Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood Cemetery’

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

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

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

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

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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June Mathis: The Woman Who Discovered Valentino

Friday, December 5th, 2014

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

June Mathis, a short, thickset, rather plain woman with frizzy hair, became one of Hollywood’s most influential women during the silent era. An accomplished screenwriter, casting director and film editor, Mathis was the only female executive at Metro Studios, and at one time the highest paid film executive in Hollywood.

Born June Beulah Hughes in Leadville, Colorado on June 30, 1889, Mathis was the only child of Phillip and Virginia Hughes. Although available biographical records usually give her year of birth as 1892, census records appear to confirm the 1889 date. Her parents divorced when she was seven and while much of her childhood is vague, at some point her mother met and married William D. Mathis, a recent widower with three children. Ultimately she would take her step-father’s name.

Mathis’ first public incarnation was as a child actor in vaudeville and on Broadway. Her stage credits include the hit play, The Fascinating Widow with the famed female impersonator, Julian Eltinge. For thirteen years Mathis toured in numerous plays and vaudeville shows. In 1914, she moved to New York and took a writing course and entered a scriptwriting contest. This brought her several offers to write scenarios until Metro Studios hired her in 1918. At Metro, she quickly worked her way up to becoming chief of the studio’s script department. Her scripts incorporated a wide range of films including An Eye for an Eye (1918), Hearts Are Trumps (1920) and Polly with a Past (1920). ..

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THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE

When Metro president Richard Rowland bought the rights to the popular war novel, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Mathis was placed in charge. It was through her influence that her friend and fledgling film director, Rex Ingram was hired as the film’s director. The film and the casting of Rudolph Valentino in the role of Julio, established both of their careers. Mathis picked Valentino for the role of Julio after seeing him in a small role in The Eyes of Youth (1919).

Until Mathis cast Valentino in The Four Horsemen, he was relegated to mostly bit parts and walk-ons. Several people have taken credit for Valentino’s success but it was this bit of casting that launched the Latin Lover’s career. At Metro, and later Paramount studios, Mathis was responsible for a string of Rudolph Valentino films including Blood and Sand (1922) and The Young Rajah (1922).

Mathis and Valentino maintained a very close relationship – some even suggested that they may have been romantically involved, but this is unlikely. In fact, actress Nita Naldi said that Mathis mothered Valentino and that they held each other in high regards. When Mathis’ version of the script for the ill-fated The Hooded Falcon failed to impress either Valentino or his wife, Natacha Rambova, Mathis ended their relationship.

BEN-HUR 

After negotiations with producers of the Ben-Hur stage play, Samuel Goldwyn bought the screen rights to General Lew Wallace’s religious novel. Mathis, who had previously been with Metro and Lasky, was now Goldwyn’s head scenarist and was given sovereign control. Not only would Mathis adapt the screenplay, she was in charge of production and her first executive decision was to make the film in Italy. After a nationwide search it was decided to go with Mathis choice for Ben-Hur, George Walsh and her pick for director, Charles Brabin. Neither choice, however, was popular with the public nor with many in the film industry, but this proved how powerful Mathis was at the time.

Once the film company arrived in Rome, the production quickly began to deteriorate. Labor disputes delayed the building of many of the sets; Italian labor was inexpensive, but slow. Not only were the sets and costumes not ready, but the actors sat around or took advantage and made small tours of Europe. To make matters worse, Mathis was told to not interfere with Brabin on the set. Originally she believed that she was to supervise the production, but quickly learned that things were changing; Brabin would only allow her to approve or reject changes to the script.

In the meantime, nothing on the set seemed to go right. The sets cost a fortune but still looked cheap. The script wasn’t completed, and a lot of time and money was being wasted. The moral of the entire company was at an all-time low, and it appeared that Ben-Hur would be the biggest fiasco that Hollywood had ever seen.

During all of this, Metro, Goldwyn, and producer Louis B. Mayer were making plans to merge their studios. The first point of order for the new studio, now known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, was to try and save the fast-sinking Ben-Hur. Mayer, who was appointed as the head of the studio, told MGM’s president, Marcus Loew, that he would only take the job if June Mathis, Charles Brabin and George Walsh were removed. They also insisted that the script be rewritten. These demands meant that they would have to start from the beginning.

Mayer’s replacement for Brabin was director Fred Niblo, who felt the assembled cast was the most uninteresting and colorless he had seen and directly blamed Mathis. Walsh was replaced with Ramon Novarro and Mathis was unceremoniously fired and replaced by scenarists Bess Meredyth and Carey Wilson.

In statements to the press, Mathis held Charles Brabin responsible for the problems on Ben-Hur. She insisted that control of the picture was taken away from her by Brabin and she could no longer associate herself with the film.

During the few months that she was in Rome, Mathis met and fell in love with Sylvano Balboni, an Italian cameraman hired to work on the film. Mathis returned to Hollywood in August 1924 with Balboni in-tow, and married him the following December. Regardless of what transpired on Ben-Hur, Mathis continued to work. Shortly after returning from Rome she signed with First National where she scripted several Colleen Moore films including Sally (1925), The Desert Flower (1925) and Irene (1926). ..

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.REUNION WITH VALENTINO 

When Rudolph Valentino’s last film, The Son of the Sheik (1926) premiered in Los Angeles, Mathis was there and the two had a heartfelt reunion. It was only a few months later that Valentino died suddenly and Mathis offered her own crypt at Hollywood Cemetery as a temporary resting place for the dead film idol.

Over the following year, Mathis developed health problems, including high blood pressure and was placed on a restricted diet by her doctors. That summer, she was in New York with her grandmother, Emily Hawks. On the evening of July 26, 1927, disregarding her doctor’s orders, she had a heavy meal before taking her grandmother to the 48th Street Theatre to watch Blanche Yurka perform in The Squall. In the play’s final act, Mathis suddenly cried out, “Oh, mother, I’m dying,” and threw her arms around her grandmother while sobbing convulsively.

Attendants ran to Mathis seat and carried her outside to the theater alley alongside the playhouse and laid her on the concrete road. A physician that was in the audience examined her and announced that she was dead. Her grandmother was inconsolable, pleading with her to speak while Mathis’ body lay in the alley waiting for the medical examiner to arrive.

The following week back in Hollywood, Valentino’s body was moved to the neighboring crypt to make room for Mathis. They lay next to each other in eternity to this day. .

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THE FUTURE OF WOMEN IN FILM 

While it’s true that only hard-core film enthusiasts recognize June Mathis’ name today, she hasn’t been totally ignored. For instance, you cannot mention Rudolph Valentino, director Rex Ingram or such film classics as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse without discussing Mathis’ and her contributions to film history?

Without a doubt there have been a number of women among Mathis’ contemporaries who yielded various levels of power. These would include writers Frances Marion, Bess Meredyth and Anita Loos and of course directors Lois Weber and Dorothy Arzner, among others.

For some reason, shortly after the advent of sound, women seemed to lose much of their influence that they achieved during the silent era. The only women that seemed to wield any power were gossip columnist Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, who, while not directly running a studio, could definitely influence the powers-that-be.

Today it’s not unusual to see a woman in a position of authority or even running a studio. Examples over the years have included Amy Pascal, Chairman of Sony Pictures; Anne Sweeney, president of Disney-ABC Television; Gail Berman, president of Paramount Pictures; Stacey Snider, co-chairman and CEO of DreamWorks SKG; Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment; Dana Walden, President of 20th Century Fox Television, and of course, there’s media mogul, Oprah Winfrey. June Mathis would be proud.

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Hollywood’s first Mayor

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

HOLLYWOOD PIONEERS

Sanford Rich, the first Mayor of Hollywood

 

 Sanford Rich (far left, standing) at the dedication of the Hollywood Post Office, October 30, 1925 (LAPL)

  

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Over the past fifty years, Hollywood has had its share of honorary mayors, the last being the ever-popular Johnny Grant. However, not many know that Hollywood had two official elected mayors between the years 1903 and 1910 when it merged with Los Angeles in order to obtain an adequate water supply. The first of those two mayors was Sanford Rich.

 

Sanford Rich was born at Fort Wayne, Indiana on September 30, 1840, one of five children raised on a farm. He was educated at regional pioneer schools with no other formal learning and would forever regret hi s lack of higher education. He ran away from home at age 16 to escape his stepmother and worked on a relative’s farm. He started a small meat business in Fort Wayne, sold it and moved to Chicago where he again opened a butcher shop.

 

In 1878 he returned to Fort Wayne where he built the Rich Hotel and managed the retail store of the Swift Packing Company. Soon he moved to San Jose, California, to manage the Swift plant there, and then returned to Chicago. In 1900 he retired, came to Los Angeles and rented a house on Jefferson Street.

 

 

Looking east at the intersection of Hollywood and Gower. The Rich home is at the far right. (LAPL)

 

Above is the same intersection today. The Rich home once stood on the far right corner below the tall billboard.

 

In 1901, Rich bought the Goode property which was east of Gower Street and south of Hollywood Boulevard (then Prospect Avenue), where he built his home at 6048 Hollywood Boulevard. The ambitious home he built for his wife Elizabeth was furnished in such regal style that it became one of the town’s showplaces. Though the house was too large for two people (one child was born to them but died in infancy), eventually 35 relatives arrived in Hollywood beginning with his brother Edwin and his family. The home was planned for their hospitality and enjoyment.

 

At this point, Rich who was in his 60s, was a man of medium height, firm build, gray hair and eyes, serious in demeanor, retiring disposition, a sincere Christian gentleman, definite in his opinions though reticent in expression. He looked the efficient business man – mature and experienced, quick and alert always well groomed, meeting everyone with a friendly smile and handshake.

 

Although never a politician, Rich was part of the successful effort to incorporate Hollywood as a sixth class city on November 14, 1903, and was elected as a trustee for the new corporation. On November 25, after several more bond issues were hammered out, Sanford Rich was elected by popular vote to be Hollywood’s first mayor. The following April, Rich was reelected  by a unanimous vote. Rich presided over approximately 1,000 citizens during his term as mayor. Hollywood had only one other mayor, George H. Dunlop, before the community was annexed to the city of Los Angeles in 1910.

 

Rich soon recognized real property values and during his thirty years of real estate activity subdivided twenty-three separate tracts in Hollywood, among which were: northeast corner of Bronson and Franklin. Southeast corner of Bronson and Franklin, northeast Hollywood and Vine to Franklin; northeast corner Sunset and Gower, except the corner lot; southeast corner Vine and Sunset; south of Fountain east of Gower; west of Argyle near Selma; the tracts ranging in size from two acres in the last to sixty acres north of Los Feliz.

 

Besides being Hollywood’s first mayor, Rich was one of the organizers of the Board of Trade, chairman of the first Board of Trustees of the City of Hollywood, Director of the Hollywood National Bank and Citizens’ Savings Bank, and deacon of the Hollywood Christian Church where he made considerable gifts.

 

Many times over the years Rich would attend official Hollywood functions as Hollywood’s first mayor, including the dedication of the new Post Office, the occasional ground breaking ceremony and Hollywood’s annual birthday celebration which was held at Plummer Park.

 

Sanford Rich home at 6048 Hollywood Boulevard (demolished) (Courtesy of Felicia Korengel)

 

Family members recalled the Rich home – as the Mayor’s residence – was splendid with lovely satin divans and drapes and elegant furniture. “Uncle San and Aunt Lizzie” were favorites and the children recalled Aunt Lizzie in her black satin dresses and tiny black satin shoes. Her eyes were so blue and seemed to be always smiling. Lizzie died on May 25, 1926 and was buried in the family plot at Hollywood Cemetery. Within a year, Rich was remarried to Sarah Miller, who was also recently widowed.

 

On June 9, 1930, Sanford Rich died at the age of 89, after being diagnosed with pneumonia a few days earlier. The funeral was held at the Hollywood Christian Church, 1717 N. Gramercy Place. A deeply religious man, Rich left his valuable home and other property on Hollywood Boulevard to the church, of which he was a member for 31 years, with the stipulation:

 

“We want it to be clearly understood by the present and succeeding Official Boards that none of the proceeds of the above described property be used as salary or compensation for any minister or missionary who while so employed in his teachings or practices opposes or fails to advocate the pleas of the people known as Christians or Disciples of Christ…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sanford Rich was buried next to his first wife Elizabeth at Hollywood Cemetery.

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Peg Entwistle’s suicide

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

HOLLYWOOD SUICIDES

Peg Entwistle, the suicide blonde of Hollywoodland

 

 

 

Today, September 16, is the 78th anniversary of the suicide of Peg Entwistle. In remembrance, here is a rerun of an article recently posted. Rest in peace Peg.

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger
Hollywoodland
 

On the evening of Sunday, September 18, 1932, a mysterious phone call was received at the Central Station of the Los Angeles Police Department:

 

“I was hiking near the Hollywoodland sign today,” said a feminine voice, “and near the bottom I found a woman’s shoe and jacket. A little further on I noticed a purse. In it was a suicide note. I looked down the mountain and saw a body. I don’t want any publicity in this matter, so I wrapped up the jacket, shoe and purse in a bundle and laid them on the steps of the Hollywood Police Station.”

 

The officer asked for the woman’s name but she hung up before he could get more information. He called the Hollywood station and the package was found as described, including the alleged suicide note which read: “I’m afraid I’m a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this thing a long time ago it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E.”

 

 

 

 

 

Detectives made their way to the Hollywoodland sign, where they found the body of a woman, described as being about 25 years old, with blue eyes and blonde hair. She was reasonably well dressed. With no other identification except for the “P.E.” on the suicide note, her body was sent to the morgue where it remained unclaimed.

 

Meanwhile, the following morning, Harold Entwistle read in the papers about an unidentified woman, dubbed “The Hollywood Sign Girl” by the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, who had apparently jumped to her death from the top of the letter “H” in the fifty-foot-high “Hollywoodland” electric sign. Entwistle, an actor, lived at 2428 Beachwood Drive and could see the sign from his front porch. He was suspicious about his niece Millicent, who he had not seen since the previous Friday evening walking up Beachwood towards the Hollywood Hills. She said she was going to buy a book at the drug store and then visit with some friends.

 

Millicent, a struggling actress, was known professionally, and to her friends as Peg. It was Peg’s absence and the alleged suicide note that Entwistle regarded as significant — the report said it was signed with the initials “P.E.” After contacting authorities at the county morgue, Entwistle’s fears were confirmed when he identified the dead woman as his niece.

 

“Although she never confided her grief to me,” Entwistle told officers, “I was somehow aware that she was suffering intense mental anguish. She was only 24. It is a great shock to me that she gave up the fight as she did.”

 

Entwistle denied reports that a broken love affair had actuated his niece to take her life. Instead, it was determined that disappointments for a screen career, equal to the success she had enjoyed on stage, were attributed as the reason behind the spectacular suicide.

 

Millicent Lilian Entwistle was born in Port Talbot, Wales to English parents Robert and Emily Entwistle, on February 5, 1908 while her parents were visiting relatives. They returned to their West Kensington (outside London) home where she lived until age 8. Peg’s mother died in 1910 and four years later, Robert married Lauretta Ross, the sister of his brother Harold’s wife Jane.

 

In August 1913, Robert was brought to New York by famed Broadway producer Charles Frohman as his stage manager. After a few years, on March 20, 1916, Peg, along with her parents and aunt and uncle, arrived in New York on the SS Philadelphia. In 1918, Robert and Lauretta had a son Milton, and two years later Robert was born. In 1921, Lauretta died from meningitis and a year later, on November 2, 1922, Robert was struck down by a hit-and-run driver on Park Avenue. He lingered for weeks and died just before Christmas 1922. Now orphans, Peg and her brothers were taken in by her uncle Harold and aunt Jane.

 

A few years later Peg was living in Boston where she made her first appearance on the professional stage with the Henry Jewett Reparatory Company where she was taught to act by Blanche Yurka. In October 1925, Harold Entwistle’s employer, actor Walter Hampden, gave Peg an uncredited walk-on in his Broadway production of Hamlet with Ethel Barrymore. A young Bette Davis was inspired to act after seeing Peg perform in Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck. Over the years Davis made several references to Entwistle, saying that she “wanted to be exactly like Peg Entwistle.”

 

 

 

 

After serving an apprenticeship with them for several seasons, she came to New York and was recruited by the prestigious New York Theatre Guild and obtained a small part in The Man from Toronto in June 1926. Afterward she was cast in an important role in The Home Towners, which George M. Cohan produced in August of that year. Over the next six years Peg performed in ten Broadways plays in such Theatre Guild productions as Tommy, which was her longest running play. Reviewers said that Peg was “attractive in the manner of a number of other fresh ingénues.”

 

Other plays followed including The Uninvited Guest, a revival of Sherlock Holmes with William Gillette and Getting Married. Some of her plays lasted no longer than a month or two; however she always received good reviews for her performances regardless of the quality of the production.

 

In April 1927, Peg married fellow actor, Robert Keith, who was the father of Brian Keith, best known for his role in the television sit-com, Family Affair. The Keith’s toured together in several Theatre Guild plays until their divorce in 1929.

 

Peg’s final Broadway play was in J.M. Barrie’s, Alice-Sit-by-the-Fire in March 1932. The production starred the popular actress, Laurette Taylor whose alcoholism caused her to miss several performances and forcing producers to end the play several weeks early.

 

In May, Peg was brought to Los Angeles to costar with Billie Burke and Humphrey Bogart in the Romney Brent play, The Mad Hopes at the Belasco Theatre. The play opened to rave reviews with standing-room-only audiences. One reviewer commented:

 

“…Belasco and Curran have staged the new play most effectively and have endowed this Romney Brent opus with every distinction of cast and direction. …costumes and settings are of delightful quality, and every detail makes the production one entirely fit for its translation to the New York stage. In the cast Peg Entwistle and Humphrey Bogart hold first place in supporting the star (Billie Burke) and both give fine, serious performances. Miss Entwistle as the earnest, young daughter (Geneva Hope) of a vague mother and presents a charming picture of youth…”

 

When the play closed, Peg was preparing to return to New York when she was offered a screen test at RKO. On June 13, 1932 she signed a contract to appear in Thirteen Women where she is billed ninth in the opening credits. The film starred Irene Dunne and Myrna Loy as a half-caste fortune teller’s assistant motivated by revenge against the bigoted schoolgirls who tormented her in school years earlier.

 

The film received poor reviews and negative comments from preview audiences. The Los Angeles Times said of the preview: “…its picturization is an utterly implausible tale of mediocre worth.” The premiere was delayed and the film was edited to reduce its running time, significantly cutting back Peg’s screen time. Once it premiered after Peg’s death, one reviewer called it “a dreadful mess of a picture with more defects, deficiencies and lapses than any offering since Chandu the Magician.”

 

 Peg Entwistle’s home at 2428 Beachwood Drive

(this is a private residence; please do not disturb the occupants)

 

 

 The sidewalk in front of Peg Entwistle’s home on Beachwood Drive where she took her last walk

 

 

RKO did not option Peg’s contract and she was broke and could not return to New York. She tried finding roles on both the local stage and at the film studios but nothing was available. On Friday evening, September 16, 1932, Peg told her uncle she was going to walk to the local drugstore and then visit friends. Instead, she walked up Beachwood past Hollywoodland and then hiked up the side of Mount Lee to the Hollywoodland sign. There she most likely wrote her suicide note, took off her coat and shoe, and climbed a maintenance ladder behind the letter H and, at some point, jumped to her death.

 

The coroner determined that death was due to internal bleeding caused by “multiple fractures to the pelvis.” Her Episcopal funeral service was conducted on September 20 at the W. M. Strother Mortuary at 6240 Hollywood Boulevard (demolished). Her body was cremated at Hollywood Cemetery and held in storage until December 29 when her ashes were sent to Oak Hill Cemetery in Glendale, Ohio for burial with her father on January 5, 1933. Her grave is unmarked.

 

 The burial card at Oak Hill Cemetery where Peg Entwistle’s ashes were interred. H Milton Ross was the father of Peg’s stepmother, Lauretta. (Photo courtesy of Scott Michaels)

 

 

Peg Entwistle was buried with her father at Oak Hill Cemetery in Glendale, Ohio. Their grave is unmarked. (Photo courtesy of Scott Michaels) 

 

 

Some sources claim that shortly after Peg’s death, she received a letter from the Beverly Hills Community Players, offering her a role in a play where her character commits suicide. Since this tale was related in Kenneth Anger’s “Hollywood Babylon II,” the veracity of it is questionable. Other false claims made by Anger are that Peg jumped from the last letter D because it was the thirteenth letter and she associated it with the film Thirteen Women. He also wrote that she was the first of other “disillusioned starlets” who followed her lead and committed suicide from the sign; this is not true. Peg Entwistle is the only confirmed suicide from that famous Hollywood landmark.

 

 

Click below to watch Peg Entwistle’s appearance in Thirteen Women (1932)

 

 

 

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Filming locations for Valentino (1951)

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

FILMING LOCATIONS

Valentino (1951)

 

 

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

The short eventful life of the world’s greatest lover, Rudolph Valentino, is an entertainment natural; and the film, succinctly called Valentino (1951), sentimentally embellishes his life for celluloid purposes. There have been two other bio-pics based on Valentino’s life made since, and several shorts, plays and musicals and only a few are worthy of representing the actor’s life. Will someone please make an accurate and entertaining biographical film on the life of Rudolph Valentino?

 

Valentino’s producer, Edward Small, spent 13 years getting his film ready. The project survived 18 versions of the script by some 40 writers, the death of Small’s first “discovery” for the title role, and the threat that two other producers might rush a Valentino film. In that span of time, Small received over 100,000 letters and photographs from people who felt themselves right for the part.

 

The screenplay is a mixture of real and made up incidents and characters that influenced Valentino’s life. The basic facts of his rise to stardom and his tragic death at the height of his fame are true – sort of – but most of the people who figured in his career and hectic romances are necessarily disguised to prevent the producers from being sued (which didn’t work).

 

Anthony Dexter, who played Valentino, bore a startling resemblance to Rudy at times, depending on the camera angles. The film traces Valentino’s progress from dancing gigolo to the Hollywood heights to his death in New York. Along the way he encounters an actress (played by Eleanor Parker), who provides the big, unhappy romantic interlude in his life.  

 

The real-life counterpart for Parker’s character was silent film actress, Alice Terry, who successfully sued the producers and Columbia Pictures over the manner in which she was depicted in the film. Terry, who appeared in two films with Valentino, complained that she was shown as having carried on “a meretricious and illicit love affair” with Valentino while married to the director. She sued for $750,000 in damages but settled for an undisclosed amount.

 

Likewise, Valentino’s family also sued, charging that the picture was “almost entirely fictional” and showed Valentino as a “dissolute and immoral person.” They too settled out of court for a “substantial amount.”

 

The making of the film Valentino is more exciting than the film itself and is worthy of a full-blown article on the subject. However, the film is not without its high points. The tango scene between Dexter and actress Patricia Medina is first-rate and possibly one of the best of its kind ever filmed. Dexter did show a striking resemblance to Valentino, but did not speak with an Italian accent which detracts from his performance.

 

The last scene, which is the only one filmed on an actual location, was filmed at Hollywood Cemetery, several years later on the anniversary of Valentino’s death. The scene shows the yearly appearance of the veiled “Lady in Black” whose identity was unknown. Following are four screen shots from the ending of Valentino (1951) and how those locations appear today.

 

 

 

Above is a screen shot from the film Valentino showing attendees at Hollywood Cemetery on the anniversary of his death. Below is the same angle as it appears today.

 

 

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Above shows the Lady in Black character entering the Cathedral Mausoleum where Valentino’s crypt is located. Notice the full-length stained glass window at the end of the corrider and below, the same shot today and the missing window which was removed for unknown reasons.

 

 

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Above, character actor Joseph Calleia stands on the steps of the Cathedral Mausoleum as two extras speak in the foreground. Below is the same spot as it looks today.

 

 

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Above, this scene shows the Lady in Black leaving the cemetery after leaving flowers on the grave of Rudolph Valentino. Below is the same road today.

 

 

 

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Hollywood Cemetery

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

Beautiful Hollywood Cemetery…

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Someone once asked me what it would have cost to be buried at Hollywood Cemetery back in the early days. I have an ad for the cemetery from an old 1931 Los Angeles telephone directory that listed the prices for the various ways to be interred there.

 

Just as the cost of real estate in the living world depends on “Location, Location, Location,” the same holds true once you pass to the other side.

 

The ad qualifies the price by saying “and up” which probably means that it depends on where the “inurnment” is. For example, the price for crypts would depend where on the mausoleum wall it was. Crypts that are around eye level are usually more expensive than those at the top. The same would apply to niches. Outside graves would also depend on location: those that surround the lake would cost more than those in the rear of the property next to the wall. Remember, these are 1931 prices!

 

Mausoleum, private — $1,800 and up

Crypts — $225 and up

Family Plots — $162 and up

Graves, Single — $42.50

Cremation: Adults — $50 / Children — $10 to $25

Niches — $35.00 and up

Urns — $12.00 and up

 

 

 Hollywood Cemetery circa 1925 (LAPL)

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery: Then & Now…

Monday, December 29th, 2008

 THEN & NOW

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

  

 THEN: Hollywood Cemetery, looking west in mid 1920s

 

NOW: The same view in 2008 with the Harry Cohn crypts in the forefront

 

Hollywood Forever Cemetery
6000 Santa Monica Boulevard
Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California

 

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Rudolph Valentino’s Final Resting Place…

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

VALENTINO WEEK

Valentino’s Crypt

 

 

How Valentino came to be in his final resting place 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Once Rudolph Valentino had been interred and the obsequies completed, the thought of how the actor would be remembered was foremost in everyone’s mind. The city of Chicago, home of the infamous “Pink Powder Puffs” editorial, formed the Rudolph Valentino Memorial Association in the hopes of erecting a remembrance of some kind. The Arts Association of Hollywood proposed a monument that would be the forerunner of a series of memorial to pioneers of the film industry. A committee of local Italians, which included director Robert Vignola, Silvano Balboni, and his wife June Mathis, suggested the construction of an Italian park on Hollywood Boulevard with a memorial theater and a large statue of Valentino as its central feature. Despite those grandiose projects, no memorials actually materialized — and it slowly became apparent that the same would happen with Valentino’s final resting place.

 

After Valentino’s death, a decision could not be made as to where the actor’s body would finally rest. George Ullman, Valentino’s manager, was confident that Alberto, the actor’s brother and the person who would have the final say, would consent to interring the body in Hollywood. The Mayor of Castellaneta, Valentino’s birthplace, cabled Alberto imploring him to have the actor’s body returned there for burial with ceremony. Valentino’s sister Maria, who at first wanted her brother brought back to Italy, later concurred with the Hollywood delegation, thanks in part to the suggestion of William Randolph Hearst. To solve the problem — at least temporarily — June Mathis offered her own crypt at Hollywood Cemetery mausoleum until an appropriate memorial could be decided upon or built.

 

 

 

 

Valentino and his friend June Mathis

Valentino’s casket originally rested in Mathis’ crypt until her death

 

When Mathis died in New York less than a year later and now was in need of her crypt, a decision had to be made about what to do with Valentino. As a good-will gesture, Silvano Balboni offered to have Valentino’s casket moved to his crypt next to Mathis’ until the Valentino estate ironed out its problems. On August 8, 1927, cemetery workers entered the Cathedral Mausoleum and, what proved to be one last time, moved Valentino’s remains to the adjoining crypt, number 1205.

 

While public memorials were being considered, Valentino’s body continued to lay in a borrowed tomb. At the time of his death, architects were asked to submit designs for a mausoleum, with an estimated cost placed at $10,000. Photoplay magazine published plans for a proposed tomb by architect Matlock Price in the November 1926 issue.

  

 The Memorial that might have been…

 

 

 

 

 

The design incorporated an exedra, a half-circle of columns standing serene and dignified against a dark background and curving towards the observer. Within that half-circle, a “heroic” bronze figure of Valentino as the Sheik, seated on an Arabian horse, towered above the onlooker. Following the curve of the exedra, a broad bench sat under two pergolas running across the ends of the terrace, which was paved with red Spanish tile.

 

These plans also went nowhere, and a permanent mausoleum for Valentino has never materialized. In May 1930 a memorial to Valentino was finally erected in De Longpre Park in central Hollywood, the only one of its kind dedicated to an actor in the film capitol.

 

 

 

 

The Valentino statue, “Aspiration,” in De Longpre Park 

 

In April 1934, after Valentino’s body lay in a borrowed tomb for almost eight years, Silvano Balboni sold the crypt to Alberto. Balboni returned to Italy and never returned to the United States; Valentino now had his own resting place.

 

Rudolph Valentino’s crypt in the 1930s (LAPL)

 

Every year on August 23rd at 12:10 p.m. (the time that Valentino died in New York), scores of fans gather near his crypt at Hollywood Forever Cemetery to remember the man. Regardless of the circus atmosphere that once prevailed at these events during the past eighty-two years, whether it be reports of the actor’s ghost or the appearance of mysterious, dark-veiled women, it is hoped that somehow the spirit of Rudolph Valentino, the “Great Lover,” now rests in peace.

 

If you are in the Los Angeles-Hollywood area this Saturday, August 23, be sure to drop by the Rudolph Valentino Memorial at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The service is held at the Cathedral Mausoleum and begins at 12:10 p.m. – the time of Valentino’s death in New York. Arrive early as seats go quickly. See you there.

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EMAIL: Hollywoodland23@aol.com

 

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‘Aunt Betty’ Rathbun at Hollywood Forever…

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

‘Aunt Betty’ Rathbun

 

BORN: Unknown

DIED: January 26, 1925, Los Angeles, California

BURIAL: Hollywood Forever Cemetery,

Section 12 (near the Otis-Chandler –Times memorial)

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger 

 

Her age was unknown, but it was believed that Betty Rathbun, a full-blooded Mound Valley Indian, was more than 100 years of age. On the death certificate her age is given as 80 but this was only an estimate. She must have been many years older since friends said that she remembered distinctly events that happened more than a hundred years earlier, and that she possessed all of her faculties until the end.

 

For many years ‘Indian Betty,’ as she was sometimes called, lived in a little house on West First Street that was furnished by the Dunkard Church. She was a deeply religious woman and though in need, would never accept a cent from the government.

 

Betty was a protege of the Sunshine Society, which took care of her for many years. Little is known of her history except that she was taken captive by a waring Indian tribe and later sold to the family of an Army officer for four head of live stock. She served the family for many years before coming to Los Angeles. Betty never married.

 

Neighbors told her that at her death she would be put in Potter’s Field. However, when that time came, on January 26, 1925, at the General Hospital, she was laid to rest at Hollywood Cemetery in a lot that was purchased for her by Bernice Johnson of the Sunshine Society.

  

  

The preceding is one in a series of biographical sketches of
Hollywood Forever Cemetery residents.

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