Today’s Hollywood is full of drama – but modern celebrity feuds have nothing to do with the mystery, intrigue, and sheer craziness of old Hollywood. Here in this blog post, we are going to discuss with you some old Hollywood unsolved mysteries (cases).
Over the decades around tinsel town, there have been a series of gruesome murders and shocking reports that have stood the test of time and are still talked about today.
Now, be careful, you’ll want to proceed with caution. As you can probably already understand, these fairy tales are not for the faint of heart. But if you’re a true-crime junkie, rejoice—they’re right up your alley and will only make you want more.
From silent film actresses found dead in garages to the horrific breakdowns of wannabe thespians trying to make their way in Hollywood, there are some of the biggest unsolved mysteries in the film and music industry.
Here Are 9 Old Hollywood Unsolved Mysteries
Virginia Rappe’s Tragic Death (1921)
Rappe was only 26 when she died in 1921 of a ruptured bladder and secondary peritonitis. The death of the young actress caused a big scandal and a long Hollywood trial. Four days before her death on September 9, she attended a Labor Day party in Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s suite. Arbuckle was a major silent film star at the time.
Maud Delmont alleges that Rappe was violently sexually assaulted by Arbuckle at the party and that she died as a result of the trauma she suffered during the attack. While other theories were put forward for the cause of Rappe’s condition (including cystitis), Arbuckle was tried for murder.
After three trials, Arbuckle was formally exonerated, but his career never recovered from the scandal.
William Desmond Taylor’s Murder (1922)
Taylor, a silent film director, was found murdered in his bungalow on the morning of February 2, 1922. A crowd gathered around the body, and a man who identified himself as a doctor announced that Taylor had died from abdominal bleeding. The doctor left the scene and was never heard from again.
Later, when investigators turned the body over, it was clear that Taylor had been shot at least once in the back.
Taylor was wearing a diamond ring and a wallet full of cash was found, so investigators ruled out a robbery. More than a dozen people were eventually named as suspects, but no one was formally charged with the murder.
Thelma Todd’s Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (1935)
Todd appeared in the 20s and such Marx Brothers classics as a Creative Idea and Monkey Business. On December 16, 1935, she died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Although her death was either accidental or the result of suicide (although there were bruises around her neck, a broken nose, and cracked ribs), some believe she was murdered. The plotter talks about the fact that on the night of her death, she attended a party in Hollywood, where she witnessed an altercation with her ex-husband, Pat DiCicco.
It was also reported at the time that her lover, director Roland West, had dumped her and that she overheated in a car, and mistakenly attributed the cause to carbon monoxide poisoning. Why she is sitting in her car that night always remains one of the biggest Hollywood unsolved mysteries.
The Black Dahlia’s (Elizabeth Short) Murder (1947)
Black Dahlia is one of Hollywood’s most infamous murder mysteries. The 22-year-old actress (real name: Elizabeth Short) was murdered on 15 January 1947. Her body was cut in half and mutilated, forcing the police to add local medical students to their suspect pool.
The killer followed up on the investigative report and mailed investigators personal items belonging to Short, including her birth certificate despite this, the case remains unsolved.
Jean Spangler’s Unsolved Disappearance (1949)
Spangler was an actress, model, and dancer who mysteriously disappeared in 1949 (two years after the Black Dahlia Murders) when she was just 26 years old.
She left her Los Angeles home around 5 p.m. on October 7, 1949, and told her sister-in-law, Sophie, that she was going to meet with her ex-husband to discuss child support payments and then work on the night of the shooting. When she did not return home the next day, Sophie filed a missing person’s report.
Two days later, police found Spangler’s purse in Griffith Park. In the purse was an unfinished note, addressed to someone named “Kirk.” The note read:
“Can’t wait any longer, Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while mother is away.”
Anyone in Spangler’s family or friends did not know who is Kirk or Dr. Scott. Spangler’s friends told police that she was pregnant at the time of her disappearance and was seeking an abortion (which was illegal at the time). However, she was never found, and her case remains open.
James Dean’s Car Accident and Death (1955)
Dean died in a car accident on September 30, 1955, at the age of 24. The details of the accident are public knowledge—that posh 550 Spyder was nearly hit head-on by 23-year-old Donald Turnupseed’s impressive 1950 Ford Tudo.
Classical theorists do not believe that Dean actually died in that car accident. They claim that the damage was too light for a high-speed accident and argues that Dean faked his death.
Johnny Stompanato Stabbing (1958)
In 1957, Stompanato began a relationship with actress Lana Turner. In 1958, Stopnato was stabbed to death at Turner’s home in Beverly Hills. Turner’s teenage daughter Cheryl Crane immediately confessed to the murder, claiming she was defending her mother, who Stompanato was violently attacking at the time.
Crane’s actions were called “justified murder”, but many have speculated that Turner was the one who stabbed Stompanato and that Crane only took the blame for her mother.
George Reeves’ Suicide (1959)
Reeves is best known for playing Superman on the 1950s Adventures of Superman TV show. He died of a gunshot wound to the head on 16 June 1959.
Several people were present at the time of Reeves’ death, including his fiancee Leonore Lemmon. One of the many suspicions about the case is that the group waited to call the police after hearing the gunshots, blaming their intoxicated state for the delay this always remains one of the biggest Hollywood unsolved mysteries.
Reeves lay naked on the bed, his feet on the floor and the gun between his legs. While he was reportedly depressed about the state of his career, not everyone believed his death was a suicide.
Marilyn Monroe’s Apparent Suicide (1962)
Famous actress Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her Brentwood home on August 5, 1962. While his death was officially ruled a possible suicide, many conspiracy theories (opens in new tab) about it, all blaming the mafia, the CIA, and the Kennedy family. These are some famous and old Hollywood unsolved mysteries.