Behind Every Great Man…

onanism

 

 

March 16, 1927
Los Angeles

 

 

 

Clarence and Ona Brown were married in 1922, but now Ona wants a divorce. “When I married him,â€Â said Mrs. Brown, while weeping bitterly during her testimony before Judge Summerfield, “he was a second-rate assistant director, and I made a director out of him. That cost me my home, for he got to thinking so well of himself he attempted to boss the house. He went nearly a year without even speaking to me.â€Â

 

 

(She may have a point; see this page under "salary.")

 

Ona’s testimony was neither denied nor contested, and she won her decree.

 

 

Think of that the next time you watch "Garbo’s favorite director".

 

 

 

Stone Cold

Stone Cold Headline

February 11, 1927
Los Angeles

Valentine’s Day is coming up and most couples will celebrate their love with cutesy cards, candy, and maybe some pre-prohibition champagne.Margaret Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Fillmore will not be among the celebrants. Margaret Fillmore has filed for a divorce. Their love has turned as cold as a stone floor.

Margaret had said that she was annoyed by Hugh’s refusal to give her money, and by his arrogant attitude. But she may have been willing to overlook everything if it hadn’t been for the stone tile.

In her divorce papers Margaret claimed that Hugh had bankrupted her by insisting that she use tile, manufactured by his company, in the home they were building (and she was financing). Margaret claimed that all of her money had gone into the construction of the house, and that the additional $2000 [$24,142.07 current USD] that it cost for the custom tile had left her destitute.

HughHugh was thinking only of the advertising potential of having the tile in his home, especially since his sister-in-law was the actress Mary Miles Minter. Perhaps Mary would bring some of her Hollywood cronies over to see the tile. She still had lots of friends in town, even though she had featured prominently in the 1922 mysterious, and still unsolved, slaying of director William Desmond Taylor.

Margaret is having none of it – she’s determined to end her marriage. All she wants now is a divorce and an inexpensive carpet. Sadly, the road to true love is often a rocky (or stony) one.

Christmas Cheer in a Razorblade

monroy

December 27, 1927
Los Angeles

Carlos Monroy, 35, was that precarious combination, a glazier and lush, and the missus no longer wished to live with him. So Anita, 29, took Carlos Junior, 10, and moved in with mama, Antonia Barron of 626 East 36th Place, while Carlos stayed with his mother and brother at 2915 New Jersey Street.

It being Christmas, Carlos found himself missing his family, and dropped by the Barron home, with a bottle of whiskey and a long line of apologies. Anita didn’t want to hear it. She intended to be divorced, and further, she and her sister Leonora were going downtown to shop. Would he please leave?

Anita went to the bathroom, and Carlos followed her in, where he drew a razor from his coat pocket and slashed at her throat. Anita ran, bleeding and screaming, through the spare bedroom and into the dining room. Carlos finished her off there, then turned the blade on himself. Their son and the Barron women were witnesses to the carnage, then called for aid, though it was far too late for anything but tears.

Who’s Your Daddy?

sues mother in law headline

November 5, 1927
Los Angeles

What consolation is there for a husband whose wife’s affections have transferred to another? He may look for solace in an illegal bottle of booze or in the arms of another woman, or he may seek revenge and sue the love thief! And that’s exactly what two Los Angeles men have done.

In the first case, Charles Martino’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Rose Sandello, began a whispering campaign which turned his wife against him. It didn’t take long for Rose to poison her daughter’s mind and convince her to leave Charles – the couple was married for only ten months. Poor Charles felt the loss of his wife so acutely that he filed a lawsuit against Rose asking $50,000 ($599,109.20 USD 2007) in damages. husband tells of loss headline

The second case is that of an absent husband and a wandering wife. Mr. George Hall was working in Chile for three long years, and he spent most of that time missing his wife Eva.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Eva didn’t have time to miss George; she was too involved with her lover, the cartoonishly named Mr. A.B. McNutt. When George returned home, Eva refused to live with him, and she informed him that she’d turned over $10,000 ($119,821.84 USD 2007) worth of their community property to McNutt – which he undoubtedly squirreled away.

George filed suit against his wife’s lover for $25,000 ($299,554.60 USD 2007). He offered into evidence letters he discovered hidden in his home addressed to “Dear Baby”, and signed “Your daddy, Alva”.

Love bandits beware! Los Angeles husbands are coming for your…assets!

Lacy Underthings and Seagull Wings

beach

October 23, 1927
Los Angeles

John A. Horn was born to be a poet but Fate (O! cruel mistress she!) decreed he make his living as a lingerie salesman. Worse, he was married to a woman who did not understand the lyricism of his delicate artist’s soul. So he left his wife—but not before explaining himself in verse.

Martha Horn, seeking a divorce upon the grounds of desertion, recently handed her errant husband’s scribbled magnum opus to Judge Gates:

"I’ll wait here ’till the sun sets," I told her
"If you are hungry, there’s a stand upon the pier."
She nodded. "You can wait. I won’t be long."
And saying this, she left me with the sun.
I sat upon the sand and watched the gulls
Skimming the restless water striped with gold.
The rolling waves tossed foam upon the beach;
"The lacy underthings the Old World wears,"
I told myself, then smiled quite satisfied:
Not many a clerk in a department store
From seven to six could say such clever things.
. . . . the sun
Was almost gone, the rounded golden edge
Was sinking out of sight when my wife called
"John." I saw her coming down the beach
Munching a bun. "I’ve one for you," she said.
I turned. The sun had sunk into the sea.

"And when I gave him the hot dog, he got sore," Mrs. Horn clarified for the court.

"This is just another example of the ancient controversy between rhyme and reason," chortled Judge Gates before granting a divorce to the long-suffering Mrs. Horn.

More Tales from the Tinderbox

This Weekend Last
Los Angeles

Running around, hosting the Dahlia tour on Saturday and taking photos of the trash incinerator in the backyard of the house next to Greene and Greene’s Merrill House on the Pasadena Heritage tour on Sunday, left me precious little time to blog, but don’t think I was totally shirking my responsibilities to you, dear reader.  I still found time to put my feet up and flip through the paper, and on seeing Joan’s posts this morning, was reminded of a couple tales…

Re:  She Who Must Be Obeyed, perhaps Frederick Mason should’ve married Mary Agnes Morgan:

mute

As James P. Morgan told it to Judge Bowron, the first twelve years of their marriage went along just swell, until one day in Agnes was struck dumb.  She moved her effects to another room, and from there shuffled about in silence, cooking meals and soundlessly accepting her meager Saturday allowance.  James finally asked for a divorce on the charge of desertion.  Quipped Bowron, “Most extraordinary—never heard of the like.  I know men who would say you were blessed beyond imagination.”  

And oh, the joys of sweet, innocent youth.  You’ve read about the pyro predilections of Joan’s Bakersfield brats—let’s throw kidnapping into the mix.

hazelsworld

You know, in your neighborhood, were an infant to be kidnapped, everyone would go apeshit, and there’d be feds everywhere, and News Chopper 5, and so forth.  Over in Boyle Heights, they just sigh, and trudge over to Hazel Oden’s house, 2706 Wabash Ave.  It seems that Hazel, eight, one of thirteen children, suffers from a mother complex that compels her to steal any tiny infant she sees unguarded; she will nurse and rock the baby for a time and presently forget all about it.  (Just like a real mother—how cute!)  Policewoman Georgia Robinson had to make the trudge on the 21st to go fetch one Estella Richmond, two months of age, who was sleeping in her buggy outside her home one moment and was wheeled off to Hazel’s the next.  Hazel has been sent to Juvenille Hall for observation, where she will be examined by psychiatrists to determine whether or not her impulses may be controlled.

Unfortunately, it would be another forty-six years before Hasbro introduces BabyAlive

She Who Must Be Obeyed

She Who Must Be Obeyed Headline

October 22, 1927
Reno, Nevada

Frederick D. Mason told District Judge G.A. Bartlett that he was seeking a divorce from his wife Louise for a few very good reasons. He said that Louise believed that “she had been born to rule”. He moaned to the judge that his domestic life was utterly miserable. Louise insisted upon picking his friends, clothing, and leisure activities. And then to add insult to injury, she forced him to do the housework!

Formerly in the real estate business in Hollywood and Los Angeles, Mason said that it was bad enough that his wife was so domineering but when she began to smack him around and to bring other men home, he knew it was time to pack his bags.

Did Louise bring the other men home to help Fred vacuum the rugs and dust the tchotchkes? The abused husband didn’t think so.

Marriage: It’s Like Guns!

A change to California marriage laws has cut the number of Los Angeles nuptials in half this year, from 1634 in September of 1926 to only 787 in 1927.  In an editorial, the Times praised the new three-day waiting period, saying that "Love is blind, and three days are frequently sufficient to open its eyes," and went on to assert that "stringing strands of barbed wire at the top of Lover’s Leap in the dark will catch many silly Willies."

Would that something had been in place to catch Edna and Harvey Fletcher before they took the plunge.  Today, Harvey’s sixth wife won her freedom, charging her too-charming spouse with cruelty.  Harvey had boasted to her that he could have any woman he wanted, and the lady took offense.

Dead Babies, Death and Dissolution

August 23, 1927
Los Angeles

The news of the day is not especially happy. Film director Josef Von Sternberg’s marriage to assistant director/actress Riza Royce has ended after a year following an disagreement over Miss Royce’s determination to have a nose job. Miss Royce had her nose straightened and collected cash and a car, while Mr. Von Sternberg kept their home at 6252 Drexel.

The first anniversary of the death of screen sheik Rudolph Valentino was occasion for a Catholic mass at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament attended by family and a few friends and fans, in stark contrast to the mob scenes that accompanied his burial. Following the service, the worshippers visited Valentino’s crypt in the Hollywood Mausoleum and strewed flowers around the aisles.

And down at a flophouse at 1104 South Main Street, after a day’s posting, the sign on a door warning the residents not to disturb the baby became an object of curiosity, and the door was opened. Inside, a tiny redheaded boy babe of perhaps 14 months, quite dead, with cotton stuffed in his mouth and nostrils, a bloody nightgown and signs of strangulation on the child’s neck. Police have taken fingerprints from the room and handwriting samples from the note and hotel register, and are searching for a Mrs. W. Howard of Los Angeles. The nameless infant now rests in the County Morgue.

Don’t Get Mad, Get Everything

Aug. 22, 1927
chaplindivorce1 Hollywood divorces may be ugly today, but the dissolution of the legal bonds between Charlie Chaplin and his child bride, Lita Grey, may have been nastier than K-Fed and Britney, Alec and Kim, and Loni and Burt put together.

After divorce proceedings that had dragged on for nearly a year, Chaplin and Grey settled out of court today for the staggering sum of nearly $1 million ($11,971,200 USD 2007).  $625,000 went to Lita, $200,000 was used to set up trust funds for the couple’s two babies, and the rest went towards assorted legal and court fees.  She lost the house, but got custody of the children.  It was, in 1927, the largest divorce settlement ever paid in California history.

Lita was only 18, but she was either exceptionally shrewd or exceptionally wronged.

Wed in Mexico in November 1924, Lita moved out almost exactly two years later.  However, the marriage was in trouble quite literally from the beginning.

chaplindivorce2In her nearly 50-page formal complaint against Chaplin, Grey leveled the following accusations:  he’d forced her to have sex with him before they were married; he’d told her to get an abortion when he discovered she was pregnant; on their way back to Los Angeles after their wedding, he told her, “This marriage won’t last long.  I’ll make you so — sick of me that you won’t want to live with me”; accused her of forcing him into marriage; had an affair with a prominent motion picture actress; told her she was stupid; encouraged her to commit suicide; only took her out 3-4 times during the first two months of their marriage “for the sake of appearances”; left her alone on Christmas while he went out and got drunk; threatened her life twice with a loaded revolver; and since their separation, had only given her $27 for milk for the babies.

Apparently, Chaplin decided the money was worth his peace of mind – he didn’t even show up in court.  Earlier in the year, Chaplin had filed a cross-complaint that denied many of Grey’s charges, and accused her of excessive partying, relationships with other men, and negligent parenting; however, this complaint was dismissed at the time of the settlement.