Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Illusionist David Avadon 2009 Hollywood Forever Cemetery

David Avadon (December 11, 1948 – August 22, 2009), formerly "David Hutchins," was an American illusionist who billed himself as the country's "premier exhibition pickpocket." He lectured and wrote a book on pickpocketing and performed his trademark theatrical pickpocketing act for more than 30 years.


Early years

Avadon was born in Inglewood, California, his mother being an acrobatic dancer and his father an engineer.[1] Avadon grew up in West Los Angeles and began practicing magic as a hobby while in elementary school.[2] He studied theater at UCLA and studied magic with Dr. Giovanni and Marian Chavez.[1][2]

Professional illusionist

In his 20s, he changed his name from David Hutchins to David Avadon.[1] He began appearing as a professional illusionist at the Magic Castle in Hollywood and other clubs in the 1970s.[2] He remained a regular performer at the Magic Castle for more than 30 years.[3] After Avadon's death in 2009, Mark Nelson, chairman of the Academy of Magical Arts which operates the Magic Castle, said that Avadon's "performances included an equal balance of mystery and comedy," and added that "David always gave a polished, assured performance, drawing laughter and amazement."[3]

Avadon gained national attention in 1977 when he began working with a rabbi at a synagogue in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.[2][4] The rabbi saw Avadon performing for children outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and was impressed. Avadon, who was Jewish, and the rabbi teamed up to jointly present Sabbath services which were called "illusion-and-illumination service."[2][4] While the rabbi told a Biblical story "from the shadows of the temple's altar turned-stage," Avadon contributed visual aids and illusions from center stage.[2] Avadon illustrated the burning bush with "a fire that seemed to be burning from his hand."[4] Attendance at the Sabbath services rose from the usual 150 or 200 worshipers to crowds of 750, including many children, when Avadon began participating.[4]

America's "premier exhibition pickpocket"

Avadon developed a stage act featuring his talent as a pickpocket. Avadon's pickpocketing act became his trademark. In his act, Avadon invited audience members onto the stage to observe his illusions and would then return an array of possessions, including watches, wallets, checkbooks, keys, belts and neckties, that he had lifted from the unsuspecting observers.[5] Avadon promoted himself as "a daring pickpocket with dashing finesse" and "the country's premier exhibition pickpocket, one of the few masters in the world of this underground art."[5] He performed his pickpocket act in the United States, Japan, Canada and Great Britain.[3]

Avadon became a recognized expert on pickpocketing. In addition to his stage act, he educated police officers and security guards on techniques for spotting pickpockets and lectured on the topic.[5] He was also a technical advisor on pickpocketing for television and motion pictures.[1][5] In 2007, Avadon wrote a book about the history of pickpocketing, Cutting Up Touches: A Brief History of Pockets and the People Who Pick Them.[6]


Avadon contributed to a book on the noted magician, Joe Berg.


In August 2009, Avadon died from a heart attack while exercising at a fitness club in Santa Monica, California.[3] He is buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery


1. Valerie J. Nelson (2009-09-04). "David Avadon dies at 60; illusionist specialized in picking pockets". Los Angeles Times. 
2. Denise M. Holt (1977-12-11). "A Spellbinding Sermon: Jewish Service Features Magic". Salt Lake Tribune (Associated Press story). 
3. "In passing: David Avadon, illusionist". The Spokesman-Review. 2009-09-06. 
4. John Dart (1977-11-11). "Rabbi Puts Magic Into His Sermons: Teams With Illusionist to Draw Crowds of Worshipers". Los Angeles Times. 
5. "The Fastest Pickpocket in the West". David Avadon. 
6. David Avadon (2007). Cutting Up Touches: A Brief History of Pockets and the People Who Pick Them. Squash Publishing. ISBN 0-9744681-6-9.

Monday, August 21, 2017

"Hello, Dolly" Actor & Dancer Danny Lockin MURDERED 1977 Westminster Cemetery

Daniel Joseph "Danny" Lockin (July 13, 1943 – August 21, 1977)[1] was an American actor and dancer who appeared on stage, television, and film. He was best known for his portrayal of the character Barnaby Tucker in the 1969 film Hello, Dolly!

In August 1977, Lockin was stabbed over 100 times by a man he met in a Garden Grove, California bar. In September 1978, his killer was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to a four-year prison term.


Born in Hawaii, Lockin was raised in Omaha, Nebraska.[2] He began dancing professionally at area fairs at the age of eight.[2] His act co-starred Neal Reynolds, an African American boy with whom he would tap dance, tell jokes, pantomime, and do impressions of famous people.[3]

During his junior year in high school, Lockin's family moved to Anaheim, California, where he graduated from Rancho Alamitos High School.[4] He was cast in leading juvenile roles in regional productions of Gypsy: A Musical Fable, The Music Man, and Time for Everything.[2][4] After graduation, he immediately began working as a professional actor and dancer.

He had an early, and uncredited, role as a young farm boy in the 1962 film version of Gypsy.[5] He appeared in the play Morning Sun in October 1963 with Patricia Neway and Bert Convy, but it closed after nine performances.[6] The New York Times said he "dances with acrobatic suppleness and engaging freshness."[7] He made his Broadway debut on April 8, 1964, in West Side Story in New York City in the role of Gee-Tar (a role he left on May 3),[4] and appeared as an actor and dancer in a regional production of Take Me Along.[2] 

Later that year, he was cast in a starring role in the musical Tom Sawyer, which played at the St. Louis Municipal Opera.[4]

He replaced Jerry Dodge in the role of Barnaby Tucker in Hello, Dolly! in the winter of 1965, and went across the United States on six traveling productions with several actresses playing Dolly Levi, including Betty Grable, Ginger Rogers, Eve Arden, Dorothy Lamour and Anne Russell. He remained in the role for the movie version of Hello, Dolly!, and when filming for that ended, continued the role in the Broadway version of Hello, Dolly!, where he worked with both Ethel Merman and Phyllis Diller until it closed on Dec. 27, 1970.[8] He had mixed feelings about Carol Channing as Dolly, about whom he once said: "Carol Channing is rather disconcerting. You'll notice her looking at you with those big baby-stare eyes. Then eventually it dawns on you that the person behind those eyes is, in show business terms, about 200 years old."[9] He also later expressed unhappiness with the way audiences reacted to Merman in the role of Dolly Levi, and how this changed the show. "She wasn't Dolly up there, she was Ethel Merman in Dolly clothes. ... The audiences came, of course; they came to see the Ethel Merman version. But it wasn't Hello, Dolly! any more, it was her show. ... Channing or Streisand, they were part of a cast, trying to act out a character. But with Ethel Merman—and not just her fault, with the audience, she was such an institution—the rest of us felt like just her chorus boys or her chorus line."[10]

Lockin had a number of guest-star and incidental roles on television as well. He appeared on Father of the Bride, Dr. Kildare, Mr. Novak, My Three Sons, and the Sid Caesar Show.[4] He did a screen test for the 1965 film version of The Sound of Music, but did not get the part.[3] In 1967, he was cast in a minor role in the film The Graduate, but was contractually bound to continue in a regional production of Hello, Dolly! in Las Vegas, Nevada, and could not take the job.[3]

In 1967, Lockin married dancer Kathy Haas, who was a bit-part dancer in a production of Hello, Dolly! in San Francisco.[3] Their son, Jeremy Daniel Lockin, was born in 1969. The couple divorced in late 1969.

Lockin was cast in the 1969 film version of Hello, Dolly! on the basis of his dancing. He underwent 13 screen tests before he got the part.[3] He later said that doing the film was "the dream of my life."[3] He felt a strong need to compete with the film's director, legendary dancer Gene Kelly. At one point during filming, he did a series of four "butterflies" (a cartwheel in which a person does not put their hands on the ground) while Kelly looked on; Kelly suggested an improvement and, to demonstrate, leaped into six technically superior butterflies of his own. Lockin, chastened, reportedly sulked for three days.[11] In April 1970, he guest-starred on The Dean Martin Show on television.[12]


After his divorce, Lockin went back on tour with Hello Dolly!, continuing his role as Barnaby. He stayed with the tour until it ended; at which point, with his career in decline due to substance abuse issues, Lockin moved into his mother's apartment in Anaheim. Around 1974, Lockin began assisting his mother in running the Jean Lockin Dance Studio.[13] The studio closed in early 1977, and Lockin began teaching at another dance studio.

On the night of August 21, 1977, Lockin went to a gay bar in Garden Grove, California.[14] He left the bar with a slight, 34-year-old unemployed medical clerk, Charles Leslie Hopkins (who already had a police record, and was on probation at the time.) Several hours later, Hopkins called police to say that a man had entered his apartment and tried to rob him.[13] Upon arrival, police found Lockin's body on the floor of Hopkin's apartment. He had been stabbed 100 times, and bled to death.[13] His body had also been mutilated after death.[14] Hopkins claimed he had no idea how the dead body got in his apartment.[15] He was arrested immediately.

Danny Lockin was interred at Westminster Memorial Park Cemetery in Westminster, California.


Police found a book of pornographic pictures in Hopkins' apartment which showed men being tortured during sexual orgies.[14] Prosecutors initially intended to seek a first degree murder conviction, and to use the book to prove that Hopkins had planned the murder. Hopkins' trial began in May 1978, but endured a two-month delay after the prosecutor was injured in an unrelated accident.[14] During the delay, the Supreme Court of the United States held in United States v. Chadwick, 433 U.S. 1 (1977), that police may not engage in warrant-less searches of an individual's property in the absence of an exigency.[16] On July 31, the trial court ruled the pornographic book inadmissible as evidence.[14] On August 8, the trial court judge held that the death penalty could not be applied to Hopkins due to lack of evidence of premeditation.[17]

On September 28, 1978, Hopkins was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to a three-year prison term.[15] Since the court was permitted to consider suppressed evidence if the evidence was not seized merely to obtain a lengthier prison sentence and it did not "shock the conscience of the court," the trial judge increased Hopkins' sentence from the usual three years to four years.[15] Prosecutors said that with good behavior, Hopkins would be released in two years (considering time served).[15]

Stage credits

Date Production Role

January 16, 1964 – December 27, 1970 Hello, Dolly! Barnaby Tucker (Replacement) 
April 8 – May 3, 1964 West Side Story Gee-Tar


Year Title Role Notes

1962 Gypsy Yonkers Farm Boy Uncredited 
1963 The Stripper Bit part Uncredited 
1964 My Three Sons Jay Robinson Episode: "The Substitute Teacher" 
1969 Hello Dolly! Barnaby Tucker


1. Benjamin and Rosenblatt, p. 466. 
2. Kurtti, p. 155. 
3. West, Alice Pardoe. "Six Times Danny Lockin Played Barnaby Tucker." Ogden Standard-Examiner. January 3, 1970. 
4. Pollock, Mike. "Singing, Dancing Lessons Pay Off for Young Actor." Ogden Standard-Examiner. January 3, 1970. 
5. Larkin, p. 1782. 
6. Green, p. 457. 
7. Taubman, Howard. "Theater: 'Morning Sun' at the Phoenix." New York Times. October 7, 1963. 
8. Flinn, p. 460. 
9. Hadleigh, p. 247. 
10. Hadleigh, p. 51, ellipses and emphases in original. 
11. Hirschhorn, p. 299. 
12. "Television." New York Times. April 23, 1970. 
13. Emmons, Steve. "Murder Suspect Pleads Innocent in Actor's Death." Los Angeles Times. August 27, 1977. 
14. "Judge Bars Alleged Porno Book From Murder Trial." Los Angeles Times. August 1, 1978. 
15. "Man Gets 4-Year Prison Term in Death of Actor." Los Angeles Times. September 29, 1978. 
16. The Supreme Court later overturned this ruling in California v. Acevedo, 500 U.S. 565 (1991). 
17. "Death Penalty Ruled Out in Murder Case." Los Angeles Times. August 9, 1978.


Benjamin, Ruth and Rosenblatt, Arthur. Who Sang What on Broadway, 1866-1996. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Co., 2006. 
Flinn, Caryl. Brass Diva: The Life and Legends of Ethel Merman. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2009. 
Green, Stanley. The World of Musical Comedy: The Story of the American Musical Stage as Told Through the Careers of Its Foremost Composers and Lyricists. New York: Da Capo Press, 1980. 
Hadleigh, Boze. Broadway Babylon: Glamour, Glitz, and Gossip on the Great White Way. New York: Back Stage Books, 2007. 
Hirschhorn, Clive. Gene Kelly: A Biography. London: W.H. Allen, 1974. 
Kurtti, Jeff. The Great Movie Musical Trivia Book. New York: Hal Leonard Corporation, 1996. 
Larkin, Colin. The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Enfield, U.K.: Guinness Pub., 1995.

Friday, August 18, 2017

"Where's Poppa" Composer & "Blade Runner" Record Producer Jack Elliott 2001 Westwood Village Cemetery

Jack Elliott (August 6, 1927 – August 18, 2001) was an American television and film composer, conductor, music arranger, and television producer.


Born Irwin Elliott Zucker in Hartford, Connecticut, Elliott graduated from the Hartt School of Music and worked as a jazz pianist in New York and Paris in the 1950s.[1][2] He continued his post-graduate studies in composition with Arnold Franchetti, Isadore Freed, Bohuslav Martinů, and Lukas Foss, but it was Judy Garland who brought Elliott to California to become an arranger for her television show.

Elliott continued his run in television as music director for Andy Williams' long-running series and later produced and conducted the NBC television special Live From Studio 8H: 100 Years of America's Popular Music. He also wrote themes for television shows Night Court, and co-wrote the themes to Barney Miller, and Charlie's Angels with Allyn Ferguson. He is listed in New Grove's Dictionary of American Music and was awarded an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the University of Hartford's Hartt School of Music.

Elliott was co-founder and music director of the American Jazz Philharmonic (formerly the New American Orchestra)[3] and creator of the Henry Mancini Institute.[4] The original name of the Orchestra was "The Big O" and was the largest jazz orchestra of its kind featuring over 92 musicians. Elliott blended the classical European style orchestra with modern American jazz style. 

His professional repertoire was diverse, highlighted by stints as music director for the Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, Kennedy Center Honors and the 1984 Summer Olympics. In addition, he holds the distinction of serving as music director of the Grammy Awards for 30 consecutive years.

He had an accomplished career in film, scoring numerous hit movies, including Sibling Rivalry, The Jerk, Oh God!, and Where's Poppa?. 

He also produced the Blade Runner soundtrack album with the New American Orchestra, and composed the song "It's So Nice to Have a Man Around the House" in 1950, made famous by Dinah Shore.


Jack Elliott served as music director of the Henry Mancini Institute until his death from a brain tumor on August 18, 2001.[1]

Jack Elliott is interred in the Garden of Serenity at Westwood Village Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. 

Selected discography

Night Court 
Charlie's Angels(1976-1981)( wrote with Allyn Ferguson) 

Selected filmography

The Happiest Millionaire (1967) 
The Comic (1969) 
Where's Poppa? (1970) 
T.R. Baskin (1971) 
Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971) 
Get to Know Your Rabbit (1972) 
Oh, God! (1977) 
Just You and Me, Kid (1979) 
The Jerk (1979) 
Sibling Rivalry (1990) 


McHale's Navy (15 episodes, 1965–1966) 
Pistols 'n' Petticoats (3 episodes, 1966) 
The New Dick Van Dyke Show (2 episodes, 1971–1974) 
The Rookies (6 episodes, 1973–1975) 
Really Raquel (1974)

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Film or series

1965 Academy Award Nominated Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Shared with Robert Armbruster, Leo Arnaud, Jack Hayes, Calvin Jackson, and Leo Shuken) 
1987 BMI Film and TV Awards Won BMI TV Music Award Night Court 
1988 1989 1981 Emmy Award Nominated Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction Omnibus (For December 28, 1980 episode Shared with Alf Clausen and William Goldstein) 
1989 Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour


1. Thurber, Jon (2001-08-19). "Jack Elliott; Composer Led Mancini Institute". The L.A. Times. 
2. "Jack Elliott -- Composer, 74". The New York Times. 2001-08-24. 
3. Rusch, Bob (March 1976). Vol. 1, No. 3. Cadence. p. 93. 
4. Heckman, Don (2002-07-29). "Henry Mancini Institute Pays Tribute to Founder Jack Elliott". The L.A. Times. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Valentino Wife & Actress Jean Acker 1978 Holy Cross Cemetery

Jean Acker (October 23, 1893 – August 16, 1978) was an American film actress with a career dating from the silent film era through the 1950s. She was perhaps best known as the estranged wife of silent film star Rudolph Valentino.

Early life and career

Acker was born Harriet “Hattie” Ackers on October 23, 1893 in Trenton, New Jersey. Her father was Joseph Ackers, said to be of Cherokee descent. Her mother Margaret (unconfirmed) was Irish. In the 1900 census, Hattie is with Joseph and her grandparents, but no wife of Joseph is listed. In fact, he is reported to be single. Growing up on a farm, she became an expert horsewoman. She attended the St. Mary’s Seminary in Springfield, New Jersey, for a time. Sometime prior to 1907, the family moved to Lewistown, Pennsylvania. In the 1907 Lewistown Directory, Joseph is listed with a wife by the name of Eleanor. When he married Eleanor is not yet known, but it was after 1900 and before the family moved to Lewistown. They were divorced in 1912. Six years later, Joseph married Virginia Erb in Lewistown. He managed the Casino Bowling Alley and The Ritz restaurant, and later owned the Boston Shoe Store on Valley Street. He also managed several bowling alleys in the Philadelphia area, and it may have been that during these visits Jean was “bitten by the acting bug.” She performed in vaudeville until she moved to California in 1919.[1] 

After arriving in Hollywood, Acker became the protegee and lover of Alla Nazimova, a film actress whose clout and contacts enabled Acker to negotiate a $200 per week contract with a movie studio. Acker appeared in numerous films during the 1910s and 1920s, but by the early 1930s she began appearing in small, mostly uncredited film roles. She made her last on-screen appearance in the 1955 film How to Be Very, Very Popular, opposite Betty Grable.

Marriage to Valentino

After meeting and befriending the then-struggling actor Rudolph Valentino at a party, they entered a two-month courtship and married on November 6, 1919. Acker quickly had regrets and locked him out of their hotel bedroom on their wedding night.[2][3] The marriage was reportedly never consummated.[4]

After filing for divorce, Valentino did not wait the requisite period for it to be finalized before marrying his second wife, Natacha Rambova, in Mexico, and he was charged with bigamy when the couple returned to the United States.[5] Acker then sued Valentino for the legal right to call herself "Mrs. Rudolph Valentino." Valentino remained angry with her for several years, but they mended their friendship before his death in 1926. Acker wrote a popular song about him soon after he died called "We Will Meet at the End of the Trail."[6][7]

Acker had an affair with the actress Alla Nazimova. Nazimova included Acker in what was dubbed the "Sewing circles," a group of actresses who were forced to conceal the fact that they were lesbian or bisexual, thus living secret lives.[8] Another of her female lovers was Grace Darmond, with whom she was involved during her relationship with Valentino.

In the 1977 film Valentino a character loosely based on Acker is played by Carol Kane (In the credits, the character is simply called "Starlet.")


After divorcing Valentino in 1923, Acker was engaged to Marquis Luis de Bezan y Sandoval of Spain.[9] Then, she was in the news over her relationship with Rahmin Bey.[10] In 1930, after she lost her fortune in the 1929 stock market crash, she sued William Delahanty, claiming that he agreed to pay her $18,400 a year if she gave up her film career. The married politician denied that he made such a promise but admitted that he spent thousands of dollars on Acker.[11] 

Acker met Chloe Carter, a former Ziegfeld Follies girl, who was the first wife of film composer Harry Ruby.[12] Acker would remain with Carter for the rest of her life. The couple owned an apartment building together in Beverly Hills.[13] Acker died of natural causes in 1978 at the age of 84,[14] and is buried next to Carter in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.[15]


Though not born in the Central Pennsylvania town of Lewistown, Jean Acker is considered a local celebrity. Her face dominates an outdoor mural titled "Mifflin County Movie History" and is located on Monument Square in Downtown Lewistown. The mural was painted in 2012 by Dwight Kirkland of Blackleaf Studio, Mifflintown, PA.

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Notes

1913 The Man Outside Helen Lattimore 

1913 In a Woman's Power 

1913 Bob's Baby Bob's Cousin 
1913 The Daredevil Mountaineer 
1914 The $5,000,000 Counterfeiting Plot Helen Long 
1915 Are You a Mason? Alternative title: The Joiner 
1919 Never Say Quit Vamp 1919 Lombardi, Ltd. Daisy 
1920 An Arabian Knight Elinor Wayne 
1920 The Round-Up Polly Hope 
1921 Brewster's Millions Barbara Drew 
1921 Wealth Estelle Rolland 
1922 Her Own Money Ruth Alden 
1923 The Woman in Chains Felicia Coudret Credited as Mrs. Rudolph Valentino 
1925 Braveheart Sky-Arrow 
1927 The Nest Belle Madison 
1933 No Marriage Ties Adrienne's Maid Uncredited 
1934 Miss Fane's Baby Is Stolen Friend of Miss Fane Uncredited 
1935 No More Ladies Nightclub Extra Uncredited 
1936 San Francisco 
1937 Vogues of 1938 Extra Uncredited 
1939 Good Girls Go to Paris Bit Part Uncredited 
1940 My Favorite Wife Postponed case witness Uncredited 
1942 Obliging Young Lady Cousin Uncredited 
1944 The Thin Man Goes Home Tart Uncredited
1945 Spellbound Matron Uncredited 
1946 It's a Wonderful Life Townswoman Uncredited 
1947 The Peril of Pauline Switchboard operator Uncredited 
1948 Isn't It Romantic? Townswoman Uncredited 
1951 The Mating Season Party guest Uncredited 
1952 Something to Live For Wife Uncredited 
1955 How to Be Very, Very Popular Undetermined Supporting Role Uncredited


1. Leider, Emily W. Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino. New York City, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2003. ISBN 0-374-28239-0. p. 100. 
2. "Jean Acker of Metro Weds". Motion Picture News. 1919. p. 3774. 
3. Donnelley, Paul (2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 935. ISBN 1-84449-430-6. 
4. Donnelley, Paul (2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 7. ISBN 1-84449-430-6. 
5. Madsen, Axel (2002). The Sewing Circle: Sappho's Leading Ladies. Kensington Books. p. 103. ISBN 0-7582-0101-X. 
6. Newman, Ben-Allah (2004). Rudolph Valentino His Romantic Life and Death: His Romantic Life and Death. Kessinger Publishing. p. 50. ISBN 1-4179-1464-5. 
7. Briggs, Joe Bob (2005). Profoundly Erotic: Sexy Movies that Changed History. Universe. p. 30. ISBN 0-7893-1314-6. 
8. Jean Acker at Find a Grave 
9. "The Evening News - Google News Archive Search". 
10. "The Deseret News - Google News Archive Search".  
11. "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search". 
12. "Rochester Evening Journal - Google News Archive Search". 
13. Shearer, Stephen Michael (2006). Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life. University Press of Kentucky. p. 391. ISBN 0-8131-2391-7. 
14. Donnelley, Paul (2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 8. ISBN 1-84449-430-6. 
15. Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Location 325). McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Producer & Studio Exec William Goetz 1969 Hillside Cemetery

William B. "Bill" Goetz (March 24, 1903 – August 15, 1969) was an American film producer and studio executive. Goetz was one of the founders of Twentieth Century Pictures, later renamed 20th Century Fox. He served as Fox's vice president and later became the head of production at Universal-International.

Early life

Born to a Jewish working-class family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Goetz was the youngest of eight children.[1] His mother died when he was ten years old and shortly thereafter his father abandoned the family. Raised by older brothers, at the age of twenty-one he followed some of his brothers to Hollywood where he found work as a crew hand at one of the large studios. After a few years, he began doing production work and in 1930 was made an associate producer at Fox Films.


In 1932, Goetz received the financial support necessary from his new father-in-law, Louis B. Mayer, to become a minor partner with Joseph Schenck, the former president of United Artists, and Darryl F. Zanuck from Warner Bros. to create Twentieth Century Pictures.[2] Zanuck was named president and Goetz served as vice-president.[3] Successful from the very beginning, their 1934 film The House of Rothschild was nominated for Academy Award for Best Picture. In 1935, Twentieth Century bought out the financially strapped Fox Films to create 20th Century Fox.

Goetz served as vice president of the new 20th Century Fox, but in 1942 he took charge of the studio temporarily when Zanuck, a World War I veteran, joined the United States military effort in the Second World War. Goetz liked the top role in the company and after Zanuck returned, relationships became strained.

In 1943 Goetz resigned to form his own independent company with Leo Spitz,[4] a former lawyer who worked as a movie company advisor. Their partnership, International Pictures, ended its short-lived existence when they made a deal in July 1946 to merge with the British Rank Organization's distribution arm and Universal Pictures. Goetz was made president and placed in charge of production for the newly merged Universal-International studio.[3]

Although one of the studio executives who formulated the 1947 Waldorf Statement, Goetz later softened his stand on the issue. In 1949, Goetz called upon his close friendship with MCA head Lew Wasserman, one of the most powerful agents in Hollywood. They revolutionized the motion picture industry when they agreed to a deal whereby James Stewart was signed to a profit participation deal to act in a Universal film. In lieu of a salary for his performance, Stewart was guaranteed half of the film's profits, and the concept was soon negotiated for other stars who recognized the value of their own box office drawing power. Universal-International was acquired by Decca Records in late 1951, and Goetz was replaced by Edward Muhl in 1953. After leaving Universal, Goetz became an independent producer, making films such as 1957's Sayonara, which was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

Personal life

Marriage and children

In March 1930, Goetz married Edith Mayer (1905–1988), daughter of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio head Louis B. Mayer – who at first was less than enthusiastic at the idea.[5] The couple had two daughters, Judith and Barbara.[6] Goetz and Mayer remained married until his death in 1969.[7]

Goetz's sister-in-law was theatrical producer Irene Mayer Selznick. Goetz's brother-in-law was film producer David O. Selznick to whom Irene was married from April 1930 to 1949.[8][9]


Goetz was a liberal Democrat and enthusiastically campaigned for Adlai Stevenson II in 1952 presidential election. Goetz angered his Republican Party father-in-law Louis B. Mayer when he announced plans to host a party for Stevenson at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Mayer was further angered when he learned that the party was to be co-hosted by film executive Dore Schary, the man with whom Mayer had worked with (and often fought with) at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and who replaced Mayer as the head of M-G-M in 1956. Although Mayer adored his daughter Edith, he had a difficult relationship with Goetz. This episode further strained their relationship and Mayer never spoke to his son-in-law again.[10][11]


A very wealthy man, Goetz raised thoroughbred racehorses. His horse Your Host won the 1950 Santa Anita Derby and subsequently sired Kelso, a Hall of Fame inductee and one of the greatest horses in racing history.

Goetz and his wife also were major investors in art, acquiring a significant collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works. They owned paintings and sculptures by great artists such as Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Berthe Morisot, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine, Pierre Bonnard, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and Henri Fantin-Latour. In 1949, a controversy erupted over a Vincent van Gogh self-portrait called "Study by Candlelight" that Goetz had purchased two years earlier. The painting was declared a fake by art expert Willem Sandberg and the artist's nephew, V. W. van Gogh, resulting in an international debate amongst art experts. The painting remained controversial and was not put up for auction with the rest of the Goetz collection following Edith Goetz's death in 1987. The painting was exhibited April 13–25, 2013, in the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno.[12][13]


On August 15, 1969, Goetz died of cancer at his Holmby Hills, Los Angeles home at the age of 66.[7] He was buried in Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.[14][15]


1. Frodon, Jean-Michel (ed.). Cinema and The Shoah: An Art Confronts the Tragedy of the Twentieth Century. SUNY Press. p. 150. ISBN 1-438-43028-0.
2. Soloman, Aubrey (2011). The Fox Film Corporation, 1915–1935: A History and Filmography. McFarland. p. 139. ISBN 0-786-48610-4.
3. Finler, Joel Waldo (2003). The Hollywood Story. Wallflower Press. p. 54. ISBN 1-903-36466-3.
4. Jewell, Richard B. RKO Radio Pictures: A Titan Is Born. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 292. ISBN 9780520271784.
5. Eyman, Scott (2008). Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer. Simon and Schuster. p. 162. ISBN 1-439-10791-2.
6. "Edith M. Goetz; Wife of Late Film Producer". latimes.com. June 4, 1988.
7. "William Goetz, Film Producer, Succumbs at 66". Reading Eagle. August 16, 1969. p. 13.
8. Donnelley, Paul (2003). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Music Sales Group. p. 629. ISBN 0-711-99512-5.
9. Pace, Eric (October 11, 1990). "Irene Mayer Selznick Dies at 83; Producer of Broadway 'Streetcar'". nytimes.com.
10. Gabler, Neal (2010). An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood. Random House LLC. p. 415. ISBN 0-307-77371-X.
11. Manners, Dorothy (August 7, 1968). "Political Family Feuds Not What They Used To Be". The News and Courier. p. 4-A.
12. "Stephan Koldehoff: Streit um Van Gogh Studie bei Kerzenlicht".
13. Nevada Museum of Art
14. "William Goetz, Figure in Film Industry for 40 Years, Dies: Producer, 66, Had Been Associated With Nearly 100 Movies During Career." Sutherland, Henry. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] August 16, 1969: a1.
15. William Goetz at Find a Grave

Joshua Logan, Marlon Brando, and producer William Goetz on the set of Sayonara