Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Charlie Chaplin was Born - 1889



On this date in Hollywood history - April 16, 1889, Hollywood legend Charlie Chaplin was born in London, England. Chaplin was one of the most financially successful stars of early Hollywood, was introduced to the stage when he was five. The son of London music hall entertainers, young Chaplin was watching a show starring his mother when her voice cracked. He was quickly shuffled onto the stage to finish the act. Chaplin’s father died when Chaplin was a toddler, and when his mother had a nervous breakdown Chaplin and his older half-brother, Sydney, roamed London, where they danced on the streets and collected pennies in a hat. They eventually went to an orphanage and joined the Eight Lancashire Lads, a children’s dance troupe. When Chaplin was 17, he developed his comedic skills with the help of Fred Karno’s company, for which his half-brother had already become a popular comedian. Soon, Chaplin’s bowler hat, out-turned feet, mustache and walking cane became his trademark. Chaplin refined what would soon become his legacy, the character Charlie the Tramp. A masterful silent film actor who could elicit both laughter and tears from his audiences, Chaplin resisted the arrival of sound in movies. Indeed, in his first film that featured sound (City Lights in 1931), he only used music. His first true sound film was 1940’s The Great Dictator, in which he mocked fascism. Chaplin was a founding member of United Artists Corporation in 1919 along with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and director D.W. Griffith. Chaplin was married four times, his fourth wife, Oona O’Neill, who was 18 when she married the 54-year-old actor, was the daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill. Though he had lived in the United States for 42 years, Chaplin never became a U.S. citizen. A vocal pacifist, Chaplin was accused of communist ties, which he denied. Nevertheless, in 1952, immigration officials prevented Chaplin and his wife from re-entering the United States after a foreign tour. The couple did not return to the United States for 20 years; instead they settled in Switzerland with their eight children. Chaplin returned to America 1972 to accept a special Academy Award for “the incalculable effect he has had on making motion pictures the art for and of this century.” He died in 1977.
 


Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include the award winning Fade to Black Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1929-1950 (2011, Schiffer). The book was awarded a SILVER MEDAL in the 2011 Readers Favorite Best Books Awards and was the 2013 WINNER of the Beverly Hills Books Awards. For more information about the author visit his website – www.michaelthomasbarry.com

His book can be purchased at Amazon through the following link:
Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Fade-Black-Graveside-Memories-Hollywood/dp/0764337092/ref=la_B0035CPN70_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397661581&sr=1-4

Bat Masterson Fights His Last Gun Battle - 1881



On this date in crime history – April 16, 1881, western lawman Bat Masterson fights his last gun battle in the streets of Dodge City, Kansas. William Barclay "Bat" Masterson had made a living with his gun from a young age. In his early 20s, he worked as a buffalo hunter, and an army scout during the Indian Wars. He had his first shootout in 1876 in the town of Sweetwater, Texas. When an argument with a soldier over the affections of a dance hall girl named Molly Brennan heated up, Masterson and his opponent resorted to their pistols. When the shooting stopped, both Brennan and the soldier were dead, and Masterson was badly wounded. Found to have been acting in self-defense, Masterson avoided prison. Once he had recovered from his wounds, he apparently decided to abandon his rough ways and become an officer of the law. For the next five years, Masterson alternated between work as Dodge City sheriff and running saloons and gambling houses, gaining a reputation as a tough and reliable lawman. He lost a bid for re-election in 1879. 

For several years, Masterson drifted around the West. Early in 1881, news that his younger brother, Jim, was in trouble back in Dodge City. Jim Masterson’s dispute with a business partner and an employee, A.J. Peacock and Al Updegraff respectively, had led to an exchange of gunfire. Though no one had yet been hurt, Jim feared for his life. Masterson immediately took a train back to Dodge City. When his train pulled into Dodge City on the morning of April 16, 1881, Bat wasted no time. He quickly spotted Peacock and Updegraff and aggressively shouldered his way through the crowded street to confront them. All three men immediately drew their guns. Several other men joined in the gunplay. One bullet meant for Masterson ricocheted and wounded a bystander. Updegraff took a bullet in his right lung. The mayor and sheriff arrived with shotguns to stop the battle when a brief lull settled over the scene. Updegraff and the wounded bystander were taken to the doctor and both eventually recovered. In fact, no one was mortally injured in the melee, and since the shootout had been fought fairly by the Dodge City standards of the day, no serious charges were imposed against Masterson. He paid an $8 fine and took the train out of Dodge City that evening. Masterson never again fought a gun battle in his life, but the story of the Dodge City shootout and his other exploits ensured Masterson's lasting fame as an icon of the Old West. He spent the next four decades of his life working as sheriff, operating saloons, and eventually trying his hand as a newspaperman in New York City. He died from a heart attack in October 25, 1921 at his desk in New York City.
 
 
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime. Visit the author’s website for more information: www.michaelthomasbarry.com   

His book can be purchased at Amazon through the following link:       
Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Mayhem-Shocked-California-1849-1949/dp/0764339680/ref=la_B0035CPN70_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1361552464&sr=1-3

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Greta Garbo Died - 1990



On this date in Hollywood history – April 15, 1990, Greta Garbo died at the age of 84, in New York City. Born Greta Gustaffson, Garbo grew up in poverty in Stockholm, working in a barber shop and later in a department store to help support her family after her father died. From 1922 to 1924, Garbo studied on scholarship at the Stockholm Royal Dramatic Theater’s acting school. She was discovered by the director Mauritz Stiller, who cast her in his epic film The Legend of Gosta Berling and gave her the stage name Garbo. When Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer offered Stiller a film contract, he took Garbo with him to Hollywood. She made her American film debut in 1926’s The Torrent, and quickly became a sensation. 

By the end of the 1920s, Garbo was playing the leading lady on and off-screen, opposite John Gilbert, the preeminent silent film actor of the day, in Flesh and the Devil and Love, among other films. Garbo made her sound debut in 1930’s Anna Christie; the film’s tagline was “Garbo Talks!” Her husky voice and thick accent only increased her exotic, mysterious appeal, and Garbo would reign supreme among Hollywood’s A-list actresses throughout the 1930s. She stood out in a star-studded cast in Grand Hotel (1932), as well as in a reunion with Gilbert in Queen Christina (1933). Two later performances, in Anna Karenina (1935) and Camille (1936), both won her Best Actress honors from the New York Film Critics.

Garbo’s first comedy, marketed as “Garbo Laughs!”--was the acclaimed Ninotchka (1939), directed by Ernst Lubitsch. The coming of World War II cut off the European market, where Garbo’s films had always been more popular than in the United States, and when MGM refused to meet her salary demands, Garbo announced her retirement. Though she intended to return to work in Hollywood after the war ended, the planned projects never came to fruition. Despite three nominations, Garbo never won an Academy Award for Best Actress. She was given an honorary Oscar in 1955. 

Known as the “Swedish Sphinx” for her indifferent onscreen persona, Garbo did no interviews after the early years of her career and declined to participate in public appearances and other trappings of the movie star life. She was never known to have married, but her love affairs with Gilbert and others, inspired endless speculation. Having become an American citizen in 1951, she spent much of her post-Hollywood life living a reclusive life in New York, though she traveled frequently to Europe.
 
 
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include Fade to Black Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1929-1950 (2011, Schiffer). The book has been awarded several literary awards that include the 2011 Readers Favorite Best Books SILVER MEDAL and was named WINNER of the 2013 Beverly Hills Book Awards. For more information about the author and his books visit www.michaelthomasbarry.com

His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:

Sacco & Vanzetti - 1920



On this date in crime history – April 15, 1920 a paymaster and a security guard are killed during a mid-afternoon armed robbery of a shoe company in South Braintree, Massachusetts. Out of this crime grew one of the most famous trials in American history and a landmark case in forensic crime detection. Both Fred Parmenter and Alessandro Berardelli were shot several times as they attempted to move the payroll boxes of their New England shoe company. The two armed thieves, identified by witnesses as "Italian-looking," fled in a Buick. The car was found abandoned in the woods several days later. Through evidence found in the car, police suspected that a man named Mike Boda was involved. However, Boda was one step ahead of the authorities, and he fled to Italy. Police did manage to catch Boda's colleagues, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who were each carrying loaded weapons at the time of their arrest. Sacco had a .32 caliber handgun, the same type as was used to kill the security guards and bullets from the same manufacturer as those recovered from the shooting. Vanzetti was identified as a participant in a previous robbery attempt of a different shoe company. 

Sacco and Vanzetti were anarchists, believing that social justice would come only through the destruction of governments. In the early 1920s, mainstream America developed a fear of communism and radical politics that resulted in anti-immigrant hysteria. Sacco and Vanzetti, recognizing the uphill battle ahead, tried to put this fear to their advantage by drumming up support from the left wing with claims that the prosecution was politically motivated. Millions of dollars were raised for their defense by the radical left around the world. The American embassy in Paris was even bombed in response to the Sacco-Vanzetti case; a second bomb intended for the embassy in Lisbon was intercepted. The well-funded defense put up a good fight, bringing forth nearly 100 witnesses to testify on the defendants' behalf. Ultimately, eyewitness identification wasn't the crucial issue; rather, it was the ballistics tests on the murder weapon. Prosecution experts, with rather primitive instruments, testified that Sacco's gun was the murder weapon. Defense experts claimed just the opposite. In the end, on July 14, 1921, Sacco and Vanzetti were found guilty; they were sentenced to death. However, the ballistics issue refused to go away as Sacco and Vanzetti waited on death row. In addition, a jailhouse confession by another criminal fueled the controversy. In 1927, Massachusetts Governor A. T. Fuller ordered another inquiry to advise him on the clemency request of the two anarchists. In the meantime, there had been many scientific advances in the field of forensics. The comparison microscope was now available for new ballistics tests and proved beyond a doubt that Sacco's gun was indeed the murder weapon.

Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in August 1927, but even the new evidence didn't completely suppress the controversy. In October 1961, and again in March 1983, new investigations were conducted into the matter, but both revealed that Sacco's revolver was indeed the one that fired the bullet and killed the security guards. On August 23, 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation that Sacco and Vanzetti had not received a fair trial.
 


Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime. Visit the author’s website for more information: www.michaelthomasbarry.com   

His book can be purchased at Amazon through the following link:       
Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Mayhem-Shocked-California-1849-1949/dp/0764339680/ref=la_B0035CPN70_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1361552464&sr=1-3

Monday, April 14, 2014

It's a tie - Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand Win Best Actress Oscars - 1969



On this date in Hollywood history – April 14, 1969, the 41st annual Academy Awards are broadcast live to a television audience in 37 nations. It was the first time the awards had been televised worldwide, as well as the first Oscar ceremony to be held in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center. Adding to the momentous nature of the night was the first Oscar tie in a major acting category in more than three decades. “It’s a tie!” Ingrid Bergman exclaimed upon opening the Best Actress envelope. The award went to both Katharine Hepburn, for her turn as Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter, and Barbra Streisand, for her debut performance in Funny Girl. Reprising her role in the hit Broadway musical, Streisand earned raves for her portrayal of Fanny Brice, the quintessential “ugly duckling” who blossoms into a sophisticated and beautiful star. It was the 11th Oscar nomination for Hepburn, who had won Best Actress the previous year for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and had not been expected to repeat. She was a no-show at the April 14th ceremony, and an emotional Streisand stole the moment, cooing “Hello, gorgeous” (her opening line in Funny Girl) upon accepting her golden Oscar. Both Streisand and Hepburn received 3,030 votes each; it was the first exact tie in a principal Oscar category. When Fredric March (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) and Wallace Beery (The Champ) split the award for Best Actor in 1932, Beery had actually received one less vote than March. The rules at the time stated that if any nominated film or artist came within three votes of winning in a principal category, the result would be considered a tie. There have been other Oscar ties over the years, twice in the Best Documentary category (1949 and 1986) and once for Best Live Action Short Film (1986).
 
 
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include Fade to Black Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1929-1950 (Schiffer, 2011). The book was awarded a SILVER MEDAL at the 2011 Readers Favorite Best Books Awards, it was a FINALIST in the 2011 USA Book News Best Book Awards, WINNER of the 2013 Beverly Hills Book Awards and an HONORABLE MENTION at the 2013 Southern California Book Festival. Visit his website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information

His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:
Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Fade-Black-Graveside-Memories-Hollywood/dp/0764337092/ref=la_B0035CPN70_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397494390&sr=1-4

Abraham Lincoln was Shot - 1865



On this date in crime history – April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was shot by actor John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater. After shooting the president Booth shouted, "Sic semper tyrannis! (Ever thus to tyrants!) The South is avenged," as he jumped onto the stage and fled on horseback. Lincoln died the next morning. Booth was a well-known actor who was particularly loved in the South. During the war, he stayed in the North and became increasingly bitter. Along with friends Samuel Arnold, Michael O'Laughlin, and John Surratt, Booth conspired to kidnap Lincoln and deliver him to the South. 

On March 17, along with George Atzerodt, David Herold, and Lewis Paine, the group met in a Washington bar to plot the abduction of the president three days later. However, when the president changed his plans, the scheme was scuttled. Shortly afterward, the South surrendered to the Union and the conspirators altered their plan. They decided to kill Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William Seward. 

On April 14, Atzerodt backed out of his part to kill Johnson. Upset, Booth went to drink at a saloon near Ford's Theater. At about 10 p.m. he walked into the theater and up to the president's box. Lincoln's guard, John Parker, was not there because he had gotten bored with the play, Our American Cousin, and left his post to get a drink. Booth easily slipped in and shot the president in the back of the head. The president's friend, Major Rathbone, attempted to grab Booth but was slashed by Booth's knife. Booth injured his leg badly when he jumped to the stage to escape, but he managed to hobble outside to his horse. Meanwhile, Lewis Paine forced his way into William Seward's house and stabbed the secretary of state several times before fleeing. Booth rode to Virginia with David Herold and stopped at the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd, who placed splints on Booth's legs. They hid in a barn on Richard Garrett's farm as thousands of Union troops combed the area looking for them. The other conspirators were captured, except for John Surratt, who fled to Canada. 

When federal troops finally caught up with Booth and Herold on April 26, they gave them the option of surrendering before the barn was burned down. Herold decided to surrender, but Booth remained in the barn as it went up in flames. Booth was then shot and killed in the burning barn by Corporal Boston Corbett. On July 7, George Atzerodt, Lewis Paine, David Herold, and John Surratt's mother, Mary, were hanged in Washington. The execution of Mary Surratt is believed by some to have been a miscarriage of justice. Although there was proof of Surratt’s involvement in the original abduction conspiracy, it is clear that her deeds were minor compared to those of the others who were executed. Her son John was eventually tracked down in Egypt and brought back to trial, but he managed, with the help of clever lawyers, to win an acquittal.
 
 
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime. Visit the author’s website for more information: www.michaelthomasbarry.com   

His book can be purchased at Amazon through the following link: 
Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Mayhem-Shocked-California-1849-1949/dp/0764339680/ref=la_B0035CPN70_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1361552464&sr=1-3

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Black Widow - Louise Peete was Executed - 1947



On this date in crime history – April 11, 1947, Louise Peete, the infamous Black Widow was executed at San Quentin Prison. She was born in 1883 in Bienville, Louisiana. Her family was relatively wealthy, and she received an expensive education, but she was expelled from school for inappropriate behavior. In 1903, she married a travelling salesman named Henry Bosley, who committed suicide after discovering his wife in bed with another man in 1906. She then spent time in Boston, apparently working as a prostitute, and stealing from her clients. Peete later returned to Waco, Texas, where she became involved with wealthy oil baron Joe Appel, who was later found murdered, with his diamond jewelry missing. Peete was accused of the crime, but she convinced a grand jury that she had been defending herself from rape. In 1913, she married a hotel clerk, Harry Faurote and he too committed suicide because of Peete's infidelity.  

In 1915, in Denver, she married again, this time to a salesman named Richard Peete. She apparently had a daughter with him, but later abandoned him to move to Los Angeles. There, she lived with Jacob C. Denton, another oil magnate. In 1920, Denton disappeared, with Peete presenting various excuses as to why he would not appear in public. By the time Denton's lawyer had police search his house, Peete had returned to her husband in Denver. Denton's body was found, and Peete was charged with his murder. She was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. During her time in prison, she ceased to respond to her husband's letters and he killed himself. She was paroled in 1942 and returned to Los Angeles, where she found employment as a housekeeper for a woman named Jessie Marcy, who died not long afterwards. An elderly co-worker also died under suspicious circumstances. Police spoke to Peete, but were not aware of her past. She then went to work for Emily Dwight Latham, who had helped to secure Peete's parole. Latham also died. The deaths of both Marcy and Latham were attributed to natural causes. Peete then became a housekeeper in Pacific Palisades for Arthur C. Logan and his wife Margaret, and married a man named Lee Borden Judson. Margaret Logan then disappeared, but suspicion was aroused by poor forgeries of her signature that Peete presented on checks and letters to parole authorities. Peete was arrested, and her husband Lee Judson told police of his suspicions about her. Judson was acquitted of any involvement in the crimes, but later committed suicide. Peete was found guilty of murder, and sentenced to death. She went to the gas chamber on April 11, 1947.
 
 
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime. Visit the author’s website for more informationwww.michaelthomasbarry.com   

His book can be purchased at Amazon through the following link:       
Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Mayhem-Shocked-California-1849-1949/dp/0764339680/ref=la_B0035CPN70_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1361552464&sr=1-3