In Hollywood everything is done big, including murders. Alienated, accidental, deliberate or sadistic, all these tragedies have something in common: they overwhelmed millions of people and took hours to start generating rumors, gossip and conspiracy theories. Because “anything is possible in Hollywood” is not just a catch phrase, but has made the streets of the happiest place on earth the scene of the most chilling human depravity. In the image, the protagonist of one of them, Sharon Tate. She poses with her husband, the film director Roman Polanski, in 1969. She was murdered six months after this snapshot.
The dark incident of Matthew Broderick The press went crazy. Matthew Broderick (New York, 1962) was not only the teen fashion star thanks to ‘Everything in a day’, but also the accident he caused during a holiday in Northern Ireland (he started driving in the right lane by mistake) ) unveiled his relationship with the copilot, Jennifer Gray (very famous at that time for starring ‘Dirty dancing’). The two occupants of the vehicle Broderick hit, mother and daughter, died on the spot. The actor said he did not remember anything of what he had done that day, not even having gotten out of bed. He was sentenced to pay a fine of 175 dollars (about 150 euros) to the stupor and indignation of the family of the victims. The sister and daughter of the deceased have tried to meet Broderick to forgive him in person, but he has rejected the proposal. What he did agree was to star in a car ad for Honda in 2012 for which he received a fortune. In the image, Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Gray at the premiere of the play ‘Burn This’ in the tetaro Pymouth in New York, in 1987.
The first Superman and the mafia The first Superman, George Reeves (Iowa, 1914-Los Angeles, 1959), inaugurated the esoteric theory that the character is cursed because all those related to him end up suffering abject misfortunes. Officially, Reeves committed suicide in his room while a party was being held in the room. The testimony of the witnesses, all drunk, only added confusion to a supposed suicide full of inconsistencies: the bullet angle and the absence of traces on the weapon and gunpowder in Reeves’ hands contradicted the official hypothesis of suicide. Rumors pointed to Eddie Mannix, vice president of the Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer, hiring gangsters to kill Reeves. The actor had had an affair with Mannix’s wife, Toni, but it broke the relationship and Eddie, who knew and consented to this infidelity, he wanted revenge on Reeves for breaking his wife’s heart. It is said that she confessed her guilt to a priest shortly before she died. In the image, George Reeves poses dressed as Superman for the television series ‘The Adventures of Superman’ (1953).
The great Mexican ‘Latin lover’, murdered for 20 dollars The premature death by peritonitis of the first ‘Latin lover’, Rodolfo Valentino, left a gap in the market that Hollywood supplied with the Mexican Ramón Novarro (Mexico, 1899-Hollywood, 1968). She became one of the best-paid stars of the 1920s, but she was also one of the first victims of the arrival of sound to the cinema. In 1968, away from Hollywood and with 69 years, Novarro was tortured by two brothers of 17 and 22 years that he had hired as chaperones. The assassins believed that Novarro had a fortune in cash in his house and they beat him to confess where he was. Actually there was no money, and the criminals left him to drown in their own blood after taking a loot of 20 dollars. In the picture, Ramón Novarro in a scene from the movie ‘China bound’.
The drama of the ‘Playboy girl’ of 1980 Known as Galaxina, the title of the B-movie sci-fi film she starred before her death, Dorothy Stratten (Canada, 1960- Los Angeles, 1980) was ‘Playboy Girl’ of the year 1980. Also in 1980, at 20 years old, she was murdered, tied to an abdominal bench and raped (exactly in that order) by her ex-husband.Then he committed suicide. The founder of ‘Playboy’, Hugh Hefner, was peppered with controversy because director Peter Bodganovich (Stratten’s partner when he died) said the only reason she had married that violent guy was to run away from the mansion Playboy, where I was sexually subjected.Bodganovich, on the other hand, ended up marrying Dorothy Stratten’s sister, Louise, when she turned 20 (he was already 49), the same age at which Dorothy died.
The massacre of the faithful of Charles Manson Charles Manson led a hippie commune called “The Family” that went from enacting peace and love to killing five people. His resentment at not having achieved a musical career led Manson to send his parishioners to the mansion where music producer Terry Melcher had previously lived, with whom Manson had been about to record an album, but which now belonged to the director of cinema Roman Polanski and his pregnant wife Sharon Tate (Texas, 1943-Los Angeles, 1969). Between four people (plus one who was driving the car) murdered Sharon, his 3 guests and a boy who was passing by.The bizarre spiral of violence took several minutes to unchain because the victims believed that the intruders were invited (people were constantly coming and going in that house), and the media coverage was so grotesque that Charles Manson would end up being a celebrity and cultural icon far more famous than his main victim, Sharon Tate. In the image, Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski at their wedding, in 1968.
The curse of ‘Poltergeist’ One of the most emblematic curses in Hollywood is that of ‘Poltergeist’ (1982). Of all the participants in his shoot who saw their lives ruined, the death of Dominique Dunne (California, 1959-California, 1982), suffocated by her ex-boyfriend, is the most tragic. Days after his funeral, his last work was played: he played a teenager who suffered abuse in the series ‘Sad Song on Hill Street’. Days before the shooting of that episode, his ex-boyfriend had beaten him and the producers decided that Dominique Dunne should appear as she was, without makeup, with her face and body bruised. That would be his last appearance on a screen. I was 22 years old. In the image, Dominique Dunne (left, in the middle) with the other actors of ‘Poltergeist’ in 1982.
From ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ to Stabbed in the Street Plato will be forever, the tortured teenager who fell in love with James Dean in ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ (1955). Sal Mineo (New York, 1939-Los Angeles, 1976) was 16 when he was nominated for an Oscar for this role, and 37 when he was stabbed by a pizza delivery man who tried to rob him while he was returning home. By then, his career was over, but he had received great reviews for a role in a play with which he planned to debut on Broadway. The collective imagination, for some reason, has perpetuated the theory that Mineo was killed by a chapero. It’s not true, but that’s how it ended up going down in the history of Hollywood’s macabre chronicle. In the image, the actor in 1960.
Comic actor, death of ‘thriller’ The death of Bob Crane (Connecticut, 1928-Arizona, 1978) seems out of a ‘thriller’, one of those in which the viewer has clear identity of the murderer from the first scene. The star of the sitcom ‘The Heroes of Hogan’, an audience success during the 60s, was killed after being seen arguing with his best friend, John Henry Carpenter. Both had met through their fondness for photography and Crane was killed, precisely, with a tripod. In Carpenter’s car were found remains of cranial tissue and several witnesses said that Bob Crane had been trying unsuccessfully to break that friendship for months.However, Carpenter was not arrested until 20 years later (when the case was reopened due to advances in DNA analysis), but the trial concluded that he was not guilty.
The Black Dahlia that obsesses the USA Elizabeth Short (Boston, 1924-California, 1947) was an aspiring actress who became an American icon after her death. His body was found mutilated, separated in two and cracked up and down in an open field in Los Angeles. The culprit was never found even though, since the murder, in 1947, some 500 people have claimed to be responsible for the grotesque crime. Public opinion and the press were deeply fascinated by the case, which for seven decades has generated theories, books and films (the last, in 2006: ‘La dalia negra’, by Brian de Palma and Scarlett Johansson) because according to the Sociologists USA clung to the intriguing unsolved mystery as a distraction after the end of World War II.
The terrible story of the girl from ‘The problems grow’ The father of Judith Barsi (California, 1978 – California, 1988) was called József and was a Hungarian immigrant alcoholic and abuser. He had repeatedly threatened to rip Judith and her mother Maria’s neck and burn down the house below. Judith Barsi, children’s film actress (‘Shark, revenge’, ‘In search of the enchanted valley’) and television (‘The problems grow’, ‘Punky brewster’), began to show extreme behaviors because of the physical abuse that He suffered, like tearing off his eyelashes and doing the same with his cat’s whiskers. All the people in his professional and personal environment insisted that Maria take Judith and run away from József, but she was afraid of losing her house and her belongings. On July 25, 1988 József shot his 10-year-old daughter while he slept, killed his wife and spent two days living in the house with the two bodies until he finally set them on fire, went down to the garage and committed suicide. Tremendous story In the picture, Victor Dimattia, Alan Thicke and Judith Barsi in the series ‘Problems grow.’
That enigmatic note that he left to his wife Paul Bern (Germany, 1889- California, 1932) was a producer, director and screenwriter of the first Hollywood. More than 2,000 people attended his funeral. The suicide note dedicated to his wife, superstar Jean Harlow, found no resolution because she claimed not to understand what he meant by “this is the only way to fix what I have done to you and compensate for my humiliation.” The press, on the other hand, did have an explanation: Bern committed suicide because he was impotent. The theories go from that he was assassinated by his first wife, who days later it was thrown of a ferry, until the Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer ordered his death because he wanted to leave to Harlow after only two months of marriage and the study could not be to allow his most commercial star to remain as a clumsy wife unable to keep a husband. She was soon married to another man, but Harlow died four years later, at the peak of her career at the age of 26, victim of kidney failure. In the image, the Bern-Harlow couple, months after their wedding, in 1932.
Shot, 21 years old, by a fan Robert Bardo was a 19-year-old kid obsessed with actress Rebecca Schaeffer (Oregon, 1967- California, 1989) to the point of sending him dozens of letters. An assistant of Schaeffer answered them with a signed photo. When Bardo saw his idol in a bed scene in ‘Scenes of the Sexual Struggle in Beverly Hills’ (John Bartel, 1989), he was disappointed that he had become “another bitch in Hollywood”. And he took the signed photo and showed up at his house. Rebecca asked him to leave and not come back. Bardo went to a nearby coffee shop, had breakfast and returned to the actress’s house to shoot him in the chest. She was 21 years old. This crime promoted a movement to legally protect celebrities from harassment of their fans and a law stipulated that their private data should be inaccessible to the average citizen.
The voice of ‘The Simpsons’, liquidated by his wife When his third wife, consumed by addiction to drugs and tranquilizers, hit him twice in the head while he slept, Phil Hartman (Ontario, Canada, 1948- California, 1998) was in the best moment of his career. He had won the Emmy for his impersonation of Bill Clinton in the legendary comedy program of ‘Saturday Night Live’ and worked regularly on ‘The Simpsons’. The two characters he dubbed, the usurer lawyer Lionel Hutz and the unsuccessful actor who loves iguanas Troy McLure, disappeared from the series in the tenth season out of respect for Hartman. After killing him, his wife shot herself in the mouth and her two children together were adopted by her sister. It was 1998 and Hartman, who was 49 years old, was preparing to double Zapp Brannigan in ‘Futurama’, the second series of the creator of ‘The Simpsons’ whose protagonist, Phillip J. Fry, was named in honor of Phil Hartman. In the image, Phil Hartman at the opening of Planet Hollywood in New York in 1991.
Natalie Wood and the suspected bruises When a forensic report indicates that someone has died due to “drowning and other indeterminate causes”, the public becomes obsessed with these indeterminate causes. Natalie Wood (California, 1938- California, 1981) rushed to the sea during the early hours of November 29, 1981. Officially, alcohol mixed with analgesics and biodramines caused her to fall, but the bruises that her body showed and an injury to her cheek continue, 26 years later, without finding an answer. In 2011, the ship’s captain accused the actress’s husband, actor Robert Wagner (Detroit, 1930), of his death during an argument. The case was reopened and Wagner denied this accusation, while actor Christopher Walken (New York, 1943), who was also on board, hired a lawyer just in case. This second investigation could only conclude that it is already impossible to determine the true cause of Natalie Wood’s death: it will remain a mystery forever. In the picture, Natalie Wood with her husband, actor Robert Wagner.