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

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