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Notorious West Coast Celebrity Deaths and Suicides

Notorious West Coast Celebrity Deaths and Suicides

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Notorious West Coast Celebrity Deaths and Suicides

370 pages
3 hours
Jul 15, 2020


Death sometimes arrives randomly to those seemingly insulated from risk by virtue of their wealth, celebrity and protective environments.

Periodically the world halts in shock and reflection upon the abrupt and sudden headlines of a celebrated personality’s death. Their demise jolts and reinforces our understanding of the fragility and vulnerability of life. This edition chronicles the background stories and detailed locations of some of the most newsworthy, famous and even infamous unexpected sudden passings.

The profiles feature self-induced suicides, drug overdoses, celebrity murders, unexplained deaths and even brazen homicides where the perpetrator has taken their own life. The West Coast historically remains a vortex for the unexpected. Understanding the circumstances beyond simple summary reporting often clarifies the motivations behind each unfortunately and often desperate act.

The contents are divided into four sectional categories including:

Actress Peg Entwistle’s leap from the Hollywood sign, Oil swindler C. C. Julian, Valhalla Cemetery savior John E. Osborne Sr., Actor Ross Alexander, Actresses Lupe Velez and Carol Landis, Superman actor George Reeves, Actresses Marilyn Monroe and Pier Angeli, Actors Pete Duel and Freddie Prinze, Punk Rocker Darby Crash, San Francisco assassin Dan White, Seattle judge Gary Little, Singer Del Shannon, Actor Herve Villechaize, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Actor Hugh O’Connor, Model Margaux Hemingway, Heaven’s Gate cult mass poisoning, Actor Brian Keith, Punk Rocker Dee Dee Ramone, Film Director Tony Scott, Right-to-Die Advocate Brittany Maynard, Comedian Robin Williams, Rock keyboardist Keith Emerson and Actor Verne Troyer.

President Warren Harding, Evangelist Sister Aimee Semple-McPherson, Actor James Dean’s fatal car collision, Soul singer Sam Cooke, Comedian Lenny Bruce, Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination, Actor Roman Novarro, Rock singer Janis Joplin and actor John Belushi’s drug overdoses, Actress Dominique Dunne’s strangulation, Beach Boy Dennis Wilson’s drowning, Marvin Gaye’s domestic shooting, Actress Rebecca Schaeffer’s stalker killing, Rock Promoter Bill Graham’s helicopter crash, Actor River Phoenix’s drug overdose, Jockey Ron Hansen’s mysterious drowning, Actor Haing Ngor’s killing, Sublime’s Bradley Nowell’s drug overdose, Revenge shooting of Notorious B. I. G., Rock singer Layne Staley, Singers Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston’s drug overdose, Paul Walker’s street racing crash and Singer George Michael’s outing and premature death.

Brides of Christ cult, LAPD Captain Walter Auble, Ned Doheny and Hugh Plunkett, Teenage Orcutt California Freeway sniper, Newhall California Highway Patrol shootout, Jim Jones and the People’s Temple, Richard Trenton Chase the Vampire Killer, Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten, Lynwood Jim Drake, 101 California Building Massacre, Actor Phil Hartman, Seattle Bus Shooting on Infamous Aurora Bridge, Kyle Huff and the Capitol Hill shooting, John Williams the man of a thousand identities, Bruce Pardo’s Christmas Eve firestorm, Portland’s The Zone nightclub massacre, Jed Waits obsession killing, Publicist Ronni Chasen midnight slaying, Speedfreak mass killing and burial grounds, Seattle’s Café Racer coffee house killings, Survivalist Peter Keller’s family murder, Actor Johnny Lewis’ outburst, Marysville-Pilchuck cafeteria shooting and the vindictive Isla Vista shooting spree rampage of Elliot Roger

Pasadena’s Colorado Street Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, Cecil Hotel Los Angeles, Vista Point Bridge Portland, Aurora Bridge Seattle and the USS Hornet

Jul 15, 2020

Despre autor

Visual Artist, Writer and Photographer Marques Vickers is a California native presently living in the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle, Washington regions.He was born in 1957 and raised in Vallejo, California. He is a 1979 Business Administration graduate from Azusa Pacific University in the Los Angeles area. Following graduation, he became the Public Relations and ultimately Executive Director of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce between 1979-84. He subsequently became the Vice President of Sales for AsTRA Tours and Travel in Westwood between 1984-86.Following a one-year residence in Dijon, France where he studied at the University of Bourgogne, he began Marquis Enterprises in 1987. His company operations have included sports apparel exporting, travel and tour operations, wine brokering, publishing, rare book and collectibles reselling. He has established numerous e-commerce, barter exchange and art websites including MarquesV.com, ArtsInAmerica.com, InsiderSeriesBooks.com, DiscountVintages.com and WineScalper.com.Between 2005-2009, he relocated to the Languedoc region of southern France. He concentrated on his painting and sculptural work while restoring two 19th century stone village residences. His figurative painting, photography and sculptural works have been sold and exhibited internationally since 1986. He re-established his Pacific Coast residence in 2009 and has focused his creative productivity on writing and photography.His published works span a diverse variety of subjects including true crime, international travel, California wines, architecture, history, Southern France, Pacific Coast attractions, fiction, auctions, fine art marketing, poetry, fiction and photojournalism.He has two daughters, Charline and Caroline who presently reside in Europe.

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Notorious West Coast Celebrity Deaths and Suicides - Marques Vickers

Notorious West Coast Celebrity Deaths and Suicides

Published by Marques Vickers at Smashwords

Copyright 2020 Marques Vickers





Actress Peg Entwistle’s Desperate Leap to an Unanticipated Fame (1932)

The Julian Oil Company Scandal: Prelude to the Global Market Crash (1933)

The Valhalla Memorial Cemetery Scam: Preying on the Living (1935)

Ross Alexander: A Transitioning Actor Abruptly Lowers the Stage Curtain (1936)

Lupe Velez: The Fatal Scruples of a Fiery Actress (1944)

Carol Landis: The Insufficiency of Only Beauty (1948)

The Kryptonite Curse That Felled Superman George Reeves (1959)

Marilyn Monroe: A Final Action Freezing Perpetual Fame (1962)

Pier Angeli: The Burden of Aging in a Youth Driven Business (1971)

Pete Duel: Checking Out At The Crest of Acclaim (1971)

Freddie Prinze: The Evening The Comic Became Humanized and the Laughter Abruptly Ceased (1976)

Darby Crash: The Germ Who Left Little Trace (1980)

Dan White: Political Killing and Suicide Solution (1985)

Judge Gary Little’s Dual Role as Adjudicator and Predator (1988)

Del Shannon: Failing to Recapture The Magic (1990)

Herve Villechaize:: The Ultimate Agony Prompted By A Signature Opening Line (1993)

Kurt Cobain: The Prelude and the Final Act (1994)

Hugh O’Connor: The Punitive Cost of Drug Addiction (1995)

Margaux Hemingway: The Prize and Curse of a Famous Surname (1996)

The Heaven’s Gate Cult Shutters Operations Abruptly and Permanently (1997)

Brian Keith: A Sturdy Boulder Crippled By Fissures (1997)

Dee Dee Ramone: The Physical Self-Destructiveness of a Punk Rock Iconic Group (2002)

Don Cornelius: Pioneering Ethnic Exposure and Exiting on His Terms (2012)

Tony Scott: A Brother Deviating From the Glittering Path (2012)

Brittany Maynard: A Solitary Ripple Fuels An Ocean of Discussion (2014)

Robin Williams: The Self-Destructive Tears of a Harlequin (2014)

Keith Emerson: The Tormenting Price Behind Perfectionism (2016)

Verne Troyer: An Intense Suffering Concealed Within A Caricature (2018)


Warren Gamaliel Harding: The Poisoning of a President? (1922)

Sister Aimee Semple McPherson Floods The Masses With Her Spiritual Urgency (1944)

James Dean: A Collision of Fatalism (1955)

Sam Cooke: The Abrupt Departure of a Soul Music Legend In His Prime (1964)

Lenny Bruce: An Iconic Casualty Drowned By An Unrelenting Current (1966)

Senator Robert F. Kennedy: The Assassination of Hope (1968)

Ramon Novarro: The Gruesome Torture of a Closeted Screen Idol (1968)

Janis Joplin: The Killing Lull Between During A Legendary Recording Session (1970)

John Belushi: The Train Collision No One Could Slow Down (1982)

Dominique Dunne: The Consequences of Poorly Administrated Justice and Subsequent Karma (1982)

Dennis Wilson Drowning: The First To Descend Permanently (1983)

Marvin Gaye: A Visionary Dishonored Within His Household (1984)

Rebecca Schaeffer: A Stalker’s Fatal Obsession With A Rising Starlet (1989)

A High Voltage Grand Finale for Promoter Bill Graham (1991)

River Phoenix: Conventional Excess Replaces An Unconventional Upbringing (1993)

Jockey Ron Hansen: Speed Killed (1993)

Haing Ngor: An Extended and Consequential Journey Curtailed By A Random Killing (1996)

Bradley Nowell of Sublime: Overindulgence Slays The Golden Goose (1997)

The East/West Coast Vendetta and Killing of Notorious B.I.G. (1997)

Layne Staley: The Wasting Away of a Rock Frontman (2002)

Michael Jackson: The Perilous and Lonely Descent From Grace (2009)

Whitney Houston: A Spiraling Fall From The Mountaintop (2012)

Paul Walker’s Crash Death: The Blurred Distinction Between Cinema and Reality (2013)

George Michael: The Grimy Outing Of A Perceived Male Hunk (2016)


Murderous Revenge Spawned By The Brides of Christ Cult (1906)

The Slaying of Captain Walter Auble and Impressive Public Response (1908)

Ned Doheny and Hugh Plunkett: The Greystone Mansion Killings (1929)

The Unexplainable Sunday Morning Sniper Attack (1965)

The Deadliest Firefight in California Highway Patrol History (1970)

Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple Massacre: No Way Home (1978)

Richard Trenton Chase: The Consummation of Darkness (1980)

The Unfulfilled Crossover of Dorothy Stratten (1980)

Lynwood Jim Drake III: A Loose Wire Springs A Rampage (1992)

The 101 California Building Rampage: Victims of Chance by a Deadly Rampage (1993)

Phil Hartman: The Shocking Murder and Suicide From An Unanticipated Source (1998)

A Very Public Suicide on the Notorious Aurora Bridge (1998)

Kyle Huff: The Capital Hill Massacre (2006)

John Williams: The Man of A Thousand Identities (2007)

Bruce Pardo: The Christmas Eve Massacre by a Santa Impersonator (2008)

The Zone Portland Nightclub Massacre: A Seemingly Regular Guy Bloodies Portland’s Night Scene (2009)

Jed Waits: Destroying the Infatuation He Could Not Possess (2010)

Ronni Chasen: When Two Divergent Worlds Collide (2010)

The Boneyards of the Dead Speak: The Speed Freak Killers (2012)

Collective Grieving, Renewal and Hope Following An Unexplainable Rampage at the Café Racer (2012)

Peter Keller: The Survivalist Killer Who Ultimately Couldn’t Hide (2012)

Johnny Lewis: A Son of Anarchy’s Lethal Fuselage (2012)

The Marysville-Pilchuck High School Shooting: A Familiar Scenario Targeted Towards Atypical Victims (2014)

The Vindictive Rage of Elliot Rodger (2014)


Pasadena’s Infamous Suicide Bridge

Los Angeles’ Cecil Hotel: Expedient Check-Ins and Permanent Check-Outs

Portland’s Vista Bridge: An Iconic Landmark Blemished To Reduce Impulsive Suicides

The Golden Gate Bridge: An Attractive Suicide Magnet

The USS Hornet: Death On Board



Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, APNews.com, Daily News, DailyMail.co.uk, VCStar.com, New York Daily News, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Huffpost.com, Wikipedia.org, FBI.gov, CrimeLibrary.com, Hoodline.com, OCWeekly.com, Murderpedia.com, Independent.com KCET.org, AtlasObscura.com, YouTube.com, About.com, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Inmatelocator.cdcr.ca.gov, WoodTV.com, Pinterest.com, CityRating.com, InsideSoCal.com, CountryHomesOfAmerica.com, Websleuths.com, Edhat.com, AJC.com, CNN.com, CBSNews.com, Law.Justia.com, Ssristories.org, ExiledOnline.com, CBSNews.com, KTLA.com, Keyt.com, TurnTo23.com, ODMP.org, Web.Archive.org, Cielodrive.com, Biography.com, Britannica.com, Heretical.com, FrontPageMag.com, SparselySageandTimely.com, LA.curbed.com, Chinarhyming.com, Homesteadmuseum.wordpress.com, OfficialColdCaseInvestigations.com, People Magazine, EvilBeings.com, LAWeekly.com, Murderfacts.com, Encyclopedia.com, Los Angeles Magazine, Good Housekeeping Magazine, SocietyofRock.com, Straightdope.com, Scpr.org,Caselaw, Findlaw.com, UPI.com, Rolling Stone Magazine, Psychology Today Magazine, OregonLive.com, OregonEncyclopedia.org, The Seattle Times, The Renton Reporter, The News Tribune, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Stranger, Murderpedia.org, FindACase.com, StalkingSeattle.Blogspot.com, HistoryLink.org, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wikiwand.com, University of Washington Library, TacomaPublicLibrary.org, Forejustice.org, WashingtonHistoryOnline.org, Everett Public Library, Newstalkit.com, TheNorthwest.com, NWSource.com, CrimeWiseUSA.com, TheEscapist.com, Highbeam.com, BlinkOnCrime.com, Sandpoint.com, Vietnamwar.OurWarHeroes.org, FBI.gov, MyNorthwest.com, SeattleMet.com, FreeRepublic.com, CapitolHill.com, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Call, San Mateo Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, Oakland Tribune, Marin Independent Journal, Press Democrat, East Bay Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Napa Register, The Californian, The Guardian, Fresno Bee, Times Standard and SFWeekly.

Photography shot between 2016-2020. Some of the locations may have altered with time and ownership changes. Many of the locations are still privately inhabited. Please don’t disturb the residents.


Death sometimes arrives randomly to those seemingly insulated from risk by virtue of their wealth, celebrity and protective environments.

Periodically the world halts in shock and reflection upon the abrupt and sudden headlines of a celebrated personality’s death. Their demise jolts and reinforces our understanding of the fragility and vulnerability of life. This edition chronicles the background stories and detailed locations of some of the most newsworthy, famous and even infamous unexpected sudden passings.

The profiles feature self-induced suicides, drug overdoses, celebrity murders, unexplained deaths and even brazen homicides where the perpetrator has taken their own life. The West Coast historically remains a vortex for the unexpected. Understanding the circumstances beyond simple summary reporting often clarifies the motivations behind each unfortunately and often desperate act.

Actress Peg Entwistle’s Desperate Leap to an Unanticipated Fame

Hollywood evolved into the recognized symbol of the motion picture industry during the twentieth century. The film industry, however traces its legitimate roots to the terrain and urban environment of downtown Los Angeles. Many of the industry’s initial founders were concentrated within the lodgings of Spring Street.

The genesis of commercial filmmaking is generally attributed to Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope viewing machine, which enabled viewers to peep into a magnified eyeglass viewers and observe the rapid rotation of photographed stilled images. His initial patent was recorded in 1890 and three years later, he assembled the first motion picture studio, the Black Maria in New Jersey.

His success bred imitation and the primitive technology continued to evolve into more sophisticated equipment, productions, viewing locations and ambitiously filmed storylines. The motion picture industry migrated west frequently to escape Edison’s patent rights and legal pursuit. The still barely inhabited and diverse topography of the Los Angeles basin accommodated all forms of filming scenery, from the bustling urban downtown center to barren valleys. Los Angeles was a filmmaker’s dream, absent of regulations, unions and permits. Creativity usually thrives with an absence of controls.

The silent film era flourished as traditional dramatic stage theatre’s influence waned. Little has changed with regard to preference. Audiences still prefer entertainment novelty and technological advancements.

The migration of acting talent established its cradle within the lobby and confines of Spring Street’s Alexandria Hotel. Nearly every major film personality and studio pioneer inaugurated his or her Los Angeles experience from the Alexandria. Among these major film players included Paramount, Griffith, Pathe, Chaplin, Leammle/Universal, Sennett/Keystone, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, United Artists and Warner Brothers. The list of permanent residents was even more impressive.

Many of these patriarchs of the film industry in the early days resided and dined together communally. The future architects of cinema shared the propelling forces of ambition in common. In 1900, a national vaudeville strike forced live theatres to project films.  The films were crude, short but significantly less expensive than live talent. Many of the theatres permanently abandoned vaudeville performances and a proverbial technology star was birthed.

The Relocation of the Film Colony

The influence of the film colony within downtown Los Angeles history was abbreviated. The downtown film interests would eventually gravitate towards less expensive real estate in a development called Hollywoodland, then a population of 4,000 in 1910, adjacent to the Cahuenga Pass.

Hollywoodland initially was conceived and promoted from the 34 North Spring Street offices of Harvey Henderson Wilcox. Wilcox subdivided and conquered. In 1924, the iconic Hollywoodland sign was constructed at a cost of $21,000 atop Mount Lee. Thirteen 50-foot letters and four thousand 20-watt light bulbs announced change. The film industry would never return to downtown Los Angeles.

Peg Entwistle’s Failed Ambitions

Millicent Lillian Peg Entwistle was a British stage and screen actress who had begun her career in 1925 at the age of seventeen appearing in several Broadway productions. Her parents divorced when Peg was young and her father gained sole custody. She emigrated with him, her brothers and uncle from Liverpool to New York City aboard the SS Philadelphia at the age of five. At fourteen, a hit-and-run motorist on Park Avenue and 72nd Street in New York City tragically killed her father. Her uncle took in Peg. He was the manager of Broadway actor Walter Hampden.

For seven years her career on Broadway expanded and reviews for her roles, often comedic and good-hearted beauties were favorable. In 1927, she married actor Robert Keith. Their union was brief. Two years later she filed for divorce charging Keith with cruelty and failing to inform her that he’d been married before and had a six-year-old son. That son, Brian, would later become a celebrated actor and terminate his own life by suicide.

In 1932, the abrupt cancellation of the production Alice Sit-by-the-Fire became Entwistle’s final Broadway performance. She moved to Los Angeles and secured her first theatre role in May with The Mad Hopes at the downtown Belasco Theatre. She was also cast in a small role in the Radio Pictures film Thirteen Women starring Myrna Loy and Irene Dunne.  Her part portrayed her as a lesbian, too daring for the era. Upon its release in October, the viewing public and critics poorly received the film. Thirteen Women would be re-released in 1935 with further editing and cited favorably as one of the earliest female ensemble films.

As a probable cost cutting measure, Entwistle along with a contingent of other actresses did not have their contracts renewed by Radio Pictures (later RKO). The film would remain her sole cinematic credit and would be released the month following her tragic death.

On September 18, 1932, a woman hiking along the Hollywoodland sign discovered a female shoe, purse, and jacket. Inside the purse she discovered a suicide note. Scanning the horizon, she viewed the silhouette of a corpse. The woman reported her findings to the Los Angeles police and laid the items on the steps of the Hollywood police station.

The suicide note read: I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, I would have saved a lot of pain. P.E.

Investigators speculated that two days before after telling her uncle she was going for a walk to the drugstore with friends, she hiked to the southern slope of Mount Lee at the base of the sign. Then readily accessible, she climbed a workman’s ladder to the top of the initial letter H and leaped to her death. The coroner listed the cause of death as multiple fractures of the pelvis.

Police from the ravine below the sign recovered her body. She initially remained unidentified. Her uncle, whom she’d been living with, read the newspaper account about the anonymous victim and connected the reported initials P. E. with his niece who’d gone mysteriously missing. He identified the remains.

The attention that had formally eluded her became magnified globally upon her reported death. Her symbolic suicide would be interpreted as the fate destined for a successive legion of failed actresses. Her body was cremated and her ashes were interned next to her father’s in Glendale, Ohio.

The Hollywoodland housing development went bankrupt during the 1930s. The sign ownership rights and maintenance were transferred to the city of Hollywood. In 1949, the infamous H on the sign unexpectedly collapsed. The cause was attributed to adverse weather conditions, but explanations such as Entwistle’s visitation circulated. During the course of renovations, the letters LAND were removed from the signage.

Over subsequent decades, neglect, deterioration and vandalism became the sign’s greatest enemy.

Beginning with fundraising efforts in the late 1970s’ renovations began on the sign including reinforcing the structure, repainting the letters and creating security fencing and monitoring to protect against unauthorized access.

To date, no additional notable performers have shared a similar fate to Peg Entwistle’s. What precisely prompted her to commit suicide? Her uncle cited depression and intense mental anguish. During that period, her former husband Robert Keith had remarried. She was known to be impulsive and moody, but no one seemed to anticipate her extreme action.

Sightings of a disoriented blonde woman have periodically resurfaced. The apparition is often conveniently accompanied by the smell of gardenias, her perfume of preference. Return haunting by the celebrated departed is never particularly surprising. With her novel iconic demise, the elusive fame Peg Entwistle sought while living was finally realized.

Peg Entwistle’s Jumping Off Point:

Hollywood Sign

South Facing Slope Mount Lee, Hollywood Hills

PHOTOS: Hollywood Sign and close up of one of the letters circa 1982

The Julian Oil Company Scandal: Prelude to the Global Market Crash

During a downtown real estate bust period of 1890, the Los Angeles City Oil Field was discovered stretching immediately south of Chavez Ravine westward to Vermont Avenue. The underground source encompassed a territory of approximately four miles in length by a quarter mile in width. Fortunes and major exploration wells created a decade long oil boom. The success of tapping this vein led to further drillings within the Los Angeles Basin. During the peak year of 1901, approximately 200 separate oil companies were actively exploiting the downtown field. Today dense residential and commercial development has been constructed above the reserves.

No individual profited from the boom period shrewder than a piano teacher from Kentucky named Emma Summers. Starting with a half-interest investment in a well she’d purchased from her piano lessons, she parlayed success upon success. Each lucrative drill enabled her to acquire additional operations, ultimately forcing many of her competitors out of business. A self-sufficient woman, Summers did her own accounting and despite her wealth, continued to offer piano lessons in the evening. At the peak of drilling prosperity, she controlled nearly half of the wells amidst the center sector of the field.

At the furthest northern extremity of Spring Street above Chinatown is an area that once boasted a horizon of pumping derricks. This territory today encompasses the Los Angeles State Historic Park and Cathedral High School. The concentration of drilling extended along the present Pasadena Freeway, snaking along the routing of Third Street until the intersection of Vermont Avenue. The daily nonstop pumping nearly depleted the oil reservoirs. Price ultimately flattened the boom from a peak of $1.80 a barrel in 1901 to 15¢ a barrel in 1903 due to overproduction and increased competition from San Joaquin Valley based operations.

Although local resources were no longer tapped so vigorously, a subsequent regional petroleum boom resurfaced during the 1920’s. The concept of creating instant wealth never loses its appeal.

In 1922, Canadian citizen Courtney Chauncey (C.C.) Julian arrived in California claiming expertise and vast experience in property speculation and oil exploration. He immediately secured drilling rights to five acres

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