ince, Thomas' wife? According to the many books and articles online, it states that Elinor was given a "trust fund" from Hearst soon after the death of her husband. Many also claim that Nell and her sons rushed to Europe right after the death of her husband to avoid the scandal or gossip that followed his death. They go on to say she never remarried and lived out her life in poverty after the Depression hit and all her money was gone. Other writers go on to add that Elinor ended up a taxi driver and died penniless. I have yet to see any proof of this, only writer after writer copying and pasting the same pathetic sentences. I mean, come on! Doesn't anyone actually do research anymore or what?!

Dias Dorados Estate
Soon after Ince's death, Elinor Ince DID NOT board a steam liner to Europe as many claim. Instead, Nell went immediately back to work at her husbands studio to make sure that contracts were kept and that everything remained on schedule all the way up until the Spring of 1925. It was then that she and her sons traveled to Europe for a much needed trip.

Hearst did help Nell financially, how much in the amount of money, it is unsure to say. In 1927, Nell sold her "Dias Dorados" home in Benedict Canyon (where Ince died) to Carl Laemmle for the amount of $650,000. (** Interesting note: Upon selling the home they discovered that Ince had secret passageways in the attic where he could peep into each guest room from the ceiling to spy on his guests). Nell then began the construction of the celebrity residential apartments known as The Villa Carlotta Apartments, that sat just across the street from her other home on Franklin Avenue.

Villa Carlotta Apartments
It was speculated that Hearst funded Nell for both the Villa Carlotta and the Chateau Elysee, an even more upscale luxury long-term residential hotel and apartment house for movie stars, that she built on top of the land where her home previously sat on Franklin Avenue. It is no secret that once the Villa Carlotta opened its doors that none other than Louella Parsons' moved right in and stayed one of the longest residents at the building. It was even said that Parsons got married in the lobby of the building. In it's heyday, the Chateau Elysee was famously known for housing stars like George Burns, Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, Bette Davis and Clark Gable.

Around 1930 Elinor ignored the will of her late husband when she married English actor, Holmes Herbert, forfeiting her share of her husbands estate. Instead, she was only subject to receive a share in the "interest" of the estate, while the remainder of the estate was divided between her three sons. It could have been at this time that Hearst stepped in and financially helped her, or perhaps she had so much money already from Hearst's help years prior that forfeiting her share in her late husband's estate was of no concern to her. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? By 1934, Nell had divorced, leaving her single once again, but she maintained busy running both the Chateau Elysee and Villa Carlotta.

Chateau Elysee
Elinor later sold the Chateau Elysee in 1942 and the Villa Carlotta in 1953 to Glen Wallich, co-founder of Capitol Records. By that time Elinor was 69 years of age. I am sure she was not in any position to work, nor did she really need to work if she had sold both properties. Elinor died at the age of 86 in her sleep after a series of minor strokes. She had lived a good life, she DID NOT die penniless like many writers claim.

The book, "Thomas Ince: Hollywood's Independent Pioneer" by Brian Taves writes that in Elinor's last years that Elinor was "active in preventive medicine, following an athletic regimen of swimming, horseback riding, and tennis that helped keep her healthy to almost the end of her life." Now I don't know about you, but do you really think a penniless taxi driver could afford to play tennis, go horseback riding or use preventive medicine to elongate her life?

The book goes on to mention that she was a very generous charitable contributor, although she always wished to remain anonymous in which charities she donated to. Towards the end, Elinor suffered from back deterioration but remained mentally active by reading regularly and keeping up with current events. And as noted above, Elinor died in her sleep on September 12, 1971.

 Hearst As White As A Ghost!

So will we ever know what transpired the night of November 16th, 1924? Probably not. We are only left to speculate based on the information that has been circulating all these years. It was said by D.W. Griffith years after Thomas Ince's death,All you have to do to make Hearst turn white as a ghost is mention Ince’s name. There’s plenty wrong there, but Hearst is too big to touch.
Hollywood knew that Hearst was the "Chief" with all the control of the media, so if he wanted something covered up, it would happen.  The movie Citizen Kane by Orson Welles seemed to be about the life of W.R. Hearst and some believe that it could possibly be a clue about many hidden things in the real life of Hearst himself. As most of us know, some of the biggest secrets are hidden in plain sight. And if you look into it, Hearst threatened the studio when he learned of the film, while his press henchman (or woman) Louella Parsons attacked Welles even worse after she realized that she had been tricked by Welles, after he assured her that the story was about a rich dead man. Believing Welles, Parsons praised Welles' directorial efforts and the movie itself prior to the movie coming out. But soon after learning the truth about the storyline of the film, Parsons realized the movie was too similar to her boss' life, she went on the war path after Orson Welles to the point the studio had to fight to even get the picture released. Could there have been a hidden clue in the movie that could tell us something about Ince's death? Or maybe other hidden secrets that Hearst would stop at nothing to keep hidden?

The Mystery Remains- Where Are Ince's Remains?

Thomas Ince will forever be remembered for the odd and mysterious way that he died, and sadly not remembered for the contributions he made to Hollywood. He was a Director, Screenwriter, Producer and even an silent film actor. He was the "Father of the Western," and pioneered in creating over 100 films, making him a movie studio mogul. He established the very first modern film studio naming it "Inceville."

The studio was the first of its kind, featuring offices, stages, labs, dressing rooms, commissaries, prop houses, and elaborate sets all in one convenient location. He also established  Triangle Studios based out of Culver City, wherein he set forth the precedent to combine production, distribution, and theater operations under one roof.

He died quite wealthy, with newspapers reporting that his fortune was worth somewhere between $1,600,000.00- $4,000,000.00 in 1924.

Ince's funeral was held there at the Chapel at Hollywood Memorial Cemetery on November 21st, 1924 and that soon after his body was cremated.  For years people have wondered where Ince's remains are, whether family kept them or if he was interred somewhere secretly.

There were rumors that Hollywood Memorial Cemetery had stored his remains in their vaults, keeping them forever hidden, but there is really no way to know for sure. Hollywood Memorial is now known as Hollywood Forever Cemetery. I had contacted Hollywood Forever Cemetery and spoke to Karie Bible (who works there.) Kare stated that Ince's remains were received by his family and remains in their possession. She also mentioned that not only was the funeral held for Ince at Hollywood Memorial but that the Egyptian Theater had a huge memorial service as well.

J'aime Rubio (copyright) 2013- Dreaming Casually via Hollywoodland Forever

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Shroud Of Mystery Behind Thomas Ince's Death- Part One

Thomas Ince
Not too many people know who Thomas Ince is, or was. Tragically his death overshadowed his legacy of being a true pioneer in the silent film industry. The few who are familiar with his story are usually at odds deciding on whether or not  his death was from "natural causes" or worse, if he was murdered. This story is one that is complex and filled with twists and turns at every corner. But for the truth seekers such as myself, it only added more fuel to the fire. The more I dug,the more I uncovered clues in regards to what really happened that night on the Oneida. After reading this story, I hope that you will put two and two together to see the story unravel right before your eyes. In the end, you will draw your own conclusions to this mystery and hopefully you will leave this page, satisfied with your opinions.

Birthday Invite Aboard W.R.'s Yacht!

Thomas Ince's name went down in history not for being a mogul the film industry, not for being the "Father of the Western" but rather for the fatal demise  that has been shrouded in mystery ever since he stepped foot on William Randolph Hearst's yacht, the Oneida, the weekend of November 15th, 1924. In fact, when the yacht left bound for San Diego from San Pedro that very day, Ince himself missed the initial departure and had to take a train to San Diego that following day, Sunday morning (the 16th) in order to board the yacht and enjoy the last day of the weekend with Hearst and his other companions on board.

Davies greeting Ince aboard the Oneida
"W.R." had invited Ince to share in the festivities of the weekend, even going so far as to plan a celebratory birthday dinner in honor of Ince on Sunday evening. Little is known about who actually was on board that evening. The guest list has changed a bit off an on over the years, but always the common denominators of the story remain:  William Randolph Hearst, Charlie Chaplin, Marion Davies, Louella Parsons, Thomas Ince, Margaret Livingston and of course Dr. Goodman always seem to be among those listed in every story.

According to the "official" records and reports, it states that the evening of Sunday, November 16th, that Thomas Ince grew ill from a bout of indigestion and had to be removed from the yacht in the night. According to Dr. Daniel Carson Goodman (a licensed though non-practicing physician) who was employed by Hearst as film production head, he claimed that he escorted Ince to San Diego where they boarded the train. By the time they hit Del Mar, Ince's condition had worsened so they got off the train and went to a hotel. Goodman contacted Ince's wife, Nell and told her to join them at the hotel where they called a doctor.  He eventually was moved to his Benedict Canyon home, (1051 Benedict Canyon Rd.) known as "Dias Dorados" where he eventually passed away on his wife's birthday, November 19th (which was a Wednesday, not a Tuesday as many claim). It is quite possible he died towards the early morning hours of November 19th, having had taken a turn for the worst Tuesday evening.  The idea that Thomas Ince fell ill to indigestion and later died from heart failure has always been scrutinized over the years. In fact, there are just too many conflicting reports in regards to that scenario, that it raises suspicion even more.

Other Theories:

Secret Affair & A Case Of Mistaken Identity

Swanson, Chaplin & Davies
The most popular of rumors was that Hearst invited Charlie Chaplin as one of his guests that weekend to observe Chaplin with Hearst's mistress, actress Marion Davies. The rival newspapers of Hearst's empire had published accounts just a week prior to the trip, stating that Davies and Chaplin were seen together in an inappropriate manner. Perhaps Hearst, wanting to see for himself, had invited Chaplin to find out if the rumors were true. He had to know if his beloved mistress Marion was being unfaithful or not.

As the rumor goes, Chaplin and Davies had been seen by Hearst below deck conversing, eventually Chaplin left his hat and retreated back to his stateroom for the night. In a jealous rage, Hearst went back to his stateroom and retrieved his diamond studded revolver (that he was most famously known for shooting down seagulls with) and went back to where Davies and Chaplin had been seated.

Somewhere during W.R.'s stroll to retrieve his gun, Ince had got up and found Davies alone. What they were talking about is unknown to this day, but the outcome proved to be fatal. Some rumors state Ince picked up Chaplin's hat and put it on as a joke to Davies as they sat there chatting. Mistaken for Chaplin, Hearst shot Ince in the back of the head. Feeling so overcome by guilt for shooting the wrong person, Hearst swore everyone on the yacht to secrecy (probably "buying them off") and covered the whole story over.

Another theory in regards to the whole Chaplin-Davies-Hearst love triangle was that there was a fight and that Hearst flat out shot at Chaplin and missed, while the bullet some say exited out of a porthole and struck Ince in the forehead while he was strolling on deck. Another says Ince was trying to break up the fight between Chaplin and Hearst while the gun went off, striking him in the head. No matter which theory you choose out of this category, Hearst remains the shooter in these scenarios.

The Incidence of Rape and Self Defense

Another quite messy scenario is that of an unknown character, Abigail Kinsolving. Miss Kinsolving happened to be Miss Davies Secretary, and from most stories she is not among those listed as being aboard the Oneida that night. However, apparently through the Hollywood gossip circuit, the story claims that Abigail was raped by Ince aboard Hearst's yacht and that she shot him in self defense or even quite possibly stabbed him in the head. Another report states that she only admitted to being raped by Ince, but never mentioned anything about how he died, or even if the death was related to her rape.

Margaret Livingston, Ince's mistress
Stories go on to state that Abigail became pregnant from that incident and gave birth to a daughter, Louise just months later. As you know, a pregnancy takes an entire nine months. So for her to give birth just a "few months" later sounds fishy to me. Also, the reports claim that Ince raped her on Saturday night, the 15th of November.

That is impossible, Ince didn't even board the Oneida until Sunday morning (the 16th) in San Diego because he had been busy at the premiere of  "The Mirage" and an ongoing production deal he was negotiating with Hearst's International Film Corporation. So if Abigail claimed to have been raped by Ince on the 15th aboard the Oneida, then that was a lie.

Now, if she wanted to claim that Ince was the father of her baby, whom I am now assuming that she was already "expecting" long before stepping foot on the Oneida that evening, perhaps she was enraged with jealousy when she saw that Hearst had invited Ince's mistress, Margaret Livingston. Was Abigail also one of Ince's mistresses? Given the circumstances, and her "delicate condition" I could imagine that she was beyond livid at that point.

As we all know the saying:

Heav'n has no rage like love to hatred turn'd
Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorn'd.- 
(act III of William Congreve's The Mourning Bride, 1697)

There are so many possibilities to the scenarios behind the Abigail Kinsolving theory. If she was in fact having a sexual relationship with Ince prior to this yacht trip, she could have confided in him that she was pregnant with his child and he could have said it wasn't his, or that he wouldn't leave his wife for her. Perhaps she was just a "fling" to Ince, although it might have meant much more to her. Again, there really is no way to know if Ince was secretly seeing Abigail or not, but had she really been pregnant with his child and became so enraged at the sight of Ince with Livingston, or upset that Ince refused to acknowledge her pregnancy, perhaps she lost it that night and she shot him herself.

It would be very easy for her to claim rape to Hearst, given the fact he was quite the conservative and would have swept that whole thing under the rug for an innocent victim, and even more so for a woman. Also, think about this, Marion Davies was everything to Hearst. Abigail was Davies Secretary, she spent a lot of time with Davies, so she probably spent a lot of time with Hearst. He would have been well aware that a scandal of that magnitude would have ruined Davies' career and brought a never ending rainstorm of unflattering publicity to Hearst as well if it made the papers. 

Hearst would do anything for Davies, he created Cosmopolitan Pictures just for her, so that she could star in all the films. If he would do that for her, he would cover over anything if it meant protecting her image.
I also find it interesting that Abigail died shortly after giving birth to Louise. Her body was found among the wreckage of an auto accident near "La Cuesta Encantada"-- Hearst's Ranch in San Simeon. Allegedly, Hearst's bodyguards discovered her body, where they also found a suicide note.

Many speculated that the note was written by two different people, given the two distinct sets of handwriting on the note. Upon looking into this further, I have read that some people with "variable personalities" have been known to write with two distinct sets of handwriting. Some go from cursive to print, which is actually quite normal. While others can change styles completely which could mean something a little more complex. Could this have been a clue that Abigail had a split personality? Could she have been mentally ill? Did she really kill herself? Or was her death another unsolved mystery forever lurking in the shadows of W.R. Hearst? Unfortunately, we have no idea what the note said or what it looked like, as I am sure it was destroyed long ago. So there is no way to determine whether both sets of writing were from Abigail, or someone else. As the story goes, after Abigail died, Marion Davies quickly took Louise and placed her in an orphanage that Davies financially supported, making sure Louise would be taken care of.

Patricia Van Cleve (Hearst's daughter)
More proof of Hearst's capability to cover over or conceal secrets was one he held on to the grave. For many years Marion Davies claimed that the young blonde that would occasionally visit the Ranch in San Simeon was her "niece." However, as the years went on and secrets were whispered, this girl claimed to be the "love child" of Davies and Hearst. It is unknown when she was born, sometime between 1920-1923 but according to the Lake family, Marion gave the child to her sister Rose to raise after the loss of her own baby, while Hearst saw to it that she was financially cared for. On her death bed, Patricia Van Cleve Lake claimed that Marion Davies confided to her when she was 11 years old, and was told to keep her mouth shut about it. Even on her wedding day, six years after Davies had told her, Hearst  himself took her aside and told her that he was her real father and embraced her.

Patricia claimed that she had to pretend as if she didn't know, in order to make sure Hearst thought the secret had never been spoken prior to that day. Even after he admitted it to her, she knew that the charade was not over, in her entire life neither one of her biological parents could ever publicly acknowledge that she was their daughter, even if she knew they were her parents. Upon her deathbed, Patricia made sure that the world knew the real truth, she wanted to leave this world with the secret revealed. It makes you wonder, that if Hearst could hide a love child, what else could he hide?

Several historians have claimed to have dis-proven this theory by divorce records of  Rose and George, showing the constant animosity and fighting for custody of Patricia but there really is no way to know for sure who the girls parents were without DNA testing. Adoptive parents fight over their children all the time, plus the fact they had lost a child in death once, they may have been holding on to Patricia with all their might, regardless of whether she was biologically theirs or not. Whether it was George Van Cleeve and Rosemary Douras who parented her or Marion Davies and Hearst, the mystery will always remain.

No Autopsy

According to the papers, Wednesday morning's edition of the Los Angeles Times revealed a headline,
"MOVIE PRODUCER SHOT ON HEARST'S YACHT!"- but by the afternoon edition, that headline had been pulled, with any other information in regards to Ince's injuries.  One of Hearst's own papers published a headline reading "SPECIAL CAR RUSHES STRICKEN MAN HOME FROM RANCH."

Timeline of Events
In fact, at first Hearst wanted the public to think that Ince was actually at his Ranch in San Simeon, and that he was rushed home when he fell ill. When the rumors got out that people knew he had boarded the Oneida that Sunday morning, the papers had to backpedal there story and change it quickly. Then the story claimed that Ince fell ill due to ulcers and indigestion and later caused him a heart attack.

When Ince died at his home in Benedict Canyon, his personal Physician Dr. Glasgow signed the death certificate stating the cause of death was "heart failure." Ince was shot or became "ill" on Sunday evening (16th) and departed from the yacht early Monday the 17th. He died on the 19th and his funeral took place just two days later on Friday the 21st.  Upon those present were Marion Davies, Charlie Chaplin, Ince's brothers Ralph and John, accompanied by Elinor Ince and her three sons William, Thomas and Richard. Several other celebrities and family friends attended while services were done in the Chapel at the Hollywood Cemetery. Hearst himself was not present, which calls to mind that if Ince really had become ill on board of Hearst's yacht, why not pay Ince the respect of attending his funeral...that is, if it really wasn't any fault of W.R.'s in the first place. Right?

Ince's remains were cremated immediately after the ceremony, but records state that it was an open casket ceremony at the funeral. It is interesting to note that according to the book, "Thomas Ince- Hollywood's Independent Pioneer" written by Brian Taves, he states that the Chief of Homicide in Los Angeles dispatched two officers (J.B. Fox and William Bright) to Strother and Dayton's Mortuary in Hollywood, where Ince's body was being prepared for his funeral. According to the book, both officers along with the studio manager Reeve Houck witnessed as he states "Dr. Day" (whose name in actuality was Dr. Dayton not Day) turned the body of Thomas Ince over to reveal nothing. No mark, no wounds, nothing to indicate death occurred from anything besides natural causes. Could it be?  It is always likely that cops were paid off but it does make you stop and wonder, is it possible that Ince did die from natural causes after all? But then again, we are talking about Hollywood here, and Hollywood is very capable of  making people forget what they saw. Hollywood is also very good at using makeup, so it is possible that they cosmetically altered Ince's body or head to make the wound not visible.

What About The Witnesses?

Although many records state that Thomas Ince died Tuesday night, it was actually the early morning hours of Wednesday, as the records state he died on November 19th, which was in fact, a Wednesday. What is interesting about the witness accounts is that most on board of the Oneida either had no accounts or seemed to come down with a sudden bout of forgetfulness.

Marion Davies claimed that Nell Ince called her from the studio on Monday, letting her know Thomas had died. Well history shows this is impossible, being that Ince didn't die till the early hours of Wednesday.  Charlie Chaplin stated that he was never on board of the Oneida that weekend and that he, Hearst and Davies came to see Ince at his home a week after he became "ill". He also went on to state that Ince didn't die until two weeks after. Funny, because Chaplin was present at Ince's funeral that same week, so he knew very well that Ince died days, not weeks later.

Louella Parsons (who we will discuss in great detail in Part 2), claimed that she wasn't even in California at the time, and that she was all the way in New York when Ince became ill and died. Interestingly enough, Vera Burnett, a stand-in for Marion Davies at the studio, recalled seeing Louella with Marion at the studio the day of their planned weekend trip aboard Hearst's yacht, proving that Louella was in fact on the Oneida at the time.

Another witness that many have ignored over the years is the account of Chaplin's driver, Toraichi Kono, who claimed he actually saw Ince being transported by ambulance off the yacht. Kono confided the strange account to his wife that it appeared as if Ince's head was "bleeding from a bullet wound." Among the domestic workers in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, this rumor spread quickly. In a matter of days there were several calls to Los Angeles authorities as well as the authorities in San Diego, asking for them to investigate Ince's death, if not for murder, then for the illegal alcohol consumption which could have also led to his illness.  Because the public had doubts about the truth to Ince's death and many believed Hearst used his influence and control to cover it up, within three weeks San Diego District Attorney Chester C. Kempley was forced to look into the matter.

The odd part about the whole thing is that Kempley only questioned one person, Dr. Goodman, the man who accompanied Ince from the yacht, to the hotel and then onto Ince's Benedict Canyon home. The D.A. never questioned the guests who were on board the Oneida, nor did he even dare question Hearst. That to me, also sounds a little fishy. Of course the D.A. concluded that the matter was closed, being that Ince's death did not appear to be anything other than natural causes.

"I am satisfied that the death of Thomas H. Ince was caused by heart failure as a result of an attack of there is every reason to believe that the death of Ince was due to natural causes, there is no reason why an investigation should be made."- Chester C. Kempley, San Diego District Attorney.

As usual, the story was covered over and smoothed out by the Hearst papers, but there was far more to the story than just this. We are just scratching the surface.

J'aime Rubio- Dreaming Casually Publications/Hollywoodland Forever 
Copyright- 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

Who Was Dorothy Millette?

Dorothy Millette Bern

A friend of mine took me down to a place called Walnut Grove about six months ago. We traveled a little road along the Delta into this picturesque little town with a drawbridge and everything. We casually cruised through an adjoining old ghost town known as Locke, with its old abandoned and condemned buildings from the 1800s. Later we went down to a place known as the Ryde Hotel. This place is still a hotel, but once back in its heyday it was a very popping joint! Probably more popular in the 1920s and 1930s, the Ryde Hotel became a Northern California Hollywood hot spot during prohibition times. 

As we were there, breathing the crisp fresh air and watching the waters from the Delta rush by, I thought of someone, Dorothy Millette Bern. I had written about her life and death a few years back and knew her body had been found in a Slough near the Sacramento River. The exact location, I had never really investigated. I told my friend, “wouldn’t it be weird if they had found Dorothy right around here?”

I just had this feeling, a thought of her when I was there, out of the blue. I didn’t know why I thought of her, but again, she is never too far from my thoughts anyways. In all the stories I have written there are only two that stay close in my mind and heart at all times. One being the murder of Anna Corbin at the Preston School of Industry in 1950 and the death of Dorothy Millette Bern in 1932.

In fact, my friend and I would have never met if not for the likes of Dorothy. It was during my continual research on her that I stumbled across a photograph of Dorothy on a website known as Findagrave. I emailed this person who posted her photo on her memorial page, and the rest is history.

Back to the story…..

Walnut Grove
If you have read my earlier article A FORGOTTEN WIFE, A HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE &  AN UNSOLVED  MYSTERY, then you would know that I have been doing some serious digging into Dorothy’s background. As I state in my previous posts, Dorothy was actually born in 1895 in France. In fact I have a copy of the 1920 U.S. Census record that shows this and also places her and Paul Bern as “husband and wife,” residing at the Algonquin Hotel in New York.  You see, when she died, there were no living relatives to confirm her date of birth so they had to make an educated guess. Also, as I note in my previous article about Dorothy, Jean Harlow and MGM DID NOT pay for Dorothy’s funeral or headstone, they merely paid for her body to be put in the ground, that is all. There is a big difference!

Dorothy and Paul, I believe were married. I have yet to find a legal document proving this but I am starting to think they may have married in Canada when they met. For that time period it was very uncommon to claim to be married if you were not. Regardless, Paul Bern’s marriage to Harlow was not valid being that the marriage to Harlow took place in California. California did not acknowledge common law marriage within the state at that time, but they acknowledged common law marriages from other states, which meant either way Paul and Dorothy’s marriage was valid in California, therefore when Paul died it was Dorothy who stood to inherit Paul’s estate regardless of what the Wills stated. Interesting isn’t it? Dorothy had no reason to kill herself, but someone else had reason to get rid of Dorothy……

Now remember I said that I was in Walnut Grove with a friend when I thought of Dorothy? Well, I decided to once again start digging, and I learned that the Georgiana Slough (where her body was discovered) literally starts at the south end of Walnut Grove! Unbelievable, right? Believe it!

Delta King Steamboat
A member of the staff on board of the Delta King Steamboat claimed that upon arriving near Courtland they discovered a piece of Dorothy’s clothing on the deck of the ship. They realized that something was wrong and went to check to see if she was in her stateroom. Once they realized she had gone missing, they started the search for her and on September 14, nearly one week from the date she went missing, her body was found.

Some Japanese fishermen who were in the Georgiana Slough (just south of Walnut Grove) discovered her lifeless and badly decomposing body. They could not determine the color of her eyes and her hair and scalp was missing. I am guessing she hit the propellers of the steamboat or other small boats going by in the river may have clipped her as she was floating in the water. 

Eventually the Coroner had to get Ed Sullivan, the clerk from the hotel in San Francisco where Dorothy had been staying, to identify her body. From the information I have obtained over the years, I have learned that Dorothy was a short lady, and had wavy, auburn hair. She had very good taste and enjoyed expensive things. The Schenectady Gazette dated 9/15/1932 stated that when her body was found that Dorothy was wearing a black dress, made of expensive material. She had silk undergarments and silk stockings on under her clothing. It also mentioned her petite frame and that her wrists and ankles were very small. Another paper reported Dorothy as being "known for her culture, vivacity and beauty."

Was Dorothy Crazy?

As many websites, books and blogs will often claim that Dorothy was the crazy wife of Paul Bern, I have never agreed with any of that. In fact, I hope that by the time you finish reading this article (and hopefully you read my first one too “A Forgotten Wife, Hollywood Homicide & An Unsolved Mystery”) that your outlook on Dorothy will have changed.

I have information that will change the whole scenario on the “Crazy” wife ideas people have been throwing around for nearly 81 years. Guess what?! She was not “institutionalized” and she was not locked away in an asylum for 10 years or in a coma as some state. Dorothy, I believe, wasn’t suffering from mental problems either. 

You see, I have found evidence that places Dorothy as living at the Algonquin hotel from 1917 when she and Paul Bern moved there, when she was only 22 years old. This evidence shows that they stayed there for over 5 years living as man and wife. Then around 1922, they moved out. That is when I believe she checked into the Blythewood Sanitarium and Paul moved out to California. Only about one year later, Dorothy moved back into the Algonquin Hotel alone, and remained there for nearly 10 years. Staff at the hotel confirmed this in several reports and newspaper articles at the time period in 1932 when they learned of her death.

Blythewood Sanitorium- More Like A Rich People’s Rehab

Blythewood Sanitarium was located in Greenwich, Connecticut. Many people think that Blythewood was a mental institution, however that was not the case. In fact, this place was a sort of “Wealthy Rehab” for the elite and rich during that time.  Not to say they didn’t treat mentally ill patients, because they did. But that was not their only purpose. Blythewood catered to the wealthy who were dealing with various issues such as health problems, mental issues, depression and alcoholism.  I encourage you to read a little more about this “upscale institution” in a blog I found titled “Glimpses of Blythewood.”

 In the blog mentioned above, the writer quotes an edition of the New York Times dated November 8, 1936, where it states:

"Blythewood has no locked doors.  The patients are encouraged to follow their natural bents, and the sanitarium has become well known for its art school, studios, pottery work, a button factory and many similar project."

In fact, Blythewood Sanitarium was more like a retreat for the rich who needed therapy. The blog "Glimpses of Blythewood" even mentions "some patients even brought their “valets and chefs” along with them to the facility." 

Inside of Blythewood-Historical Society Photo, Greenwich, Ct.

There are numerous newspaper accounts where Judges, Attorney's and other upper class individuals traveled to Blythewood for recovery for alcoholism, some for nervous breakdowns and some just to recover from a major illness or surgeries. Yes, they treated mentally ill patients, but not the type you keep in asylums. As the newspaper reported, there were no locked doors at Blythewood. Patients could come and go from the building and wander the grounds, take all sorts of classes and yes, also see a psychiatrist when needed. This is no different than the sort of Rehab retreats you hear the Hollywood elite go to for their alcohol and drug addiction issues.

You see, Dorothy could have just went to Blythewood for exhaustion, depression or any other sort of mild issue. She had money, and probably heard of the place from her social circles and decided to go there. Again, perhaps during the separation of her and Paul's relationship, maybe she went there to find some peace. We will never truly know. But it is in very poor taste to just write Dorothy off as some sort of mental case.

We do know now that Dorothy returned to the Algonquin Hotel around 1923-24 according to staff at the hotel. They also reported that Paul Bern sent her two checks in the mail every month, addressed to her at the hotel for the entire length of the time she resided there. She did not move to San Francisco until 1932, very shortly before Paul Bern's death.

A rose from my garden for Dorothy
I guess I just wanted to write this second article about Dorothy to give her a little more in depth back story from the time she married Paul to the time she moved to San Francisco. I think the public has a right to know the truth about Dorothy, not just over embellished rumors about her and her mental state. I will never believe she killed Paul Bern and I will never believe she took her own life either. I believe that both Paul and Dorothy were killed and that MGM and Harlow knew a lot more than they ever led on. Again, that's my opinion of course.


(Copyright 2013) J'aime Rubio - Dreaming Casually Publications

TO READ MORE ON DOROTHY MILLETTE BERN PLEASE CHECK OUT:"A Forgotten Wife, A Hollywood Homicide & An Unsolved Mystery."