Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

William Randolph's Hearse

Desperate Times

In the movie, though shown to be more dignified and straight-up than most of the other guests aboard the Oneida that night, Ince was nobody's angel, either. He is shown in several steamy bed scenes with Margaret Livingston, a moody, struggling actress whose career he is trying to boost. She was his mistress in real life, too, despite the convincing public façade of his long, supposedly happy marriage to Nell.

William Desmond Taylor
William Desmond Taylor

In the movie, Margaret boards the yacht on the arm of Ince's bachelor business manager, George Thomas, to avoid the suspicions of Hollywood's prying eyes. Neither Ince nor Margaret were rich and powerful enough to cavort as openly as Hearst and Davies did and thumb their noses at the gossipmongers. Ince's already-floundering ship could have sunk totally if word of his affair ever became common knowledge. He is sufficiently troubled by Hearst's cutting remarks, which he confides to Margaret. However, he is even more troubled at the prospects of failure to form a merger with Hearst, and most fearful of all of his potentially dismal future in the industry. Speculation at that time and later pegged him as a suicide candidate had he not died when he did.

Just two years before his own death, Ince's name came up in another mysterious, unsolved Hollywood murder. Renowned Paramount producer William Desmond Taylor was found shot to death in his bungalow on Feburary 1, 1922. Suspected of the murder but never charged was Ince's former partner, Mack Sennett, who was reported to be Taylor's competition for the love of star Mabel Normand. Sennett's alibi to investigators was he had spent that night at Ince's house. How Ince reacted to the news involving two of his friends and business partners isn't known but it likely had an impact on his already-fragile state of mind.

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