Saturday, November 22, 2014

Actress Mae West Dies at the Ravenswood Apartments 1980

Mae West (August 17, 1893 – November 22, 1980) was an American actress, playwright, screenwriter and sex symbol.

Known for her bawdy double entendres, West made a name for herself in Vaudeville and on the stage in New York before moving to Hollywood to become a comedienne, actress and writer in the motion picture industry. One of the more controversial movie stars of her day, West encountered many problems including censorship.

When her cinematic career ended, she continued to perform on stage, in Las Vegas, in the United Kingdom, on radio and television, and recorded rock and roll albums.

Mae West remained close to her family throughout her life and was devastated by her mother's death in 1930. In that year, she moved to Hollywood and into the penthouse at the historic Ravenswood apartment building (where she would live until her death in 1980).

Mae West Lived & Died Here - The Ravenswood - Hancock Park

In August 1980, West tripped while getting out of bed. After the fall, West was unable to speak and was taken to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles where tests revealed that she had suffered a stroke. She remained in the hospital where, seven days later, she had a diabetic reaction to the formula in her feeding tube. On September 18, she suffered a second stroke which left her right side paralyzed and developed pneumonia. By November, West's condition had improved, but the prognosis was not good and she was sent home.

She died there on November 22, 1980, at age 87.

A private service was held in the Old North Church replica, in Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills, on November 25, 1980. Bishop Andre Penachio, who was also a friend, officiated at the entombment in the family room at Cypress Hills Abbey, Brooklyn, purchased in 1930 when her mother died. Her father and brother were also entombed there before her, and her younger sister was laid to rest in the last of the five crypts within 18 months after West's death.

For her contribution to the film industry, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1560 Vine Street in Hollywood.

Friday, November 21, 2014

"Death Valley Days" Director Edward Ludlum 2000 Valhalla Cemetery

Edward Ludlum (November 8, 1920, New York City, New York - November 21, 2000, Los Angeles, California} was a stage and television director.

IMDb Filmography


1961 Whispering Smith (TV series)
– Poet and Peasant Case (1961)
– Trademark (1961)

1959 Mike Hammer (TV series)
– Swing Low, Sweet Harriet (1959)
– Park the Body (1959)
– Jury of One

1959 Gunsmoke (TV series)
– Doc Quits (1959)
1952 Death Valley Days (TV series)

1964 Sinderella and the Golden Bra (associate producer)

IMDb Mini Biography

Primarily a prestigious stage director, he is often credited as one of the founders of "Los Angeles Theater" and of also having influenced the careers of such notables as Paul Newman, Sally Field, Bernie Kopel, Audie Murphy and Wanda Hendrix among others. (IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous)

IMDb Trivia

At one point in their lives, first cousins Edward Ludlum and author Robert Ludlum were mirror images of each other.

Discovered and brought Canadian actors Lorne Greene and Ted Knight to the attention of Hollywood TV producers.

Cousin of Robert Ludlum and Tom Carroll

Cousin of both popular author Robert Ludlum and actor Tom Carroll.


Edward Ludlum is interred at Valhalla Cemetery in North Hollywood.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh" Humorist Alan Sherman 1973 Hillside Cemetery

Allan Sherman (born Allan Copelon;[1] November 30, 1924 – November 20, 1973) was an American comedy writer and television producer who became famous as a song parodist in the early 1960s. His first album, My Son, the Folk Singer (1962), became the fastest-selling record album up to that time. His biggest hit single was "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh," a comic novelty in which a boy describes his summer camp experiences to the tune of Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours.

Early life

Sherman was born in Chicago to Jewish American parents Percy and Rose Copelon. Percy was an auto mechanic and race car driver who like his son, suffered from obesity (he weighed over 350 pounds), and died while attempting a 100-day diet. Sherman's parents divorced during his teenage years, and Allan adopted his mother's maiden name. Due to his parents constantly moving to new residences, Allan attended over a dozen public schools in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. He attended the University of Illinois, where he earned mostly "C" grades and contributed a humor column to The Daily Illini, the college newspaper, but never received a degree because he was expelled for breaking into a campus sorority house with his then-girlfriend.

Television writer and producer

Sherman created the game show which he called I Know a Secret. Television producer Mark Goodson used Sherman's idea and turned it into I've Got a Secret, which ran on CBS from 1952 to 1967. Rather than paying him for the concept, Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions made Sherman the show's producer. Sherman was reported to be warm and kindhearted to all who worked for him. But sparks often flew between Sherman and anyone who was in a position to try to restrain his creativity.[2] As producer of I've Got a Secret, which was broadcast live, he showed a fondness for large scale stunts that had the potential to teeter on the brink of disaster. He once released 100 rabbits onstage as an Easter surprise for the Madison Square Boys Club, whose members were seated in the studio. The boys were invited to come up onstage to collect their prize. Although the resultant melee made a good story, it did not necessarily make for good TV. The relationship between Mark Goodson-Bill Todman and Sherman became strained to the breaking point when he finally fought to execute an idea that was destined to fall flat. His plan was to have Tony Curtis teach the panel how to play some of the games he had played as a child growing up in New York City. The problems manifested themselves when it became obvious that Tony Curtis had never actually played any of the games that Sherman had brought the props for. The situation might have been salvaged had the props worked as planned, but they did not. The handkerchief parachute failed to open and land gracefully and the spool "tank" which was propelled by rubber band moved painfully slowly. The spot, which aired June 11, 1958, was a disaster and Sherman was fired as producer. His dismissal did not, however, prevent Mark Goodson-Bill Todman from bringing Sherman back many times as a guest on their shows in subsequent years after he achieved celebrity status following the release of his albums.

Sherman also produced a short-lived 1954 game show, What's Going On? which was technologically ambitious, with studio guests interacting with multiple live cameras in remote locations. In 1961 he produced a daytime game show for Al Singer Productions called Your Surprise Package which aired on CBS with host George Fenneman.

Song parodies

In 1951 Sherman recorded a 78-rpm single with veteran singer Sylvia Froos which included the songs "A Satchel and a Seck," parodying "A Bushel and a Peck" from Guys and Dolls, and "Jake's Song." The single sold poorly and when Sherman wrote his autobiography, he did not make reference to it. Later, he found that the song parodies he performed to amuse his friends and family were taking on a life of their own. Sherman lived in the Brentwood section of West Los Angeles next door to Harpo Marx, who invited him to perform his song parodies at parties attended by Marx's show-biz friends. After one party, George Burns phoned an executive at Warner Bros. Records and persuaded him to sign Sherman to a contract. The result was a long playing album of these parodies, My Son, the Folk Singer, which was released in 1962. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.[3] The album was so successful that it was quickly followed by My Son, the Celebrity, which ended with "Shticks of One and Half a Dozen of the Other," fragments of song parodies including Robert Burns' "Comin' Thro' the Rye": "Do not make a stingy sandwich, pile the cold cuts high;/Customers should see salami comin' thru the rye" and "All day, all night Cary Grant," a takeoff on "Marianne."

In 1962, capitalizing on his success, Jubilee Records re-released Sherman's 1951 single on the album More Folk Songs by Allan Sherman and His Friends, which was a compilation of material by various Borscht Belt comedians, such as Sylvia Froos, Fyvush Finkle and Lee Tully, along with the Sherman material.

As suggested by the albums' titles, Sherman's first two LPs were mainly reworkings of old folk songs to infuse them with Jewish humor. His first minor hit was "Sarah Jackman" (pronounced "Jockman"), a takeoff of "Frère Jacques" in which he and a woman (Christine Nelson) exchange family gossip ("Sarah Jackman, Sarah Jackman,/How's by you? How's by you?/How's by you the family?/How's your sister Emily?" etc.) The popularity of "Sarah Jackman" (as well as the album My Son, the Folk Singer) was enhanced after President John F. Kennedy was spotted in a hotel lobby singing the song. By his peak with My Son, the Nut in 1963, however, Sherman had broadened both his subject matter and his choice of parody material and begun to appeal to a larger audience.

Allan Sherman and JFK

Sherman wrote his parody lyrics in collaboration with Lou Busch. A few of the Sherman/Busch songs are completely original creations, featuring original music as well as lyrics, rather than new lyrics applied to an existing melody. The Sherman/Busch originals – notably "Go to Sleep, Paul Revere" and "Peyton Place" – are novelty songs, showing genuine melodic originality as well as deft lyrics.

However, Sherman had trouble in getting permission to record for profit from some of the well-known composers and lyricists, who did not tolerate parodies or satires of their melodies and lyrics, including Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, George and Ira Gershwin, Alan Jay Lerner, and Frederick Loewe, as well as the estates of Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein, Kurt Weill, and Bertolt Brecht, which prevented him from releasing parodies or satires of their songs. In the late 1950s, Sherman was inspired by a recording of a nightclub musical show called My Fairfax Lady, a parody of My Fair Lady set in the Jewish section of Los Angeles that was performed at Billy Gray's Bandbox. Sherman then wrote his own song parodies of My Fair Lady, which appeared as a bootleg recording in 1964, and were only officially released in 2005 on My Son, the Box.

Although Sherman believed that all the songs parodied on My Son, the Folk Singer were in the public domain, two of them, "Matilda" and "Water Boy" – parodied as "My Zelda" and "Seltzer Boy," respectively – were actually under copyright, and Sherman was sued for copyright infringement.[4]

In 1963's My Son, The Nut, Sherman's pointed parodies of classical and popular tunes dealt with automation in the workplace ("Automation," to the tune of "Fascination"), space travel ("Eight Foot Two, Solid Blue," to "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue"), the exodus from the city to the suburbs ("Here's to the Crabgrass," to the tune of "English Country Garden"), and his own bloated figure ("Hail to Thee, Fat Person," which claims his obesity was a public service similar to the Marshall Plan).

A Top 40 hit

One track from My Son, The Nut, a spoof of summer camp entitled "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh," became a surprise novelty hit, reaching No. 2 on the national Billboard Hot 100 chart for three weeks in late summer 1963. The lyrics were sung to the tune of one segment of Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours," familiar to the public because of its use in the Walt Disney film Fantasia. That December, Sherman's "The Twelve Gifts of Christmas" single appeared on Billboard's separate Christmas chart. Sherman had one other Top 40 hit, a 1965 take-off on the Petula Clark hit "Downtown" called "Crazy Downtown," which spent one week at #40. Two other Sherman singles charted in the lower regions of the Billboard 100: an updated "Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh" (#59 in 1964), and "The Drinking Man's Diet" (#98 in 1965). Sherman's "The End of a Symphony," spotlighting Arthur Fiedler's Boston Pops Orchestra, reached #113 on the "Bubbling Under" chart in 1964, but did not make the Hot 100.

The songs on Sherman's next album My Name Is Allan (1965) were thematically connected: except for a couple of original novelty songs with music by Sherman and Busch, all the songs on the album are parodies of songs that had won, or were nominated for, the Academy Award for Best Song. They included "That Old Black Magic," "Secret Love," "The Continental," "Chim Chim Cheree," and "Call Me Irresponsible." The cover of the album bore a childhood photograph of Sherman. That, and the album's title, were references to Barbra Streisand's album My Name Is Barbra, released earlier that year, which featured a cover photograph of the singer as a young girl.

During his brief heyday, Sherman's parodies were so popular that he had at least one contemporary imitator: My Son the Copycat was an album of song parodies performed by Stanley Ralph Ross, co-written by Ross and Bob Arbogast. Lest there be any doubt of whom Ross is copying, his album's cover bears a crossed-out photo of Sherman. One of the songs on this album is a fat man's lament, "I'm Called Little Butterball," parodying "I'm Called Little Buttercup" from Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta HMS Pinafore. Sherman would later parody this same song as "Little Butterball" – with the same subject matter – on his album Allan in Wonderland. The song may have had more poignancy for Sherman, as he, unlike Stanley Ross, was genuinely overweight. Sherman also parodied Gilbert and Sullivan's "Titwillow" from The Mikado, in the song "The Bronx Bird-Watcher" (on My Son, the Celebrity), as well as several other Gilbert and Sullivan songs.

Later work

At the height of his popularity in 1965, Sherman published an autobiography, A Gift of Laughter, and, for a short period at least, Sherman was culturally ubiquitous. He sang on and guest-hosted The Tonight Show, was involved in the production of Bill Cosby's first three albums, appeared in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and sang "The Dropouts' March" on the March 6, 1964, edition of the NBC-TV satirical program That Was The Week That Was.
Also in 1964, Sherman narrated his own version of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf in a live concert at Tanglewood with the Boston Pops under Arthur Fiedler. The concert, which was released as the album Peter and the Commissar, also included "Variations on 'How Dry I Am,'" with Sherman as conductor, and "The End of a Symphony." In "Variations," Fiedler was the guest soloist, providing solo hiccups. In 2004, Collector's Choice reissued the complete RCA Victor album on CD.[5]

Sherman's later albums grew more pointedly satirical and less light-hearted, skewering protesting students ("The Rebel"), consumer debt ("A Waste of Money", based on "A Taste of Honey"), and the generation gap ("Crazy Downtown" and "Pop Hates the Beatles").
Sherman was often tapped to produce specialty song parodies for corporations. An album of six paper-cup and vending machine related songs, titled Music to Dispense With, was created for the Container Division of the Scott Paper Company for distribution to its vendors and customers. It consisted of the tracks "Makin' Coffee," "Vending Machines," "There Are Cups," "That's How the Change Is Made," "The Wonderful Tree in the Forest" and "Scott Cups."[6]

Sherman also created a group of eight "public education" radio spots for Encron carpet fibers, singing their praises to the tunes of old public-domain songs. Entitled Allan Sherman Pours It On for Carpets Made with Encron Polyester, it featured an introduction by Sherman and comprised the tracks "Encron Is A Brand New Fiber" (to the tune of "Shine On, Harvest Moon"), "Put Them All Together, They Spell Encron" (to the tune of Eddy Arnold's "M-O-T-H-E-R"), "There's A Fiber Called Encron" (to the tune of William H. Hill's "There is a Tavern in the Town"), "Encron Alive, Alive-O" (to the tune of "Molly Malone"), "Encron's the Name," "Why They Call It Encron" (to the tune of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart"), "Encron, Encron" (to the tune of "Daisy Bell") and "Encron Is a Great New Fiber" (to the tune of "Take Me to the Fair").[7]


Sherman's career success was short-lived: after peaking in 1963, his popularity declined rather quickly. After the assassination of John F. Kennedy, impersonator Vaughn Meader vowed to never again do a Kennedy impression, and perhaps because of this ominous shadow – Meader was a very popular parody impressionist of the day – and the resulting reluctance to book such acts, the public saw less of Sherman's type of comedy.[8] By 1965, Sherman had released two albums that did not make the Top 50 and in 1966, Warner Bros. dropped him from the label. His last album for the company, Togetherness, was released in 1967 to poor reviews and poorer sales. All of Sherman's previous releases had been recorded in front of a live studio audience – or in the case of Live, Hoping You Are the Same, recorded during a Las Vegas performance – but Togetherness was not, and the lack of an audience and their response affected the result, as did the nondescript backup singers and studio orchestra.

In 1969, Sherman wrote the script and lyrics – but not the music, which was written by Albert Hague – for The Fig Leaves Are Falling, a flop Broadway musical that lasted only four performances in 1969, despite direction by George Abbott and a cast that included Barry Nelson, Dorothy Loudon and David Cassidy.[9] Still creative, in 1973 Sherman published the controversial The Rape of the A*P*E*, which detailed his point of view on American Puritanism and the sexual revolution.

In 1971, Sherman was the voice of Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat for the television special. He also did voice work for Dr. Seuss on the Loose, his last project before his death.


Late in his life, Sherman drank and ate heavily which resulted in a dangerous weight gain; he later developed diabetes and struggled with lung disease. In 1966, his wife Dee filed for divorce and received full custody of their son and daughter.

Sherman lived on unemployment benefits for a time and moved into the Motion Picture Home near Calabasas, California for a short time to lose weight. He died of emphysema at home in West Hollywood ten days before his 49th birthday. He is entombed in Culver City, California's Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery.

Sherman was the inspiration for a new generation of developing parodists such as "Weird Al" Yankovic, who pays homage to Sherman on the cover of his first LP. Sherman's hit song, "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh" has been translated into other languages. In one notable example, the Dutch-Swedish poet Cornelis Vreeswijk translated the song loosely into Swedish as "Brev från kolonien" (Letter from Summer Camp), which reached fourth on the Swedish popular music chart Svensktoppen in the summer of 1965[10] and is still popular in Sweden today.[11]

A Best of Allan Sherman CD was released in 1990, and a boxed set of most of his songs was released in 2005 under the title My Son, the Box. In 1992 a musical revue of his songs titled Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah ran for over a year off-off-Broadway; other productions ran Off-Broadway for four months in 2001[12] and toured in 2003. A children's book based on the song Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!, with illustrations by Syd Hoff, was published in 2004.

On March 14, 2006, National Public Radio profiled Sherman on All Things Considered.[13]
In 2010, eight of Allan Sherman's Warner Brothers albums were individually released on CD: My Son, The Folk Singer My Son, The Celebrity My Son, The Nut Allan in Wonderland For Swingin' Livers Only My Name is Allan Live! (Hoping You Are The Same) Togetherness
Sherman's son, Robert, later became a game show producer, producing game shows for Mark Goodson during the 1970s and 1980s, including Password Plus, Blockbusters, Body Language and Super Password.

In popular culture

Sherman's song "Rat Fink" was covered by punk rock band The Misfits as "Ratt Fink," on their 1979 single "Night of the Living Dead." It was also covered by Ex-Misfits guitarist Bobby Steele by his band The Undead. Sherman wrote the song as a parody of "Rag Mop," originally performed by Johnnie Lee Wills and popularized by The Ames Brothers in 1950.

In the "Three Gays of the Condo" episode of The Simpsons, "Weird Al" Yankovic makes a guest appearance. When Homer asks Yankovic if he got the two songs he recorded and sent in, Yankovic replies that he did. When Homer asks which he liked better, Yankovic replies, "They were pretty much the same, Homer." Homer then mutters angrily, "Yeah, like you and Allan Sherman." Other references to Sherman came in the episode "Marge Be Not Proud" when Bart hid an answering machine tape in a copy of his (fictitious) Camp Granada album – "where no one would ever listen to it, and in "A Midsummer's Nice Dream" where Homer shows Bart and Lisa his copy of another fictional Sherman album, Helter Shmelter: Sorry For the Mess.[14]

The group Capitol Steps used "Hello Mullah, Hello Faddah" as a parody in Fools On The Hill (Songs of 1992).



My Son, the Folk Singer (1962)
More Folk Songs by Allan Sherman and His Friends (1962) [pirated album]
My Son, the Celebrity (1963)
My Son, the Nut (1963)
Guys and Dolls, Reprise Musical Repertory Theatre studio recording (1963)--"Sue Me" (duet with Debbie Reynolds)
Allan in Wonderland (1964)
Peter and the Commissar (1964)
For Swingin' Livers Only (1964) (a play on Sinatra's album title Songs for Swingin' Lovers)
My Name is Allan (1965) (a play on Streisand's album title My Name is Barbra)
Live!! (Hoping You Are The Same) (1966)
Togetherness (1967)
Best of Allan Sherman (Posthumous, 1979)
My Son, The Greatest (Posthumous, 1990)
My Son, The Box (Posthumous, 2005)

Musical theatre

The Fig Leaves Are Falling (1969) – musical – lyricist and book-writer
Songs: "All Is Well in Larchmont," "Lillian," "All of My Laughter," "Give Me a Cause," "Today I Saw a Rose," "We," "For Our Sake," "Light One Candle," "Oh, Boy," "The Fig Leaves Are Falling," "For the Rest of My Life," "I Like It," "Broken Heart," "Old Fashioned Song," "Lillian, Lillian, Lillian," "Did I Ever Really Live?" The music was composed by Albert Hague.



Instant Status (or Up Your Image) (G.P. Putnam and Sons, 1964) (tear-out pages of celebrity thank you letters you can address to yourself and leave around your home or office to impress people)

I Can't Dance! (children's picture book, illustrated by Syd Hoff) (Harper and Row, 1964)

A Gift of Laughter: The Autobiography of Allan Sherman (Atheneum, 1965)

The Rape of the A*P*E* – The Official History of the Sex Revolution 1945–1973: The Obscening of America. An R*S*V*P* Document (Playboy Press, 1973) ISBN 0-87216-453-5 The title page notes that "APE" stands for "American Puritan Ethic" and "RSVP" for "Redeeming Social Value Pornography"

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah, (children's picture book based on song) (Dutton Books, 2004)


2.^ Goodson-Todman executive Gil Fates relates typical Sherman stunts in his memoir about What's My Line?.
3.^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 152. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
4.^ Sherman, Allan. A Gift of Laughter and Wallace, Irving and Wallenchensky, David. The People's Almanac of the 20th Century
5.^ "Peter and The Commissar: Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops With Allan Sherman: Music". Retrieved 2012-04-25.
6.^ Morris, Jeff (November 21, 2005). "Music To Dispense With Created By Allan Sherman For The Container Division Of Scott Paper Company/" The Demented Music Database!. Archived from the original on January 05 2010. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
7.^ Morris, Jeff (November 21, 2005). "Allan Sherman Pours It On For Carpets Made With Encron Polyester". The Demented Music Database!. Archived from the original on January 05 2010. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
8.^ "The Boy in Camp Granada" Los Angeles Times
9.^ IBDB: The Fig Leaves Are Falling
10.^ Svensktoppen – 1965
11.^ Brev fron Kolonien lyrics by Cornelis Vreeswijk, accessed May 22, 2010
12.^ IOBDB: Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah
13.^ "Allan Sherman: Beyond 'Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh'" NPR

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

THE CAT'S MEOW: Based on Thoman H. Ince Mystery

THE CAT'S MEOW is a 2001 period drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich, and starring Kirsten Dunst, Eddie Izzard, Edward Herrmann, Cary Elwes, Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Tilly. The screenplay by Steven Peros is based on his play of the same title, which was inspired by the mysterious death of film mogul Thomas H. Ince.

The film takes place aboard publisher William Randolph Hearst's yacht (the Oneida) on a weekend cruise celebrating Ince's 42nd birthday in November 1924. Among those in attendance are Hearst's longtime companion and film actress Marion Davies, fellow actor Charlie Chaplin, writer Elinor Glyn, columnist Louella Parsons, and actress Margaret Livingston. The celebration is cut short by an unusual death that would go on to become the subject of legendary Hollywood folklore.


November 15, 1924: Among those boarding the luxury yacht Oneida in San Pedro, California are its owner, publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, and his mistress, silent film star Marion Davies; motion picture mogul Thomas H. Ince, whose birthday is the reason for the weekend cruise, and his mistress, starlet Margaret Livingston; international film star Charlie Chaplin; English writer Elinor Glyn; and Louella Parsons, a film critic for Hearst's New York American.

Thomas H. Ince

Several of those participating in the weekend's festivities are at a crossroads in their lives and/or careers. Chaplin, still dealing with the critical and commercial failure of A Woman of Paris and rumors he has impregnated 16-year-old Lita Grey (who appeared in his film The Kid) is in the midst of preparing The Gold Rush. Davies longs to appear in a slapstick comedy rather than the somber costume dramas to which Hearst has kept her confined. Ince's eponymous film studio is in dire financial straits, so he hopes to convince Hearst to take him on as a partner in Cosmopolitan Pictures. Parsons would like to relocate from the East Coast to more glamorous Hollywood.

Hearst suspects Davies and Chaplin have engaged in an affair, a suspicion shared by Ince, who seeks proof he can present to Hearst in order to curry favor with him. In the wastepaper basket in Chaplin's stateroom, Ince discovers a discarded love letter to Davies and pockets it with plans to produce it at an opportune moment. When he finally does, Hearst is enraged. His anger is fueled further when he finds a brooch he had given Davies in Chaplin's cabin. Hearst concludes it was lost there during a romantic liaison, and he rifles Marion's room for further evidence.

Armed with a pistol, Hearst searches the yacht for Chaplin in the middle of the night. Ince, meanwhile, runs into Davies and the two sit and talk with Ince donning a hat Chaplin had worn. Davies explains to Ince her love for Hearst and her regret at an earlier affair with Chaplin. She states "I never loved him" just as Hearst arrives behind them. Thinking Davies is referring to him, and mistaking Ince for Chaplin, a jealous Hearst shoots Ince. The assault is witnessed by Parsons, who had heard noises and went to investigate.

Hearst arranges to dock in San Diego and have a waiting ambulance take the dying Ince home. He phones the injured man's wife and tells her Ince attempted suicide when Livingston tried to end their affair, assuring her the truth won't reach the media. To the rest of his guests he announces Ince's ulcer flared up and required immediate medical attention. Davies, of course, knows the truth, and confides in Chaplin. Also armed with that knowledge is Parsons, who assures Hearst his secret will be safe in exchange for a lifetime contract with the Hearst Corporation, thus laying the groundwork for her lengthy career as one of Hollywood's most powerful gossip columnists.

After seeing Ince off, Hearst confronts Davies and Chaplin. He is berated by Chaplin, who expects Davies to join him. Hearst, however, challenges Chaplin to guarantee Davies that he can promise her a happy life. When Chaplin fails to answer, Hearst informs Chaplin of the vow of silence he and the fellow guests have made to keep the weekend's activities a secret. Chaplin despairs as he realizes the murder has strengthened Davies' love for Hearst.

The film concludes with the guests leaving Ince's funeral, as Glyn relates what became of them:

Livingston went on to star in a number of successful films and her film salary "inexplicably" went from $300 to $1000 a film. Davies starred in more of Hearst's films before finally being allowed to feature in a comedy The Hollywood Revue of 1929, which was (as Chaplin predicted) a success. She stayed by Hearst's side until his death in 1951.

Chaplin married his teenage lover Lita Grey in Mexico and his film The Gold Rush was an overwhelming success. Parsons worked for Hearst for many years and subsequently became one of the most successful writers in the history of American journalism.

Tom Ince was largely forgotten after the events of his death. Very few newspapers reported it, no police action was taken, and of all the people on board only one was ever questioned. It is concluded that in Hollywood, "the place just off the coast of the planet Earth," no two accounts of the story are the same.

Marion Davies on the deck of the Oneida


Film scholar Jonathan Rosenbaum, editor of the 1992 book This is Orson Welles — a record of interviews Peter Bogdanovich conducted with Orson Welles — began his April 2002 review of The Cat's Meow with this exchange about Citizen Kane (1941):

OW: In the original script we had a scene based on a notorious thing Hearst had done, which I still cannot repeat for publication. And I cut it out because I thought it hurt the film and wasn’t in keeping with Kane’s character. If I’d kept it in, I would have had no trouble with Hearst. He wouldn’t have dared admit it was him. 
PB: Did you shoot the scene? 
OW: No, I didn’t. I decided against it. If I’d kept it in, I would have bought silence for myself forever.[3]

"The incident Welles alluded to in this exchange is the subject of The Cat’s Meow, directed by Bogdanovich and adapted by Steven Peros from his own play," Rosenbaum wrote. "Bogdanovich may see Welles as the inspiration for his film, but I have no idea where Peros got his facts."

Rosenbaum did find a similar story in the 1979 edition of The Film Encyclopedia by Ephraim Katz, in the entry on Thomas Ince; and in the 1971 essay on Citizen Kane[4] by Pauline Kael:

Her principal source was John Houseman, script supervisor for cowriter Herman Mankiewicz, and it seems safe to conclude, even without her prodding, that some version of the story must have cropped up in Mankiewicz’s first draft of the script, which Welles subsequently edited and added to. According to Kael, the only trace of the subplot left in the script is a speech made by Susan Alexander, who was loosely based on Davies, to the reporter Thompson about Kane: “Look, if you’re smart, you’ll get in touch with Raymond. He’s the butler. You’ll learn a lot from him. He knows where all the bodies are buried.” Kael writes, “It’s an odd, cryptic speech. In the first draft, Raymond literally knew where the bodies were buried: Mankiewicz had dished up a nasty version of the scandal sometimes referred to as the Strange Death of Thomas Ince."

"I don’t think we’re likely ever to know for sure what happened on Hearst’s yacht on November 19, 1924," Rosenbaum concluded.[5]

"No director is more steeped in Hearst/Welles/Kane/Hollywood lore than Bogdanovich," wrote film critic Roger Ebert, who heard the Orson Welles version of Thomas Ince's death from Bogdanovich. "It happened that as Bogdanovich told me this story, we were aboard the QE2, crossing to Southampton on the 25th anniversary voyage of the Telluride Film Festival in 1998. When Bogdanovich returned to New York, there was a script waiting for him. It was an adaptation of Steven Peros' play about the very same scandal. Fate was sending him a message."[6]

In a 2008 interview Bogdanovich said, "I was talking to Orson for my book, This is Orson Welles in 1969 and he said, “You know about the thing that happened on Hearst’s yacht?” He said Welles had been told the story by screenwriter Charles Lederer, Marion Davies's nephew, and that Bogdanovich subsequently confirmed the account with Lederer. "And when Orson told me that story it was virtually the same story as what Steven Peros has written. The particulars in terms of the letter or the hat, those where details hypothesized by Steven, based on his research, but the actual plot — of what happened and who was doing what and why — that was all the same.[7]


1. "THE CAT'S MEOW (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 2004-04-28. 
2. "The Cat's Meow (2002)". Box Office Mojo.
3. Welles, Orson, and Peter Bogdanovich, edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum, This is Orson Welles. New York: HarperCollins Publishers 1992 ISBN 0-06-016616-9 page 85 
4. Kael, Pauline, "Raising Kane", book-length essay in The New Yorker (February 20 and 27, 1971); reprinted in The Citizen Kane Book. Kael, Pauline, Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles, The Citizen Kane Book. Boston: Little, Brown and Company 1971, ISBN 0-436-23030-5 pp. 1–85 
5. Rosenbaum, Jonathan, "Hollywood Confidential: 'The Cat's Meow'". Chicago Reader, April 26, 2002, archived at Retrieved 5 January 2013 
6. Ebert, Roger, "Peter Bogdanovich on storytelling". Chicago Sun-Times, April 24, 2004 
7. French, Lawrence, "Peter Bogdanovich on completing Orson Welles long awaited The Other Side of the Wind for Showtime" (March 9, 2008 interview). Wellesnet: The Orson Welles Web Resource, March 14, 2008. 

Thomas H. Ince Studios (The Culver Studios)

On July 19, 1918, Thomas H. Ince purchased a 14-acre property at 9336 West Washington Blvd. on an option basis from Harry Culver along with a $132,000 loan. Thus was formed "Thomas H. Ince Studios," which operated there from 1919 to 1924. When Ince conceived the idea of building his own studio, he was determined to have it different from the others. Among plans submitted to him by architects Meyer and Holler, was one that suggested the whole front administrative building made a replica of George Washington's home at Mount Vernon. The resulting administration building, known as "The Mansion," was the first building to go up on the lot. In 1925, after Ince's death, Cecil B. Demille acquired Ince Studios, renaming it the DeMille Studios. Besides DeMille, among those who filmed on the lot were Pathé, RKO, producer Howard Hughes, and Desilu Productions. In 1991, Sony Pictures Entertainment purchased the property as the home for its television endeavours, renaming it Culver Studios, and eventually selling it in 2004 to a group of investors. In his honor, the street intersecting the studios was named Ince Blvd. and there is an Ince Theater planned to be constructed in a parking lot adjacent to Ince Blvd. in the near future.

Triangle Motion Picture Studios (Sony/formerly MGM)

By 1915, Thomas H. Ince was very powerful and one of the best-known producer-directors. Harry Culver convinced Ince to move his "Inceville" Studios from the beach to Culver City. That same year, Ince partnered with D.W. Griffith and Mack Sennett to join the Triangle Motion Picture Company based on their prestige as producers. Triangle (from an aerial point of view the property took a triangular shape) built their large studios at 10202 W. Washington Blvd. (present-day site of Sony Pictures Studios). The very first Culver City movie studio began to take shape in the form of a Greek colonnade – the impressive entrance that still stands today fronting Washington Boulevard and is an historical landmark.

Silent Director Thomas Ince Murder Mystery 1924

Thomas Harper Ince (November 6, 1882 – November 19, 1924) was an American silent film actor, director, screenwriter and producer of more than 100 films and pioneering studio mogul. Known as the "Father of the Western", he invented many mechanisms of professional movie production, introducing early Hollywood to the "assembly line" system of film making. His screenplay The Italian (1915) was preserved by the United States National Film Registry, as was his film Civilization (1916). He was a partner with D.W. Griffith and Mack Sennett in the Triangle Motion Picture Company, and built his own studios in Culver City, which later became the legendary home of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He is also known for his death aboard the yacht of William Randolph Hearst; officially he died of heart trouble, but Hollywood rumor of the time suggested he had been shot by Hearst in a dispute over actress Marion Davies.

Murder or natural death debate

On Saturday, November 15, 1924, William Randolph Hearst's lavish 280-foot (85 m) yacht, the Oneida, set sail from San Pedro, California heading for San Diego. Among his guests that weekend were his mistress Marion Davies, silent film star Charlie Chaplin, newspaper columnist Louella Parsons, author Elinor Glyn, film actresses Aileen Pringle, Jacqueline Logan, Seena Owen, Theodore Kosloff, Margaret Livingston, Julanne Johnston and Dr. Daniel Carson Goodman, Hearst's film production manager. Ironically, Ince, the guest of honor as it was his 42nd birthday, was late due to a production deal he was negotiating with Hearst's International Film Corporation and the yacht left without him.

Ince finished up his business in Los Angeles and took a train to San Diego where he joined the guests the next morning. At dinner that Sunday night, the group enthusiastically celebrated his birthday. Sometime later, Ince suffered an acute bout of indigestion on the yacht. Determining that Ince was quite ill, the silent film producer was taken from the yacht by water taxi and brought back ashore in San Diego, accompanied by Dr. Goodman, still a licensed, though non-practicing physician, then quickly put on a train bound for Los Angeles. However, while en route Ince's condition worsened. At Del Mar, he was removed from the train, then taken to a hotel where he was promptly given medical treatment by Dr. T. A. Parker and a nurse Jessie Howard. Ince informed them he had drank liquor on the Hearst yacht. Afterward, he was taken to his home in Hollywood where the next day November 19, he succumbed to a heart ailment.

Less than forty-eight hours after leaving the Oneida, Ince had died in his "Dias Dorados" estate in Benedict Canyon officially of a heart attack. Dr. Ida Cowan Glasgow, his personal physician, signed the death certificate citing heart failure as the cause of death. The front page of the Wednesday morning Los Angeles Times, however, told another story: '"Movie Producer Shot on Hearst Yacht!", headlines that mysteriously vanished in the evening edition. Without further ado, Ince's body was cremated, after which his widow, Nell, soon left for Europe.

The first stories in Hearst's newspapers about Ince's death claimed the producer had fallen ill while visiting the Hearst ranch in San Simeon and had been rushed home by ambulance, dying in the bosom of his family. The rumor mill in Hollywood immediately went to work. Several conflicting stories began circulating about the incident, often revolving around a claim that Hearst shot Ince in the head by mistake.

The story goes that Hearst suspected that Davies and Chaplin were secretly lovers. In order to keep tabs on the two, he invited them both on board the yacht. Supposedly, he found the couple in a compromising clinch and went for his gun. Davies' screams awakened Ince who rushed to the scene. A scuffle ensued, followed by a gunshot and Ince took the bullet for Chaplin. A second version of the story had Davies and Ince alone in the galley late Sunday night. Ince, who suffered from ulcers, was supposedly looking for something to ease his upset stomach when Hearst walked in. Mistaking Ince for Chaplin, Hearst shot him. A third version tells of a struggle over a gun belowdecks between unidentified passengers. The gun fired accidentally and the bullet ripped through a plywood partition straight into Ince's room where it struck him.

Chaplin's secretary, Toraichi Kono, added fuel to the fire when he claimed to have seen Ince when he came ashore. Kono told his wife that, Ince's head was "bleeding from a bullet wound." The story quickly spread among the Japanese domestic workers throughout Beverly Hills. Whether Ince was killed in a fit of jealousy or by accident the story stuck and with many believing Hearst using his power and influence to cover up the incident. One month after Ince's death, the rumors ran so rampant that the San Diego District Attorney's Office was forced to take action.

The D.A. only interviewed Dr. Goodman, who explained that once ashore, he and Ince caught a train heading back to Los Angeles. According to Goodman, Ince got sick on the train so they disembarked in Del Mar and checked into a hotel. Goodman then called a doctor, as well as Nell Ince. Concerned for her husband, Nell agreed to come to Del Mar immediately. Goodman, unclear whether Ince was suffering from a heart attack or indigestion, claimed he left Del Mar before Nell arrived. The D.A. quickly closed the investigation.

Nonetheless, the rumors and suspicions continued to be fueled by the very people who celebrated with Ince that ill-fated weekend. Chaplin denied even being there, insisting that he, Hearst and Davies visited the ailing Ince later that week. He also stated that Ince died two weeks after their visit. In reality, Ince was dead within forty-eight hours after leaving the Oneida with Chaplin attending the memorial services that Friday.

Davies also added to the mystery in her attempts to deny the incident. She never acknowledged that Chaplin, Parsons or Goodman were aboard the yacht that weekend. She insisted that Nell Ince called her late Monday afternoon at United Studios to inform her of Ince's death.

When the Oneida sailed, Parsons was a New York movie columnist for one of Hearst's papers. After the Ince affair, Hearst gave her a lifetime contract and expanded her syndication. Hearst also provided Nell Ince with a trust fund just before she left for Europe. She refused an autopsy and ordered her husband's immediate cremation. Rumor also has it that Hearst paid off Ince's mortgage on his Château Élysée apartment building in Hollywood. D.W. Griffith said of the incident:

"All you have to do to make Hearst turn white as a ghost is mention Ince's name. There's plenty wrong there, but Hearst is too big."

The circumstances of Ince's death tainted his reputation as a pioneering filmmaker and diminished the way his role in the growth of the film industry was remembered. Even his studio could not survive his death. It shut down soon after he passed. The final film he produced, Enticement, a romance set in the French Alps, was released posthumously, in 1925. In summarizing Ince's career and the potential for his future in the movie business had he lived, David Thompson wrote in "A Biographical Dictionary of Film":

"His shameless self-aggrandizement seems the original of a brand of ambition central to American film. In that sense, he was the first tycoon, more businesslike than Griffith and much more prosperous. Remember that he died in early middle age, and it is possible to surmise that he might have become one of the moguls of the 1930s."