No blog entries for a couple of weeks. I just returned from vacation. Staying with our great host in Los Altos, and jumping off to points around San Francisco. Then off for a few days drive down the PCH from Monterey to San Simeon. That drive lives up to the hype.
Of course, The Movieland Directory and LA history can’t be too far removed when traveling in California.
The first LA hook was on the flight out. Friend Bob Strunck, a lawyer on the Murder Task Force of the Cook County Public Defender’s office, recommended this book published in February about that group: “Defending the Damned: Inside Chicago’s Cook County Public Defenders Office“. If you enjoy reading on the law, lawyers, crime, capital punishment, the mentality of people who commit heinous crimes, or Chicago history, that book has you covered. Chicago’s Public Defender office was the second in the nation. Per the book, the first city to offer this service to those unable to afford a lawyer was Los Angeles, in 1916.
Of course, the Hearst Castle at San Simeon is Los Angeles (and California) history hooks galore. The most obvious Movieland hooks come via William Randolph Hearst’s long and open affair with actress Marion Davies. The hilltop home, fifteen years in the making, hosted Hollywood royalty of the Golden Age. Certainly one of the most interesting Hearst-Davies stories relates to the death of famous actor-director-producer Thomas Ince, which I’ll crib word-for-word from this entry at IMDB: In 1924 Ince was one of several Hollywood people aboard the yacht of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst when he was suddenly rushed off the ship and taken to a hospital, and Hearst spokesmen said he had suddenly taken ill aboard the yacht. Ince was eventually taken to his home, where he died. The morning papers headlined “Movie producer shot on Hearst yacht!” The evening papers would not carry that headline and the rival Hearst paper would print the next day that Ince died of acute indigestion. One of the stories surrounding Ince’s sudden and mysterious death–and believed to be the most plausible by many who knew Hearst, Ince and the others aboard the yacht that day–is that the bullet wasn’t meant for Ince but for Charles Chaplin, whom Hearst had long suspected of carrying on a secret affair with Hearst’s mistress, actress Marion Davies. Supposedly, Hearst inadvertently walked into Davies’ cabin and caught her and Chaplin in bed together, pulled out his gun, Chaplin jumped up and ran outside the cabin, Hearst chased him and fired several shots at him, missing Chaplin but hitting Ince, who happened to be standing on deck at the time. As this story goes, columnist Louella Parsons was also on board that day and witnessed the shooting, and in exchange for keeping quiet about it, Hearst promised her a lifetime job as the Hollywood reporter for his newspaper chain (she did, in fact, go to work for the Hearst Corp. shortly after the incident as its entertainment reporter, and remained there for the rest of her life).
You could spend a great travel day visiting Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst home sites in LA using The Movieland Directory. Click here for Davies addresses. And, click here for William Randolph Hearst addresses. (Click here for other sites related to Hearst family members).