4 Actors' Deaths More Shocking Than a Movie Comments - Mania.com


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tjanson 10/12/2009 12:49:49 PM

Here's what I find bizarre about about the deaths of Brandon and Bruce lee.  Brandon died when shot by a gun that was supposed to fire blanks.  in Bruce Lee's last film, Game of Death, his character is supposed to be shot with blanks during a movie scene but mob guys substitute the prop gun for a real gun.  Now that's weird!

FerretJohn 10/12/2009 12:54:37 PM

One name that comes to my mind, frequently overlooked, is Jon-Eric Hexum.  Handsome rising star in the 80s, starred in the sci-fi classic Voyagers and spy series Cover Up, tragically died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound from a prop gun.

pickford 10/12/2009 3:46:47 PM

Well I cite WIkipedia because I wrote it myself, from his biographer's site.  I'm also almost finished with the print biography and again it confirmed at was on her site.  I agree normally Wikipedia is no good (and I loathe them to no end) but even googling 'Karl Dane' brings up his biographers site...which I  think trumps Anger et all.

JoeArtistWriter 10/12/2009 7:01:17 PM

tjanson, absolutely. Very weird, and it deserves mention in an article soon.

FerretJohn, we talked about him in a previous comment box. I definitely want to do his story next time.

pickford, the problem with doing these stories is conflicting information. I ran up against a similar situation when I did the Mary Prevost story for my book, "Weird California." Some of the research I came across was exactly like the Karl Dane story. Some claimed her accent was too thick to play in talkies, but other research cited that as an untruth. The best you can do as a writer, especially for stories this old is present other the sides to the story. (If you're aware of them.)

Thorn 10/12/2009 7:22:00 PM

Totally agreed for Bruce and Brandon Lee. What about Sharon Tate?

pickford 10/12/2009 10:16:45 PM

Mr. JoeArtistWriter I have spent 2 years doing as such myself over at Forget the Talkies, and I understand what you mean.  For the record I'm behind the Karl Dane event going on at The Egyptian in Hollywood on October 18th, and I adore him, so I'm not just pulling fantasies out of my booty...it is a subject I have researched deeply.

In the case of silent film stars I have found (through sound evidence) that there was never such a talkie case. In the case of Marie Prevost she was actually Canadian, not Bronx honk. I havent heard her voice but I'll take bets on that.  Clara Bow, Norma Talmadge, John Gilbert, so forth all had fine voices as well.

The problem with silent folk is either 1) rumors started back then and were never debunked or 2) MOST (I'd say like 99% ) come from Hollywood Babylon which is pure bullshit through and through. Why is that relevant to other sources? Because most half assed movie books use his book or took a rumor from another book which used Anger as a source.

Im not about to dispute half assed researched books/sites that took from Anger up against a well researched and sourced biography. With anyone pre 1935 you really have to dig. Look at Olive Thomas. How many books will you find saying she killed herself/was killed by Jack Pickford and died draped in a velvet cape (all that came from Anger, she accidentally poisioned herself a night after drinking and partying heavily)? Or how many books say Natacha Rambova and Jean Acker were both lesbians and Valentino was gay (Rambova wasn't a lesbian, Acker was, Valentino was not gay or bi via any known evidence)? Or how many will say Fatty Arbuckle murdered Virginia Rappe after raping her with a coke bottle (not.true.at.all)?

There are many fascinating aspects of the silent film world; many interesting deaths and scandals steeped in truth (Lya de Putti died after choking on a chicken bone and getting an infection, Florence Lawrence took ant poision, Gwili Andre who wasnt a silent star but a 30s star set herself on fire, so forth). But a lot of it, even in print, is pure bunk. I hope you will research further in the future.  I would be VERY happy to help you, feel free to contact me http://forgetthetalkies.com

Dazzler 10/13/2009 4:49:10 AM

Voyagers guy is a good one too. 

I am dvr'ing Combat on Sat's.  They just showed ep with Jeffrey Hunter in it, I have never seen Hunter in anything except pilot ep of Trek.  I really think he would have been a great captain for series.  

Rick Jason on Combat.  I guess he popped a cap in his head when he knew he was dying of cancer I think.  There was a guy not afraid of a quick death.  

silversurfer 10/13/2009 10:17:52 AM

I thought that these stories were compelling, and very tragic as far as it goes with Hollywood Stars/Starlets. What I take away from this is no matter who you are, what you are comes out in the end.

Image has always been a big thing in Hollywood and keeping the stories straight or not discussing them at all was a very hard job once upon a time, to say the least. Now, people are intrigued by the stories and lives that these people lived off screen.

Could it be that the squeaky clean, happy go lucky, good guy image is the very thing that killed all of these people? I wonder about that sometimes. The image may have been too hard to live up to, and the pressure of trying to live a normal life outside of the character that was portrayed was probably taxing.


JoeArtistWriter 10/13/2009 5:21:52 PM

Thorn, I do have a good Sharon Tate story that I could write up for this. I interviewed some experts. Very compellling stuff.

pickford, I just finished writing a book called, Weird Hollywood - it's due out next year. I definitely used Hollywood Babylon as a source, but I used others because I did hear it was a little suspect. I will contact you, or you, or anyone else should feel free to visit my website and contact me directly if you'd like.


Dazzler, another great story, in a similar vein is the how everyone who worked on the movie "The Conqueror" came down with cancer. John Wayne, Agnes Moorehead, Susan Hayward. Tragic stuff really.

silversurfer, thanks. Glad you enjoyed them. One thing I will say is these are stories, and as pickford points out, they may not always be accurate, but I do my best to research and tell a good tale. Very happy you enjoyed them.

LittleNell1824 10/14/2009 12:18:13 PM

Buster Keaton seemed like a  real stand-up guy. He stood by Karl Dane and he stood by Fatty Arbuckle.

I watched a TMC showing of a Fatty Arbuckle silent and he was amazing. Presence, energy. He was one of those big guys who can move like they weigh 100 lbs less than they actuall do - like Chris Farley. And he made the comic-romantic lead seem believable. It's too bad that so many people have seen a Chaplin film but few have seen an Arbuckle film.

I don't know why I tend to blame Luella Parson's for the lies and public rage surrounding this case. Did the Arbuckle case make Parson's name as the gossip hound am I thinking of some other story? I know that Hearst was just thrilled by the scandal. Why was Arbuckle black-listed and not Chaplin. It just seemed like the public thought Arbuckle looked more believable as a rapist than sad-eyed Chaplin.

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