Review George Reeves

Discussion in 'Fame & Infamy' started by Doctor Omega, Mar 2, 2017.

  1. Doctor Omega

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    George Reeves (January 5, 1914 – June 16, 1959) was an American actor. He is best known for his role as Superman in the 1950s television program Adventures of Superman.

    His death at age 45 from a gunshot remains a polarizing topic; the official finding was suicide, but some believe that he was murdered or the victim of an accidental shooting



    Death

    Reeves died of a gunshot wound to the head in the upstairs bedroom of his home in Benedict Canyon between 1:30 and 2:00 a.m. on June 16, 1959, according to the Los Angeles Police Department report. The police arrived within the hour. Present in the house at the time of the incident were Leonore Lemmon (Reeves' fiancée), William Bliss, writer Robert Condon, and Carol Van Ronkel, who lived a few blocks away with her husband, screenwriter Rip Van Ronkel.

    According to these witnesses, Lemmon and Reeves had been dining and drinking earlier in the evening in the company of writer Condon, who was ghostwriting an autobiography of prizefighter Archie Moore. Reeves and Lemmon had an argument at the restaurant in front of Condon, and the three of them returned home. However, Lemmon stated in interviews with Reeves' biographer Jim Beaver that she and Reeves had not accompanied friends to the restaurant but rather to wrestling matches. Contemporaneous news items indicate that Reeves' friend Gene LeBell was wrestling that night—yet LeBell's own recollections are that he did not see Reeves after a workout session earlier in the day.

    Sometime near midnight, after Reeves had gone to bed, an impromptu party began when Bliss and Carol Van Ronkel arrived at the Reeves home. Reeves angrily came downstairs and complained about the noise. After blowing off steam, he stayed with the guests for a while, had a drink, and then retired upstairs again in a bad mood. The guests later heard a single gunshot from upstairs. Bliss ran upstairs into Reeves' bedroom and found him lying across the bed dead, his naked body facing upward and his feet on the floor. It is believed that this corroborated Reeves' sitting position on the edge of the bed when he allegedly shot himself, after which his body fell back on the bed and the .30 caliber (7.65×21mm) Lugerpistol fell between his feet.

    Statements made by the witnesses to the police and to the press essentially agree. Neither Leonore Lemmon nor other guests who were at the scene made any apology for their delay in calling the police after hearing the fatal gunshot that killed Reeves; the shock of the death, the lateness of the hour, and their state of intoxication were given as reasons for the delay. Police said that all of the witnesses present were extremely inebriated and that coherent stories were very difficult to obtain from them.

    In contemporary news articles, Lemmon attributed Reeves' alleged suicide to depression caused by his "failed career" and inability to find more work. The report made by the Los Angeles Police states, "[Reeves was]... depressed because he couldn't get the sort of parts he wanted." Newspapers and wire-service reports quoted LAPD Sergeant V.A. Peterson as saying: "Miss Lemmon blurted, 'He's probably going to go shoot himself.' A noise was heard upstairs. She continued, 'He's opening a drawer to get the gun.' A shot was heard. 'See there—I told you so!'"'[29]

    The official story given by Lemmon to the police placed her in the living room with party guests at the time of the shooting, but hearsay statements from Reeves' friend and colleague from Gone With The Wind Fred Crane put Leonore Lemmon either inside or in direct proximity to Reeves' bedroom.[30] According to Crane (who was not present), Bill Bliss had told Millicent Trent after the shot rang out, while Bliss was having a drink, that Leonore Lemmon came downstairs and said, “Tell them I was down here, tell them I was down here!”[31]

    A number of questionable physical findings were reported by investigators and others: No fingerprints were recovered from the gun. No gunpowder residue was found on Reeves' hands. (Some sources contend that it may not have been looked for, as gunshot residue testing was not routinely performed in 1959.[32]) The bullet that killed Reeves was recovered from the bedroom ceiling, and the spent shell casing was found under his body. Two additional bullets were discovered embedded in the bedroom floor. All three bullets had been fired from the weapon found at Reeves' feet, though all witnesses agreed they heard only one gunshot, and there was no sign of forced entry or other physical evidence that a second person was in the room.[33] Despite the unanswered questions, Reeves' death was officially ruled a suicide, based on witness statements, physical evidence at the scene, and the autopsy report.[34]

    Reeves' mother thought the ruling premature and peremptory, and retained attorney Jerry Giesler to petition for a reinvestigation of the case as a possible homicide. The findings of a second autopsy, conducted at Giesler's request, were the same as the first, except for a series of bruises of unknown origin about the head and body. A month later, having uncovered no evidence contradicting the official finding, Giesler announced that he was satisfied that the gunshot wound had been self-inflicted, and withdrew.[35][33]

    Reeves is interred at Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum in Altadena, California. In 1960, Reeves was awarded a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard for his contributions to the TV industry. [36] In 1985, he was posthumously named one of the honorees by DC Comics in the company's 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great.



     
    #1 Doctor Omega, Mar 2, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2018
  2. Doctor Omega

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    Controversy

    Actors Alan Ladd and Gig Young were reportedly skeptical of the official determination. Reeves' friend Rory Calhoun told a reporter, "No one in Hollywood believed the suicide story." In their book Hollywood Kryptonite, Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger make a case for the involvement of Toni Mannix, the wife of MGM vice president and fixer Eddie Mannix, with whom Reeves had been having an affair. Others suggested that Eddie Mannix—rumored to have mafia ties—ordered Reeves killed.


    The 2006 film Hollywoodland, starring Ben Affleck as Reeves and Adrien Brody as a fictional investigator loosely based on actual detective Milo Speriglio, dramatizes the investigation of Reeves' death. The film suggests three possible scenarios: accidental shooting by Lemmon, murder by an unnamed hitman under orders from Eddie Mannix, and suicide.

    Toni Mannix suffered from Alzheimer's disease for years and died in 1983. In 1999, Los Angeles publicist Edward Lozzi claimed that Toni Mannix had confessed to a Catholic priest in Lozzi's presence that she was responsible for having Reeves killed. (This was following the resurrection of the Reeves case by TV shows Unsolved Mysteries and Mysteries and Scandals.) Lozzi made the claim on TV tabloid shows, including Extra, Inside Edition, and Court TV. In the wake of Hollywoodland's publicity in 2006, Mr. Lozzi repeated his story to the tabloid The Globe and to the LA Times, where the statement was disputed by Jack Larson. Larson stated that facts which he knew from his close friendship with Toni Mannix precluded Lozzi's story from being true. According to Lozzi, he lived with and then visited the elderly Mannix from 1979 to 1982 and on at least a half-dozen occasions he called a priest when Mrs. Mannix feared death and wanted to confess her sins. Mannix suffered from Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia, but Lozzi insists that her "confession" was made during a period of lucidity in Mannix's home before she was moved from her house to a hospital. Mannix lived in a hospital suite for the last several years of her life, having donated a large portion of her estate to the hospital in exchange for perpetual care. Lozzi also told of Tuesday night prayer sessions that Toni Mannix conducted with him and others at an altar shrine to Reeves that she had built in her home. Lozzi stated, "During these prayer sessions she prayed loudly and trance-like to Reeves and God, and without confessing yet, asked them for forgiveness." Lozzi's claim, however, is unsupported by independent evidence



     
    #2 Doctor Omega, Oct 3, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2018
  3. Doctor Omega

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