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10 Unsolved Hollywood Mysteries That Will Shock You


10 Unsolved Hollywood Mysteries That Will
Shock You. Celebrities are victims of seemingly unrestricted
access to their private lives since they are always spied on and documented by the media.
In some cases though, their fame and popularity proved to be insufficient in saving them from
dying or even in finding the true cause of their death. Of course, homicide cases frequently
go unsolved not only for decades, sometimes even longer, yet one would expect the police
would have an easier job in discovering the killer (if there is one) when the victim is
famous. However, many of the celebrity murder and mysterious death cases end up closed after
years of fruitless searching. Still, some of them remain open and even decades after
the murder authorities are still attempting to piece together what actually happened.
Will we ever find the answers to these tragic events? One can only hope. As of now however
these 10 celebrity deaths are still unsolved and at least for now remain a mystery.
1. Johnny Stompanato. Lana Turner, one of Hollywood’s greatest beauties
and sex symbols – she was the original “sweater girl” – was discovered in 1936 by Hollywood
Reporter Editor Billy Wilkerson after she skipped a high school typing class in favor
of a coke at a soda fountain in Hollywood. Struck by her beauty and figure, Wilkerson
gave Turner his card and introduced her to an agent who promptly got the attractive 15-year-old
a part in an otherwise-forgettable low-budget film called They Won’t Forget.
Hollywood soon beat a path to her door, and Lana became one of the most sought-after actresses
in the industry. Men were similarly attracted to her, but the success Lana found as a Hollywood
leading lady was not something she could duplicate in her personal life; she would be married
seven times in all – none of her unions would last more than four years. The relationship for which Lana is perhaps
most remembered was not a marriage but an affair. It was both emotionally and physically
violent – and it ended in a most unexpected and shocking way. Lana met Johnny Stompanato during the spring
of 1957, shortly after divorcing actor Lex Barker, her fourth husband. She fell for Stompanato’s
good looks and his prowess as a lover, but when she discovered his ties to gangster Mickey
Cohen (Stompanato was his bodyguard and enforcer), she tried to break off the affair, fearing
bad publicity. But Stompanato was not easily dissuaded, and over the following year, the
two of them became entangled in a relationship marked by violent arguments, physical abuse
and serial reconciliations. Stompanato had already lived a life of adventure.
A Marine war veteran, he converted to Islam in order to marry a Turkish woman. After World
War II he spent time in China and claimed he ran nightclubs, though in truth he was
only a civil bureaucrat. He was also a gigolo, being spotted frequently
in public on the arms of beautiful, older women on whom he was financially dependent.
He’d been married at least twice before meeting Lana Turner, but nothing had ever
lasted more than two years. Neither Lana – nor her daughter Cheryl Crane
(her daughter from her second marriage) – were enamored of Stompanato by the end, but in
the beginning, when he was courting her, Lana found him very persuasive. “I believed the lies a man told me, and by
the time I learned they were lies it was too late,” she would write years later. “He was
utterly considerate, and I began to warm toward him physically. His wooing was gentle, persistent
and finally persuasive.” Shortly after their relationship became public
one of Lana’s close friends told her that the man she knew as John Steele was actually
mob affiliate John Stompanato. The warning was not enough for Lana to break it off. “Call it forbidden fruit or whatever,” she
wrote. “This attraction was very deep, maybe something sick within me. And my dangerous
captivation went far beyond lovemaking.” While in England filming Another Time, Another
Place with Sean Connery, Lana hoped on the one hand that when she’d said goodbye to Johnny
in Los Angeles, he would follow his previous pattern and move on to another woman. But
on the other, Lana soon found herself lonely and reached out to him, asking Johnny to join
her. In England Johnny became physically violent
with Lana for the first time. Bored and complaining bitterly about Lana’s reluctance to be seen
in public with him, an argument escalated to a shoving match. “I reached for the phone, but he knocked it
away and lunged for my throat,” she wrote. “As his grip closed around my larynx, I managed
to let out a loud scream, though I could feel the strain on my vocal chords.” Because he’d entered England illegally (using
a passport with the alias John Steele), Lana was able to get him deported. But she would
eventually have to return to the United States, where he would be waiting. The 1958 Academy Awards marked a milestone
in Lana’s acting career – she’d been nominated for Best Actress for her performance in Peyton
Place. But they also helped set off the final, fatal convulsion that spelled the end of Johnny
Stompanato. A photograph of Lana and Cheryl from that
night at the awards dinner showed a spectacular Lana in a form-fitting strapless white lace
gown. With her wide, bright eyes, flawless skin, charming smile and beautiful platinum
blonde hair, Lana and daughter Cheryl – more modestly attired in a green taffeta gown – were
the distilled essence of Hollywood glamour and royalty. Watching the ceremony from his home in Beverly
Hills, Stompanato grew angrier by the moment. When Lana returned home from a round of post-Oscar
parties, he was in the grip of a violent rage. “You’ll never leave me home again!” he roared.
“That’s the last time.” After castigating Lana for not winning the
Best Actress Oscar, and for her growing dependency on alcohol, he began slapping her face.
“He cracked me a second time, this time knocking me down. I staggered back against the chaise
and slid to the floor,” she wrote. “He yanked me up and began hitting me with his fists.
I went flying across the room into the bar, sending glasses shattering on the floor.” Picking her up again, he grabbed her shoulders
and peered down at her. “Now do you understand?” he asked. “You will
never leave me out of something like that again. Ever.” “Underlying everything was my shame,” she
wrote in her biography. “I was so ashamed. I didn’t want anybody to know my predicament,
how foolish I’d been, how I’d taken him at face value and been completely duped.” Lana lay bruised and bleeding in bed the day
after the Academy Awards ceremony. Beside her lay a sleeping Johnny Stompanato – completely
unaware of his approaching end. Forever afterward Lana would speak of it only
as “the happening”. Cheryl would not speak of it at all. It began on a Friday evening. Lana and Johnny
were fighting and Lana would remember later she knew this fight would be a bad one. They
were in her bedroom. Cheryl was in her room next door. Cheryl could easily hear everything
that was being said. After the Academy Awards, Cheryl had seen
her mother’s bruised face; there was no question John was beating her. Cheryl never saw – and
never claimed she saw – Johnny hit Lana. But the after-effects – in London, and after
the Oscars – were impossible to deny. Outside the bedroom, Cheryl begged her mother
and Johnny to stop. “Cheryl, get away from that door!” Lana yelled
back. “I’m not going to tell you again!” Cheryl wasn’t going anywhere. But her mother
matched her stubbornness. “She wouldn’t open the door,” Cheryl recalled. “She said, ‘Go
back to your room. John is leaving.'” Only he wasn’t leaving. Instead he started
making threats. He would cut Lana’s face. He would kill Lana’s mother. “And I’ll get
your daughter, too.” As the argument raged, Cheryl went to the
kitchen and grabbed a carving knife. Johnny and Lana had actually bought it that same
day. Cheryl went back upstairs and stood outside her mother’s closed door. The argument started to dissipate; Stompanato
was leaving the house. He pulled a set of clothes and some heavy, wooden hangers out
of the closet. Still holding the knife, Cheryl pleaded with
her mother to open the door, which an exhausted Lana finally did. Lana stood between Cheryl
and Johnny. Johnny was facing the door and looking at Lana with a raised arm holding
his clothes over his shoulder so that all Cheryl could see was the arm – and some
kind of weapon. As he moved past Lana toward the door, his
arm upraised holding … something … Cheryl thrust her arm out. From Lana’s point of view
it looked only as though Cheryl had punched Johnny hard in the stomach. “Oh, my God, Cheryl, what have you done,”
he gasped. Then he pirouetted and collapsed to the floor. His eyes closed and he wheezed
horribly – mortally. Johnny Stompanato was dying on the carpet of Lana Turner’s new home. Cheryl dropped the knife and backed away.
To her horror Lana realized now what had just happened. Cheryl had not punched John – she’d
stabbed him. Lana went to Cheryl, who was sobbing, and helped her to her room. Then
she returned to tend to the dying Stompanato. He was unconscious by the time he hit the
floor. His breathing was heavy. Lana took the knife and dropped it in the sink in the
pink marble bar. Then she called her mother. Within minutes a doctor and Lana’s mother
were there. Turner gave Johnny mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The doctor gave Stompanato
a shot of adrenaline directly into his heart. But it was too late. Johnny Stompanato, war
hero, actor wannabe, two-bit hood, gigolo and abuser, was dead. The coroner’s inquest into the death of Johnny
Stompanato was a white-hot television event, filling up the largest courtroom in the Beverly
Hills Hall of Records. Three out of four seats in the court were reserved for the press.
CBS and ABC broadcast the inquest live and it went out by radio as well. Interest in the case was enormous. Box office
receipts for Peyton Place, already quite healthy, increased by a third immediately after Johnny’s
death. By an amazing coincidence, one of Lana’s key scenes in the movie was a courtroom interrogation
in which she was questioned about crimes committed by her daughter.
Lines formed for the relative handful of public seats at 6 a.m. Just before 9:00, under a
merciless sun cruelly intensified by TV lights and flashbulbs, Lana, Stephan Crane and their
lawyer Jerry Geisler entered the building and were hustled into the courtroom. Because he was the person who had identified
Stompanato’s body at the morgue, mobster Mickey Cohen was the first person called to testify.
An inveterate showman, he made waves in court by refusing “to identify the body on the grounds
I may be accused of this murder.” After only two minutes on the stand he was excused and
left the building. The coroner produced an autopsy report showing
that not even “a whole team of doctors” could have saved Johnny’s life from the wound inflicted
by Cheryl Crane. He had been stabbed a single time in the abdomen. After slicing Stompanato’s
kidney, the carving knife had struck a vertebra and twisted upward, puncturing his aorta.
Even disregarding that mortal wound, the coroner believed that Johnny probably wouldn’t have
lived another 10 years because of his bad liver. For the first hour, she answered questions
from the coroner, his deputy and Geisler while a 10-man, two-woman jury watched, riveted.
She hardly made eye contact with her questioners, staring instead at the far end of the courtroom
where the wall and ceiling met. Twice she broke down on the stand. Speaking quietly, she explained as best she
could why she stayed with a man who beat her. Under Geisler’s gentle and considerate questioning
she recalled a moment-by-moment account of the argument leading up to the stabbing. When she finished, the coroner asked for a
recess and the press instantly crowded around Lana, who was on the verge of fainting when
Geisler maneuvered her away from the commotion. Reporters talked among themselves about her
performance on the stand. The jury deliberated less than a half-hour
before deciding that John Stompanato’s death was a case of justifiable homicide. Acting
out of fear for her life and for that of her mother, they found that Cheryl Crane had been
justified in using deadly force to stop Johnny. The decision was not unanimous, but it did
not have to be. Though the inquest verdict was not binding
on the prosecution, the next day a decision was made not to pursue charges. Among those outraged by the verdict was Mickey
Cohen. “It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever seen a dead man convicted of his own
murder,” he said colorfully. “So far as that jury’s concerned, Johnny just walked too close
to that knife.” Johnny Stompanato’s family later brought a
wrongful death lawsuit against Lana Turner. It was settled out of court.
2. Ronni Chasen. Left with more questions than answers a day
after a well-known movie publicist was shot to death on a winding side street here, a
stunned Hollywood started scripting possible scenarios of its own. Was Ronni Chasen, a veteran press agent and
Oscar strategist, simply the victim of a carjacking gone terribly wrong? Had the killer followed
her as she drove home from a premiere party for the movie “Burlesque”? Did somebody
want Ms. Chasen dead? Was the person (or people) responsible in the car with her? Detectives were investigating all of those
questions and more on Wednesday but appeared as lost as Ms. Chasen’s friends and clients
when it came to making sense of the crime. Early Tuesday, Ms. Chasen, 64, was shot repeatedly
in the chest while driving on palm tree-lined Whittier Drive, often used as a cut-through
between Sunset and Wilshire Boulevards. Her black Mercedes-Benz crashed into a street
light, and the air bags deployed. She was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
at 1:30 a.m. Although witnesses reported hearing five gunshots,
the police on Wednesday would say only that Ms. Chasen suffered “multiple” gunshot
wounds, pending the results of a coroner’s report. Adding to the mystery: despite a shattered
passenger window, “there’s no damage to the car that I’m aware of from the gunshots,”
said Sgt. Lincoln Hoshino of the Beverly Hills Police Department. “The person could have
been in the car, outside the car, could’ve walked up to the car, driven up — we don’t
know at this point.” Sergeant Hoshino said investigators were collecting
security camera images from home and business cameras along the stretch of Sunset Boulevard
Ms. Chasen had driven before turning onto Whittier.
The killing — one of only three this year in Beverly Hills, according to the police
— stunned a clubby film industry in which Ms. Chasen had been a fixture for three decades,
getting her start as a bit player on soap operas before quickly making the transition
to the dark arts of publicity and Oscar campaigning. On Wednesday the Palm Springs International
Film Festival, a client of Ms. Chasen’s, offered a $100,000 reward for information
leading to the arrest of her killer. About 150 people turned out for an impromptu memorial
at the Four Seasons hotel here on Tuesday night; the Oscar-winning producer Scott Rudin
was helping to plan a similar gathering in New York City for Wednesday night. The death of Ms. Chasen — whose hard-charging
and abrupt style was softened by a petite frame, quick smile and perfectly blown-out
blond hair — hit a nerve in Hollywood in part because she was seemingly everywhere:
lunching at industry watering holes (where she would always pluck a tiny bottle of sweetener
from her purse for the iced tea) and attending virtually every awards dinner, charity event
and premiere. Unmarried and without children, Ms. Chasen
focused all of her attention on her clients. Just six minutes before her death, she left
a voice message at her office with a to-do list for her lieutenants to tackle when they
arrived at work the next morning. Alan Citron, a former reporter for The Los
Angeles Times, recalled a vintage moment from 1990, when Ms. Chasen was working on behalf
of Giancarlo Parretti, an Italian investor who took and ultimately lost control of M.G.M.
Ms. Chasen met Mr. Citron for lunch at the Polo Lounge and playfully “threatened to
kill me if we didn’t lay off him,” Mr. Citron said. When he laughed, Ms. Chasen picked
up her butter knife and jokingly pressed it against his chest. “When she represented you she was an unshakable
support,” said the producer Donald De Line, whose credits include “Burlesque.” Vivian
Mayer-Siskind, a fellow publicity veteran, noted that Ms. Chasen, a close friend, had
a charming sense of self-awareness. “She was the first one to point out that
she was pushy or could drive people crazy, and that was part of her success,” Ms. Mayer-Siskind
said. Armed with a New York accent and a dry wit,
Ms. Chasen was one of a handful of elite strategists employed by studios to influence the Oscars.
In a clever business move, she cornered the publicity market for composers and songwriters,
thus making herself an indispensable part of the best song and best score niches of
the Oscar race. “I’m really almost paralyzed by this,”
said the producer Richard D. Zanuck, who, backed by a campaign orchestrated by Ms. Chasen,
won an Oscar for “Driving Miss Daisy.” Ms. Chasen grew up in the Washington Heights
and Riverdale sections of New York, the daughter of a real estate broker and a homemaker. As
a child, Ms. Chasen was athletic and gregarious, entering and winning yo-yo contests organized
by the Duncan Toys Company, according to her brother, Larry Cohen. It was Mr. Cohen, a director and writer of
B movies, who gave Ms. Chasen one of her first publicity jobs: promoting his 1973 blaxploitation
movie “Hell Up in Harlem.” “She played in one or two soap operas — I
can’t remember which — but the rejection of acting wasn’t for her,” Mr. Cohen said.
“She was a natural publicist, though. Oh, how she loved to throw a party.”
3. Jill Dando. In a series of articles, the Bristol Post
will be highlighting all the unsolved murders committed or connected to the city. The first in the series starts with a mystery
which has baffled the nation for more than 17 years. Weston-super-Mare’s Jill Dando was one of
the seaside town’s most famous and much loved residents. Shock took hold of the area when it was revealed
she had been gunned down outside her London home. Police thought they found the killer; a loner,
obsessed with the Crimewatch presenter. But he was the wrong man and spent eight years
in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Seventeen years on and after a lot of speculation,
Jill’s family are still no closer to finding out who killed the cheerful and loving mum. The golden girl of the BBC was returning home
when she reached the door of her home in Fulham on April 26, 1999. But before she could get her keys in her door
before she was shot once in the head with a 9mm bullet. There was no sign of a struggle and the killing
was said to have taken place from close range at 11.30am – broad daylight. Immediately suspicion and the execution style
of the shooting led to speculation that Jill Dando was the victim of a professional hit.
A silencer was even thought to be used on the gun as neighbours did not hear the firing. Aged just 37 years old and engaged at the
time, Jill was in the prime of her career – a household name.
But she worked often as an investigative journalist and on the television show Crimewatch, which
meant somewhere along the line she had probably made enemies with the wrong people. Another line of enquiry also being considered
was that Jill could have been murdered by an obsessed stalker, which for some television
presenters becomes an occupational hazard. Leading the inquiry from the outset was Detective
Chief Inspector Hamish Campbell, who said at the time: “It could either be a stalker
or a hitman. However, there are many theories to be explored and nothing will be left untouched.”
Detectives believe the killer had “staked” out her home for at least an hour before the
shooting and there were said to be seven sightings of “a smartly dressed man carrying a mobile
phone – who might have donned heavy black-framed spectacles in an attempt to disguise himself”
outside her £400,000 two-storey home. Jill’s body was discovered by a neighbour
14 minutes after she had been shot. She was taken to Charing Cross Hospital and announced
dead on arrival just after 1pm. Tributes came in at a rate of four-a-minute
to the BBC while her fiance Alan Farthing, brother Nigel and father, Jack, both journalists,
mourned her death. The former Worle schoolgirl had started out
as a trainee reporter for the weekly paper the Weston Mercury, with her brother and dad,
before she moved to Radio Devon in 1985. Later she made the switch to regional television
and then national. By 1995 she had made it to Crimewatch, a year after moving to Fulham.
Jill’s murder attracted a huge amount of media coverage and for more than a year the Metropolitan
Police tried to solve the mystery of Operation Oxborough with no breaks.
They spoke to more than 2,500 people and took 1,000 statements before their investigation
focused on Barry George. George lived just half a mile away from Jill
and had a history of stalking women and so was put under surveillance.
The man with the low IQ was charged, tried at the Old Bailey and convicted to life imprisonment
in July 2001. But he maintained his innocence and appealed
his conviction. By November 2007 his legal team successfully
discredited forensic evidence to do with the gunshot residue.
A retrial was ordered and on August 1, 2008 – after eight years in jail – George was declared
an innocent man. Despite trying to claim £500,000 in compensation
for his wrongful conviction, his case was turned down by the then Home Secretary, Kenneth
Clarke, who ruled he was “not innocent enough”. The High Court had previously ruled the then
53-year-old’s conviction was not so unfair as to be considered a miscarriage of justice.
In 2013 Scotland Yard confirmed the investigation was open, but no officers had been working
on it full-time. A forensic review of the case, that same year
cost nearly £600,000, but did not shed any light on finding out who was responsible for
Jill’s death. Last year the Sunday Mirror exposed the report
and stated that review concluded: “We have conducted a lengthy and highly detailed scientific
investigation of this case… At the end of all this, our efforts have not directly assisted
with the identification of Dando’s killer.” Its investigation revealed there had been
crucial evidence not followed up by the police and some 100 suspects never traced.
A police spokesman said at that time: “If any new information comes to our attention,
then this will be investigated.” Every few years a new theory about who killed
Jill and why comes to ahead in the national press.
With her work as a journalist and on the BBC program Crimewatch, combined with the professional
style assassination, there seems to be a wealth of theories.
Over the years there have been allegations that police have not investigated a wealth
of possibilities put forward about Jill’s death.
Sadly none seem to have ever attracted the evidence to see police charge anyone, but
here are just some of the most likely theories put forward.
In 2014 a former colleague came forward and said Jill was trying to expose a VIP paedophile
ring just months before her death. The source said Jill raised concerns to her
BBC bosses about allegations of sexual abuse happening at the Beeb.
The source told the Daily Star Sunday: “I don’t recall the names of all the stars now
and don’t want to implicate anyone, but Jill said they were surprisingly big names.
“I think she was quite shocked when told about images of children and that information on
how to join this horrible paedophile ring was freely available.
“Jill said others had complained to her about sexual matters and that some female workmates
also claimed they had been groped or assaulted.” A BBC spokesman said they would always investigate
allegations of this nature, but said they had “not seen anything that substantiates
these claims”. One message to detectives on the Jill Dando
case seemed to suggest that Serbian gangsters had plotted to kill her in revenge for the
Nato-led bombing of a television station. Detectives were allegedly told that men had
met at a London nightclub and planned the hit.
Weeks before her death Jill had been the face of a TV appeal for Kosovan-Albanian refugees,
making her a target from Serb paramilitaries. A message filed to detectives reportedly said:
“Dando was murdered by a Serb hitman in revenge for the attack that NATO mounted…
“The people who planned Dando’s murder meet and drink in a club called Scandal in London’s
West End. One of those involved is a tall male with a swallow tattoo on his neck.”
A call to the BBC three days after Jill’s murder contained an apparent death threat
against Watchdog’s Anne Robinson and Alice Beer.
Police traced the call to Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, but never found the culprit.
Slavko Curuvija, a journalist and critic of the Serb regime, was shot in the head at point-blank
range outside his home 15 days before Jill’s death.
Alice Beer has also spoken about how both she and Jill received rape and kidnap threats
leading up to her murder. She told the Mirror last year: “There are
a lot of questions I would like answering. They’ve been at the back of my mind.
“I waited for a call from the police after Jill’s death – but it never came. Nobody
spoke to me about the threat. “Nobody questioned anything. If no stone were
left unturned in that investigation then I would have been called.”
An intelligence report once put forward the names of two men from one of London’s most
notorious crime families. Police search the area around Jill Dando’s
home following her murder in 1999 Jill’s murder has always had to the hallmarks
of a gangland professional hit. She died with a single bullet to the head in broad daylight
on a busy street. Not a trace of DNA or a definitive sighting
of the shooter was left. That intelligence report suggested that Jill
was being targeted for an investigation into crime for the television.
The lead detective on the Dando case at the time ordered no further action on the report.
It came as prime suspect Barry George had already been charged.
Documents seen by Barry George’s legal team revealed a killer wrote a letter from prison
claiming to be part of an IRA hit squad that killed her.
Although dismissed by many, the letter claimed she had been targeted because of her position
as presenter of Crimewatch. An image of a suspect released after Jill
Dando’s death in 1999 He claimed she was shot with a 9mm bullet
before the gang escaped to a safe house in London in a Land Rover.
He claimed the confession was to stop a cover up and Barry George taking the blame.
The letter stated that the IRA was getting away with the murder to avoid problems with
the Northern Ireland peace process. A report from the former National Criminal
Intelligence Service suggested a barman called Joe from Tenerife could be the killer.
A Crimewatch appeal helped to lock up road rage killer Kenneth Noye in 1996.
The report is said to have stated: “Joe runs a bar in Tenerife, frequented by leading ex-pat
criminals. Detective Chief Inspector Hamish Campbell
led the initial investigation into Jill Dando’s murder
“He’s described as a frustrated gangster reputed to owe money to Kenny Noye.
“There’s been talk Joe has been keen to rehabilitate his reputation with gangster creditors.”
But Joe was never traced. 4. Mary Meyer.
On October 12, 1964, Mary Pinchot Meyer, the glamorous sister-in-law of Ben Bradlee and
sometime lover of Jack Kennedy, was shot to death while walking along the C & O Canal
in Georgetown. And in the hours that followed, the search for Meyer’s scandalous diary
would find the future Washington Post editor in a race with one of the Cold War’s most
legendary spies. Bradlee, who died Tuesday at age 93, is rightly
lionized as a master journalist. But he was also a key figure in a Washington establishment
that arguably no longer exists—the kind of guy who advised presidents even as he reported
on them, and counted some of the CIA’s top officers as personal friends. The day Meyer died, these roles converged.
After Bradlee had returned home from identifying Meyer’s body at the city morgue, he and
his wife Tony received a call from the Tokyo-based artist and sculptor Anne Truitt. “She had
been perhaps Mary’s closest friend,” Bradlee recounts in his memoir, A Good Life, “and
after she and Tony had grieved together, she told us that Mary had asked her to take possession
of a private diary ‘if anything ever happened to me.’ Anne asked if we had found any such
diary, and we told her we hadn’t looked for anything, much less a diary.” Bradlee and his wife began their search the
next morning, only to find that someone else had been tipped off about the diary’s existence.
Meyer’s door had been locked, but when Bradlee made his way in, he found James Jesus Angleton,
the CIA’s counterintelligence chief, standing there in the living room. He, too, was looking
for Meyer’s diary. Asked how he had gotten into the house, Angleton,
who was among other things an expert at picking locks, “shuffled his feet.” Angleton was
a Washington social figure in his own right, and his wife Cecily had been close with Mary,
who had been married to another high-ranking CIA officer. “We felt his presence was odd,
to say the least, but took him at his word, and with him we searched Mary’s house thoroughly,”
Bradlee wrote. After an exhaustive search, however, no diary was found. Angleton is one of those people who will always
be shrouded in mystery. To his detractors, he was a half-mad paranoiac who nearly destroyed
the CIA in his obsessive search for a Soviet mole. He was also an unquestionably brilliant
“master of the game” with highbrow literary interests—borrowing a line from T.S. Elliot,
he memorably referred to the world of espionage as a “wilderness of mirrors.” He essentially
invented the CIA’s counterintelligence operation and, until his fall from grace nearly a decade
after Meyer was killed, was perhaps the most powerful man at the Agency. “If [British defector Kim] Philby was, as
many have called him, the spy of the century,” wrote historian Ron Rosenbaum, “James Angleton
was the counterspy of the century.” And here he was, on his hands and knees, fruitlessly
searching for a diary with his friend Ben Bradlee, then the Washington bureau chief
for Newsweek. Eventually they both gave up, and parted ways. A few hours later, though, it occurred to
Bradlee that Meyer could have kept the diary in her artist’s studio, which was actually
located behind his house. “We had no key,” Bradley wrote, “but I got a few tools to
remove the simple padlock, and we walked toward the studio, only to run into Jim Angleton
again, this time actually in the process of picking the padlock. He would have been red-faced,
if his face could have gotten red, and he left almost without a word.” Meyer, in addition to being considered one
of the great, sought-after beauties of Washington at the time, was involved with the artists’
scene in the city and its nascent counterculture. She was friendly with Timothy Leary, with
whom allegedly she dropped acid. “Her paintings and paints in the palest colors, and simplest
shapes, pretty much covered the studio,” Bradlee wrote. After about an hour, Tony found
the diary. It was slim, about “fifty to sixty pages,”
according to Bradlee, and mostly concerned with her paintings. Ten or so pages of it,
though, recounted her affair with President Kennedy, of which Bradlee and his wife had
been completely unaware. “To say we were stunned doesn’t begin
to describe our reactions,” Bradlee wrote. The Bradlees and the Kennedys had been close,
and while there were persistent rumors that the president cheated on his wife, Kennedy
had always denied it to Ben even as he playfully flirted with Tony. Jackie Kennedy once joked
to the Bradlees that Jack liked to call Tony his “ideal woman.” Jack, meanwhile, told
Ben that he imagined the trouble-loving Mary must be “hard to live with.”
It all threw the Bradlees off Jack’s scent. Kennedy disliked having girlfriends, preferring
one-off conquests instead, but made an exception for Mary Meyer. “I was truly appalled by
the realization of the deceit involved,” Bradlee wrote. “I remembered, for instance,
Kennedy greeting Tony often by asking, ‘How’s your sister?’, presumably including those
occasions when he had just left her arms.” Bradlee felt deceived by his friends but,
“with both of them gone from my life, resentment seemed foolish.” In hindsight, the affair
made sense to him: “They were attractive, intelligent, and interesting people before
their paths crossed in this explosive way, and they remain that way in mind.” Coming
to terms with their relationship, he wrote, was harder for Tony, who “had been kept
in the dark by her sister and her friend.” Mary Meyer had told her friend Anne Truitt
that she had wanted the diary destroyed, and while Bradlee felt it was in some sense “a
public document,” he agreed that it this was mostly a family matter, and went along
with Mary’s wishes. Here, again, Angleton comes into the picture: In exchange for the
diary, he promised Ben and Tony, he would destroy it. After all, who better to make
something disappear than the CIA? And so Tony handed it over. In 1976, Anne Truitt’s “troubled” ex-husband
told the National Enquirer about the diary and Meyer’s affair with JFK. He said that
the pair had smoked weed together on one occasion, and that the romance lasted from 1962 until
roughly Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. Bradlee was on vacation when the story broke
and, when reached by his own reporters for comment, told them off-the-record that the
diary had been destroyed. Except it hadn’t. A few years after the
Enquirer story broke, Tony asked Angleton what, exactly, he had done with it, and Angleton
admitted it was still in his possession. Tony demanded he give it back. Angleton complied,
and Tony finally set the thing on fire “with a friend as witness.” “None of us has any idea what Angleton did
with the diary while it was in his possession, nor why he failed to follow Mary and Tony’s
instructions,” Bradlee wrote. According to Truitt and Angleton’s wife, he burned
“the loose papers” and “safeguarded” the rest of it, insisting that he had never
been explicitly told to destroy it in its entirety. The murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer was never
solved, and is still a regular fixture of JFK conspiracy narratives. The police apprehended
a man shortly after her shooting, but without much by way of evidence against him, he was
acquitted at trail. Regardless, the psychic blow of Mary’s murder, coming so soon after
his friend Jack Kennedy’s, had a profound effect on Bradlee. “Even after more than 40 months in a shooting
war, after years as a police reporter, and after more years covering shooting wars in
the Middle East, violence as a fact of my life had begun only with Kennedy’s assassination,”
he wrote. And now, after Mary’s “almost unbearable” funeral, he felt that “his
own world was somehow threatened.” 5. David Carradine.
Carradine, 72, was discovered naked and hanged in the wardrobe of his Bangkok hotel room
on Thursday morning. A rope was tied around his neck and another around his genitals.
An autopsy has yet to determine the cause of death and Thai police said they could not
rule out suicide or a sex game gone wrong. The star’s personal manager, Chuck Binder,
rejected the suicide theory but told CNN’s Larry King: “I don’t know if you want to call
it accidental. “I got some some calls from Thailand today
from a producer that worked with him. I don’t want to get into the middle of this whole
investigation, but this guy said to me for sure there was foul play.”
Tarantino, who revived Carradine’s career by casting him in Kill Bill, described the
star of 1970s series Kung Fu as “one of Hollywood’s great, mad geniuses”. Asked if Carradine would
have liked his death to be the subject of such fevered speculation, Tarantino agreed:
He told CNN: “If the last chapter of his autobiography was ‘The Mysterious Demise of David Carradine’,
that would be perfect.” Michael Madsen, Carradine’s Kill Bill co-star,
added: “I think he would like it that way. It’s a typical David way to go – the mysterious
death of David Carradine.” Rob Schneider, the actor and director who
appeared with Carradine in 2007 comedy Big Stan, said there were parallels with the case
of Bruce Lee, whose death in 1973 sparked numerous conspiracy theories.
“The truth is, I think David always felt bad he took the Kung Fu role that was originated
from Bruce Lee. I think it’s a really odd and beautiful mystery that it’s the same way
as Bruce Lee. We’ll never know exactly what happened with Bruce Lee,” said Schneider.
A maid discovered Carradine’s body in the luxury suite of the Nai Lert Park Hotel in
Bangkok, after she knocked on the door and received no response. The actor was in the
city to make a film. “This certainly was not a natural cause of
death,” said Nantana Sirisap, chief coroner at Bangkok’s Chulalongkom Hospital, adding
that toxicology tests had been ordered. Police chief Colonel Somprasong Yentuam said
the investigation was continuing “We are currently interviewing witnesses, film crew, hotel staff
and the last person who saw David alive. So far, no-one saw anyone enter David’s room
around the estimated time of death.” Aurelio Giraudo, the hotel’s general manager,
said the actor checked into the hotel on May 31 and appeared in good spirits, chatting
with staff and entertaining guests by playing piano in the lobby.
“I was a fan. I had a very nice talk with him when he checked in. He was very much a
person full of life. I mentioned to him that I had seen [the film] Crank with my family
and that was the last smile he gave me,” Mr Giraudo said.
Carradine’s wife, Annie, and close friends rejected suggestions that the actor deliberately
took his own life, despite the fact he had spoken openly of contemplating suicide in
the past. Michael Madsen said: “I don’t think he was
suicidal by any stretch of the imagination. I talked to Annie and she said the most important
thing she wanted everybody to know is that David was not suicidal, he was not depressed
and he was not going to do something like that.”
Tarantino added: “There might have been a period of David’s long life that he could
have been suicidal, but this wasn’t the time.” 6. Anna Nicole Smith.
Anna Nicole Smith was only 39 when she died in a Florida hotel room six years ago as a
result of an overdose of prescription drugs. A former model, one-time stripper and occasional
reality TV star, she was a symbol of her times – a smalltown-girl-turned-sex-goddess who
was perhaps best known for her surgically enhanced breasts and a brief marriage to a
billionaire 63 years her senior. In life, her story possessed some of the tragic
qualities of her heroine Marilyn Monroe – including an addiction to painkillers – and she was
devastated by the premature death of her son Daniel at the age of 20. But perhaps most
tragically of all, Anna Nicole’s demise meant her one surviving child, daughter Dannielynn,
has absolutely no memories at all of her mother. Dannielynn was just five months old when her
mother died and her story is told in the documentary Life after Anna Nicole, which airs tomorrow
night. Dannielynn’s father, Anna Nicole’s former
boyfriend Larry Birkhead, narrates much of the programme and, even at seven years old,
Dannielynn’s resemblance to her mother is striking. ‘When she smiles, she looks just
like her mum,’ says Larry. ‘She’s a beautiful little girl.’ Larry, softly spoken and in his own words
‘just a geek from Kentucky’, has raised Dannielynn on his own for the past seven years.
‘I have to be both parents,’ says Larry, 40. ‘Some days she gets sad her mum’s
no longer here, but other days she’s very accepting and will say, “I have an angel
for a mum.” She knows Anna was a model and is in heaven, but obviously she’s too young
to know the whole story.’ The Anna Nicole Smith story isn’t always
palatable reading. The pneumatic blonde was performing in a strip club when she met the
elderly oil tycoon J Howard Marshall, and became an instant sensation after featuring
on the cover of Playboy and replacing Claudia Schiffer as the model for Guess jeans. She married Marshall in 1994 – she was 26
to his 89 – and his death a year later sparked a long court battle between Anna Nicole and
the Marshall family over the tycoon’s £1 billion estate that’s still going on. She began dating Larry, a photographer, in
2004, ‘but it wasn’t an easy relationship,’ he admits. ‘She had an entourage and that
got in the way sometimes, but I loved her and we talked about marriage. I was just some
guy – I never thought I’d have a chance with Anna Nicole Smith, but we ended up having
a child together.’ To preserve Anna Nicole’s status as a sex
symbol she insisted they keep their relationship a secret, and she only informed Larry he was
to be a father via a text message. ‘But I really wanted to be there at the birth,’
he says. ‘I pictured myself in the delivery room and I thought the worst thing that could
happen was that I’d faint. I was so wrong.’ He certainly was. Without warning, Anna Nicole
decamped to the Bahamas with her lawyer, Howard K Stern, and a couple of months later, in
September 2006, gave birth to Dannielynn – news Larry only learned after paying a subscription
fee to access Anna Nicole’s website. ‘I’d been planning on being there for
the birth, and then one day it was just ripped from me. It was puzzling when she took off.
I never saw her again, so we didn’t have any kind of closure.’ Worse was to come. Three days after Dannielynn
was born, Anna Nicole’s 20-year-old son from her first marriage, Daniel, died of a
drug overdose. ‘Anna was so close to Daniel that when she lost him, I didn’t think she’d
make it,’ says Larry. He was proved right: five months after Daniel’s death, Anna Nicole
also died of a drugs overdose. ‘I kept thinking about what I could have done differently to
help her, but I was helpless.’ By then Larry had become embroiled in a custody
battle over Dannielynn after several men came forward claiming to be the father, including
Anna Nicole’s lawyer Howard K Stern, a previous boyfriend Mark Hatten and, most bizarrely,
Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, who claimed to have had a ten-year
affair with her. ‘It hadn’t mattered to me that Anna had
wanted to keep our relationship secret, but when I had to prove paternity it became difficult.
I only had about 20 pictures of us together but I could have been a fan, anyone.’ In
the end, while Dannielynn was living in the Bahamas with Stern, DNA tests confirmed Larry
was the father. ‘I didn’t get to see my daughter for months, but I’ve got her now
and that’s all that matters.’ They live in Kentucky where Larry still does
photography when he can. ‘But I can’t travel and take care of Dannielynn, so I now
renovate properties for a living.’ Though he insists he wants to keep Dannielynn
out of the limelight, Larry let her do a photoshoot for Guess jeans like her mother. ‘Dannielynn
loves the Guess pictures of Anna,’ he says, ‘it’s like a connection to her. It’s
not a regular thing though.’ There is also the matter of a court hearing
in January where Anna Nicole’s estate is still fighting for a share of J Howard Marshall’s
fortune. Should they win, Dannielynn could end up 50 million dollars richer. ‘I’m
not fighting for it,’ says Larry, ‘it’s the estate’s fight and if it comes in, it’ll
be for Dannielynn at 18, not me. My job is to prepare her for life.’
Larry once described Anna Nicole’s story as ‘a cautionary tale’. He says, ‘I
always try to teach Dannielynn about making decisions and how they always have consequences.
One day her doll fell off the stairwell and got hurt, and she suddenly asked, “Is that
what happened to my mum?” ‘I didn’t know what to say accept, “No,
the doctors couldn’t fix your mum, but if you keep yourself healthy and safe, you can
grow up to be a good mum yourself.” It’s hard not to cry when she says things like
that, but all I want is for Dannielynn to grow up happy and be her own person.’
7. JonBenét Ramsey. Twenty years ago a 911 call reporting a missing
and possibly kidnapped 6-year-old girl launched a murder mystery — one that continues to
endure, fascinate and perplex. In their Boulder, Colorado, home on the morning
of Dec. 26, 1996, parents John and Patsy Ramsey found a ransom note handwritten on a pad with
a black Sharpie that belonged to the family. It demanded $118,000 — the exact amount
of a bonus recently received by John — for the return of JonBenét, the couple’s blonde,
child-pageant princess daughter. Later that morning JonBenét’s body, beaten
and strangled with a garrote around her neck and duct tape covering her mouth, was found
in the basement of the family’s Tudor brick home. Police are still looking for the killer. At least 37 books have explored the crime,
along with at least a dozen TV programs and movies. None have helped resolve the cold
case. John and Patsy — among more than 140 suspects
— have been investigated. The Boulder County District Attorney at the time said there was
insufficient evidence to bring charges after grand jurors voted to indict the parents in
1998 for child abuse resulting in death and accessory to a crime. More recently, a CBS docuseries this past
fall presented a case against JonBenét’s brother Burke, then aged 9, as the likely
killer, prompting the family’s attorney to announce his intent to file a libel suit
on Burke’s behalf against the network. CBS issued a statement saying it stands by its
report. The Ramseys’ attorney, L. Lin Wood, tells
PEOPLE he believes there is still a clear path to finding the murderer. The answer lies
in the DNA profile drawn from apparent saliva he says was identified in the crotch of JonBenet’s
underwear after she was found. “That profile is the profile of the killer,”
Wood says. “The question is whether we’ll ever get a match.” It clearly does not match Burke Ramsey, Wood
says. In a court filing in October, Wood accused
forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz of libeling Burke by stating that Burke killed JonBenét.
Spitz’s attorneys have since moved to dismiss the suit, which seeks damages in excess of
$150 million and is based upon comments Spitz made to a Detroit radio station after participating
in the CBS docuseries. Spitz’ attorneys responded in court papers
by saying that his comments about Burke amount to free speech protected by the First Amendment,
and arise “from the public discussion about theories involving one of the major unsolved
crimes of the 20th Century.” Wood disagrees. “The United States Supreme Court has made
it very clear that the First Amendment does not provide blanket protection to all statements
characterized as opinion,” Wood said in a written response to Spitz’s motion to
dismiss the case. “Spitz’s statements conveyed that Burke Ramsey killed his sister.
That accusation is capable of being objectively proven to be false.” “Further, Spitz’s accusation was based
on undisclosed facts and more importantly, false and distorted facts,” Wood said. “Simply
stated, Spitz’s accusation is legally viewed as a statement of fact, not a protected opinion.
In a statement to PEOPLE, the network said after the two-part The Case of: JonBenét
Ramsey, aired in September, “CBS stands by the broadcast and will do so in court.” Wood points to just one statement about JonBenét’s
mother early in the broadcast that he says undermines the entire series’ claim of accuracy. “The broadcast starts off by stating that
Patsy Ramsey developed Stage 4 ovarian cancer a couple of years after JonBenét’s death,”
he says. “Patsy Ramsey was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer in 1993, three years
before JonBenét was murdered.” “If you can’t get the little facts right,”
he says, “be very careful about what that person says about the big facts.” Two decades after JonBenét’s death, however,
the facts as they are known have yet to move the case toward closure or criminal charges. Investigators continue to review whether JonBenét
was murdered by an outside intruder or by someone within her own family. A 2008 statement
by then-Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy, who publicly apologized to the family for
placing them under suspicion and announced that evidence cleared JonBenet’s brother
and parents, failed to halt debate. Earlier this month, current Boulder District
Attorney Stan Garnett reiterated his belief that his predecessor erred in declaring anyone
to be innocent. “When any district attorney goes around
and starts issuing exonerations based on a particular piece of evidence, that can be
very misleading to the public about the nature of the case,” Garnett told PEOPLE. Citing the infamously “compromised” crime
scene, he said, “The state of the evidence is not one where you could really say anything
definitively.” But Garnett does not now lay blame on the
parents or anyone in the Ramsey family, who are “totally covered by the presumption
of innocence,” he said. “If we ever change our opinion about that with regard to the
Ramseys or anyone else, we will file charges and say what we have to say about the case
in open court.” Patsy died in 2006. John, 72 and remarried,
owns a promotional marketing firm and lives in Charlevoix, Mich., and Las Vegas. Burke,
29, is a software developer in Indianapolis. Burke ended his long public silence about
the case last September in a three-part broadcast interview with Dr. Phil McGraw, stating he
had not killed his sister and that his parents had not covered for him. “I know that’s
not what happened. … Look at the evidence. Or lack thereof,” he said. John shared his own account in a 2000 book
written with Patsy, The Death of Innocence: The Untold Story of JonBenét’s Murder and
How Its Exploitation Compromised the Pursuit of Truth. (In 2012 he also wrote The Other
Side of Suffering: The Father of JonBenét Ramsey Tells the Story of His Journey from
Grief to Grace, chronicling his loss of JonBenét, Patsy, and a daughter, Beth, from an earlier
marriage who was killed in a 1992 car accident.) On Dec. 14, Boulder police announced they
are working with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations to again apply the latest DNA testing technology
on evidence in the unsolved case “to determine if this new technology could further this
investigation.” Garnett told PEOPLE: “I don’t anticipate
that it’s going to lead to any dramatic developments in the case, but obviously we
would love to solve it.” Asked how the years without any resolution
have affected John, the Ramseys’ attorney Wood tells PEOPLE: “I’m hesitant to try
to put words into John’s mouth. Only he can express his feelings accurately, because
he’s had to live the experience.” “I’m sure that there is a mixture of emotions
that John experiences. It probably goes from frustration to hope, perhaps at times to anger,”
he says. “But I think that John’s predominant position has always been one of hope that
one day the killer of his daughter will be identified. He is still involved in efforts
to himself aid in the investigation.” John, says Wood, “is a man of deep faith,
and I think that’s what has helped him survive.” 8. Mary Rogers.
Mary Rogers was a Kardashian of the 1840s. The pretty girl became a hit in social circles,
based on her looks alone. A brief “disappearance,” thought to have been done to drum up publicity
for the shop she worked at, made headlines across the Eastern seaboard. But her mysterious
death made waves that even affected Edgar Allan Poe. Mary was born around 1820 in Lyme, Connecticut.
She and her widowed mother, Phoebe, moved to New York in the 1930s. Phoebe ran a boarding
house while Mary worked at a cigar shop. Anderson’s Tobacco Emporium was one of the most popular
cigar stores in New York. Writers Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper were known
to frequent the shop. Mary, a beautiful young woman, was certainly a draw for the young
men of New York. The press dubbed Mary “The Beautiful Cigar Girl,” and her looks alone
made her a celebrity. On October 5, 1838, Mary was reported missing
by the local papers causing a minor hysteria. Her Mom Phoebe claimed to have found a suicide
note, authenticated by the local coroner. The next day, however, the papers declared
this was all a hoax, and that Mary had been visiting friends in Brooklyn and hypothesized
that it was all a publicity stunt for Anderson’s Tobacco Emporium. She returned to work at
the shop, but it wasn’t long before she quit and went home to help her mother run
her boarding house. Mary had plenty of attention amongst the male boarders, but one in particular
caught her eye: Daniel Payne. They got engaged in the summer of 1841. On July 25th, 1841, Mary left home to visit
her aunt uptown. She was never heard from again. At first, people assumed she had just
run away, likely for attention or to escape her fiancé. After two days with no word from
her, Daniel filed a missing persons report. It was July 28th when a couple of locals were
down by the Hudson River near a popular tourist attraction, Sybil’s Cave, when they saw
a body floating in the river. Mary’s ex-boyfriend, Arthur Crommelian, had recently joined the
search and arrived in Hoboken just as the body was retrieved. He identified the body
as Mary Rogers. Arthur was a suspect for a time because of the coincidental timing of
his appearance, but he was eventually ruled out. Daniel became a suspect as well after
rumors surfaced that he and Mary were fighting a lot, and she threatened to call off the
wedding. But he provided a solid alibi. After that, police were out of suspects.
The story was in all the New England newspapers. The governor of New York, William H. Seward,
even offered a reward for information on the crime. Edgar Allan Poe was an avid follower
of the case and began work on a book based on Mary’s story. In early September, 1841, some boys playing
near Sybil’s Cave found a pile of bloody clothes in what would become known as The
Murder Thicket. Their mother, Frederica Loss, who operated the Nick Moore House pub, alerted
the police. She remembered that on July 25th or 26th, Mary and an unknown man had checked
into the Nick Moore House. They went out that night, and she never saw them return, but
didn’t think much of it until the boys found the bloody clothes. On October 7, 1841, Daniel visited The Murder
Thicket. After a drinking binge across Hoboken, Daniel drank an entire bottle of laudanum
and died on a bench outside Sybil’s Cave. There was a suicide note in his pocket: “To
the World—Here I am on the spot. God forgive me for my misfortune in my misspent time.” Edgar Allan Poe published the first part of
“The Mystery of Marie Rogȇt” in November 1842, with the second part coming the following
month. The story was set in Paris, but other than that and changed names, the story was
a faithful retelling of the Mary Rogers case. Considered a sequel to “The Murders at the
Rue Morgue,” Poe thought himself a keen detective and claimed that he knew who murdered
Mary Rogers. He even said as much to editors in a desire to get it published faster. If
Poe did know who murdered Mary Rogers, he never named names. New details about the case
came out at the end of 1842 that caused Poe to delay publication of the third and final
installment of “The Mystery of Marie Rogȇt.” He needed to make minor changes that suggested
he knew about these new developments the whole time.
You see, Frederica Loss was accidentally shot by one of her sons on November 6, 1842. She
did not die immediately; rather, she lived for ten days, in pain that caused her to babble
in a mixture of English and German. One of the proclamations she made in this state was
about Mary Rogers. She said that Mary and the unidentified man who checked into her
inn were there to undertake a “premature delivery” – the term at the time for an
abortion. Mary died during the illegal operation, and Frederica’s sons dumped the body and
scattered the bloody clothes. Later, it would be suggested that Frederica was actually an
assistant to notorious abortionist Madame Restell. Frederica’s two eldest sons were
briefly considered suspects in Mary’s death. Charges were brought against them for improper
disposal of a body, but with no evidence, and Frederica’s unreliable confession, the
charges didn’t stick. It wasn’t long before police gave up on
the case. With no suspects, few clues, and the growing suspicion that this was an abortion
gone wrong, there was nothing else for the police to do. To this day, Mary Rogers’
death remains unsolved. As an interesting epilogue, Mary’s former
employer, John Anderson, died in 1881. In the years leading up to his death, he was
reported to be “unstable” and claimed that Mary’s ghost was haunting him. He seemed
to mean that both literally and figuratively, blaming his association with the dead girl
as a reason he was unable to cross over from business to politics. During the extended
legal battle over his fortune, one of the opposing lawyers suggested that “John Anderson
gave Poe $5000 to write the story of Marie Rogȇt in order to draw people’s attention
from himself, who, many believed, was her murderer.” These claims were never confirmed.
9. George Reeves. On June 16, 1959, George Reeves gave millions
of children worldwide firm evidence of why it’s important to separate fantasy from reality
… because on that day, in the world of make-believe, Superman was not faster than a speeding bullet.
But in reality it was the day that George Reeves was discovered in the wee morning hours,
on his bed with a bullet to the temple. Apparently self-inflicted. Although the official police
report would list Reeves’ death as a suicide, his mother insisted her young, happy son was
incapable of killing himself. To this day, there are three possible scenarios that explain
the death of George Reeves. Born George Keefer Brewer in 1914 in Woolstock,
Iowa to Helen Lescher and Don C. Brewer, young George would grow up in Ashland, Kentucky
and later in Pasadena California where his sister also lived. It was in California where
George would take up boxing and amass a record of 31-0 by the time he was 20. But his somewhat
controlling mother insisted that he preserve his handsome looks and give a shot at show
biz. So young George hit the stage at the famed Pasadena playhouse. His talents would
soon be noticed, garnering him roles in such films as Gone with the Wind, The Strawberry
Blonde and Proudly We Hail! But then came the war. After his return from his duties in WWII,
George would find his career in the dumps. Relegated to numerous small B-movie roles
from which he would find it difficult to make a living, George realized he needed a big
break, so he turned to television. Although he considered TV work to be the low hanging
fruit of his profession, George was desperate so he took a part in a low-budget movie called
Superman and the Mole People that was to serve as a pilot for a forthcoming television series.
He shot 26 segments in the first year, but they would not be aired until 1952. By this
time, George was reaching a pudgy 38 years old, but the series would go on to become
a huge “smash” as they say in the business. Between 1953 and 1957, George would film 104
episodes making his character famous worldwide. But he began to sense problems with his newfound
fame. The same problem that would eventually curse other actors in the business. George
was becoming typecast in his character. George Reeves would never be anybody but Superman. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, unbeknownst
to the majority of his legion of fans, George Reeves was keeping a huge and potentially
damaging secret. He was involved in a relationship not only with a married woman, but with the
wife of an MGM Studios executive. Toni Mannix was married to Eddie Mannix, a purported former
crime boss who was now employed as a “fixer” for the studio – someone who keeps the studio’s
actors’ personal lives out of the news. It has been widely reported that Eddie Mannix
knew about his wife’s relationship with Reeves, but that he enjoyed his “open” relationship.
Toni loved to treat her new beau like a king, and George liked having his sugar momma. She
would buy him a new car, open up a nice bank account for him and even go so far as to purchase
him a home at 1579 Benedict Canyon Road for $12,000! (Wonder what that house is worth
today.) But along with the nice things, would come the bad side of Toni. She was controlling,
manipulative and, overall, just a real bitch. George would eventually sever the relationship
setting up scenario number 1 for his death. George would soon hook up with Lenore Lemmon,
a New York showgirl who had at one time been banned from performing at many of Manhattan’s
clubs because of her reputation as a “troublemaker.” Hmmm… Nice girl! Not only was Lemmon reported
to have had some kind of connections with the mob back East, but she was also an extremely
jealous sort who was known to overreact upon even the smallest of suspicions. What a deadly
combination of characteristics! Could Lemmon’s drunken fit of jealousy have lead to scenario
number 2? After a year of dating, George and Lenore
would announce their engagement to be married, but not before receiving numerous death threats
on George’s life that included phone calls, traffic accidents, and even one incident in
which George would wreck his car before discovering that all of the brake fluid had been drained.
Oh, and no leak was ever discovered. “Hey, Be Quiet. I’m trying to sleep up Here”.
On June 15, 1959, three days before he and Lenore were to become married and go on their
honeymoon to Spain, the couple hosted a small party at their house. Having already retired
to his bedroom, George descended the stairs in the modest abode and yelled at the guests
to keep the noise down. As the sulking George returned to his upstairs bedroom, his intoxicated
fiancee would jokingly exclaim “Oh no, he’ll probably go up to his room and shoot himself”!
A few minutes later, at approximately 12:30, a gunshot would ring out from Reeves’ bedroom.
A male guest, Bill Bliss would run upstairs to check on George only to find the despondent
actor on his bed with a .30 caliber Luger pistol on the floor between his feet, and
hole in the side of his head. No suicide note was found.
The police investigation concluded that the facts surrounding George’s death “indicated
suicide”, but that the investigation was an arduous one due to the intoxicated state of
the house guests. His toxicology report would later indicate that his blood alcohol level
at the time of his death was .27, well beyond the legal minimum for intoxication. Woo, Superman
did some drinkin’ that night! Because of the mountain of evidence that doesn’t
quite match up with the facts of his death, many speculate, even to this day, that George
was murdered. Among some of the facts are: no fingerprints on the gun (was it wiped clean?);
the spent shell casing was found underneath Reeves’ body; there were no powder marks found
on Reeves’ body; he had several fresh bruises; and the location of the entrance and exit
wounds did not line up with the path of the bullet indicated by its entrance into the
wall. Reeves’ mother would later open an investigation by private detectives who concluded that the
death was not a suicide. No charges were ever brought up as a result of Reeves’ death.
George Reeves, in the gray double-breasted suit that he used as Clark Kent on Superman,
would be buried at Forest Lawn memorial park in Glendale, California. His marker would
read “My Beloved Son “Superman” George Besselo Reeves, Jan. 6, 1914 June 16, 1959.” In his will, George would leave his $71,000
worth of assets, including his Benedict Canyon house, not to his fiancee, but to Toni Mannix. Eddie Mannix would die in 1963, Toni Mannix
in 1983. We may never solve the mystery surrounding the death of the Man of Steel. 10. Jack Nance.
HIS NAME WAS LESS CELEBRATED than his mane, but for a generation of cult-movie fans, Jack
Nance’s towering hair and woebegone gaze in David Lynch’s bizarre first feature,
Eraserhead (1978), made him the Elvis of alienation. For Nance it wasn’t much of a stretch to
play the movie’s gloomy antihero, who was beset by panic (and hallucinations) when his
girlfriend presented him with a slimy reptilian “baby.” Offscreen the actor was a nonconformist—a
bit of a loner with a sometimes abrasive attitude. Director Lynch told reporters on Jan. 3 that
Nance had a bad temper and used to say that, given his poor physical condition, he “wouldn’t
be too hard to kill.” That grim prophecy may have come true. At
5 a.m. on Dec. 29, according to friends, Nance brawled with two men outside Winchell’s
Donut House across the street from his inexpensive South Pasadena, Calif., apartment. Actress
Catherine Case and her fiancé, screenwriter Leo Bulgarini, met him that afternoon at another
coffee shop in the neighborhood and saw he had a black eye. ” ‘I told off some kid,’
” she says Nance told her.” ‘I guess I got what I deserved.’ ” Maybe he got
more. Looking for Nance the next day, Bulgarini went to the actor’s apartment and found
him crumpled on the bathroom floor. Police later said that Nance, 53, probably died of
“blunt-force trauma” to the head. Police have left open the possibility that
Nance, who suffered two minor strokes in the past 18 months, might have died from a fall.
But given the nature of the injury and the fight (“At least one suspect hit Mr. Nance
in the head with his fist,” a police report says), they launched a murder investigation,
reviewing security videotapes from the strip mall where the fight occurred and interviewing
workers at the doughnut shop. Four weeks later they had still found no leads. “I can’t
imagine what happened,” says actress Catherine E. Coulson, another veteran of the Eraserhead
cast and Nance’s wife from 1968 to 1976. “It’s incredibly sad because he was really
gifted—as much a character in real life as he was on the screen and stage.” Nance, who grew up in Dallas, was never comfortable
with the kind of convention represented by his parents—Hoyt Nance, 73, a former Neiman
Marcus executive, and Agnes, 72, a homemaker. The oldest of three boys, Jack took up acting
at North Texas State University in the early 1960s and liked it so much he quit school
and moved to California to study at the Pasadena Playhouse, a local theater. Then, as always,
“he cared very little for money and material things,” says his brother Richard Nance,
48, a software firm executive. “He was incredibly focused on acting.” Nance made a living in small film and theater
roles, but he never flirted with mainstream fame. Cult status was another matter, thanks
to Lynch, who, after Eraserhead, cast Nance as Pete Martell in his short-lived TV series
Twin Peaks and also used him in the movies Blue Velvet (1986), Wild at Heart (1990) and
the upcoming release Lost Highway, due Feb. 21. But steady work wasn’t Nance’s only worry.
In 1991 his second wife, Kelly Jean Van Dyke-Nance, the daughter of Jerry (Coach) Van Dyke and
niece of Dick Van Dyke, hanged herself just six months after the wedding. Her father said
Kelly Jean, a secretary, had abused alcohol and prescription drugs, popping Quaaludes
from age 13. “One way or the other, drugs will kill you,” Jerry Van Dyke told reporters
at the time. Nance, according to his brother, “never did get over the death of his wife.” Richard says Nance also battled alcoholism
and had been in a recovery group for 10 years. He was fired from the film Joyride last year
after showing up on the set drunk. “He was a nice guy and very funny,” says the movie’s
executive producer Laurent Zilber, “but it’s tough to work when someone’s drunk
all day.” Later, Nance acted in the TV movie Little Witches, but on the final day of the
shoot, his car was in a six-car pileup. “He got beat up and injured his knee,” says
Richard Nance. “He was walking with a cane.” On Thanksgiving Day, Richard Nance went to
see his brother, who had moved to a South Pasadena neighborhood where rents were low.
” ‘I’m right back where I started,’ ” Richard Nance says his brother told him,
referring to his days in the local playhouse. But he had found a new passion: writing. Before
he died, Nance was working on a screenplay with Bulgarini called Tics and Bruises, a
quirky tale of two crooks who get conned, and writing a novel. “The title was Derelict
on All Fours,” says Richard Nance. “It was somewhat autobiographical—an angry piece
of work.”

24 Comments

  1. Natsuki_Tama Author

    Guys, even if you're nervous and/or have some kind of an accent, PLEASE read/speak without this horrible robot >___< such an interesting topic – and I'm unable to listen to it because of this stupid robot

    Reply
  2. Elizabeth Henry Author

    The term "Hollywood" is being used very loosely here, isn't it? Jill Dando was from Weston Supermare, UK FFS. You also copied an article from the Bristol press word for word. I dare say the others are all basically repeats of articles.

    Reply
  3. leglessinoz Author

    Get rid of that damned synthesized voice. You'd get more viewers with a proper narrator. I have to stop watching after a few minutes ad the voice makes it hard to concentrate on the content. It's like people who type entire paragraphs with no syntax and weird grammar.

    Reply
  4. Annica DeJesus Author

    This channel has excellent content, but the robot voice ruins it. If u need a narrarator, I got you CL! Otherwise great work w all the content!!!

    Reply
  5. Genie Meadows Author

    I can't be bothered watching with the computer voice but it looked like a photo of Jill Dando on the advert for the video.
    Jill Dando was in the UK not Hollywood.

    Reply
  6. bre Dagner Author

    I think personal genealogy sites are going to be what finally solves JonBenet's case.  that's how they may find a familiar dna match.

    Reply

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