Archive for October, 2017

The Haunted Cemetery

Monday, October 30th, 2017

If you want to hear weird tales of something awful, things that will make the very marrow chill in your bones and that will cause the shivers to creep up your spinal column as you look fearful over your shoulder to see, you know not what, then go out to the foothills of Hollywood and talk with the old timers who live about the neighborhood of Primrose and Vista Del Mar where the Krotona Theosophical colony once practiced their religion. For the uneducated, Theosophy is a “collection of mystical and occultist philosophies concerning, or seeking direct knowledge of the presumed mysteries of life and nature, particularly of the nature of divinity and the origin and purpose of the universe.”

A leader of this institution, Ernest A. Sydow, was styled in the annals of his faith as a “pioneer of the colony,” a title well earned. In the fall of 1922, Sydow was on an evangelical mission in Northern California when he died and was buried at Vallejo, the scene of his last labors. But after a few years, the Krotona colony asked that his body be exhumed and brought back to Hollywood, his first love.

This was done, and the occasion of the return and reburial was made memorable by a series of phenomena which it is possible may be explained by natural causes, but which have not yet been so explained. This may be due to the unscientific character of the investigators at the colony, inclined by the nature of their calling to believe in a supernatural intervention where a scientist would see only the workings of a mundane force or the misinterpretation of sights and sounds. But I will relate the tale as a respected Hollywood centenarian told it, and the reader can draw their own conclusion.

After its arrival, the casket containing the body of Mr. Sydow lay for a time in the offices of Hollywood Cemetery, at its eastern entrance, and watchers sat with it. On the night before the reburial, the watchers were Jeremiah Altman, a member of the Krotona colony and Harry Westfield, an employee of the cemetery. Along in the hours near morning, Altman stepped out for a breath of fresh air, but in a moment, came rushing back with the exclamation: “Westfield, Westfield, the cemetery grounds are full of ghosts.”

Both men went out. In every direction through the tombstones they saw figures darting hither and thither in a wild and fitful dance. The men approached, but the figures drew back before them, forming to the left and right of them, and it was impossible to get within close range.

In the morning, when the casket was lifted, the floor beneath was found to be blackened by fire, and a hole was burned clear through to the stone foundation. How did this happen? No one has ever tried to offer a speculation.

This was not the end. That night, several members of the Krotona faculty sat in the cemetery’s office with manager Theodor Piltz discussing the strange events that perplexed them. Suddenly, their discussions were abruptly terminated by a startling and tremendous racket just outside the door, a clattering and whacking that was deafening. Piltz threw open the office door. Not a soul was outside the building. He returned to his office, but hardly had he sat down when the noises began again. Again, a sudden dash outside failed to reveal any one. Nor did a search of the building reveal any intruders. A third time the noises began, and this time Piltz spoke outside to the cemetery grounds: “If you are gentlemen, be still.” The noise stopped.

Coming at another time, all this might not have occasioned any mystification, but in conjunction with the other strange and unexplained happenings, it assumed an importance it would not have assumed alone.

After the reburial of Ernest Sydow, a photograph was taken of the cemetery. One of the cemetery staff was the photographer. In the foreground of the picture can be seen two graves, just as they appear in the cemetery. But at the foot of each grave stands something no visitor has ever seen, and for the peace of his mind it is to be hoped never will see. At the foot of one grave stood Buren Pratt, a well-known Hollywood practitioner of the mystical arts, dressed in his psychic garments. At the foot of the other grave stood the counterfeit presentment of its occupant, Charlotta Sweetwood, a woman who in life was a benefactor of the psychic.

When these startling things appeared at the time the photograph was developed, the cemetery management decided that possibly some well-timed conjunction of sunlight and foliage was the cause of the images; that they had no real existence—were only shadows. So, they had the picture thrown on a screen by stereopticon. But the figures came out more plainly—so plainly that there was no denying that they were the well-remembered features of Pratt and his benefactress, Charlotta.

The possibilities of photography were not so well known then as now. The superimposing of one negative upon another and the resulting “ghost photographs” that have been the stock in trade of so many imposters was an art not well known then. Still, there were those who suspected the photographer of a trick and charged him with it. He denied the charge and offered this unassailable plea of innocence: Because he was a man of unscrupulous character, there was no such thing as a photograph of Buren Pratt in existence and nobody had ever heard of one.

What of these ghosts? What explanation can be offered? The writer confesses he is unconvinced. Yet he has personal acquaintance with persons who claim to have seen them, with clergymen on the one hand, with university-bred agnostics on the other. So, there you are, and from the evidence presented can render your own verdict.

 

Dear readers, please note that this is a story of fiction to celebrate the Halloween holiday. Names, characters, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. 

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Is a Hollywood film studio a set for the paranormal?

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

 

Many locations around Hollywood are reported to be haunted, especially at Halloween. There are theaters, hotels, night clubs and studios that have their share of ghost stories. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the possibility of a spirit continuing on after death is fascinating.

There are countless paranormal stories about Hollywood’s past. One story in particular, which originally had nothing to do with ghosts, had the blaring Los Angeles Times’ headline: “Death After Studio Party Called Accident by Police.” The story reported that a 31-year-old studio electrician was fatally injured after a wrap party attended by several well-known film stars.

According to the news report, Edward W. Gray, the father of three, was found near death on the floor of a film stage near midnight on April 3, 1946. He was dead on arrival at Hollywood Receiving Hospital. Original accounts stated that Gray may have been murdered, but a deputy coroner eventually discounted that theory. Upon examination, it was found that Gray suffered a fractured pelvis, numerous internal injuries, a skull fracture and facial lacerations. The coroner said that such injuries could only be attributed to falling from a great height or, — being run over by an automobile!

A ghostly image of Edward Gray from the Los Angeles Times report on his death.

Gray was found on the studio floor below a catwalk, 65-foot above. A ladder rose to the catwalk at one end, and police theorized that Gray had climbed to the top, then tumbled off.

Supporting this theory was the discovery of blood on a two-by-four jutting from the backdrop fifteen-feet above where Gray’s body was found, and would have been in the direct line of a fall from the catwalk. It was also found that Gray’s blood registered an alcohol content of .29 – today a .08 is considered intoxicated.

The studio where this happened was a rental lot at 1040 N. Las Palmas Avenue, which at the time was called General Service Studios (later known as Hollywood Center Studios). In May 2017, the lot was sold and renamed Sunset Las Palmas Studios.

Founded in 1919 by set designer John Jasper (1876-1929), three production studios were built on 15 acres south of Santa Monica Boulevard. Billionaire-producer, Howard Hughes filmed Hell’s Angels here; the television shows, Ozzie and Harriett, Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies and the first two years of I Love Lucy (Studio 2) also called this lot home. Shirley Temple made her film debut here, and it may also be remembered as the ill-fated Zoetrope Studios founded by Francis Ford Coppola in the early 1980s.

Author and film historian, Laurie Jacobson, who with historian Marc Wanamaker, are the authors of Hollywood Haunted: A Ghostly Tour of Filmland. Jacobson claims that stories have circulated about phenomenon on that particular lot, including “cold spots, unexplained noises, unusual shadows on sound stages, lights going on and off, things being moved, etc. all reported by guards, workers, maintenance workers and film workers on the lot.”

“There were also ‘problems’ with Stage 5,” Laurie recalled, “where Ozzie and Harriet was produced. Many say it happened all through the production. Others believe it is Ozzie himself — a workaholic who died before his time — who haunts the set.”

In the 1920s and 1930s, the lot was known as Metropolitan Studios. In later years, office workers reportedly heard talking in the empty offices on the second floor. “Those offices were occupied by film pioneer Al Christie from 1925 to 1932,” Jacobson said. “Second to Mack Sennett, Christie lost everything in the stock market crash, including his studio. He tried, but never regained his success or wealth. Now in death, he continues the work he’d been forced to give up.”

Reportedly, a former stage manager also claimed the lot was haunted, “particularly on Stage 6, where a gaffer fell to his death decades ago.” He described the happenings:

“…when you went in to close up the stage for the night, turn off the work lights, secure all the doors, etc., you could hear foot steps in the perms (rafters) above you, following you as you moved from one part of the stage to another. When you stop, it stops. Freaking scary.”

Edward Gray fell to his death in Stage 4 (highlighted). The studio entrance is only a short walk from there.

Laurie Jacobson recalled a similar story, but it happened on a different stage. “In 1946, a studio worker fell to his death on Stage 4 making the film Stairway to Hell,” she said. “For many years after, there were technical problems on that stage.” That was the year (1946) that Edward Gray, the electrician in the Los Angeles Times article, fell to his death during the wrap party for Angel on My Shoulder, which, at the time had the working title – Stairway to Hell.

There were enough questions about Gray’s death that an inquest was held. Reportedly, Gray and another friend were “uninvited guests” at ‘a gay party’ that was hosted by the film’s star, Paul Muni to celebrate the completion of the film. Neither Gray nor his friend had worked on the film, but showed up anyway.

The party began at 6pm with a bar set up on the sound stage. More than a score of tables had been arranged in front of the papier-mâché reconstruction of “Hell” – a familiar scene in the film.

Angel on My Shoulder’s stars, Paul Muni and Anne Baxter were both called to testify at the inquest. Muni stated that he felt he could be of very little help, having left the party early. “What was called ‘a gay party’ didn’t seem gay to me as I had been working all day and was very tired,” Muni told the jury. “Without seeming facetious, if that was a ‘gay party,’ I wonder what a dull one would be. All the people were tired. The idea was just to throw a little shindig to show good will. We were very tired, dog tired.”

The interior of Stage 4 where Edward Gray’s body was found and the “Hell” set for Angel on My Shoulder was located. (Sunset Las Palmas website)

“Did you see any drinking?” asked Dep. Dist. Atty. S. Ernest Roll.

“Oh, yes,” Muni replied. “Miss Baxter had milk, Miss (Joan) Blair had Coke, I had a scotch and soda, and Mrs. Muni had a sherry. Others went to the bar. I don’t know what they were drinking.”

Muni told the jury that he didn’t know Gray, although other witnesses said he sat at Gray’s table for a while. Muni and his wife Bella left about 7:45pm. Muni added that he didn’t see anyone intoxicated.

Anne Baxter said she also left the party early after posing for pictures on the film set where the bar and tables had been set up. “Some people were drinking, others eating at steam tables,” she recalled.

Three cases of Bourbon, a case of Scotch and four cases of beer were consumed, according to the caterer.

“Wasn’t there any liquor left?” inquired Deputy Coroner Frank Monfort.

“Oh no, nothing was left,” the caterer replied.

Several witnesses agreed that Gray was intoxicated, although not quarrelsome. Along with other technicians who worked on the film, he had been invited to attend, “as is custom.”

Edward Gray was escorted by a friend to this gate (above) to get a taxi but instead was seen by the gate guard returning to the studio where he eventually met his death. (click on image to enlarge)

A recent image of the studio’s entrance.

One friend, Allan Seiger, a property man, said that Gray was hardly able to walk from the party, so he assisted him to the studio gate to call a cab. But as soon as Seiger walked away, Gray ran back into the studio, according to the guard, who said that earlier in the evening he had seen Gray fall down “two or three times on the set.”

Further testimony disclosed that after the taxi incident, Gray had climbed the high backdrop, and from there he either stumbled or fell, even though no one actually witnessed Gray climbing to the catwalk.

According to other testimony, it was common for studio workers who had been drinking to climb up high to “get out of sight.”

Studio officials emphasized that everyone had left the studio long before Gray was found. According to the caterer, the party ended at 8:45pm when the liquor supply was exhausted.

Gray’s widow was represented by future Los Angeles mayor, Sam Yorty, who argued that the dead man may have been in a fight, or run over by a car. However, expert medical, scientific and police testimony claimed his injuries were most likely caused by a fall.

Edward W. Gray’s death certificate (click on image to enlarge).

And in fact, the nine-man jury found Edward Gray’s fatal injuries were “received from a fall while intoxicated.” To this day, family members still dispute the jury’s findings.

Could Edward Gray be haunting the sound stages of the Sunset Las Palmas Studios? Perhaps he was murdered and his soul can not rest. Unlike the characters of the film whose wrap-party he crashed, instead of hell, he chose to walk the rafters of the studio that was his last memory.

So this Halloween, take a walk past the gates of Sunset Las Palmas Studios, and perhaps you will see the ghost of Edward Gray hailing a taxi instead of returning to the studio – and to his death.

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The Story of the Sacketts of Hollywood

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

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The extended Sackett family in front of the Sackett Hotel, in 1898. From left to right: Betsy Otis, H.D. Sackett’s aunt; Mrs. Sackett; Lyman Hathaway, cousin of Mary Sackett; William H. Sackett; unknown; Mary Sackett; Zella Sackett, married to George Dunlap; unknown; Lilly ? ; Dora Miller. (LAPL)

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Horace David Sackett, whose family came to America from England in 1831, was born in Blandford, Massachusetts on December 29, 1843, the son of Leverett and Mary Culver Sackett. When he was eighteen years old, he went to Suffield, Connecticut and started a flourishing general merchandise and farming business that lasted for several years.

On January 15, 1873, Sackett married Ellen Minerva Lyman (b. July 24, 1848) and became the parents of five children, Mary Mariah (b. July 8, 1875), William (b. June 22, 1876), Warren Lyman (b. August 30, 1882), Zella Myra (b. June 11, 1883), and Emily (b. March 1885).

Sackett was a squat, spare, busy man with a short beard. He was cheerful and kindly but firm in his convictions. In 1887, with $10,000 in his pocket, he left Connecticut with his family and moved to Los Angeles. There he heard about land in the North Cahuenga Valley being subdivided for business and residential purposes. This new development called Hollywood was without lights, telephones, paved streets or other modern improvements.

The developer, Harvey Henderson Wilcox and his wife Daeida were looking for men willing to build up the area and attract new residents. Sackett’s daughter Mary recalled that her family was one of the first families in the area. “Mr. Wilcox subdivided his 160-acre ranch and named it Hollywood,” Mary recalled years later. “Both our families settled down there in May, 1888 when I was 12.”

Each lot was going for a fixed price of $1,000 each. But Wilcox gave Sackett, free of charge, three, sixty-five foot lots facing the assigned business area at Cahuenga Avenue and the southwest corner of Prospect (now Hollywood Boulevard), if Sackett made certain improvements before the dummy line (the old steam engine with the open car) reached Wilcox Avenue. .

sackett-store2

By 1888, the railroad was functioning, and Sackett built a three-story hotel building (above) of wood with a mansard roof, consisting of a corner store, and Prospect Avenue lobby and parlor. Behind that was the culinary department. The stairway in the lobby led to the upper two stories with eighteen rooms and a bathroom. Behind the hotel was a barn and corral; surrounding the store and lobby front was a cypress hedge and several two-year-old pepper trees planted by Wilcox, giving the place a very cozy appearance.

The Sacketts ran the first hotel in the Cahuenga Valley, and the second general merchandising establishment within the corporate limits of Hollywood. He also kept a few horses for his clientele and gardens to the blocks east and south of the store, to sell produce in his store.

Sackett bought the lot south of the hotel, two lots facing west on Wilcox Avenue, and south of the two northern lots in the row. Here he ran an overnight and breakfast place for city visitors and a bachelors’ roost for the young single men of the village. At his store, Sackett sold butter and eggs, crackers and cheese, overalls, jumpers, boots and shoes, ribbons and yardage, and canned goods that were becoming popular.

Another Hollywood pioneer associated with the hotel was Dr. Edwin O. Palmer, who later wrote a history of the area. Upon his arrival in California, he rented a room and an office there for his medical practice.

Sackett’s daughter, Mary and her siblings, attended the old Temple Street School through grade school, but didn’t go to the downtown high school because they couldn’t get there on time. Later, Sackett added another store, where in a corner nook he opened Hollywood’s post office; Mary became Hollywood’s first postmistress, running her practiced eye over the little rack of boxes. For her duties, Mary was paid as high as $5 per month.

Tragedy hit the Sackett family in 1899 when his son, William died unexpectedly at 23 years of age and was buried at Rosedale, as there would not be a cemetery in Hollywood for another two years.

Due to competition from the new Hollywood Hotel, built three years earlier at the northwest corner of Prospect and Highland, Sackett closed his hotel in 1905. He sold the property to Henry Gillig, but it remained unoccupied for the next five years except for one store room on the first floor.

In 1907, Sackett built a six bedroom house on property he had bought at 1642 Wilcox Avenue. Later that same year, in the reception hall of their home, Sackett’s daughter Zella, married George Dunlap, the mayor of Hollywood at the time, and the city’s last since Los Angeles annexed Hollywood in 1910.

In 1910, J.P. Creque, one of the wealthiest men in Hollywood, bought the former hotel property for $28,000 from the estate of Henry Gillig, who was now deceased. Creque razed the abandoned hotel and erected a fireproof two-story cream brick structure that cost approximately $30,000. The Hollywood National Bank leased a portion of the new building; there were three other stores facing on Prospect. The second floor had offices with wide hallways and tile flooring. .

The J.P. Creque Building being built in 1911 on the site of the Sackett Hotel at the southwest corner of Hollywood and Cahuenga.

In 1931, the Creque Building was enlarged by adding two stories; the Art Deco building at 6400-6408 Hollywood Boulevard, is still on the site. .

The Creque Building as it appears today on the site of the Sackett Hotel.

Now retired from the mercantile business, Sackett devoted himself to the management of his private interests and several properties that he owned. He took an active part in the public affairs of Hollywood and Los Angeles for many years and was a man of ability and worth. He was a staunch democrat and was interested in politics, especially in local matters.

It was in their Wilcox Avenue home that Horace Sackett died in 1918, and was buried next to his son at Rosedale. In 1929, his wife Ellen followed him in death at the age of eighty from heart disease.

At the time of Ellen’s death, the area around Hollywood Boulevard and Wilcox had become mostly commercial, and land was being bought for business purposes. Mary Sackett was living in the family home, but instead of demolishing the house, she sold the property in 1929 and moved the house to the San Fernando Valley which was residential.

Remarkably, the old Sackett house is still standing at 10739 Kling Street in North Hollywood. The 1908 residence looks somewhat out of place next to the small bungalow homes built mostly in the 1930s. .

The altered, but original Horace Sackett home, once located at 1642 Wilcox Avenue in Hollywood, is now at 10739 Kling Street in North Hollywood. PLEASE NOTE: This is a private residence. DO NOT DISTURB the occupants.

The rear of the former Sackett home.

On Wilcox, a row of storefronts still stands in place of the old Sackett homestead.

Mary Sackett never married, and in her old age claimed that she never touched liquor, tea or coffee. “I’m an old maid and proud of it,” she insisted to a reporter in 1950. “I’ve never worn a bit of make-up, yet I had three proposals. Men have taken me out but usually with a chaperone. I wouldn’t let them kiss me good-night and to this day no man has ever been allowed to put his arm around me.”

In 1954, at the age of 78, Mary appeared on an episode of the  You Bet Your Life television show with host Groucho Marx and laughingly ruffled the comedians feathers. She asked Groucho to put away his trademark cigar, either lit or unlit, and he grudgingly complied. .

Mary Sackett, 74, spars with comedian Groucho Marx on “You Bet Your Life.”


Click HERE to watch the episode. Mary’s segment begins at 18:45

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When asked if a man might yet come along and sweep her off her feet, Mary replied, “Not a chance. I’m too set in my ways. I don’t want any man cluttering up my house.” When Mary died on January 31, 1969 at age 93 in Rosemead, California, she was the last remaining Sackett. She was buried in the family plot at Rosedale Cemetery. .

The Sackett family marker at Rosedale Cemetery.

Mary Sackett’s marker at Rosedale Cemetery.

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In memory of Pauline Flood… also known as “Baby Sunshine”

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Today, October 19, 2017, it has been one-hundred years since the tragic death of silent film child actress Pauline Flood, also-known-as “Baby Sunshine.” Little Pauline was almost two years old when, while playing on the Universal Studios lot, she crawled in front of a moving truck. She died shortly afterward at Hollywood Receiving Hospital.

Pauline, born on December 1, 1915, was the daughter of James and Ethel (Kolble) Flood. As “Baby Sunshine,” she apparently appeared in at least nine films, but Imdb has no record of her work. Variety said at the time that she was known as the “tiniest star in films.” Another source cited her tragic death as “…the youngest celebrity ever to have been killed by a car.” Regrettably, there are no known photographs of her.

Pauline Flood’s death certificate (click on image to enlarge)

Pauline is buried at Rosedale in Section 7 (Lot 1, Grave 2N-2W) in a section reserved for children. Her grave is reported to be unmarked.

Within three months, Pauline’s father James, died from diabetes on January 9, 1918, and was buried at Rosedale. He was 49.

Pauline’s mother, Ethel, who was 28 at the time, remarried and died from tuberculosis on October 18, 1925–eight years (shy one day) after Pauline’s death. Her new husband, John Ashbridge, buried her at Odd Fellow’s Cemetery.

If anyone has information to share about Pauline Flood’s life and films, please post your comments here.

 

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Charlie Chaplin’s Stalker: ‘Mad Josefina’

Saturday, October 14th, 2017


Today, reports of obsessed fans stalking well-known actors is commonplace. One of the earlier incidents of star-stalking occurred in 1923 when comedian Charlie Chaplin’s home was invaded by an infatuated admirer, a young Mexican girl, Marina Vega, dubbed by the Mexican press as “Mad Josefina.”

Marina, a beautiful and reportedly well-built girl, was recently married to Jose Rivero, a prosperous rancher, but became bored with the ranchers life and escaped to Mexico City in early March 1923. It was there that she went on an extravagant nine-day visit, literally throwing her money away.

Her husband soon followed her, and on March 10, 1923 — after leading detectives on a merry chase — she was arrested for desertion. A brief reconciliation with Rivero followed, initiated by the city’s inspector general, Almada. However, rumors spread throughout the city that Almada and a General Serrano, had lavishly “entertained” Marina. Almada admitted knowing the girl and giving her money, but only so she could leave the city.

The Mexican press reported the eccentricities of “Mad Josefina” and her desire to become a great motion picture actress. After reportedly buying a thousand pesos worth of dresses and hats, and billing them to Almada, Marina left for Hollywood and her idol — Charlie Chaplin.

Charlie Chaplin’s former home at 6147 Temple Hill Drive in the Hollywood Hills.

Arriving in Los Angeles a few days later, Marina checked into the Alexandria Hotel. On Thursday, March 29, 1923, the buxom admirer found her way to Chaplin’s residence at 6147 Temple Hill Drive in the Hollywood Hills. She gained entrance to the house through the ruse of dropping a diamond ring in the shirt-pocket of his cook who answered the doorbell, dashing by him as he fished for it.

Kono, Chaplin’s valet, and the other servants were unable to remove her so they called director Eddie Sutherland from Chaplin’s studio, as a reinforcement; she was found in the comedians bedroom. After much cajoling, they tricked her into one of Chaplin’s cars and returned her to the Alexandria.

That evening, while Chaplin was entertaining his fiancé Pola Negri, and Dr. Cecil Reynolds, Kono interrupted and excitedly told his boss that Marina had returned and was again in Chaplin’s bedroom wearing his silk pajamas!

‘Mad Josefina’

Reynolds and Kono persuaded Marina to get dressed and then introduced her to Chaplin. She told the comedian that she had come all the way from Mexico City to meet him. After further questioning, Chaplin told her to return to her hotel, and he would buy her a train ticket back to Mexico City. She promised not to bother him again.

The next day, Chaplin heard nothing of his crazed admirer. However, on Saturday evening, March 31, he was again entertaining Pola and Reynolds. As they were sitting down to dinner, Kono rushed in and told Chaplin that Marina had strewn red roses on the driveway and, when she was refused admittance, had shot herself in the head.

Reynolds and Kono carried Marina into the kitchen where she told the doctor that she had taken poison. (Kono thought she had shot herself because, as he looked out from an upstairs window, the moonlight made a oil-stain on the pavement near her head look like blood). An ambulance was called and she was taken to the Hollywood Receiving Hospital.

Marina was treated and released, although doctors questioned whether she had swallowed poison. A half-hour later, reporters found her at the Alexandria Hotel eating ice cream. However, Marina declared that her love for Chaplin had chilled – but not for long.

The former Chaplin home as it looks today. This is all that is visible from the street as the estate is now surrounded by twenty-foot hedges. (Please note, this is a private residence. Do not disturb the occupants!)

The following Tuesday, Kono discovered a trail of muddied footprints on the sidewalk outside Chaplin’s home. The police were called, and a search of the area found Marina in a rented room at a nearby Beachwood Drive residence. A policewoman from the Hollywood division removed “Mad Josefina” to the Business Girl’s Home on Bonnie Brae Avenue.

Chaplin released a statement saying that “the girl’s case is very pathetic and I am willing to pay her way back to her home.” The ever-dramatic Pola Negri was reportedly ill from the excitement.

“Mad Josefina” apparently returned to Mexico, and was never heard from again.

 

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Dia de Los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

THROUGHOUT THE CEMETERY GROUNDS

Saturday, October 28, 2017

NOON — MIDNIGHT

There is going to be a caravan taking place afterward with the elektroroller scooters, so bring your scooter and your mask.

Tickets are $20 at hollywoodforever.ticketfly.com
MORE INFO : ladayofthedead.com

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Louise Emmons: unique, mysterious and unforgettable

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

For Halloween month, we showcase Louise Emmons, an unknown actress today, except for truly hardcore students of film. Her unusual looks have caused many film-goers to squirm in their seats from her silent film roles to her last appearance in Tod Browning’s horror classic, Mark of the Vampire (1935).

Louise Emmons began her career late, at age 56, yet she worked steadily for the next twenty years in small and extra roles. A woman of mystery and misperception, nothing is known of her early life and there is little written about her film career. There are no interviews that would give a hint about the woman who was described as having “the kind of face that could stop a clock.” Yet, Emmons has endeared herself to fans by her distinctive look and moving performances.

First, to refute some of the erroneous information about her: She was not born in Germany, or during any of the birth years attributed to her. Regrettably, the month and date of her birth is still a mystery. In some cases, Emmons herself is the source of the incorrect facts. What follows is only a hint of this enigmatic actress’s early life:

Louise Emmons was born with the unusual first name, Louie—Louie A. Adkison–sometime in 1858, and most likely at, or near, Camptonville, Yuba County, California. She was the middle child of D. O. (David Oliver) Adkison (at the time a miner), and his second wife Mary A. Johnson.

Juliet J. Adkison, the older sister of Louise Emmons, died at age ten. Is there a family resemblance? (Findagrave)

After spending a brief time in Sonoma County, the family moved again to Virginia City, Nevada, where she spent her childhood and most of her early adult years. Louie, or Lucy as she was called as a young girl, had two siblings: an older sister Juliet (1856-1866), who died at the age of ten from typhoid, and a younger brother Oliver Charles (1860-1861), who was not yet one-year-old when he passed from infant fever. Both are buried in Virginia City’s Silver Terrace Cemeteries.

Throughout her childhood in Virginia City, Lucy lived downtown on South C Street and outside the town limits on Geiger Grade Road. Her father, originally from Indiana, was a well-respected man of multiple talents. During his time in Nevada, Adkison served as the Speaker of the Nevada Assembly; a justice of the peace; Virginia City’s postmaster, and as a judge.

When Lucy was twelve (1870), she attended the Young Ladies Seminary in Benicia, California. There she developed her artistic talents and by 1881 (she now went by the name Lou), she prophesied that she would “become famous as a landscape artist.” However, her local “fame” and talent developed more as a portrait painter. In fact, a journalist for the Reno Gazette boasted that the likeness of local businessman J. J. Becker, “painted by Miss Lou Adkinson [sic] of Virginia City, is by far the best oil painted likeness this reporter has ever seen by a Nevada artist, and compares favorably with those having national reputations as portrait painters.” Indeed, her talent was so celebrated that the following year, in September 1882, Lou had an exhibition of her work at Reno’s Pavilion during Fair Week.

After the deaths of both her parents in 1887, Lou moved to San Francisco where she continued to make her living as a portrait artist. Because of her unusual first name, she was known professionally as Miss Louie A. Adkison or Miss L. A. Adkison (sometimes misspelled, or perhaps purposely, as Adkinson).

Around 1903, Lou lived briefly in Santa Barbara. There she met her future husband, Roswell G. Emmons, a machinist who was thirteen years her junior. They married on April 24, 1904. Not long afterward, the couple move to Los Angeles where she continued with her painting. Within two years, they had a son, Marion.

From the 1910 census. Emmons gives her age as 37 but she was actually 52-years-old. They were living at 1021 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles. (click on image to enlarge)

1920 census. Louise (as Lewis) is widowed and living with her son at 1625 Echo Park Avenue, Los Angeles (click on image to enlarge)

Confusion about her age and name probably got their start from the 1910 census; even though she was in fact 52-years-old, she gave her age to the census enumerator as 37 (making her two years younger than her husband), and her name as Louis (her profession was still artist/painter). In the same census, and in other records, Roswell is credited as a ‘photographer for motion pictures,’ possibly for shorts where he would receive no credit. Yet, it’s likely that it was through his efforts that his 56-year-old wife first entered motion pictures in 1914; her first billing was as Mrs. Emmons, then Mrs. Louise A. Emmons, Mrs. L. A. Emmons and finally—when she was credited—simply, Louise Emmons.

Over the next two decades, classic movie fans would get glimpses of her in small roles, many times uncredited, in such films as Judith of Bethulia (1914), and three Rudolph Valentino films: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), The Conquering Power (1922) and Blood and Sand (1922). In addition, she appeared in von Stroheim’s Foolish Wives (1922), Rex Ingram’s Scaramouche (1923), DeMille’s King of Kings (1927), and more, for a total of seventy-four films. Her unique look often typecast her in mostly offensive sounding roles such as Hag, Smiling Hag, Old Hag, Crackling Hag, Gypsy Hag, and many variations of Gypsy and Old Woman. Still, she kept busy appearing in multiple films each year until her death.

Death certificate of Emmons’ husband, Roswell. (click image to enlarge)

On November 22, 1919, Roswell Emmons died from heart problems; he was buried in the Masonic section of Glendale’s Forest Lawn Cemetery. However, to further confuse matters, on his death certificate, while Louise is the informant (as Lewis A. Emmons), she states that Roswell’s wife is Laura A. Emmons. And again, just several months later for the 1920 census, she has herself listed again as Lewis Emmons. For the remainder of her life, she would refer to herself legally as Lewis or Louis Emmons.

Another mystery concerns her son Marion. He was reportedly born in 1906 in California, yet there is no record of his birth under that name. Considering that Louise would have been 48-years-old at the time, it’s possible that he was adopted. At any rate, other than the 1910 and 1920 censuses, there are no official records of Marion P. Emmons to be found—he has simply vanished.

By 1935, Louise and her many aliases was living at 5738 Waring Avenue in Hollywood. On March 6, she died from heart disease and pneumonia at nearby Hollywood Hospital. She was either 76 or 77 years old. Her death certificate is under the name Louis Emmons; information given by her informant Ralph Burbank, an electrician at one of the studios. However, he didn’t know her birthday, but approximated her age at 73.

Louise Emmons’ death certificate. Her mother is listed as Juliet Johnson, however, she was her maternal grandmother. Her mother was Mary Johnson. (click on image to enlarge)

Louise Emmons was buried at Hollywood Cemetery (now Hollywood Forever) in a grave paid for by the Actor’s Fund. Why she didn’t join her husband at Forest Lawn is not known. For the next 79 years, Emmons gravesite remained unmarked and as mysterious as her life. That is, until March 23, 2014, when through the efforts of a dedicated group of fans (Lon Chaney biographer Michael F. Blake, animator Jenny Lerew, and Mike Hawks of Larry Edmunds Bookshop), her grave was finally given a marker and can now be visited by a new group of devotees.

The grave marker of Louise Emmons after being unmarked for 79 years. Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Section 2W, #99, east of the peacock cages. (click on image to enlarge)

 

(NOTE: Information for this story was pieced together through census reports, newspaper articles, family trees and death records.)

 

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