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1930s & Earlier / Thomas Ince Scandal 1924
One of Hollywood's most enduring and juicy scandals occurred on November 19, 1924. On that date producer/director Thomas Ince died suddenly on The Oneida, William Randolph Hearst's luxury yacht. Ince and several other celebrities were aboard the boat for a belated get-together for Ince's 42nd birthday. The official police report says Ince died of a heart attack. However, most Hollywood historians think the truth was more sinister. For years stories circulated that Ince had been shot to death by a jealous and enraged Hearst. One version has Ince getting way too friendly with Hearst's mistress, Marion Davies. Another version has Charlie Chaplin getting caught in the act with Marion--and Ince being accidentally shot by Hearst with a bullet meant for Chaplin. Chaplin's secretary stated she saw Ince being carried out of the yacht with a bullet hole in his head. The first edition of the next day's Los Angeles Times declared that Ince had been shot to death. Later editions of the newspaper had all references to gunplay expunged--an indication of how powerful Hearst was. Ince's body was quickly cremated, eliminating any chance his remains could be exhumed. Louella Parsons, a small-time entertainment writer from New York, was also aboard The Oneida. Immediately after this incident, she became a star writer in Hearst's syndicated newspaper chain. Was she rewarded for maintaining her silence about what happened on The Oneida that fateful day?