-Caveat Lector-

an excerpt from:
Hollywood's Unsolved Mysteries
John Austin©1990
Shapolsky Publishers, Inc.
ISBN 0-944007-49-X

   Hollywood — used throughout as a generic term — is an oligarchical society
which relies on the whims and favors and tastes of the general public to swell
the box office coffers and increase ratings on television series. These, in
turn, finance its opulent lifestyle of two-Mercedes-inevery-garage-tennis-
court-in-the-back-of-every-house-with-a-swimming-pool-alongside syndrome.

Because of the huge amounts of money involved in success, it is in Hollywood's
own best interests to keep as much dirty laundry, scandals and behind-the-
scenes machinations from the public as possible. Anyone within the industry
who tells what he knows is considered a pariah, an outcast, who will find it
hard to obtain any work within the industry, or connected with it.(*)

(*)An example: Those witnesses who testified for the prosecution, either under
subpoena or voluntarily, in The Twilight Zone manslaughter case which killed
actor Vic Morrow and two Vietnamese children, found that out the hard way.
Few, if any, of those prosecution witnesses have ever again worked in the
industry to which they had devoted their lives. One, a top cameraman, who just
told what he saw, and who had worked steadily for 26 years, has not received a
work call in over two years as of this writing. Thanks to an inept prosecution
by Lea Purwin D'Agostino, The Dragon Lady, the defendants were acquitted of
all charges.

The Washington Post's Bob Woodward found out how Hollywood works. In the
matter of his book, Wired, about the life and drug-induced death of John
Belushi, Woodward had to defend himself against the attacks of Hollywood about
his "insensitivity" Said Woodward, in rebuttal:

"What I did in that book was hold a mirror up to those people and drew
attention to their responsibility for Belushi's death. "They didn't like it.
[Author's italics]

"Film people are used to getting a free ride in the press, particularly out
there in Hollywood. If we covered Washington like the Los Angeles Times covers
Hollywood, we would be out of business.

"There is no curiosity at all about the abuses, the stuff in Indecent
Exposure, or any of the drug stuff in Wired.

"They just don't touch it (out there).

"They just don't ask the hard questions about these people!"

Indecent Exposure is the story of David Begelman's forgery of actor Cliff
Robertson's signature to a $10,000 check Begelman ordered drawn and given to
him, personally, while he was president of Columbia Pictures. The fraud was
discovered when Robertson received a "routine" income tax form from Columbia
stating that his "earnings" were in that amount from the studio in 1976.
Robertson had done no work for Columbia during that year.

There were also other embezzlements by Begelman to cover his gambling losses,
which were hardly mentioned in the Los Angeles newspapers or the toadying
trade papers — The Hollywood Reporter  and Daily Variety. At his trial,
Begelman pleaded nolo contendere on a plea bargain and was placed on
unsupervised probation. He was also ordered to perform community service in
the form of an anti-drug film.

After a few months, Begelman went on to bigger and better things. He has
continually been hired by members of the oligarchy, including MGM, and placed
in more powerful and higher paying positions.

The victim -Cliff Robertson... ?

He was more or less "banished" from the industry and did not work in feature
films for over five years.

We talked to Robertson in Cannes in 1980 about the situation. 'Just what the
hell was I supposed to do? Pay income tax on money I hadn't earned?" he asked.

"I had no choice but to call Columbia and find out what was going on! That was
the worst thing I ever did for my career. It came to a screeching halt
sometime in 1977."

This aspect of the Begelman affair — the "indecent exposure"' of the oligarchy
to outsiders — was hardly mentioned in the Los Angeles media. It is just one
more example of how the industry protects its own and rids itself of those who
"go against the grain."

pps. 16-18

"Many people in Hollywood have, since its inception, believed the motion
picture industry to be an oligarchical society, an island, which does not have
to live by the rules of an organized and lawful community."

-Editorial Page  Hollywood Citizen-News

September, 1935

1 ... Background To Mystery

HOLLYWOOD is envisioned the world over as the epitome of glamour, money, sex,
beautiful women, handsome men and affluent gays, but not necessarily in that
order. It has also provided the cyclorama for some of the most mysterious
deaths, suicides and murders in the annals of Los Angeles crime.

Some of these "mysteries"' are still considered "open"' in police files,
although the chance of clearing up any of them is, at the very least, remote
at this stage.

The closest anyone has come to solving a previously "unsolved mystery" of a
noted Hollywood figure was King Vidor. The famed director, who spanned several
decades from silent to sound films as both actor and director, undertook two
years of research into the February, 1922, slaying of British-born director
William Desmond Taylor. Vidor intended to use the material as his "comeback"
film after several inactive years.

Vidor had to abandon the project eventually because he realized that no studio
in Hollywood would touch the material. He had, in effect, been hoisted by his
own petard by discovering that Taylor was not only gay, but that Charlotte
Selby, the overly protective and avaricious mother of silent star Mary Miles
Minter had shot Taylor in the back in the presence of her daughter.

Vidor also discovered that the sitting District Attorney of the day, Thomas
Woolwine, had been paid many thousands of dollars by Selby to quash any
possible indictment of her or her daughter for the murder. His successor as
District Attorney, Asa Keyes, (who later went to jail for corruption in
another case) also jumped on the bandwagon of greed and lined his pockets at
the expense of Selby and Minter.

A Deputy District Attorney, Buron Fitts, succeeded Keyes in this very powerful
post and he, too, proceeded to shake down Selby. Fitts guaranteed that he
would destroy whatever evidence remained to link her or her daughter to the
murder. This included the Smith and Wesson pistol Selby used in the shooting.
Fitts also kept quiet about the fact that Paramount Pictures, in concert with
Woolwine, had been allowed to "sanitize" the crime scene so that Taylor's
death would appear to have been the work of a burglar. (*)

(*)Fitts, who was later appointed a Superior Court judge (!!) in Los Angeles,
committed suicide in 1973 with an antiquated Smith and Wesson revolver similar
to that used in the Taylor slaying.

In many of the cases recounted herein, we may never know who or why; we can
only conjecture, guess, explain, explore, discuss and outline what we feel
really happened. An educated guess after many years of covering the Hollywood
scene and discussing the cases with those-who survived and investigated them,
such as police officers and sheriff's deputies who "worked" the cases.

In a lot of deaths recounted herein, Hollywood's societal structure was
responsible for "keeping the lid on" the real cause of death to '/protect the
industry" no matter what the cost in truth, money, ruined reputations, or
careers down the tubes, in the same fashion as the Taylor murder was hushed up
and the crime scene sanitized.

Again, in many of the cases there is a common thread overlooked by many people
— scholars of film, writers of Hollywood lore and others — or else purposely
ignored: in the deaths of Bob Crane; William Holden; Lana Turner's late lover,
gangster John Stomponato; and several others, either press agents, managers,
sycophants, or household help were the first ones to find the body or bodies.

Whenever anything went wrong, and under the emotional circumstances of the
moment, studio heads, studio security chiefs, agents or lawyers, were usually
the first to be notified. Rarely the police. In several cases, this allowed
enough time for "the scene of the crime", so to speak, to become totally
sanitized and vital evidence planted or destroyed.

In the case of gangster Stomponato's killing in Lana Turner's Beverly Hills
home, famed filmland damage-control specialist, lawyer Jerry Giesler was
called first. Several hours elapsed before the Beverly Hills Police Chief,
Clinton H. Anderson, was notified by Giesler. Anderson personally "took care"
of the crime scene before calling in his detectives for the "official"
investigation. This resulted in Lana's daughter, Cheryl, being held in
protective custody after admitting killing Stomponato. Following a juvenile
Court hearing, Cheryl was placed in a foster home after pleading self defense,
and later released to the custody of her maternal grandmother.

If there had been any inkling that Turner had been in the room when the
hoodlum was stabbed, there was a strong possibility that Turner could have
been charged as an accessory in the killing of the two-bit hood. He was
constantly beating Turner when she would not do his bidding such as "'loaning"
him thousands of dollars at a time. It was so bad while Turner was on location
for a film in England that she had to call in Scotland Yard. It was
"suggested" that Stomponato leave the country by the first available aircraft.
He did.

As a result of delays such as that which occurred in this killing, the
gendarmes, like the cuckolded husband, were the last to find out or be told
that a crime was suspected or a suicide had taken place in or at one of the
"deodorized" crime scenes. Nevertheless, Cheryl Crane did Hollywood, and
civilization in general, a favor by ridding the town of one of mobster Mickey
Cohen's nastier, blackmailing, extortionate, woman-beating goons.

In the earlier decades of Hollywood, and even into the wartime forties, and
even really, since the fifties such cover-ups were and are particularly
important. At the time, for instance, of the murder of the Ice Cream Blonde,
Thelma Todd, famed choreographer Busby Berkeley was on trial for the drunk-
driving murder of three people. The accident occurred, ironically, on Pacific
Coast Highway, just a few hundred feet north of Thelma's cafe.

At about the same time, there was Mary Astor's explosive and dynamite-laden
diary of her Hollywood and New York extramarital affairs — and all rated on a
scale of one to ten. This was divulged during her divorce trial from Dr.
Franklyn Thorpe. One passage read, "I don't know where George gets his staying
power! (*) he must have cum three times in an hour!"

(*)Playwright George S. Kaufman, the partner of Moss Hart.

The diary was about to be incinerated on the orders of Superior Court judge
Goodwin J. Knight, but not before the foregoing and several other purple
passages" as they were dubbed because of the color of the diary, had been
"leaked" to the sob sisters of the Hearst press. Knight, who presided over the
case, did eventually order the destruction of the diary. This helped to keep
the lid on the scandal in those days of semi-Victorian and Bible Belt morals.
Knight also heard some of the more sordid evidence behind closed doors.

         (It should be pointed out that divorce in California in the thirties
and into the forties was extremely hard to come by. Proven adultery was
generally the only acceptable reason, except mental illness or imprisonment of
one of the spouses. In fact, in keeping with the Wild West nature of
California of that era, a cottage industry grew up around paid "professional
adulterers" — those who would allow their pictures to be taken in bed with the
divorcing spouse.)

Knight was later known as Governor Goodwin J. Knight for his handling of the
Astor-Thorpe divorce and other little favors to the oligarchical society.

Another scandal at the time might, the moguls felt, cut into their industry's
bloated profits which, even during the depths of the depression, were obscene
as compared to others and the general economy of the 1930"s.

This would also have been a catastrophe for the then well-oiled police
departments of Los Angeles, and the outlying communities of Santa Monica,
Beverly Hills, Culver City, etc. It would also have shut off the Golden Faucet
for city and state political leaders. Most of them, during those years, had a
long history of "accommodating"' the film industry in most, if not all of its
requests. These included the appointment of District Attorneys under its
contol[sic] such as Thomas Woolwine, Asa Keyes and Buron Fitts, and the
appointment of judges including Knight. These appointees generally rendered
verdicts and decisions in favor of the industry when called upon to do so.

Hollywood money, influence and high-powered publicity campaigns orchestrated
by the experts of the film industry, assured the election of Knight as
Governor of California — as it did many years later for another Favorite Son,
Ronald Wilson Reagan, eventually propelling him into the White House.

One of the "fixers," whose job it was to notify judges of the "'preferred
outcome" of a case, divorce, or what have you, was the late William "Doc"
Bishop of 20th Century-Fox. He was known as "Doc" by everyone because of this
sideline to his regular job as director of Foreign Publicity and liaison with
Hollywood's Foreign Press Corps. Bishop's boss, the director of publicity for
Fox, was Harry Brand, whose brother was the late Edward J. Brand, the all
powerful judge in West Los Angeles.

Pre-World War II Los Angeles had only one real industry apart from the
fledgling aircraft factories just gaining a toehold — in Burbank, Lockheed
Aircraft; and in Santa Monica, the Douglas Aircraft Company, which was then
busily turning out the workhorse DC-3 transports for the world's airlines.

That one other real industry associated with Los Angeles was filmmaking. Apart
from a City Hall bloated with fat cat civil servants, most of them political
appointees and relatives of other corrupt elected officials of that era, the
Make Believe Factories were the area's largest employer. In order to keep that
industry' on an even keel, a "neat and tidy" solution, regardless of the
truth, was desperately needed in the Thelma Todd case and, later, the Mary
Astor-Dr. Franklyn Thorpe divorce.

In both cases, that "neat and tidy"' solution was found, thanks to the deep
pockets and influence of the industry. It was also applied to several other
cases over the years, including the murder of Marilyn Monroe.

Some background...

The motion picture industry is a business which sees the emotions and feelings
of its stars, executives, and even lower echelon employees stripped bare by
the largest concentration of reporters, radio and television commentators and
gossip columnists in the world outside of Washington, D.C.

Many observers have surmised that the Hollywood press corps is the largest in
the world concentrating on just one industry. This is so when you include the
maitre d's, head waiters, car-wash jockeys, waiters, valet parking attendants,
accountants, and Consuls for obscure, autonomous islands in the Caribbean, and
the banana republics of Central America.

Some members of these categories of employment make up the bulk of the
Hollywood Foreign Press Association — about 60% of the (nonvoting) membership.
Many of them arrived in Hollywood with dubious credentials from foreign
publications in order to secure their "accreditation" to the Motion Picture
Association of America, Inc. Without such "accreditation", no one is allowed
inside a studio or on a movie set.

This is just one more method of Hollywood's manipulating people who work in,
with, or for the industry. One bad word about the business, or revealing a
hushed-up scandal, and the journalist finds himself /herself discredited or at
the very bottom of a list. The only exception(s) to this rule are the three
television networks and a few major metropolitan newspapers such as the Los
Angeles Times, The New York Times and a few others of their ilk. They just
have too much power. But even those have one eye cocked on the extensive
advertising outlays of the studios in their publications and on their
networks. Because of derogatory reports on the industry in some of them,
advertising in those papers has been cancelled anywhere from three months to
three years.

That is just the way the oligarchy works.

Some journalists, and especially the two major columnists of the thirties,
forties and fifties, the vain and ignorant piranhas Louella Parsons and Hedda
Hopper, had no regard for emotions — generally doing the bidding of the moguls
— regardless of the damage to careers or the accuracy of their stories. It was
— and still is — one of Hollywood's ways of ridding itself of people who
betrayed or who betray its trust.

Parsons and Hopper terrorized Hollywood for decades. Hedda eventually died at
her typewriter with a fruit bowl of a hat on her head. Eventually, "Lolly"
Parsons could no longer control her bladder and was forced to retire. She had
a very disconcerting habit in her last years of urinating while sitting on bar
stools, and on chairs at cocktail and dinner parties. Many Hollywood
hostesses, obliged to entertain her, heaved a sigh of relief at no longer
having to call in the carpet and upholstery cleaners after every Parsons

Regardless, it was their business, as it was mine for thirty-odd years, to get
news of the greats and near-greats of Hollywood. The appetites, insatiable as
they are, of movie-goers and fans, and television addicts around the world,
have to be sated on a regular basis. Most of the Hollywood Press Corps are
well paid and well entertained by the studios and press agents. This manages
to keep the names of their pictures and their clients and TV series fresh in
the minds of movie and TV fans around the world.

We agree that it is hard for people engaged in an industry that so taxes their
mental, moral and physical fibre with twelve- to fourteen-hour days not to
become embroiled in scandal now and again. At least those at the very top. It
is almost impossible for them to have a well-ordered home life. This is one of
the major reasons for so many divorces in Never-Never Land, Tinseltown,
Baghdad-on-the-Pacific, or whatever you want to call Hollywood. Perhaps "Babes
in Toyland" would be a good nomenclature for its denizens.

But those who have reached the pinnacle as stars, top executives and the like,
earn — if that is the correct word — obscene amounts of money. One studio head
in 1988 received over $30 million in salary, bonuses and stock options. Others
regularly receive anywhere from $5 to $7 million. Is it any wonder that those
salaries and perks have to be protected by fair means or foul?

But because of these vast sums and the power that goes with them, is it also
any wonder that "insecurity" is the operative word in Hollywood? One breath of
scandal can blow them out of the catbird seat and those multi-million-dollar
paychecks. It can cost them careers, estates in Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, and
Pacific Palisades, and million dollar homes in Malibu, not to mention a garage
full of exotic automobiles.

That is why in so many instances within the pages of this book, murders and
suicides have, as you will see, been covered up or disguised, as was that of
Marilyn Monroe, resulting in Hollywood's Unsolved Mysteries.

And let the chips fall where they may!

pp.s  23-33
Aloha, He'Ping,
Om, Shalom, Salaam.
Em Hotep, Peace Be,
Omnia Bona Bonis,
All My Relations.
Adieu, Adios, Aloha.
Roads End

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