Hollywood Celebrity Scandals Death of Thomas Harper Ince Part 3

About the Hollywood celebrity scandal of 1924 involving the mysterious death of filmmaker Thomas Harper Ince after a night on the Hearst yacht.


The Mysterious Death of Thomas Harper Ince-1924

One of the guests, Elinor Glyn, novelist, screenwriter and social entrepreneur, was outspoken about other Hollywood scandals in her biography but failed to mention this one. Charlie Chaplin also suffered a curious bout of amnesia in his memoirs and claims to have visited Ince on his sickbed two weeks before his death. Margaret Livingston, actress and alleged mistress of Ince, was there, although Marion Davies later denied it upon being asked by Mrs. Ince. Louella Parsons, Hearst reporter, claims that she wasn't even in California at the time, despite the fact that she was seen leaving the United Artists Studio with Chaplin and Davies. Other celebrities and Hearst employees were also on board, specifically Dr. Daniel Carson Goodman, who became a key witness in the shallow investigation that followed Ince's death.

Hearst himself added to the confusion with his own misleading story, published in the Hearst papers immediately after Ince died, with the headline: SPECIAL CAR RUSHES STRICKEN MAN HOME FROM RANCH! This erroneous account had Ince visiting Hearst at his ranch when he fell ill and made no mention of the Oneida party. The Hearst-Ince scandal also briefly made headlines in the Los Angeles Times: MOVIE PRODUCER SHOT ON HEARST YACHT. However, the Times report survived only one edition. Its editors killed it in later editions-an indication of Hearst's far-reaching power.

A thorough investigation and a detailed autopsy could have settled the controversy over Ince's death. But, curiously, Dr. Goodman was the only witness from the Oneida who was summoned when an investigation was finally called. After hearing the testimony of the attending physicians and Dr. Goodman, the San Diego district attorney dismissed the case and closed the investigation, saying that Ince had died from heart failure due to acute indigestion.

With all of the "evidence" reduced to hearsay, the death of Thomas Ince remains a mystery, tainted by overspeculation. Was it simply generosity, people wondered, that prompted Hearst to award Mrs. Ince a trust fund? Louella Parsons was granted a promotion by Hearst (supposedly to keep her quiet), and she went on to become a Hollywood gossip columnist. Chaplin shuttled his pregnant fiancee, Lita Grey, off to Mexico before Ince's funeral, then joined her a few days later to get married.

If it was temporarily forgotten that Ince was a great motion picture producer-director rather than a victim of scandal, Ince had his own subtle revenge. When Mrs. Ince sold their Spanish-style mansion, scene of many "frolicsome weekends" for the Hollywood elite, a secret gallery above the guest rooms was discovered. There Ince had fashioned a series of small peepholes in the floor above the guest rooms. These gave Ince an eyeful of each bedchamber, and while the stars dallied, he was probably admiring the view.

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