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Hollywood’s “Jinx Mansion”

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 22nd, 2017
2017
Feb 22

HOLLYWOOD HOMES

 

 

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

At this time of year our thoughts are on ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night. Bad luck and superstition has followed Hollywood and those who lived and worked there long before the film people arrived.

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A house that had its share of bad luck and tragedy was built on the northeast corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Fuller Street almost 100 years ago. Louella Parsons called the home that once stood at 7269 Hollywood Boulevard, “the jinx mansion.” Over the twenty-five years of its existence, it was home to a grocery store founder, a meat packing heir and a successful film producer and his movie star wife. All experienced misfortune and heartbreak during their stay there.

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The builder and first resident of the “jinx mansion” was George A. Ralphs, the founder of Ralph’s grocery store, the largest food retailer in Southern California. There’s probably no one in Los Angeles that has not shopped at a Ralphs store at one time.

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George Albert Ralphs was born in Joplin, Missouri in 1850. His family moved to California on a prairie schooner with a yoke of oxen when he was a boy. In Kansas they joined a caravan and when they reached Colorado they were attacked by Indians. Half of the caravan became separated in the fight, and nothing was ever heard from them. It was presumed that they were massacred.

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The caravan arrived in Los Angeles after eighteen months of travel and George Ralphs was trained as an expert bricklayer. After losing an arm in an accident, he gave up bricklaying and found work as a clerk in a small grocery store. In 1873 he had saved enough money to purchase his own grocery at Sixth and Spring Streets. From then on Ralphs prospered, operating three of the largest stores in Los Angeles.

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In 1897 Ralphs married Wallula von Keith and together they had two children, Albert and Annabel. In May 1913, Ralphs began construction on a new house on a three-acre lot in Hollywood that he reportedly bought from George Dunlap, the second mayor of the town.

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Located on the north side of Hollywood Boulevard at Fuller Street, architect Frank M. Tyler was hired to design the Mission Revival house at a cost of $35,000. With a plastered exterior and a red clay tile roof, the house had sixteen rooms with three baths. The interior was richly furnished in oak and mahogany; onyx and tile mantels adorned the fireplaces. There was a tennis court on the property, and a swimming pool which was emptied often to water the citrus orchards.

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The Ralphs mansion as it looked shortly after being constructed

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On June 21, 1914, a few months after moving into the house, Ralphs took his family for a week-end outing to the San Bernardino Mountains near Lake Arrowhead. He had just gone up Waterman’s Canyon with his wife and children for an early morning stroll and, having walked a little faster than the others, sat on a boulder to wait for them to catch up.

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As his wife approached, he moved over to allow her sit beside him when the boulder, weighing about three tons, gave way and rolled twenty feet down into the canyon, carrying Ralphs with it. His leg was caught beneath the boulder and nearly torn from the socket. He was immediately rushed to the Ramona Hospital (now Community Hospital of San Bernardino) where his leg was amputated. Ralphs came out from under the anesthetic shortly after and talked to his wife for a few minutes but the shock of the operation was too great. George Ralphs died within the hour at 4:15 o’clock that afternoon.

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Ralphs body was returned to his home in Hollywood where funeral services were held. The Ralphs grocery stores were closed that day in memory of their founder. After the service, Ralphs was buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

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The grave of Ralph’s grocery store founder,

George A. Ralphs at Evergreen Cemetery

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Mrs. Ralphs owned the mansion for several years, sometimes living there and at times, renting it out to such well-known residents as Mira Hershey, owner of the Hollywood Hotel and to actor Douglas Fairbanks. On August 20, 1918, Mrs. Ralphs hosted a political garden party in honor of California Governor, William D. Stephens and as a fund raiser for the war effort.

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However, the “jinx” continued.

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In 1920 Mrs. Ralphs leased the mansion to John “Jack” P. Cudahy, the son of the millionaire meat-packer, Michael Cudahy. The town of Cudahy, California which is east of Los Angeles, was named for the family.

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In 1899, Jack Cudahy married Edna Cowin, daughter of General John Clay Cowin of Omaha. They had four children, Edna, Marie, Anne and Michael. For a time, Cudahy was general manager of his father’s packing plant in Kansas City. While there, he and his wife became estranged after Cudahy attacked Jere Lillis, the president of the Western Exchange Bank, who he suspected of having an affair with his wife. They were divorced shortly after but reconciled two years later, were remarried and moved to Pasadena, California.

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Cudahy had his problems. In 1914, he was sued for $30,000 in damages after throwing a doctor’s wife against a table. After a stint in the army, Cudahy was given a medical discharge following a nervous breakdown. He was sued by the Hotel Maryland in 1919 for failure to pay a two-year hotel bill amounting to almost $10,000.

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Shortly after moving into the Ralphs mansion, Cudahy was under a doctor’s care for an extremely nervous condition and for insomnia. In early April 1921, he disappeared for ten days and it was later learned that he had been living at the Rosslyn Hotel under a fictitious name. Previous to that he had spent three months in a sanatorium.

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At the time, Cudahy was reportedly having financial problems. On April 19, 1921 he received a letter from a trust company in Chicago stating that they would not carry a loan unless his sister Clara would vouch for him. Later that night Clara sent a telegram briefly stating, “Sorry, but find it impossible to do what you ask.”

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The following morning, at about 10:30am, Cudahy went into his bathroom, retrieved his Winchester shotgun, which he used for trap-shooting, and took it into his bedroom. Edna claimed that at the time he did not seem to be unusually despondent. At exactly 11:45am, Edna was in her dressing room when she heard a shot and rushed into her husband’s bedroom where she found him dead. He had committed suicide by blowing off the top of his head. John Cudahy was buried at Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles.

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Edna and her children moved out of the house shortly after her husband’s suicide. Thirteen years later she was living in a mansion near Vine Street and Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. Actor Lou Tellegen, who had fallen on hard times, was living with her and committed suicide in his bathroom by stabbing himself in his heart seven times with a pair of scissors.

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After Cudahy’s suicide, the mansion stood empty for about a year. In October 1922 Mrs. Ralphs sold the house and property to a local realty company for $150,000. They planned to raze the house and build a 350 room apartment hotel at a cost of one million dollars. For unknown reasons, the hotel was never built and the mansion was spared.

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Film producer, Joseph M. Schenck and his wife, the actress Norma Talmadge, were the next owners of the “jinx mansion.” The Schenck’s, who were married in 1916, probably moved into the house in late 1922 or early 1923. For the first few years their lives were routine, at least for film people, with the exception of several break-ins where Norma’s jewelry was stolen.

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Norma Talmadge and Joseph M. Schenck

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Gradually the couple began to grow apart. They separated in 1927 and moved into separate residences; Norma to an elegant apartment building on Harper Avenue in West Hollywood and Schenck moved to a large house in Beverly Hills. They remained married, however, and kept ownership of the Hollywood Boulevard mansion.

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In July 1930, Talmadge traveled to Europe for a rest amid rumors that they were getting divorced but the couple denied the rumors, each claiming they were still in love. The following year Talmadge asked for a divorce and Schenck agreed but she never filed for it. In 1932 she again asked for a divorce and traveled to Europe, supposedly to get one, but once there, she denied the so-called rumors.

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During 1932 alone, the Schenck divorce rumors were many and were announced and denied several times. One time she planned on going to Reno and several months later it was reportedly a Mexican divorce. In the meantime, there was an affair with comedian George Jessel until finally in April 1934 Talmadge and Schenck were divorced in Juarez, Mexico. Three weeks later Norma married Jessel.

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The Talmadge-Schenck home as it looked from Fuller Street in the 1920s

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Above is the site from the same angle on Fuller Street as it looks today

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During all of this the Schenck’s kept the mansion, and may have rented it out but he reportedly moved back after the divorce. In May 1936 Schenck redecorated the property, adding a two-story cabana and a 60-foot swimming pool that replaced the one installed by the Ralphs which was later filled in by the Cudahy’s.

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Bad luck continued to follow Schenck. In 1936 he agreed to pay a bribe to avoid strikes with the unions, but because he made the payoff with a personal check, it came to the attention of the IRS and he was eventually convicted of income tax evasion. In 1940 he finally sold the Hollywood Boulevard “jinx mansion” and all its furnishings in an auction, supposedly to help pay his legal fees. In 1946 Schenck spent time in prison before being granted a pardon by President Harry Truman.

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Notice for the Joseph Schenck auction

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After Schenck sold the mansion, it was razed to make way for Peyton Hall, the first apartment house to go up on Hollywood Boulevard west of La Brea. The colonial-style garden apartment complex included more than 70 apartments. A red carpet rolled all the way from the grand portico to Hollywood Boulevard. There were discreet private entrances and a loudspeaker on the grounds that summoned stars to the studios.

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The architect and builders kept the 60-foot swimming pool that Joseph Schenck installed four years earlier and it was used by the residents, including Shelley Winters and Johnny Weissmuller, who once jumped from the roof into the deep end. Other celebrity residents at Peyton Hall included Susan Hayward, George Raft and Janet Gaynor. Cary Grant stayed there during World War II and Claudette Colbert actually owned the complex and sold it in 1946 for about $450,000 to the first of a succession of owners. In 1960, an investment group bought it for $790,000.

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Beginning in 1978, preservationists waged a two-year battle to save the landmark complex –but to no avail. Peyton Hall was demolished in the early 1980s and the recently renamed, Vantage Apartments (formerly the Serravella) was built in 1988 and remains there today.

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The Vantage Apartments above is the site of the Ralphs-Cudahy-Schenck-Talmadge mansion

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Whether you believe in the “jinx mansion” or not is up to the reader—but it makes an interesting story. If you happen be in the neighborhood of the 7200 block of Hollywood Boulevard on Halloween night, do so at your own risk.

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Lillian Lawrence at Hollywood Forever

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 21st, 2017
2017
Feb 21

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

Lillian Lawrence, leading lady of the legitmate theatre

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Lillian Lawrence was born in Alexandria, Virginia on February 17, 1868, however she grew up in San Francisco when her parents moved there when she was only two years old. Her first exposure to the theater was when she was twelve years old as a toe dancer at the old Tiovoli Theater in San Francisco. The following year she was chosen as one of thirty-two children to become a living chess piece as the Queen’s Knight in operetta, The Royal Middy at the Bush Theatre. A love of theater infected her, however her parents were opposed to her going on the stage, but when they recognized how much she wanted it, they conceded.

Lawrence remained with The Royal Middy after it was transferred to the California Theatre, and for three seasons she sang in light opera at that house in the company of which Emily Melleville was the prima donna. Then her voice failed, and she took her first engagement as an ingénue in a stock company in Oakland, California, where she remained and learned her craft for two years.

She gradually worked her way eastward, affiliating with groups in Dayton, Ohio, and New York, where for years she was prominent in local productions.  She eventually arrived in Boston, where she was a leading lady with the Castle Square Stock Company for five years beginning in 1897. She was immediately embraced by the theater-going public. By this time, she had a decade’s experience in major speaking parts, had trained her memory so she had over 100 roles at her command, and had bloomed into a captivating actress.

During the first decade of the 20th century she appeared on Broadway regularly. In 1919 Lawrence moved to Los Angeles to live with her daughter, Ethel Grey Terry who made her own niche as a film actress. Lawrence divided her time between films and the legitimate stage where she regularly appeared at the Majestic Theater in downtown Los Angeles. She played in numbers of film roles as power matrons for Universal, Joseph Schenck, and the Talmadge Film Companies. Her last legitimate stage role was with Taylor Holmes at the Playhouse in The Great I Am.

Lillian Lawrence died suddenly of heart disease on May 7, 1926 at her daughter’s home at 610 Alpine Drive in Beverly Hills. Funeral services were held at the Strother & Dayton undertakers on Hollywood Boulevard. Afterward her body was placed in a crypt in the fairly new mausoleum addition at Hollywood Cemetery. Just five years later, her daughter, Ethel Grey Terry died and her ashes were interred in her mother’s crypt.

 Lillian Lawrence and her daughter are located in Building C, Crypt 308, which is behind the new mausoleum that was recently opened.

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Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park & Crematory: Hollywood’s Dog Heaven

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 20th, 2017
2017
Feb 20

 LOS ANGELES CEMETERIES

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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On Thanksgiving Day, 1935, a small group of people gathered on a hill in Calabasas to pay their last respects to actress Alice Brady’s beloved Sammy. Age 16, Sammy had been Brady’s pet wire-terrier, and rather than consign his remains somewhere disrespectful, Brady had him interred in a crypt at the local pet cemetery. The epitaph reads, quite simply, “Sammy—My Boy.” Two years later, her favorite dog Nina passed away and was buried at a cost of $300. The next week, her dachshund died of distemper.

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Newspaper notice of the death of Alice Brady’s terrier, Nina

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The Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park & Crematory,  was founded in 1928 and is located off the Ventura Freeway twenty miles from Hollywood, has a mausoleum (built in 1929), combined with crematory and columbarium, for the interment of a beloved pet. With more than 40,000 pets interred, on the cemetery’s thirty acres, it is one of the largest and oldest of its kind on the West Coast.

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Humphrey Bogart’s cocker spaniel, Lionel Barrymore’s dozen dogs and cats, Tonto’s horses, Good Scout and Smoke, and Hopalong Cassidy’s Topper have been buried here since the 1920s.

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Because of its proximity to the film capitol, many of the creatures buried on its thirty acres are the pets of famous movie stars. One of them is Mae West’s pet monkey, Boogie who made his screen debut in I’m No Angel and died in late 1933. Boogie was laid out in a fancy lined casket, but no headstone. Around the same time the Countess di Frasso’s fourteen year-old dog died and was buried in a white casket.

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And there is Jiggs, a nine year-old chimpanzee who died in March 1938 of pneumonia. Jiggs had his own social security number and was a member in good standing with the Screen Actor’s Guild. His funeral at the cemetery was attended by Dorothy Lamour, Bing Crosby and Ray Milland. He last appeared on film in Her Jungle Love (1938) with Lamour.

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Rudolph Valentino and his pet, Kabar. 

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Marker of Rudolph Valentino’s pet, Kabar (Source: Weird California)

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Kabar, a Doberman pinscher, was the pet of Rudolph Valentino and was sent to him as a present from a Belgian diplomat in appreciation of Valentino’s acting. When Valentino died, Kabar disappeared for months and when he returned he was half-starved and his feet were bleeding. Veterinarians who examined him estimated that he had crossed the continent to New York and back searching for his owner. For two weeks he hung around Valentino’s old home, depressed and unhappy, then with a broken heart, he died. Alberto, Valentino’s brother rewarded Kabar’s faithfulness with a grave and a bronze maker that reads, “Kabar, My Faithful Dog. Rudolph Valentino, Owner.”

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Not far from Kabar is the pet of Valentino’s former wife, Jean Acker, a pet she named Bunky Valentino. The bronze marker reads: “1931—1945, Bunky Valentino, All My Love. Jean Acker Valentino.” In the same area is Puzzums, the Mack Sennett cat. Puzzums freelanced most of the time and in his heyday earned $250 a week. Found abandoned as a kitten, Puzzums appeared with Maurice Chevalier and Jeannette MacDonald. His last film was Handy Andy (1934) with Will Rogers. He died from complications caused by an ulcerated tooth in August 1934 at age eight.

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Maurice Chevalier holding Puzzums the cat.

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Miriam Hopkins with her wire terrier, Jerry.

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When Miriam Hopkins’s wire-haired fox terrier, Jerry passed away in 1932, she telephoned the cemetery. In a short time a funeral car called for the body and he was placed in a hermetically sealed casket. Jerry was then taken to the cemetery and placed in his designated plot, one that had been reserved for him.

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Also among the pets buried there are John Gilbert’s Topsy, Dolores Del Rio’s Da Da, and Oscar Strauss’s Hansi. Marian Marsh’s Pekinese, King, has a tombstone costing $150 and there is also Dumpsie, who acted opposite Eddie Cantor, Lee Tracy, Elissa Landi and other stars and who was slain, it was rumored, by foul means.

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Louise Dresser’s Bubbie is honored with an epitaph: “Bubbie. A Gallant Little Soldier, July 12, 1929.” Not far from Bubbie lie two of Corinne Griffith’s pets, Bozo, a prize St. Bernard, and Black Raider, a once lively terrier. In the mausoleum, in one of the crypts, is Jiggs, the Boston bull terrier of Jimmy Murphy. Across from the crypts, there are niches. Here you will find Billie Burke’s police dog, Gloria Swanson’s Rusty, a pet of John Barrymore’s and a dog belonging to stage and screen actor, Edmund Breese.

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To learn more, check out the cemetery’s website HERE

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Happy Holidays

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Dec 25th, 2016
2016
Dec 25

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

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Miriam Hopkins biography to be published by University Press of Kentucky

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Sep 25th, 2016
2016
Sep 25

 MIRIAM HOPKINS

Miriam Hopkins biography to be published by University Press of Kentucky

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Miriam Hopkins

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 By Allan R. Ellenberger

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After tens years of research, interviews and writing, on Friday, I was notified that my biography of actress Miriam Hopkins will be published by the University Press of Kentucky as part of their Screen Classics series. The people of UPK have been great and I look forward to working with them.

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Miriam Hopkins (1902-1972), a top star during Hollywood’s Golden Age, was a complex, independent-minded woman decades ahead of her time. A hard-working (and highly demanding) professional, Hopkins was also a sexually daring, self-educated intellectual, who happened to be a firm believer in liberal causes.

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She had a reputation as one of the screen’s most difficult and temperamental actresses. A close friend, Tennessee Williams, worked with Hopkins and after an initially difficult period, he accepted her extremes. He once described her extremes as “morning mail and morning coffee,” and at other times she was like “hat-pin jabbed in your stomach. The quintessence of the female, a really magnificent bitch.”

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Hopkins was exceptionally smart; one who never let anyone find out how smart she was until it was too late. After many years of research, I was amazed at her intellect and temperament, which would erupt unexpectedly and disappear as quickly. Sometimes her demanding mother would trigger it, but in most cases, she was fighting for her career—or so she thought.

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Throughout the 1930’s, the freewheeling Hopkins was a unique case, remaining a top Hollywood star at no less than four studios: Paramount, RKO, Goldwyn and Warner Bros. And no matter where she worked, in her quest for better opportunities, Hopkins fearlessly tackled the studios’ powers-that-be, from the venerated Samuel Goldwyn to the irascible Jack Warner.

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Hopkins’ biography offers numerous stories—some humorous, some ugly—about her countless battles with co-workers on the set of her plays and films. Whatever drove her—be it ambition, insecurity, or something altogether different, she created conflict with her fellow actors. She was either loved or hated; there was rarely anything in-between. And to say that Hopkins was “difficult and temperamental” would be an understatement. She was Barbra Streisand, Faye Dunaway and Jane Fonda rolled into one.

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Having said that, whenever she trusted the work of her director and co-stars, she was an ideal team player, but if she did not, life for them was not worth living. If rewriting screenplays, directing her fellow actors and her directors, fighting with producers and the studio’s front office was necessary, so be it.

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But in Hopkins’ mind, she was never temperamental. “Proof of that is that I made four pictures with Willie Wyler, who is a very demanding director,” she once said. “I made two with Rouben Mamoulian, who is the same. Three with Ernst Lubitsch, such a dear man. When you are asked to work again with such directors, you cannot be temperamental.”

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In 1940, she made theater history by starring in Tennessee Williams’ first produced play, Battle of Angels. In the beginning, there were problems, but they soon came to terms. “Difficult? I guess so,” Williams reasoned. “But not with me. She was every Southern divinity you could imagine. Smart and funny and elegant, and I kept looking for her in Joanne [Woodward], and Carrie Nye and Diane Ladd, but there was no one like her. No one. I will hear nothing bad of Miriam Hopkins.”

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Ironically, I started working on Miriam Hopkins’ life story because of Bette Davis, who was a favorite. I enjoyed watching Hopkins clash with the indomitable Warner Bros. star in their two films together: The Old Maid and Old Acquaintance. There are stories about their dynamic real-life feud, and years later, the image of a post-stroke Davis ranting on television on how demanding her former co-star could be. For her part, Hopkins denied the bad blood between them. That intrigued me. She would say, “Yes, I know the legend is that Bette Davis and I were supposed to have had a feud. Utter rubbish. Bette and I got along fine. I’d love to make another picture with her.” Even more rubbish!

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I began watching Hopkins’ other films: the ones in which she collaborated with directors, Ernst Lubitsch, Rouben Mamoulian, and William Wyler, in addition to her lesser-known Paramount fare. It was then that I discovered Miriam Hopkins in command of her sexuality. Whether as a dance-hall prostitute in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), a participant in a ménage a trois in Design for Living (1933), or a rape victim in the scandalous The Story of Temple Drake (1933), she proved that sex was more than a three-letter word: at times, it could be raw and terrifying; at others, it could be sensual, sophisticated fun.

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In 1932, columnist Cal York chose Miriam Hopkins as the “best bet for stardom,” ranking her above Joan Blondell, Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Sylvia Sidney and Helen Hayes. York wasn’t off the mark. Still, Hopkins temperament would hinder her rise to “stardom.” My biography on the actress examines her career decline and her several attempts at a comeback.

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In 1935, she made motion picture history by starring in the title role of the first all-Technicolor feature film, Becky Sharp, based on Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. For her performance, she received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination (she lost to—who else?—her future archrival Bette Davis).

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Chronicled will be Hopkins’ remarkable film career along with the importance of her lasting legacy on the Broadway stage. Regrettably, her widely acclaimed live performances survive only in the recollections of those who witnessed them. Thus, what remain of Hopkins’ art are her films.

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Eventually, Hopkins appeared in 36 films, 40 stage plays, guest appearances in the early days of television, and on countless radio shows. In these media, she worked with Carole Lombard, Gary Cooper, Jane Fonda, Edgar Bergen, Bing Crosby, William Powell, Sally Field, Henry Fonda, Loretta Young, Orson Welles, Olivia de Havilland, Peter Lorre, Merle Oberon, Claudette Colbert, Ray Milland, Elizabeth Montgomery, Coleen Dewhurst, Robert Redford and dozens more.

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Her friendships were as celebrated as well, but instead of actors, Hopkins hung around with writers and intellectuals such as writers Theodore Dreiser, Dorothy Parker, Gertrude Stein, and, of course, Tennessee Williams.

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In her love life, she was independent-minded and just as discriminating. She would have four husbands and dozens of lovers; most were writers including Bennett Cerf, William Saroyan, and John Gunther. Hopkins, once again ahead of her time, was a single mother. In 1932, she adopted a baby boy, being one of the first Hollywood stars to do so and starting a trend for such adoptions.

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She was an avid reader, sometimes a writer herself, a lover of poetry, and a patron of the arts. Over the years, her political beliefs vacillated from the far right to the far left. She held positions in political organizations that had the FBI tracking her actions for almost four decades, marking her as a perceived “communist sympathizer.”

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She was one of Hollywood’s brainiest women—yet, she was absurdly superstitious. A believer in the occult, she would not accept film or stage roles, move to a new home, or take long trips without consulting a psychic.

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Despite all her eccentricities, Hopkins proved that she was an accomplished performer who happened to have her own set of rules and her own personal demons. Although she was aware of being a part of film history—how could Margaret Mitchell’s personal choice to play Scarlet O’Hara not have been—she was not sentimental about her existence or her career. She kept no scrapbooks, clippings, or photographs. It was irrelevant to document or discuss her past.

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But no matter. This first-ever Hopkins biography will provide the real, complex, and at times a contradictory portrait of a woman who had her faults, and idiosyncrasies, but who was a major (and fearless) professional achiever—one who could be generous, gracious, and selfless.

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Once you read about the ambiguous, fascinatingly larger than life character that was Miriam Hopkins, you may agree with Tennessee Williams that she truly was a “magnificent bitch.”

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Cinecon returns to the Egyptian Theater over Labor Day Weekend

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Aug 27th, 2016
2016
Aug 27

 FESTIVALS

The 52nd annual Cinecon Classic Film Festival returns to Hollywood’s historic Egyptian Theater over Labor Day Weekend

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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Cinecon is back! That’s right. Over this coming Labor Day Weekend (September 1 – September 5), cinephiles from around the country (and possibly the world) will gather at Hollywood’s historic Egyptian Theater to view remarkable films,  thrilling celebrity guests and a collection of movie memorabilia during the 52nd Annual Cinecon Classic Film Festival.

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Just some of the highlights include a new restoration of 1930’s King of Jazz with Paul Whiteman and an all-star cast that will screen on Saturday night. A special film tribute to Jack Oakie will consist of Looking for Trouble (1934) with Spencer Tracy (1935), Sitting Pretty (1933) with Ginger Rogers and Tin Pan Alley (1940) with Alice Faye. American Asian stars, Anna May Wong and Philip Ahn (both Los Angeles natives) battle alien smugglers in Daughter of Shanghai (1938). Also see the lovely Dolores Del Rio in the rarely screened classic Ramona (1928), along with Warner Baxter. Some rare and early films made at Fort Lee, New Jersey—before Hollywood was Hollywood— will screen, and there will be a sneak peek at an episode of The Clown Princes of Hollywood (2016) from the new DVD collection Silents Please: The Great Comedians.

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For Western fans, there will be Gary Cooper in The Spoilers (1930), Ken Maynard in The Fighting Legion (1930) and in a more modern tale, there is Sky High (1922) starring Tom Mix as a border patrol agent who is fighting smugglers.

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Special highlights will include restored shorts of Laurel & Hardy; the great director Ernst Lubitsch’s silent production of So This is Paris (1927), and a 12-part pre-code serial from Universal called The Jungle Mystery (1932) that will run periodically throughout the festival.

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Bob Birchard speaking at Cinecon 48.

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At 5 PM on Friday, September 2, 2016, there will be a memorial held for former Cinecon president, Bob Birchard, who passed away on May 30, 2016. In addition to his dedication to overseeing Cinecon for many years, Bob was a well-respected film historian, author and film editor. He will be missed by many especially by everyone in the Cinecon family. The memorial is open to the public, and all are welcome.

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Marsha Hunt, recipient the 2016 Cinecon Legacy Award  in a scene from

“None Shall Escape” (1944)

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This year, the Cinecon Board of Governors announced the presentation of the inaugural 2016 Cinecon Legacy Award to the legendary actress, author, and activist Marsha Hunt. The award will be presented to her in person on Friday, September 2 at the Egyptian Theater following a screening of her personal favorite film, None Shall Escape (1944), the story of what war crimes trials might be like following World War II. This movie was released two years before the actual Nuremberg trials.

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Besides The King of Jazz (rarely seen in the last 70 years), there are a few films I am looking forward to including Universal’s sparkling new restoration of the Marx Brother’s classic Animal Crackers (1930) containing footage originally cut by the scissors-happy American censors. Then there is A Million Bid (1927), a silent melodrama of love, motherhood, death and amnesia, starring the beautiful Dolores Costello (and grandmother of the present-day actress, Drew Barrymore). Also, plan to be scared silly during The Last Warning (1929), a pre-cursor to Universal’s horror legacy with ghosts, and murder in an eerie, deserted Broadway theater, starring the also neglected stars Laura La Plante and Montagu Love.

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In addition to the great actors mentioned above, at Cinecon 52 you will also see more films featuring Patsy Ruth Miller, Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, Monty Banks, Abbott and Costello, Claire Trevor, Ralph Bellamy, Madge Kennedy, Thelma Todd, Eva Novak, Douglas Fairbanks, Betty Grable, John Boles, Dixie Lee, Jack Haley, Richard Conte, Lynn Bari, Bing Crosby, Blanche Sweet and many, many more.

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These classic films and much more will screen at the historic Grauman’s Egyptian Theater (home to the American Cinematheque) So if you have not reserved your seat, go to the CINECON website and find out how you can enjoy five days of non-stop classic films and fellowship with like-minded cinephiles in the heart of Hollywood. See you there.

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  • Cinecon 52, Egyptian Theater, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood.
  • Stay at Loews Hollywood Hotel, 1755 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood.

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Harry Addison Love; hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 14th, 2016
2016
Feb 14

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

Harry Addison Love; hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

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Santa Monica’s Del Mar Club, the site of jealous rage and murder (LAPL)

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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A bitter, unyielding battle between two women—one the mother and the other the wife—was to blame for the death of Harry Addison Love, a 46 year-old businessman.

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Love, who was born on October 7, 1890, was the son of Charles (d. 1923) and Cora Adkins Love and the brother of Esther Love Spencer (d. Dec. 7 1929). Esther’s widowed husband Howard and their two daughters, Virginia and Janice, now lived with Cora and Harry at the family home at 457 South Harvard Boulevard (demolished).

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Reportedly, Love married 31-year-old Helen Wills in a small Mexican town on May 3, 1936. On their return to Los Angeles, Helen expected Love to reveal their marriage to his mother. He refused, even threatening her. Instead, he rented her a house at 3613 West Fourth Street, but did not live there all the time, alternating between there and his mother’s home.

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Helen pleaded with him to acknowledge her as his wife, but he was adamant. She knew that her new husband had plenty of money, but he was secretive about his affairs. Helen did not care. “All I wanted was to be acknowledged as his wife,” she said.

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In September 1936, Helen became ill (she said it was from worry) so Love sent her to New York for two months. When she returned, she discovered their framed marriage certificate had disappeared. Love told her he placed it in a safety deposit box for safe keeping.

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When the holidays came, she wanted to spend them alone with Love but he insisted that they have Christmas dinner with his mother. Love took his wife home for Christmas but did not introduce Helen as his wife. After dinner, Love and his mother politely sent Helen home alone while they went to church to listen to Christmas carols.

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The next day, Helen was pleased when Love promised that they would spend New Year’s Eve together at a club in Glendale. “I was almost delirious with happiness,” Helen said. “I bought a new gown. I showed it to his mother.” Wrong move.

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However, that happiness was short-lived. Without warning, Love told his wife that he had included his mother in their New Year’s plans. The three of them would go to the Del Mar Club (Casa Del Mar) in Santa Monica. Helen was disappointed. “Since when do we need a chaperone?” she asked.

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“You don’t understand my mother,” he said.

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“I do understand her,” she told her husband. “She is intensely jealous.”

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When an argument ensued, he told her that because of “financial matters,” he would be going to dinner at the club with his mother, and she would have to make other plans. Then he left.

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On New Year’s Eve, Helen met with Love at a building his mother owned at 3020 Main Street. Once again, he refused to take her to the party that night and drove her to a garage where he left her, instructing the attendants that no one was to use the car but him.

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Helen sat in the car for hours. Finally, an attendant told her it would be better if she went to the office, which she did, but not before taking a pistol which Love kept in the car. She went home, and then decided to take a taxi to the Del Mar Club. She took the gun with her. When she arrived, the clerk told her that Love and his mother had not yet arrived. She would wait.

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Shortly, Love came from the dining room. “Hello darling,” she said to her husband.

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“What are you doing here?” Love asked her.

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“I told you I was going to spend New Year’s with you and I meant it.”

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They quarreled, and he returned to the dining room where his mother was waiting. Mrs. Love turned white when she saw Helen and said, “This is no place for you. You are not invited! See me tomorrow.”

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“Tomorrow will be too late,” she told her, and left. Harry followed her to the cab. He asked her if she had a gun. At first she told him that she had none, and then said, “You’re a big man. Why should you be afraid of a gun?”

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Then, when Helen reached into her purse, Love screamed and turned to run. With the gun in hand, Helen ran after him. Love reached the steps of the club when Helen fired. Love fell back down the steps, jumped up and ran. Helen ran after him as he circled around the block, firing two shots at him as he fled. Love dashed towards the Del Mar Club’s entrance. A third bullet felled him on the sidewalk just in front of the doors.

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Street side of the Del Mar Club as it looks today. Red arrow shows general area where

Harry Love collapsed after being shot by his wife, Helen Wills Love.

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Employees of the club carried him into the lobby and placed him on a couch. Helen followed them into the lobby and stared dazedly at her dying husband. She later told police, “I loved him so that I was not going to give him up.” Harry Love died in the ambulance en route to Santa Monica Hospital.

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Later, when Helen was taken to the women’s quarters of the Santa Monica City Jail, she knotted a silken scarf around her neck and lashed the other end to a bar of the prisoner’s room in an attempt to take her life. Once revived, she was taken to County Jail.

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Helen Wills Love being booked after shooting her husband (LAPL)

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Harry Love’s viewing was at Garret Brothers Mortuary on Venice Blvd. There, Helen was permitted to say her good-byes to her slain husband. Sobbing and stroking his hair as he lay in a gray broadcloth coffin, she kissed him and cried, “You’re happier than I am, darling.”

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Helen Wills Love kisses her dead husband,

Harry A. Love, goodbye in his coffin.

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Death Certificate for Harry Addison Love

(click to enlarge)

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Funeral services for Harry Addison Love were conducted at St. James Episcopal Church (Wilshire and St. Andrew’s). His body was cremated and his cremains were placed in the family niche, along with his father’s, in the foyer of Hollywood Cemetery’s Cathedral Mausoleum.

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Red arrow shows general location of Harry A. Love’s

niche at the Cathedral Mausoleum

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Over the next several months, Helen was arraigned and put on trial during which the prosecution contended that the shooting was a planned murder, motivated by the fact she was a “woman scorned.” But the defense attempted to show it was a hysterical and accidental episode arising from the jealousy of Cora Love, mother of the slain man, who would not acknowledge her a daughter-in-law and fostered the estrangement.

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Helen testified that she had been intimate with Love for many months and became pregnant with his child which resulted in their secret marriage in Ensenada, Mexico. Evidently, she lost the baby shortly after. From then on, Cora Love estranged her son’s affections (which Helen called a “mother complex”) in a series of acts which reached a climax on New Year’s Eve. She testified that the shooting was accidental because the gun went off as Love attempted to take it from her. The prosecution, however, produced eye witnesses who claimed that Helen pursued her husband outside the club and deliberately shot at him.

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Helen Willis Love on trial (LAPL)

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Cora Love testifying in the murder trial of her son, Harry. (LAPL)

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Helen Wills Love was convicted of Second-degree murder by a jury of eight women and four men. Helen, who wore the same black outfit throughout the trial, appealed to the judge to pronounce sentence at once so she could change her plea to murder because of insanity.

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Helen believed she would receive a new trial because one juror was declared to be intoxicated during the trial by the County Jail physician. The juror was dismissed (sentenced to five days in jail and fined $100) and an alternate took her place. She was also told that some jurors read newspapers during the proceedings and was told by a stranger he was told of the verdict prior to the end of the trial.

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But sentencing would have to wait. That morning, Helen was found to be in “self-imposed state of coma.” Evidently, she had told cellmates that she could end her own life by merely willing herself to die. Physicians tried everything to awaken her and were mystified at her condition. Finally, after more than a week she was revived and pronounced sane. The next day, Helen was brought into court on a wheelchair and sentenced to Tehachapi prison for from seven years to life.

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Oddly enough, the following year, Cora Love obtained a permanent injunction against Helen using the name Love. She was restrained from representing herself to have been the lawfully wedded wife of Harry A. Love, or his widow and from representing herself to be the daughter-in-law or related to, Cora Love. Since Love had allegedly put their marriage license in a safety deposit box for “safe-keeping,” Helen had no proof to defend herself.

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Full niche of the Love family. Notice that Cora’s maker (top) is blank.

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Cora Love died on November 11, 1950 while vacationing in Palm Springs. For some reason, her niche at Hollywood Cemetery was never marked, even though she had two granddaughters that survived her.

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Over the next few years, Helen applied for parole a couple of times, once in 1938, but was denied. She was told she would be eligible to apply again but it is unknown when she was actually paroled. Helen, if counting her “marriage” to Harry Love, had four spouses throughout her life. She died at 95 years of age as Helen S. McCullough on November 2, 2000 in Northern California. She is buried at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma, California.

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Dr. Theodore von Kármán; Father of the supersonic age

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jan 17th, 2016
2016
Jan 17

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

Dr. Theodore von Kármán; Father of the supersonic age

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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Dr. Theodore von Kármán was a renowned aerodynamicist and founder of Cal Tech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who was sometimes called “Father of the supersonic age,” and the “patron saint of the Air Force.”

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He was born Szolloskislaki Kármán Todor, son of philosophy Prof. Maurice de Kármán who was knighted by Francis Joseph of Austria-Hungary in 1907 for reorganizing Hungarian secondary education, and his wife, Helene Konn, in Budapest, Hungary, on May 11, 1881.

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At the age of six, von Kármán was a prodigy who could multiply five-digit numbers in his head. His father was afraid his son might grow into a side-show freak, so he forbade him to study math. Nevertheless, his boyhood curiosity in science remained strong. He won the prestigious Eotvos Lorand Prize for the best student in mathematics and science in the entire country upon his graduation from the Minta Gymnasium in Budapest at the age of 16.

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He graduated in 1902 with high honors from the Palatine Joseph Polytechnic in Budapest with a degree in mechanical engineering. After a year of mandatory military service, he received his doctorate under the tutelage of the famous aerodynamicist, Ludwig Prandtl, at the University of Göttingen in 1908 and remained as an associate professor until 1912.

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Five years later, while at Göttingen, von Kármán brought forth one of the most important contributions to the science of fluid flow: an explanation of the eddies in the wake of a moving object. This eddy information, known technically as the Kármán Vortex, was closely connected with the collapse of the Tacoma Bridge, known as “Galloping Gertie,” in 1941. Von Kármán aided in the investigation of the bridge collapse and pointed out that the designer had failed to plan for the turbulent eddies produced by high winds hitting the bridge.

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In 1912, Germany recognized von Kármán’s talent by making him director of the newly created Aeronautical Institute of the University of Aachen. But World War I interrupted further work. Called back to Hungary, von Kármán was commissioned into the fledgling Austro-Hungarian Air Corps.

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His first challenge was to prevent balloons, used in artillery spotting, from being targets of the enemy. Von Kármán produced an entirely new device, a set of counter-rotating propellers attached to the observation basket and guided by three cables held on the ground. It was a captive helicopter—the world’s first helicopter to use counter-rotating props.

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After the war, von Kármán returned to Aachen, which he turned into one of Europe’s most renowned research centers. In 1924, he helped found the International Congress of Applied Mechanics, which attracted many distinguished scientists, including Dr. Frank J. Millikan. The two men began a lifelong association. In 1926, when the philanthropist Daniel Guggenheim provided funds for a new aeronautical laboratory at Cal Tech, Dr. Millikan invited von Kármán to advise on the design and to be the center’s first noted lecturer.

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For two years von Kármán traveled between Aachen and Cal Tech. In 1930, he accepted the directorship of the Guggenheim Laboratory and settled permanently in Pasadena. Turning down an offer from the Nazi Air Minister, Hermann Goring, to return to Germany, he became a United States citizen.

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Even a scientist gets time off to meet celebrities.

Here we see von Kármán with sex symbol, Jayne Mansfield.

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Von Kármán’s basic research spawned the concepts that led to space travel. He headed three dozen top-drawer scientists whose reports served for many years as the master plan for Air Force development. Von Kármán foresaw the intercontinental ballistic missile, enormous troop-transport planes and atomic warheads compact enough for use in rockets.

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With the onset of World War II, his pioneer rocketry brought him to the attention of the Pentagon. Gen. H.H. (Hap) Arnold, then chief of the Army Air Forces, thought rockets might be what he needed to help big bombers take off from short runways. In 1944, after recuperating from surgery for intestinal cancer in New York, von Kármán met with General Arnold on a runway at LaGuardia Airport. Arnold proposed that von Kármán lead the Scientific Advisory Group and become a consultant to the military. With Arnold’s support, von Kármán’s research resulted in Cal Tech’s respected Jet Propulsion Laboratories.

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One of Von Kármán’s accomplishments was the first practical helicopter. He improved gliders, airships, windmills, airplane hangars and military and commercial planes.

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Among his most important technical contributions was the theory of boundary layers, which makes it possible to calculate the friction of air on moving bodies, including the temperatures experienced by nose cones re-entering the atmosphere from space.

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Although he never designed a plane, von Kármán had been called “the elder statesman of aviation.” His work led to the pioneer construction of wind tunnels, which permit airplanes to “fly” on the ground. In a career that enveloped the history of aviation, he established a body of knowledge that paved the way for the design of supersonic jets, guided missiles, and rockets.

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After his retirement from Cal Tech in 1949, von Kármán turned his attention toward international cooperation in engineering research. Under the sponsorship of NATO, he formed in 1951 the Advisory Group for Aeronautical Research and Development (AGARD) and devoted the major part of his time to it until his death.

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Dr. Von Kármán was never married. He lived with his mother Helene (who died in 1941) and his sister Josephine, whom he called “Pipo;” she managed his California-style villa at 1501 S. Marengo Avenue in Pasadena until her death in 1951. Josephine was a lecturer in the French department of USC, author of a book on early Christian art and a collector of artworks.

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Throughout his life, Von Karman received many honorary degrees and medals, including the U.S. Medal for Merit (1946), the Franklin Gold Medal (1948), as well as most awards given in aeronautics and fluid mechanics. He was a commander of the French Legion of Honor, and a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science.

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On January 15, 1963, von Kármán left Pasadena en route to Washington, where President John F. Kennedy conferred another award upon him: the first National Medal of Science as one of the creators of “this new and exciting age.”

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Von Kármán receiving the first National Medal of Science Award from

President John F. Kennedy

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The medal’s citation read:

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“For his leadership in the science and engineering basic to aeronautics; for his effective teaching and related contributions in many fields of mechanics, for his distinguished counsel to the Armed Services, and for his promoting international cooperation in science and engineering.”

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“I know of no one else who more completely represents all of the areas with which this award is appropriately concerned—science, engineering, and education,” the President said.

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Von Kármán replied: “What I can do in the rest of my life, I do not know. But (pointing to his head and smiling) as long as I am in good health here, I will try to be grateful to this country.”

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Afterward, von Kármán traveled to Aachen to visit friends at the Aeronautical Institute, of which he was the director from 1912 to 1929. While there, he suffered a heart attack and developed pneumonia. On May 5, 1963, Dr. Theodore von Kármán died, five days before his 82nd birthday. His body was returned to Los Angeles for interment at Hollywood Cemetery (Beth Olam Mausoleum, Section N-1, Crypt 142) next to his mother and sister.

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President Kennedy expressed deep regret over von Kármán’s death, saying “I know his friends and associates will mourn his loss and join me in paying tribute to a great scientist and humanitarian.”

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After his death, the Theodore von Kármán Award was endowed in 1960 by the Engineering Mechanics Division (now Engineering Mechanics Institute) of the Society, with gifts presented by the many friends and admirers of von Kármán.

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In 1992, the Postal Service honored von Kármán with a 29-cent commemorative stamp at the World Space Congress in Washington DC, Convention Center.

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During his long career, Dr. Theodore von Kármán wrote more than 200 books and scientific papers. He received honorary degrees from universities all over the world, at least 27 of them, extending from Berkeley to Istanbul and Haifa, and was decorated by no less seven governments.

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To visit Dr. Theodore von Kármán’s crypt, enter Beth Olam Mausoleum’s main entrance into the foyer. Go to the back corridor on your left and walk half-way down and von Kármán room will be on your left just past the next doorway.

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Merry Christmas from HOLLYWOODLAND

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Dec 24th, 2015
2015
Dec 24

HOLIDAYS

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Sins of the Mother: The Story of Pauline Hemingway

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Dec 2nd, 2015
2015
Dec 2

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

Sins of the Mother: The Story of Pauline Hemingway

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Ernest Hemingway and his second wife Pauline

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UPDATE / UPDATE

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery has placed a marker on the unmarked grave of Pauline Pfeiffer Hemingway, the 2nd wife of author Ernest Hemingway. Evidently the reason that no one could find her location was because her name was misspelled which would place it out of order. The cemetery reached out to the Hemingway family to let them know that the cemetery was willing to provide a marker at cemetery expense, but they received no response.  Thank you to Tyler Cassity and the staff of Hollywood Forever for marking Hemingway. Please stop by and pay your respects when you are at the cemetery. Below is a picture of the new marker which includes her full name and birth and death dates. Also, an article I recently published about Hemingway, her death and her son follows.

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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According to those that knew her, Pauline Hemingway was intelligent, had a great sense of humor and was a great storyteller. That is how friends remembered her. The public would know her best as the second wife of the great American novelist Ernest Hemingway, having the distinction of being at his side during the most prolific era of his career. Among Hemingway’s books that were published during their marriage are: The Killers (1927), A Farewell to Arms (1929), To Have and Have Not (1937), The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1938), and For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940).

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She was born Pauline Marie Pfeiffer to her parents Paul and Mary (née Downy) Pfeiffer on July 22, 1895 in Parkersburg, Iowa. Her father was the son of a German Lutheran immigrant and her mother the daughter of an Irish Catholic. Also, there were younger siblings Virginia (Jinny) and Max (who died during the influenza epidemic at age 11).

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In 1900, the family moved to St. Louis where Mr. Pfeiffer made a fortune as a commodity broker. Then, twelve years later, not liking the city scene, they relocated to Piggott, Arkansas. Here the Pfeiffer’s cleared the woods; planted several crops and became an even richer landowner.

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Pauline furthered her education as an early graduate of the prestigious University of Missouri School of Journalism. After school, she worked for newspapers in Cleveland and later for chic New York magazines, all while under the watchful eyes of her two uncles, Henry and Gus Pfeiffer.

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In 1925, while in Paris for an assignment from Vogue, she met a promising writer, Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Hadley. Pauline’s sister Jinny had joined her and at first, Hemingway was interested in her, thinking she was better looking than Pauline, but she was a lesbian. They all became great friends, however, even taking vacations together.

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When they first met, Pauline was 30 years old, yet it’s unlikely that there was ever a man in her life, other than a cousin, to whom she was engaged when she met Ernest. Though inexperienced, eventually, Pauline was able to work her way into Hemingway’s bed. From this he had the idea of a ménage à trois with Hadley, but neither woman would agree to that so he asked for a divorce.

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Hadley conceded, but with the proviso that the couple agrees to a 100-day separation to test their love. So Pauline returned to Arkansas where she edited several of Hemingway’s manuscripts. When Hadley released them early from their separation commitment, Pauline returned to Paris, but before they married, she asked that he join the Catholic Church, which he did. They were married in the City of Light on May 10, 1927.

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A little more than a year later, Pauline gave birth to their first son Patrick. It was a difficult delivery (C-Section) and became the fictional basis for Catherine’s death in A Farewell to Arms. Doctors recommended that she wait three years before having another child, so it wasn’t until November 12, 1931 that their son Gregory Hancock was born; an even more difficult Caesarian birth. Now doctors insisted that they have no more children, but because of her Catholic faith, Pauline refused to use birth control, forcing them to practice coitus interruptus. The couple’s sexual and marital problems began at this time.

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Unfortunately, Pauline had hoped to please her husband by giving him a daughter. Because of that, there may have been some resentment against the child who not only threatened her life, but was the wrong sex. Gregory—or Gigi (pronounced ‘Giggy’) as he was called, was cared for by a nurse (Ada Stern) from the age of two weeks and rarely saw his mother. Sharing her husband’s resentment against infants, Pauline once admitted to her son: “Gig, I just don’t have much of what’s called a maternal instinct, I guess. I can’t stand horrid little children until they are five or six.”

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Gigi with his nanny Ada Stern

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In fact, Pauline had little to do with either son so that she could devote herself only to Ernest. In her day, people of wealth often left their children with nurses for extended periods, so she may have denied that her children paid some price for her dedication to her husband’s needs.

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There’s no doubt that Pauline loved her husband until the day she died and truly enjoyed being Mrs. Ernest Hemingway. She took a lot of satisfactions from the idea that she had helped him become one of America’s greatest writers.

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Even though she was a writer herself, Pauline chose not to pursue that career. Instead, she focused solely on Ernest’s writing. Hemingway once called her the best editor he ever had, but aside from some poems and her abundant letter-writing, there is not much with her name on it. It is difficult to know even the extent of what she wrote for Vogue since articles in that magazine typically did not carry bylines.

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Jack Hemingway, the writer’s first son by Hadley, had the most positive comments about Pauline, yet she was his stepmother. He enjoyed having two mothers and never felt that she treated him differently than her biological sons. Patrick, however, did not express much about his feelings toward his mother, and Gigi disliked talking about either parent. The best thing Pauline had ever done for him was to hire a good nurse.

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Back: Hemingway, Pauline, Jack. Front: Patrick and Gigi

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At the heart of Gigi’s troubles was a “flirtation with femininity” that infuriated Hemingway. A friend remarked that the boy “was trying on his mother’s clothes from age four, but it wasn’t until age ten, on a trip to Cuba, that Ernest walked in and discovered him. He stood there frozen and then turned and left.”

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Two years after their divorce, Hemingway told Pauline that Gigi had “the biggest dark side in the family except me, and you and I’m not in the family. He keeps it so concealed that you never know about it and maybe that way it will back up on him.” That led to a series of father-son confrontations that scarred Gigi as a boy and haunted him as an adult.

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Finally, Ernest and Pauline’s sexual and marital problems reached its limits—too many affairs and too little sex—and they divorced in 1940 after the publication of For Whom the Bell Tolls. Later, when Pauline lost her faith, she complained to a friend: “If I hadn’t been such a bloody fool practicing Catholic, I wouldn’t have lost my husband.”

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From then on, Pauline would spend most of her time at their Key West home that they bought the year Gigi was born and running a high-end fabric shop. She often visited her sister Jinny who was now living in Hollywood.

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As for Gigi, in 1950 he dropped out of college and briefly was enrolled as a student researcher in the early days of Scientology. The following year he married Shirley Jane Rhodes, against his father’s wishes. When they were expecting their first child, Gigi wrote to his father the news after the fact. It was just the “logical thing to do if we are going to have a child,” he wrote.

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Both were working in a $65-a-week job at Santa Monica’s Douglas Aircraft factory. They set up residence at 1056 Doreen Place, in the nearby seaside community of Venice. There on Doreen Place, Gigi practiced his cross dressing—wearing his wife’s girdle, painting his nails red, and swaggering behind closed doors.

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Then, on the evening of Saturday, September 29, 1951, Gigi was arrested for entering the women’s restroom of a local movie theater while dressed in drag (in his 1976 memoir he described it as a drug arrest). At the time, Pauline was in San Francisco staying with Jay McEvoy, a wealthy art dealer in his big house on Russian Hill. Feeling out of sorts, she complained of headaches, poundings of the heart and a general feeling of anxiety. She planned to get a full check-up at the Mayo Clinic when time allowed.

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The next day, Pauline received a call from Gigi explaining that he was in jail and the basic reason why. “My mother… did not seem at all alarmed by my predicament but thought my father should be notified. When I said that it would be simpler if papa were not brought in she said, ‘yes… a lot of things would simpler if you had only one parent.’ But she wasn’t really at all upset. I can remember this as clearly as if it were yesterday.”

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Irrespective of Gigi’s memories of that day, Pauline was upset. Apparently, she sent Hemingway a cable, something to the effect that their son was arrested, and that the circumstances were muddled. She would be on the next plane to Los Angeles to get more facts and to try to get him out of jail and keep it out of the papers. She would call him from Jinny’s house.

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Jinny and her lover Laura Archera, a violinist and film producer, met Pauline at Los Angeles airport. At the couple’s Hollywood Hills home on Deronda Drive, she told Jinny that she wasn’t feeling well, that she had a sharp pain in her stomach. Regardless, Pauline contacted lawyers while Jinny and Laura prepared dinner. She couldn’t eat so she went upstairs to bed.

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At nine o’clock she forced herself from bed to take a call from her ex-husband, the first of several that evening. They quarreled bitterly when Hemingway blamed her for “how Gigi was.”

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“See how you brought him up?” he screamed over the telephone. Gigi later said that his “aunt, who hated my father’s guts and who certainly couldn’t be considered an unbiased witness, said the conversation had started out calmly enough. But soon Mother was shouting into the phone and sobbing uncontrollably.”

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Around midnight, Pauline woke up screaming from pain. Jinny and Laura drove her to St. Vincent’s Hospital (Third and Alvarado Streets), a 30-minute drive from Hollywood. Once Pauline was in the operating room, Jinny and Laura returned to Deronda and went to bed. Gigi said: “I can imagine the wild frustration of the surgeons as they searched for a bleeding point in the abdomen, where Mother had originally felt the pain.”

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Shortly after three o’clock Monday morning, October 1, 1951, Jinny and Laura were awakened by a call from the attending physician: Pauline had died of shock on the operating table. They’d tried everything.

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Pauline Hemingway’s death certificate

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Within hours, Jinny had Pauline’s body sent to Pierce Brothers Funeral Home on the northwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Tamarind Avenue, directly across the street from Hollywood Cemetery. Later that morning, Jinny notified family members and cabled Hemingway at 9am, her time.

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Gigi, however, was clueless about the events that supposedly led to his mother’s death. “But Aunt Jinny told me nothing of the details of the phone conversation the next morning,” Gigi recalled, “just that Mother was dead… My mother’s face looked unbelievably white at the funeral [he means the viewing since there was no funeral], and I remember thinking through sobs what a barbarous ritual Anglo-Saxon burial is.”

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Jinny wanted to bury her sister in a Catholic cemetery, but Pauline was a divorced Catholic, so there was no chance of that either. The easiest way was chosen for them—the non-denominational cemetery across the street in a plot that cost $350.

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Pauline’s casket was closed during the brief graveside ceremony on the grounds nearest to the lily pond. There were five mourners attending—Gigi, Jinny, Laura, Jay McEvoy, and Garfield Merner, who was Pauline and Jinny’s first cousin. Pauline’s eldest son, Patrick, was in Africa, and it wasn’t possible for him to get home in time.

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A few days later, Gigi spoke to his father in Havana. Letting down his guard, Gigi told him: “Referring to the trouble I’d gotten into on the Coast,” he said, “It wasn’t so bad, really, papa.”

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“No? Well, it killed mother.”

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“Whatever his motives were,” Gigi later said, “the yellow-green filter came back down over my eyes and this time it didn’t go away for seven years. I didn’t say anything back to him. He’d almost always been right about things, he was so proud, he was so sound, I knew he loved me, it must have been something he just had to say, and I believed him.”

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Six weeks after Pauline’s death, Gigi and Shirley took a flight to Havana to meet Hemingway; there was a wary distance between father and son. At the end of that visit, as they were heading for the airport, Hemingway remarked: “Well, don’t take any wooden trust funds.” Gigi saw the humor in that and smiled as they parted. Then Gigi writes, “I never saw my father again.”

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Gigi spent the next several years trying to find himself. Because of his father’s ill-chosen words, he had blamed himself for his mother’s death.

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In 1960, he entered medical school at the University of Miami. Initially, he had thought his mother died from a heart attack and a ruptured artery. At medical school, one of the first things he did was order his mother’s autopsy report. It showed that Pauline died of a rare and undiagnosed tumor in the core of her adrenal gland called a pheochromocytoma, causing her blood pressure to sore due to extraordinary secretions of adrenaline. Immediately, Gigi knew what happened.

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“It was not my minor troubles that had upset Mother but his [Hemingway’s] brutal phone conversation with her eight hours before she died,” Gigi determined. “The tumor had become necrotic or rotten and when it fired off that night, it sent her blood pressure rocketing…”

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Gigi wrote to his father and confronted him with his interpretation of Pauline’s autopsy. “According to a person who was with him in Havana when he received my letter,” Gigi said, “he raged at first and then walked around the house in silence for the rest of the day.” Nine months later, Ernest Hemingway was dead.

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Over the next forty years, Gigi was married and divorced three more times. He is believed to have had eight children. He received his medical degree and practiced medicine, including time in Montana, but lost his license while struggling with alcohol and his own personal demons. He received electric shock treatments and had several nervous breakdowns. At times, he was a drifter, living in cars, motels or friend’s houses. Finally, in 1995, Gigi had a sex change and became Gloria.

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In 2001, she was arrested in Key Biscayne on charges of indecent exposure and resisting arrest without violence. “He said his name was Gloria,” the arresting officer said. “He looked like a man, but his nails were painted, and he was wearing jewelry and makeup… He was very nice to me.”

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Gloria was taken to the Miami-Dade Women’s Detention Center to await a hearing. Six days later, on October 1, 2001, the 50th anniversary of Pauline Hemingway’s death, Gloria rose early for a court appearance, began to dress and suddenly collapsed onto the concrete floor. The cause of death was hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Hemingway was 69.

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Since the grave of Pauline Hemingway is unmarked, for several decades its location has been a mystery. At least if anyone had that information, no one was talking. Even the cemetery claimed to have no records of her burial—I know because I was told that by a cemetery worker many years ago. In their defense, when Tyler Cassity took over the cemetery in the late nineties, he allowed me to go through the cemetery’s records to look for the famous and the infamous, and I could not find her.

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Then, while doing research for this posting, I came across an article about the writer and Gigi entitled, Hemingway and Son, by Paul Hendrickson. When Hendrickson discusses Pauline’s funeral, he writes:

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“And a stone? It’s a hard and strange fact that, all these years later, there is still no marker of any kind at Pauline Hemingway’s grave. She’s there, anonymously, at what is now known as Hollywood Forever Cemetery, two rows in from the pavement, down from Nelson Eddy Way, under a spongy piece of ground, alongside the modest markers of Lydia Bemmels and Leiland Irish, in almost the literal shade of Paramount Studio’s main lot…”

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Pay dirt! By chance, I was familiar with the grave of Leiland (Atherton) Irish, who is on my list of Hollywood Forever luminaries. His wife Florence, always referred to as Mrs. Leiland Irish, was one of the three founders of the Hollywood Bowl and was its director for nearly thirty years. Ironically, Mr. Irish passed away only five days after Pauline, but he received a marker and sadly Pauline did not.

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In conclusion, an explanation for that oversight may be explained by the following excerpt from Strange Tribe, a Hemingway memoir written by Gigi’s son, John Patrick Hemingway:

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“Pauline was buried in the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery, and as a student at UCLA I must have passed by it a thousand times on my way to classes. Still, it wasn’t until a friend asked me to spend a couple of hours there with her that I actually visited the place. ‘We could have a picnic on the grass,’ she had suggested.

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“Yet it was the first time I’d ever set foot inside a cemetery, and while I rejected the idea of the picnic, I had to admit that it was peaceful and well kept, and not at all what I’d expected. It was a sunny day, and we had the grounds to ourselves. ‘Let’s sit here,’ she said, pointing to a grassy area devoid of any markers. For all I know, I could have been sitting on my grandmother’s grave.

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“Years later, I found out from Dr. Ruth Hawkins, the director of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, that my father and uncle had never bothered to put up a tombstone. They could have afforded one, but clearly felt that Pauline didn’t deserve it. ‘I can’t stand horrid little children’ was how she had once tried to justify her treatment of my father, and when she died, those horrid little children probably had better things to do than worry about tombstones. No sign was left of her passing, nothing that might remind them or anyone else that here lay the remains of the woman who’d once been their mother.”

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Pauline Hemingway’s unmarked grave is simple to find. It’s located in Garden of Legends (Section 8) on the west side. Park near the two Chinese lions on the edge of road and walk two rows in. Find the Irish and Bemmels markers and Pauline is in the unmarked plot between them.

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There is more to the life of Pauline Hemingway than can be documented here.Recommended reading:

Hawkins, Ruth A. Unbelievable Happiness and Final Sorrow: The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Marriage. Little Rock: University of Arkansas Press, 2012.

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