A Final Fight

March 26, 1927mystery
Hollywood 

It’s a crowded 3am at the Crescent Club in the heart of Hollywood…just another old bungalow reconstructed into a, uh, tea room. A variety of Volstead violations are in full swing when a fight started, the lights went out, there were sounds of a struggle and furniture cracking, and by the time police arrived to a nearly empty room, pugilist and actor Eddie Diggins, 24, lay dying, stabbed through the heart. Film comedian Lloyd Hamilton cared for the doomed Diggins, while Charles Meehan, noted local bootlegger, was unconscious on the floor with a split to the skull. Diggins died in Hamilton’s arms.

crescentbar 

Those filmfolk known for frequenting barrooms were questioned (there being no small number there) but only Hamilton, having remained at the scene, could give a description of Meehan being hit by a chair before the lights were extinguished. While police found ten gallons of wine and five quarts of vermouth were uncovered, the murdering knife used on Diggins was unfound. Meehan, in the prison ward of General Hospital, could shed no light on anything.

Come March 27, Deputy Assitant District Attorney Dennison advanced a new theory: that Diggins had fallen on a crystal chandelier smashed in the melee. Sisters Rosie and Josie St. George, who had been in evidence that night, were found and questioned; Rosie had been working hat check. She stated that Diggins first became embroiled with Jack Wagner, and that Meehan then fought with stunt man Billie Jones, and that thereafter the great fight ensued, wherein Mrs. Diggins and Mrs. Irene Dalton Meehan escaped with the help of Diggins’ buddy John Sinclair.

mrsdiggOn March 28, a dozen witnesses gathered to present inquest testimony. The memories of all and sundry were hazy at best, agreeing that there was bar, chandelier, bottle and window glass involved, table legs used as clubs, and chairs swung with abandon. Members of a Coroner’s jury reached the decision that Diggins had met his death from “a sharp instrument in the hand of a person or persons unknown to us, with homicidal intent,” while an eighth juror agreed with Dennison’s theory, concluding that “the wound was caused by a piece of glass, accidental.” From the morgue he was taken to O’Donnell Sunset Mortuary, and from there to the grave, where he remains silent to this day.