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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

He Walks Through Walls....

November 6, 1882 – November 19, 1924
Thomas Ince.  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. That is who he was in life. But of course, yes you are correct, I am going to concentrate on his death, and beyond. 

The year was 1924, and to celebrate Ince's 42nd birthday a celebrity line up gathered on William Randolph Heart's yacht. The lavish 280-foot (85 m) yacht, the Oneida set sail out of he port at San Pedro California. Thomas was late due to a production deal he was working on and had taken a train to San Diego to meet at the port there where the Oneidea was, but he was there in time for the celebration. 

The Oneida
 The Guests Aboard

Julianne Johnston, Actress

Aileen Pringle, Actress

Dr. Daniel Carson Goodman, Hearst's Film Production Manager

Jacqueline Logan, Actress

Margret Livingston, Actress

Seena Owen, Actress

Theodore Kosloff, actor, choreographer and ballet dancer

Louella Parson , Columnist

Charlie Chaplin

Elinore Glyn, Author

William Randolph Hearst, Publisher

Marion Davies, Actress
 As the story would be told, and a story that some have whispered, and movies have depicted was a falsehood, later that evening at dinner Sunday night,all the guests had quite the lively party to celebrate Ince's birthday. Apparently after many hours, Ince suffered an acute bout of indigestion on the yacht. Seeing that Ince was very ill, he was taken from the yacht by water taxi, brought back ashore in San Diego, reportedly  accompanied by Dr. Goodman who was still a licensed, though non-practicing physician. Thomas was then immediatly put on a train bound for Los Angeles. Unfortunately when en route Ince's condition worsened. Dr. Goodman and Thomase reached Del Mar, Ince was then removed from the train and taken to a hotel where he was promptly given medical treatment by Dr. T. A. Parker and a nurse by the name of Jessie Howard. Ince informed them he had drunk 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. * info gathered via

In the time period of less than forty-eight hours after leaving the Oneida, Ince had died at his estate in Benedict Canyon; it was ruled officially as a heart attack. Dr. Ida Cowan Glasgow, his personal physician, signed the death certificate. The front page of the Wednesday morning Los Angeles Times, was of a different opinion : '"Movie Producer Shot on Hearst Yacht!", headlines that mysteriously vanished in the evening edition.  Other reports supporting cause of death remained in publication. Hearst's own newspapers ran conflicting stories, stating Ince  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.

Notice even his age is wrong.

There seemed to be quite the rush after Ince's death to have everything wrapped up. Within two days of his death he was cremated ( whereabouts of his ashes are unknown to this day) and services held, and his widow Nell left for Europe.   

Nell refused an autopsy and ordered a cremation to happen immediatly. It was reported that Hearst set up a trust fund for Ince's widow as well as paid off the an apartment in Hollywood.Was he truly just being a good friend?
 Now you might think the rumors would die when the L.A times story vanished; that is not the case. Hollywood gossip mongers never truly let rumors come to a swift and final end. There was a very strong rumor that still circulates today as I mentioned, in which the case is that Hearst himself shot Ince in the head by accident, in a rage over a supposed affair between Marion Davies with Charlie Chaplin...thinking it was Charlie Chaplin sitting in the stairwell with Marion.

Gloria Swanson seen here with Charlie and Marion(*not from Oneida)

There was other rumors attached to the incident as well, besides the supporting of Ince's widow, it was reported that Hearst gave Louella Parsons a lifetime contract with all his publications,and expanded her syndication (to hush her up perhaps?). It was also reported that Marion Davies told a conflicting tale of who was even on the yacht as well as how she found out about the passing of Ince...this just added fuel to the fire that something was not adding up. * read up on all the juicy details HERE 

  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."
There are two movies I know of that support the theory that Hearst killed Ince and created a cover up, Citzen Cane, which was supposedly based on Hearst, and sought out to explore the last words he had, a confession perhaps? Later The Cat's Meow, which I recently watched for the second time and inspired me to read up on the subject.

Cary Elwes as Ince & Kirsten Dunst as Marion Davies

 The After Life of Thomas Ince

You most likely thought perhaps I had forgotten the ghost portion of this story, or was wondering if there was one. I was able to find just short blips of encounters with the ghost of Thomas Ince. It would seem he feels his work is not done in the movie industry. 

Culver Studios, 9336 Washington Blvd. In Culver City Ca.(started by Ince)
It would seem that as I mentioned above, death did not bring an end to the work and sightings of Thomas Ince. Rumors after his death did not just deal with how he died, but also became about how what is now Culver Studios was haunted. " Ince built the studios in 1918 but changed hands several times after his death. Cecil B. De Mille, Howard Hughes, David Selznick, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball made significant contributions to film and television history on this lot. Classics like Gone With the Wind, King Kong, The Untouchables, Lassie, Batman and ironically Citizen Kane were among the many shot here." *via

The stories and rumors, like those of his death have continued on about his after life. Employees have stated that they have seen  ghostly figures, most famous of these ghosts, are the sightings of Thomas Ince. It has been reported that itnesses have seen a  ghost of a man climbing the stairs in the main administration building, heading for the executive screening room. This room had been Ince’s private projection room during his years at the studio. As is often the case in reports of hauntings, remodeling seemed to bring out the worst in Ince’s ghost. In 1988 Thomas it would seem, began to reveal his displeasure over some major renovations.

The first to encounter him were two workmen who looked up to see a man in an odd, bowler-type hat watching them from the catwalks above Stage 1-2-3. The workmen spoke to the man, he frowned and then turned and walked into the second floor wall. Later on, in the summer, special-effects man Eugene Hilchey spoke to another worker who also witnessed seeing a man wearing an odd hat, this time on Stage 2-3-4. Hilchey was sure that the man’s description matched that of Ince. The worker’s statement was enough to cement his belief. The ghost had turned to the workmen and said “I don’t like what you’re doing to my studio”. Then he vanished into the wall.
Hollywood has made sure that Thomas Ince is always remembered, and it would seem Thomas himself is seeing to that himself as though there has not been any recent reports of hearing complaints from Thomas, after renovations were completed, there seems to still be the feeling of Ince watching over the going's on there.

1 comment:

  1. Good Story! Boy, Charlie Chaplin was a handsome man.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Dee xx


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