Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Paul Kelly, Killer Actor

"Terribly Sorry"

Kelly went home and reported the results of the fight to Dot Mackaye, who was still drinking at his place. She said she bawled him out.

Dorothy Mackaye
Dorothy Mackaye

"He (Kelly) said he was terribly, terribly sorry," Mackaye said. "I told him... that he shouldn't be so hot-tempered."

She went home and found her husband wearing dark glasses to hide his black eyes. The maid said the couple joked about the fight. Raymond insisted he was feeling fine, despite an egg-sized lump at his left eye. Mackaye tucked him into bed.

The next morning, Ethel Lee found Raymond in a stupor on the bedroom floor. Mackaye called Dr. Walter Sullivan, a personal friend, who arranged to have Raymond quietly admitted to Queen of Angels Hospital.

Raymond lapsed into a coma and never came out. He died three and a half days after the fight, at 5:20 a.m. on April 19. An actor friend was sitting vigilantly at his bedside. His wife wasn't. She was at Kelly's place, as usual.

Dr. Sullivan signed a death certificate claiming that Raymond had died of natural causes, at the advanced age of 39. He had the body spirited away to the Leroy Bagley Mortuary on Hollywood Boulevard. Except for the press, Raymond might have been embalmed and planted in the ground before any authority figure even knew he was dead.

But busybodies at the hospital phoned the newspapers with a tip that the celebrity actor had died after a beating, and scribes called the coroner, who grabbed the body back in from the mortuary for an autopsy. The pathologist reckoned that Raymond had died of brain hemorrhaging from the beating. The district attorney had a celebrity homicide and attempted cover-up on his hands.

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