TAC Table of Contents
September 8, 2006
Flight of the Innocent
By Lou Koza
After much anticipation Hollywoodland (for film details of cast and production, visit imdb.com.), the film that includes a plot about the death of George Reeves was finally released on September 8, 2006. The director, cast and production crew did an extraordinary job. Understandably for story effectiveness there were a few inaccuracies that will undoubtedly be thought true by those with only a passing interest in this long-standing case. Thus a reason for the balance of this writing. The other is to keep the already historical mess from getting messier. Since TAC's conception, it has always taken pride in learning, understanding and presenting the historical truth regarding of life and death of George Reeves. The challenge here is to compare the film Hollywoodland with the information we've learned for up to thirty-five years, most unraveling since the mid-eighties. It is not the intent of TAC to degrade the film in any way. It is obvious the producers went though a lot of effort and hard work to make this film work. I think the film has many values and I urge any and all to go see it. I believe those involved in this film did the absolute best they could in the short time to learn about the subject. Director Allen Coulter in his HBO & A&E interviews has articulated well regarding his effort to bring this amazing story to the big screen. Also speaking well of George is Ben Affleck and Diane Lane who got to know their respective roles as well as can be in a short period of time.
While the film has found it's audience, including George's legion of loyal admires, it isn't the box office draw investors would hope for. In the first two weeks in theaters it drew just ten million dollars nationwide. It does make one wonder would another medium been more suited for this story. In 1990, Priscilla Presley produced a well made mini-series titled Elvis starring Michael St. Gerald as the legendary popular entertainer Elvis Presley. I feel the George Reeves story is far more suited if produced in this manner. In this venue the case could be explored much further and provide greater insight to George's extraordinary life, which included a lot more giving to others than taking.
First, I want to say I do like this title, Hollywoodland. Similar to Disneyland, Freedomland, it lends to the idea that not everything is what it appears or seems to be. Not all is just so. The death of George Reeves certainly fits this idea. Consider one element of the case and another will counter with just the opposite. What seems obvious to one, is undefined to another. In old Hollywood there stood many rules to follow and not all outlined in a nice little handbook. It is understood the film is fictional, but also described as based on a true story. Knowing where these two lines move along-side the time line, criss-crossing or running parallel is not difficult to identify if you've followed the life and death of George Reeves as long as most readers of this site have.
While some of the elements outlined below may seem trivial. It is you who will decide if you feel it is important enough or not to the story to be accurate and whether it is important enough to have a bearing on this case. Until the DVD comes out I'll have to rely on my memory of various issues presented in the film. So if anyone has alternate impressions of the film I'd like to read what you have to say.
Finally, it should be noted much of the case is not in this film. Some hints of his earlier life are given. Much of what makes George so greatly admired is missing from the film. Certainly 126 minutes is not enough time to explore the case in great detail, let alone his life. Overall this film is very much an abbreviated version, leaving up to 90 percent of the case yet to be covered. Even more important than the two bullet holes in the floor that was presented, the embalming before autopsy issue is not presented. Had a real investigation been done many unanswered questions could possibly been resolved one way or the other. Even possibly the questioning of other witnesses not present in the house that night. When the actual case closed, it did with an almost attitude of, "that's just the way it is" mentality. Case closed. Still, all in all, the film should inspire inquisitive minds and bring attention that everything isn't what it seems to be. There are brilliant moments of writing, however there are some issues needing to be addressed for historical reasons.
1579 Benedict Canyon Drive
What the film Presented: Toni, George are dining with Eddie and his Japanese mistress. While dining together Toni mentions to Eddie she is interested in buying a home valued at $12,000.00 located on Benedict Canyon Drive. Eddie is agreeable, sighting the property as an investment.
Later in the film there is a scene with George and Art Weissman. They are discussing his career in the living room. George's back is to the camera and he is looking outside. A person outside is removing a sign from a car. During a DVD behind the scenes feature with the film director it is told the man is carrying a "For Sale" sign. It is unknown if the sign was ordered by George or Toni.
What is true: A review of Codicil to Last Will and Testament of George Reeves dated March 23, 1954, states "I hereby give, devise and bequeth to TONI MANNIX the following.....the property commonly known as 1579 Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles, California, together with all personal property located thereon which is owned by me at the date of my death.
It is true the home was for sale. According to the will, George owned the home at 1579 Benedict Canyon Drive. It is often thought the home was owned by the Mannix's. If it was owned by Toni, then there would have been no need to include the property in the Last Will and Testament of George Reeves. It would seem plausible that Toni at best provided the down payment for George to purchase the home. The original will was signed in August 7, 1953. Therefore the home was purchased after George had already drew an income from Superman Inc. George's 1954 income was $2,500 per week for 13 weeks, for a total year earnings of $32,500.00. This total amount amortized over the year comes to $2,666.00 per month. George easily could handle the monthly mortgage payments.
The home being sold would close the final chapter on George's relationship with Toni. He would be totally free to move on. Looking beyond the immediate projects, if Hollywood turned out not to be in George's future, is it possible he gave the New York Broadway Stage some thought. Leonore's father was the president of the Broadway Ticket Brokers Association.
(added Sept. 21, 2007)
From Here to Eternity
What is true: Only Jack Larson was in attendance... and he was there at the request of his friend, Monty Clift, not to see George. Mr. Clift could not attend the premiere and asked Jack to let him know how his performance was. He wasn't aware George was in the film until that day. It has been learned from Jim Beaver who spoke with director Fred Zinnemann that George's scenes were never cut and remained intact in the film. We really don't know George's personal reaction. Jack felt at the time that George's career would be in jeopardy. But if George was typecast, it wasn't only he being an overnight sensation as Superman that kept him out of theatrical films, it was the studio machine who felt threatened by the new medium of television. George entered the live television industry in 1949. Any actor moving into television for steady work found themselves with no big studio work. Furthermore, regardless of how much George was deleted from From Here to Eternity, it's hardly an issue and given far too much attention. The fact of the matter is, George is undeniably visiable in the film, including a major speaking scene with Burt Lancaster. If the film-makers decided to cut George from the film because of a Superman related distraction then he should have been removed entirely. Since he wasn't it's really a non-issue and much to do about nothing.
Personal Appearance, 8 year old boy with gun.
What is true: A similar encounter in 1954 at a Detroit department store personal appearance by George in his Superman costume was once thought to be true. As the story went, George talked the youngster out of firing the gun the boy had aimed directly at him. In recent years, however, we've learned this encounter never actually happened. It was a story George fabricated as a reason for adamantly not wanting to appear in costume. It was meant to avoid the dangers of kids throwing rocks at him and kicking him in the shins to test the might of Superman. He was very concerned he would be injured somewhere without warning.
Because it was so long thought to be true I can accept the incident in this film. It's believable and deserves to be recognized what George had to endure. But the earlier drinking with children nearby would never have occurred. George knew his responsibilities and often greeted children by kneeling in front of them or beside them posing for snapshots. He would not have taken a chance of exposing an alcoholic breath to children. George was a responsible drinker. His automobile accident of April 8, 1959, may be a possible exception. But it is not confirmed he had alcohol in his system. George not drinking with children nearby can be supported with conversation I had with Noel Neill as we dined in NYC, Sept. 16, 2006. When I presented this question to her, she concurred that George would never drink with children nearby and risk them smelling alcohol on his breath.
It came to me that George along with Danny Thomas was invited to throw the switch at a new Los Angeles television station. Not wanting to participate it is told he appeared a little juiced. It is not known if children were in attendance. So to treat this subject fairly it will be explored further and updated here accordingly.
It can be said George was disappointed subsidizing his income with personal appearances. It wasn't what he felt he should be doing with his career. Acting was his first love, and for most of the year he was doing far less of it during the months when filming Superman episodes was not in process. It has been told that Art Weissman in 1957 is credited for poorly promoting a countrywide tour. George, Nati, Noel, Gene and Nati's musical group made their way across the country. It was during the last half of the tour George being disappointed by the turnout would retire in the evenings alone with drink in hand. But the fault didn't belong to George's popularity. Audiences were simply unaware of the group coming to town. Noel discusses this in her book written with Larry Ward, Truth, Justice and the American way: The Life and Times of Noel Neill, The Original Lois Lane. In November 2003, Noel stated to me George financed the tour with his own money and unfortunately by the tours end did not break even. In her book, she recalled a phone conversation with George. There a loyal Noel waived the amount owed to her.
Toni gives George Luger Pistol – Serial #7636
What the film presented: Just after George's near fatal incident with the 8 year-old boy at the western-town appearance Toni Mannix frightened for George's personal safety hands him a black box containing a German Luger pistol.
What is true: I don't think it has ever been concluded why either Eddie Mannix or Toni gave George the Luger. We learned many years ago it was given to George from Toni. In Leonore's full length June 1989 video interview she adamantly states the gun once belonged to Eddie Mannix. We know George was a gun collector and a photo does exist showing him holding a rifle, with two others resting in a gun rack mounted to his bedroom wall. Having the gun was always thought to be and remains defined as being a gift from Toni. In the film Toni was concerned George was in danger and needed to protect himself. But from who? The 8 year-old kid? What would George do with his gun? Would he keep it tucked in his belt, under the cape ready for a spur of the moment shoot out with a moppet? For Toni to give George the gun because of the incident with the small boy cannot be accepted at face value. In an interview given in 1959, Leonore stated George had the gun to protect the home from night-time prowlers.
With the release of the DVD, I was able to listen closely to Toni's (Diane Lane) reason for giving George the gun. She states she is worried that a drunk may decide to take aim at George, therefore having a gun he can defend himself. Still inaccurate and weak.
Other than the problems George felt appearing in the Superman costume caused, he was never in danger of attack from an adult that would require him to carry a gun. The life threatening dangers seemed to come after his departure from Toni, which included three automobile mishaps. One involving a collision with a lumber truck for which he filed a lawsuit. The second is an unconfirmed close call on the highway involving his car in motion being pinned between two trucks. Finally the April 8th, 1959 incident which he suffered a concussion and was prescribed medication to relieve his headaches sustained from the accident. George also received 27 stitches to close the gash on his upper forehead above his left eye. The dosage of the medication is unknown. For the record, referring to George on drugs, means prescribed medication, not recreational drugs as it is often confused with.
Reading of the will.
What is true: Leonore was not included in the Will. Therefore she would not have been invited by the agent. She learned of the benefactor from the newspapers. Leonore made a lot of noise about the Will; she said she had overheard George talking to friends about a second/revised will leaving her the estate and that she was the benefactor. There are two codicils to the Will dated 23-March, 1954 and 16-July, 1956. Both long before Leonore entered George's life. What Leonore tried to do was make it difficult for the proceedings. She wanted to get back at Toni for all the harassing phone calls, up to twenty a day for weeks on end. George filed a police report against Toni Mannix. Toni denied the accusations and stated she also was getting hang-up phone calls too. Back in NYC, Leonore also claimed she had hired Edward Bennett Williams to represent her regarding the issue of the Will. If the name Edward Bennett Williams worked to grant her quick exit from LA, perhaps it might work for a settlement. Mr. Williams stated to her she had no grounds for a case and no more publically was heard from Leonore Lemmon regarding George for thirty years.
Eddie and Toni's help with George's Film Career.
B) Another scene has an argument between George and Toni. There he says "you never helped me, you only like it when I wore the red suit."
What is true: A) George won the Maylon Stark role all on his own. Furthermore, if Eddie and Toni helped George with his career, wouldn't George have appeared in many MGM films during the years of their relationship? He appeared in none. Another question has arisen from time to time that Toni helped George get the Superman role. This also is false. She had no prior contact with the studio executives. Superman Inc. was television, the enemy of the silver screen industry. Eddie Mannix, her husband, was a studio executive in this industry.
B) This would seem more plausible. Could this have been an argument they had? It's possible. But in truth, Toni's help came in the form of keeping George's actor appearances up. She would buy him nice clothes, cars and provide the down payment for 1579 Benedict Canyon Drive.
TAoS: The Color Years.
What is true: The color costume was used and filming began with the third season, 1954, not the second season. There is no discussion of George's salary increases or the reduction in the number of episodes from 26 to 13 per season. Also noted missing is the deal George had with Bob Maxwell in 1951, which was if the series continues he will be given a percentage of the shows monetary gain. By 1953, the second season Mr. Maxwell was released from his position and replaced with Mr.Whit Ellsworth, and all George had was a memory of a hand shake agreement to support this claim and the remaining obligation of a seven year contract.
Toni - George - Leonore, who's in, who's out.
What is true: George's breakup came before he went to NY and met Leonore. Toni wanted to build a house further up the canyon. He would accept it if she ended her marriage to Eddie. She declined, sighting Eddie's poor health and his short time to live. Most likely, George knew this relationship didn't have a future and the break-up is proof George was not interested in the Mannix fortune. It should also be noted George was not broke as it is often discribed. Fact is, in addition to the home valued at $32,000.00, which was purchased six years earlier for $12,000.00, he had $9,283.05 cash in the Bank of California. This does not count the $4,000.00 in traveler's cheques returned to the Reeves estate by Leon Kaplan, Leonore's attorney. As planned George was soon off to New York on business.
While sitting alone at the bar in Toots Shor's he is noticed by Jean Ponchna, a friend of Leonore's. There Ponchna points out Superman. "Superman?" Not that dirty man from Cuba?" Leonore would exclaim. As soon as she was corrected, the light bulb went off in her head. Actor, money. Saddling up to the bar she made chit chat. "So what do you do?" She would ask George. "I fly," George would respond. "Oh? And how do you fly?" She countered. "Oh, just touch me in the right place and you'll find out," George stated with a smile. Later that evening they would indulge their desires back at George's Gotham Hotel room. Not long after George returned to Los Angeles, he attended the funeral of John Hamilton, the beloved Perry White, Editor of the fictional Daily Planet newspaper who passed away on October 15th, 1958. There he told Jack Larson he met another woman who made him "feel like a boy" again. Jack was mystified because of all the attention Toni gave George for the past 9 years. I spoke with Jack Larson via telephone just prior to the film's release and I asked him if he agreed with me that George and Toni's breakup was before he met Leonore. He said without a doubt it was true.
What is true: It's widely believed to be untrue. Myth has it George cut the "S" chest shield off of a costume to be burned at the end of each season. The "S" to be given away to a child. It does not seem logical since the costumes were not the property of George. The cost of $500.00 per costume belonged to the studio. The costume was a prop like any and all objects and clothing belonging to the production set. There is an image of George posing with the children of Mr. Robert Shayne. This was taken on the location set during filming of the 1953 episode The Man Who Could Read Minds and is well known among fans. It is perhaps here the rumor began (in the 80's) and used to suggest the costumes "S" were traditionally given to children. All this is not to suggest the costumes were not discarded or didn't hold up to the test of time. But it is highly unlikely George burned a costume at the end of each season or ever at all.
Eddie and George's relationship and Toni's too.
What is true: While it is possible Eddie's early days with George may have been cordial at best with a hint of coldness. By 1959, Eddie wouldn't need to call Strickling to learn of George's current affairs. He would have already known what George was doing. Thanks to Art Weissman who kept the Mannix couple well informed. The film never did show Eddie approved of the relationship between Toni and George. Nor did it show that Eddie and George's relationship matured to a friendship. Eddie approved of the relationship the entire time Toni and George were together. During the time the two were together, it was an open secret in Hollywood. While a lot has been written about George's life, going as far back as his childhood. The same cannot be said that of Eddie Mannix and Toni Lanier. Many wonder why would Mr. Mannix accept his wife's affair with another man? This would seem hypocritical to those considered devout Catholics. And according to our written resources, Toni and George never missed mass on Sunday. I once believed the relationship between Eddie and Toni was more close to a father and daughter relationship. It seemed the only logical explanation. But as Mr. Larson recently explained to me, George had explained to him that Eddie and Toni had an "arrangement." Eddie had his girlfriends as many studio executives did in those days and eventually he fell in love with a woman of Japanese culture. If you understand how Eddie and Toni met, when Toni met George, when Eddie and Toni married, the committing to each other but allowing each other secondary relationships and finally they being strong devout Catholics who do not believe in divorce, it becomes more clear how this worked. For further insights refer to Relative Revelations. In May 1951, Eddie (whose health began to decline) and Toni married to protect the Mannix fortune in the event Eddie suddenly passed away. The most viable reason Toni would not divorce Eddie.
Two Bullet Holes in the Floor
What is true: It is true the prayer cards were found near each bullet hole. Jack Larson will attest to the cards being placed there by Toni Mannix. Jack was present at the time. Gene LeBell believes the rug was placed over the bullet holes the night of George's death. To support this claim is the police would have found the holes the night and early hours of June 16th if the rug had not been placed there. Gene LeBell stated in an e-mail to me that the rug never belonged there. Gene was very close to George on an everyday basis in George's last two years. Days later after George died, the police re-entered the house and found the holes under the rug. At that time there were no prayer cards. Toni and Jack went into the house approxiamately two months after George died and after it was released from a crime scene status. Toni then placed the prayer cards over the holes as a sort of religous offering. The film shows the prayer cards under the rug. If the rug was placed over the bullet holes, over the prayer cards, that would mean Toni and Jack found the holes before the detectives. Not true.
On another note; Gene LeBell is adamant there were five bullet holes in George's master bedroom floor. The newspapers of June 1959 stated two. Leonore was questioned by Chief Parker who phoned her at home in New York. She confirmed firing the gun in the floor once when fooling around with it a week before George died. Chief Parker accepted her statement, even though she accounted for just one of the holes. In her full-length June 1989 interview, when asked about the gun Leonore recalled asking George where he got the gun from. According to her he stated, "it was a gift from Toni." She didn't like guns, but asked to hold it. She claimed it had a hair-pin trigger. Throughout the years various stories surround the actual number of holes throughout the house. But all together the two bullet holes traveling through the master bedroom floor created up to four holes in the downstairs living room. The father of Robert Shayne's dentist was hired to patch up the holes months later and told Mr. Shayne there were bullet holes all over the house. Discrepancies? Indeed they are abundant in this case. Jack Larson recalls the hole he witnessed Toni covering with a prayer-card was slightly above the wall molding near the floor. This hole has never before been accounted for. If a full investigation had been performed the number of lead slugs found would have properly been recorded. That would have helped solve this one of many mysteries.
Investigator at the Mortuary.
What is true: While it may seem all is normal, George was embalmed before the autopsy was performed. This is a major issue not covered in the film. During a recent interview with Dr. Warren Lovell for 20/20, he stated that the coroner's office should have been brought before the medical board to answer questions as to why an autopsy was not performed on the body prior to embalming and preparations made for burial. There is no mention of Dr.Griswald who headed the coroner's office or Dr. Curphey who eventually performed the autopsy.
Photo of George being helped along by police.
What is true: On April 8, 1959, while George was driving on Benedict Canyon Drive, he failed to negotiate a turn and hit an embankment. He may have been under the influence and behind the wheel that day. There is no known proof he was driving under the influence since no summons was issued. Leonore testified in 1989 that it was a stupid thing for him to do and she was furious with him. Because he was a good driver. In addition, the brake fluid theory is likely to be false and as reported in the newspapers the reason for the accident was due to the car skidding on an oil patch in the road. With the car disabled, George then walked almost a mile home while bleeding from his forehead. A photo taken of George a month later would show his scar with a circular shape above his left eye near the hairline. The news article of the time stated George hit his forehead when he hurtled on the rear-view mirror. Two police officers caught up to George as he made his way up to the front door of his home. There he passed out from loss of blood and was taken by the police to the Cedars of Lebenon Hospital for treatment of a painful five-inch gash. He remained in the hospital for at least one week for observation due to the concussion. Although the incident was reported in the newspaper, no known photo of this event has ever surfaced. The news article in my files does not include a photo.
Leonore Lemmon Breaks Police Seal
What the film presented: In the darkness of night, the investigator (Louis Simo) enters George's house after noticing the police seal has been broken. There he finds Leonore Lemmon alone working her way through the dresser draws. Oddly she empties a cigarette ashtray into her purse, followed by the ashtray. She also placed $5,000.00 in traveler's cheques into her purse.
What is true: Leonore and Gwen Dailey broke the police seal, entereing the house in the light of day. Gwen moved ahead of Leonore. In doing so she remove the bloody sheets from the bed, not wanting Leonore to see the violence left behind. Leonore claimed later she entered the house to salvage the lunch meat from spoiling and save the kitty. She may have meant the cat, but she did indeed leave with what was believed to be $5,000.00 in traveler's cheques. Thankfully during Helen's inquiries the amount didn't slip under the radar. When Leonore was questioned about the traveler's cheques she stated it was only $4,000.00 and had turned them over to Leon Kaplan, her attorney. Mr. Kaplan confirmed and returned the traveler's cheques to the Reeves estate. Art Weissman in an interview published in the fanzine publication of The Adventures Continue stated he confronted Leonore Lemmon, startling her as he turned around in a swivel chair. He asked her to leave the premises immediately.
A Statue in front of Grumann's Chinese Theater.
What is true: Mrs. Bessolo did not drop the case. She had George's body shipped to Cincinnati, Ohio for review and requested a report of any suspicious findings. In truth, Helen was told by Jerry Giesler, her hired attorney/investigator to drop the case because it could pose a danger to their well being. He would not elaborate and ended his participation. There was never a statue of George placed in front of the famous theater.
The Gun Flash Shot from the Dormer Window.
What is true: The simple fact is the dormer windows are not tangent to George's master bedroom. The only window in George's master bedroom overlooks the back yard. Having stood in the room myself I know this for a fact. Plus images of the house from the vantage point of the back yard will show that window. See the floor plan for details. The bedroom with the only two dormer windows in the house is the bedroom above the garage. The newspapers of the time reported the bullets traveled through the floor and landed in the living room below. Therefore the bedroom above the garage with the two dormer windows could not possibly be George's bedroom. The flash of gun fire could not have emanated from the dormer window.
Hollywoodland as before defines George's bedroom location away from the livingroom. The film also gave no mention of the two bullets holes landing in the living room, one in a ceiling beam, the other near the mantle of the fireplace. In reality, if those shots were made that evening then Bill Bliss seated or standing below would have been scattering for his life.
Also noted: At the time of the fatal gun shot, Carol Van Ronkle and Bob Condon were not in the living room, according to Leonore Lemmon during her 1989 interview. They were in bed together in the guest room, the room with the two dormer windows. While not admitting to her encounter with Bob, Carol did testify she was not in the same room when & where Bill and George argued. Thus supporting she did not arrive with Bill as it was told to the LA Police and news reporters.
Home Made Film
What is true: Art Weissman and George Reeves did make a homemade film, it is titled "The Candid Reporter" in 1955. This film is well known and has made it into just about every TAoS collector's video library. In this film George wakes up with Sam his trusty schnauzer. Soon they are in the kitchen eating breakfast. At least George is. Sam is in the corner hoping for his own bowl of Kellogg's Corn Flakes. George then proceeds to the back yard for his morning work out and showing off the effects of a good breakfast meal. There George in his white judo outfit springs into a series of flips and rolls showing off his fitness and agility. There is no sign of George feeling the effects of age. There is no wincing. Just all smiles and an effort to make a film to present Kellogg's a proposed cereal commercial.
The quality of the film if used would have been by the standards of 50's and early 60's television fine. Just take a look at those old commercials that are sold on the Internet and compare, you'll see the Candid Reporter film would have been more than acceptable to use in any portion of the segment. Hollywoodland presented a poor example to showcase George out of shape. I don't deny he may not have been in top shape in 1959, but George was proud of that film they made in 1955. And it shows. Hollywoodland manipulates the truth and disgraces George Reeves at the same time. To see this film in its entirety click here: Candid Reporter
Gus Dembling - Art Weissman
What the film presented: The character throughout the film who plays George's agent is Art Weissman.
What is true: For those less familiar with these two figures, Mr. Weissman entered the scene approxiamately 1954/55, after Gus Dembling passed away. Art was a photo journalist and met George while on assignment to do a story on him for a television magazine. This article eventually appeared in Complete TV, dated May 1957. There George visits his good friend Natividad Vacio and his grade school students. George asked Art to be his manager, someone to take care of his business affairs. Gus was a Hollywood acting agent, George being one of his many clients. The character in the film seemed more in tune to Gus Dembling. As stated in the second codicil dated 16-July 1956 of George's the Last Will and Testiment, Art Weissman replaced Dembling as executor of the Will.
The Mannix Home
What the film presented: The Mannix home is shown as a three story large size mansion in a neighborhood with similar size homes side by side.
What is true: The Mannix home is on a curvy, narrow, slightly inclined street. Two cars could barely pass each other it is so narrow. The sides of the street are covered with brush and foilage. Once at the address, there is a gate. Beyond the gate, off to the right stands a one story ranch style home. There is possibly a lower floor to match the declining elevation. But difficult to see from the gateway.
UPDATE ALERT - 11/15/2009-LK: On May 24, 2008 I had a brief conversation with Phyllis Coates regarding Flight of the Innocent. Ms. Coates was contrary to my description of the Mannix home at 1120 El Retiro Way not being more than one level as shown in the film Hollywoodland. My description of the home was taken from a personal view of the home looking through the front gateway. My gaze was just only 3 or 4 seconds and the extent was at best slightly more than the garage area since the front area is mostly secluded by the fence built up with foliage. Ms. Coates stated I was incorrect with describing the Mannix home as one level. Her knowledge was based on personally knowing the Mannix's. I respected her thoughts, but wasn't completely convinced and therefore I never altered my original discription. Perhaps the backyard has a slope to it, giving way to a lower level of the home and still give off the impression the house was one level. There is a slope from the gate to the garage and of course many homes in the Beverley Hills area, north of Sunset Blvd. have varied elevations, so the possibilty does exist that it continues.
One thing that is certain, which was my point in Flight of the Innocent, the house paled in comparison to the ficticous home shown in the film Hollywoodland.
In an article I recently found titled "A Castle of His Own," from the L.A.Times INNER LIFE dated September 28, 2006, the owner offered details of an extensive make-over project of the home. The home is described as a 6,000-square-foot, one-story ranch, built in 1958 by Eddie and Toni Mannix. The article includes interior and backyard photos. There is no slope in the backyard and the owner discribed the property as grounded, rather than the feeling of floating in space a 100 feet above the boulevard as so many homes in the area do.
Based on my findings, Ms. Coates may be referring to a different Mannix dwelling. Another Mannix address was 516 North Linden Drive, also a one-story house. This is a documented address from 1930. I'm not certain how long Eddie lived there or if Toni ever did.
While some people may think it is not important to be accurate, many of those involved in this circle or for better word "community" regarding the life and death of George Reeves have worked hard to be accurate. For better or worse, it matters little to the legions of loyal followers of this incredible man whether or not George died under one theory or another. His audience has grown up. We've moved beyond the blindness caused by what might be defined by the news media as "never at fault / hero-worshipping" thinking. But we do recognize George in a most positive way... it's well earned. His films other than TV's Adventures of Superman are becoming more and more popular everyday. There's more to George than Superman. He knew it, and now we know it. If we were to separate ourselves from the truth, movies and/or books based on fiction will completely take over with no cause to tell the truth. Isn't that what life is about? TRUTH. We live in a world, a lot bigger than Hollywood where TRUTH is suppressed to the point of nothing is what it seems to be. For starters, men cheat on their wives. Wives cheat on their husbands, kids cheat on school exam test, corporate leaders bilk their employees of their retirement funds, governments lie to their people. All with a smile. Until caught. We are hurt by the lies and deceptions. Like those who seek the TRUTH we stand on the outside looking in. The character Louis Simo is the investigator, also an outsider who like the audience is seeking to know the TRUTH and growing from the knowledge gained. The whole reason for seeing the film in the first place.
The film did not raise the questions linked to the many inconsistencies in this case, not even known to be recognized in 1959. If the film was trying to present only what was known at the time of George's death it should be noted the bruises on George's body Simo inquired at the coroner's office was not common knowledge at the time. The bruises were first made known to the public on September 14, 1999 in a series of rare coronary photos on ABC's 20/20 Downtown with Bill Ritter in discussion with Dr. Warren Lovell. While Dr. Lovell did not see contrary to suicide evidence in the autopsy report or photos he observed, he did state the coroner's office should have been brought before the medical board to explain why the body was embalmed before an autopsy was performed. It was Helen Bessolo who insisted her son be given an autopsy. Chief Parker and Coroner Theodore Curphey did so only to satisfy her request. Nothing substancial was found and the official suicide ruling remained. Of course the body was already compromised due to it being expediously prepared for burial and cremated if Leonore had her way. Helen from Galesburg, In via a Western Union Telegram to Gates, Kingley and Gates, the mortuary put an immediate stop to it. The body was cremated many months later, authorized by Helen.
When I left the theater after seeing the film for the first time, I had a conversation with a woman who sat near me. She was surprised when I told her the storyline of the investigator was based on fiction. Having only a general knowledge of the case she thought it was all true, including Simo's beating he took from Eddie Mannix's goons. This is as I suspected would happen when I first made a case about various script inaccuracies prior to the filming of this movie. I explained to her there was an investigator, but under different circumstances. A good reason to clarifying this issue and anything else that would be less than accurate. According to two Internet interviews with scriptwriter Paul Bernbaum, Louis Simo is loosely based on Milo Spiriglio. In 1959, Spiriglio worked for the Nick Harris Investigation Agency, referred to as Rick Harris in the film. Spiriglio was 22 years old at the time of George's death and at best overheard Jerry Giesler and his associates talking about the case in the office. He claimed to have been at the crime scene, but this is believed to be untrue by the community of Reeves life and death experts. In the 70's the Nick Harris agency was owned by Milo Spiriglio who then performed his own investigation into the death of George Reeves, as he did with the Marilyn Monroe, another high profile case. He concluded that George Reeves was murdered by the Mannix's and based his findings that George did not commit suicide. In fact, impossible according to Spiriglio because of the location and projected angle the fatal bullet took, explaining George would have to have been standing on his head. Also, there were no visible signs of powder burns on George's head therefore the gun must have been held approximately 16 inches away, past the reach of one's own hand. Spiriglio never demonstrated how he came to any of these conclusions, thereby creating a confused presentation. As we've learned over the years the gun powder burns were present inside the head wound as a result of the gun barrel being pressed and discharged against the temple. For the record, just because the gun was held close to the temple does not conclude it was held by George.
Often is it acknowledge the absense of powder residue as well as fingerprints on the gun. Only for fingerprints was the gun tested and as a result of it being recently cleaned (just prior to the fatal shot) with oil the fingerprints desolved. According to an aquaintance, a retired detective (rookie year: 1962) it would be difficult to obtained fingerprints from a gun even if it were dry. The hand just doesn't cover enough surface to gain a substancial identification. But again, oil plays into this case as it did on April 8th, 1959. If George committed suicide wouldn't it stand to reason there would have been oil on his hand ? Everyone is looking for answers to missing powder residue and fingerprints on the gun. The real question and perhaps the most significant form of evidence overlooked is whether or not there was oil on the palm of George's right-hand. If the full proper investigation been performed in accordance with the law to answer any and all doubts of suicide or murder this as well as many other aspects such as the number of bullet holes in the house would not be an issue. So the next question comes to mind, why wasn't a full investigation performed ?
It would be plausible to believe the Louis Simo investigator character would be that of Jerry Giesler. Giesler was in his 70's in 1959 and was in the presence of Helen Bessolo during her time in Los Angeles. He was there to met her when she arrived at the train station, he entered the Benedict Canyon house with Helen and was involved in the many press conferences. In the end he stated to her he would be dropping himself from the case, advising her to do the same. Not giving names, he told her those involved went high up and it would be wise to consider them very dangerous. It was never defined whether it was the Mannix or Williams camp Giesler feared. One thing is sure, for many years people close to George feared discussing this case openly. It would be reasonable to suggest Simo is based on Geisler, but without the family issues to give the film a hook. While the film-makers have stated the film's main focus is the investigator and the effect the death of George Reeves has on him and his family and that George was secondary. Let's be realistic, it is the George Reeves mystery audiences are primarily wanting to see this film. To learn the facts of the case. The film failed to present the facts in its true form, thereby perpetuating the long standing association of inaccuracies that have plagued this case from the very beginning.
On a personal note, I found the scene where Louis Simo's moment alone in George's room a parallel of my own experience. I cannot explain how I felt watching that scene. Surreal is perhaps a good word to describe. I've never before experienced a more connected moment in a film as I did during that scene. As the scene progressed to another I had to reassure myself for a moment that I was not suddenly transformed back to my own 3 to 4 minutes standing alone in George's room thinking similar to Simo's thoughts.
If by chance Mr. Affleck or Ms. Lane were nominated for either the Golden Globe or Oscars for their respected leading roles and by a miracle one or both just happen to win, I had hoped instead of thanking their families, agents, producers and whoever they are obligated to mention they would foremost recognize Mr.George Reeves for his humanitarium work. For it were not for him they wouldn't be standing there. And while accepting their award make it known what a truly wonderful man George was. He was the "People's Friend." This was a man who cared more for those less fortunate than himself. He would go through life asking far less for himself than he would give to others. George knew as a film star he had an opportunity to help others through their difficult times. People of all walks of life. He had ongoing work with the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation, the City of Hope and visiting countless number of children in cancer hospitals. Because he was once a struggling actor himself and knew how difficult it was waiting for that next role, he offered money to many out of work actors. Why? Because he simply was in the position to do so. We should all have just a little bit of George Reeves in our blood to enrich the lives of others. The world would be a better place to live.
In closing, TAC welcomes anyone from the film to openly or privately discuss any of the issues shown above. If it is felt the issues are unjust and this can be debated successfully and diplomatically, TAC will consider an alternate description of the event. Together if possible we can learn more about George Reeves through real magic, the magic of knowledge.
Rest in Peace our old friend.
Thanks for watching,
The Adventures Continue (TAC) is a website devoted to George Reeves and the Adventures of Superman. All contents copyright© by Jim Nolt unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. Nothing from this website may be reproduced by any means, in whole or in part (excpet for brief passaged used solely for review purposes) without the written permission of either Jim Nolt (owner) and/or Lou Koza (editor).
The feature above titled Flight of the Innocent is the copyright and ownership of Lou Koza and cannot be reproduced by any means, in whole or in part without Mr. Koza's written permission.
Superman and all related indicia are trademarks of DC Comics, Inc. and are reproduced for historical purposes only. Use of the name of any product or character without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status. Includes the video captures from The Adventures of Superman.
"Like The Only Real Magic -- The Magic Of Knowledge"