So the upstart MGM groomed the former José Ramón Gil Samaniegos to be their version of the “Latin lover.” Ironically, when he wasn’t being cast as Greeks or Arabs, he played everything from a South Sea islander in “Where the Pavement Ends” to the dashing Continental swordsmen of “Scaramouche” and “The Prisoner of Zenda.”. I try to limit my posts to meaningful things. Novarro had been badly bludgeoned during the attack. By the time his relationships ended, he no longer had star power or his youthful good looks Priests gave him some preference because of his stardom. So much of that early period in Hollywood is interesting to me. Novarro's murder is among the many epochal events recalled in Joan Didion's meditative 'California zeitgeist' essay The White Album. Was she included in family lore? John. Background of Paul; Testimony of Mary Jennings, Paul's landlady concerning Navarro's murder. Many Samaniegos had prominent positions in the affairs of state and were held in high esteem by the president. WOW! Posted in 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s | Tagged Cunningham & O'Connor Mortuary, Lt Jerry Lauritzen, Paul Ferguson, Ramon Novarro, Thomas Ferguson | 2 Replies Death of a Latin Lover, Part 1. The murder. , According to the prosecution in the murder case, the two young men believed that a large sum of money was hidden in Novarro's house. Starred in Silent Film 'Ben-Hur'. After receiving his degree in dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania, he moved to Durango, Mexico, and began a flourishing dental practice. In 1958, he was considered for a role in the television series The Green Peacock, with Howard Duff and Ida Lupino, after their CBS Television sitcom Mr. Adams and Eve (1957–58). Known as a charitable and outgoing man, he was once an interim governor for the State of Chihuahua and was the first city councilman of El Paso, Texas ... Ramon's father, Dr. Mariano N. Samaniego, was born in Juarez and attended high school in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Jay, thanks for leaving the info. It remained buried there through the ensuing weeks of funerals, criminal investigations and a series of court trials. My Mother used to tell me that she was Cousin to Ramon. Along with Dolores del Río, Lupe Vélez and James Cagney, Novarro was accused of promoting Communism in California after they attended a special screening of the film ¡Que viva México! He negotiated his own $10,000-a-week contract with studio boss Louis B. Mayer, and was considered for the lead role in “Ben-Hur,” especially after Valentino himself was ruled out-of-the-running. His other secret was one he shared with only a few other stars: a sexual ambivalence in an age that had no tolerance at all for male homosexuals. His revealing costumes caused a sensation. . The project, however, never materialized.  In the early 1920s Novarro had a romantic relationship with composer Harry Partch, who was working as an usher at the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the time, but Novarro broke off the affair as he achieved greater success as an actor. The older brother had been in the Los Angeles area for about five months and his younger brother had joined him just three weeks before the murder. 1911–1956]", "A star is killed: Hollywood's deadly secret", "Ramon Novarro Slain on Coast. Both were jailed for the gruesome murder. Even that seems extreme, unless there was more urgency to their need for money. Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars. The news stories and police ignored the fact that the murders had connections to the so called reputable out call service. He supplemented his income by working as a singing waiter. You’ve clearly followed the research. The last that I’ve read he was incarcerated in the Jefferson City Correctional Facility.  In a 1998 interview, Paul Ferguson finally assumed the blame for Novarro's death. . I just read your comment on Ramon Novarro and was pleased to learn of your connection. Some say it was intended to mock their images on the screen as lovers and womanisers; some say it was a love token. Jackie Jackson, also known online as BritFlorida, is a highly experienced designer and writer. I always enjoy watching his silent movies on TCM along with all the others. It was to play a part in Novarro’s gruesome death some forty years later. In 2015, the murder of Ramon Novarro was covered in the television series Aquarius in the episode "Cease to Resist". Disturbing though it is. This is exactly the kind of story I find most mysterious and fascinating. ‘The Voice of the Violin’: Art and Social Justice at American Biograph Co. Millennials and the End of Classic Cinema, The Spirits of Biograph: Moonshine and Prohibition in the Age of Griffith. If you’d been a movie-goer in the 1920s, you would have definitely know who he was. The younger brother was picked up shortly afterwards. Funny how things are connected on-line. A Broadway tryout was aborted in the 1960s. They were aged twenty two and seventeen respectively and were described as ‘transients’. Thanjks for the feedback. On the night before Halloween, Oct. 30, 1968, two brothers he befriended and invited up to his Laurel Canyon home became drunken and enraged, and one of them bludgeoned the 69-year-old actor to death. I will be looking for his obit (hopefully soon ) to put an end to that horrific story. Novarro was murdered on October 30, 1968, by brothers Paul and Tom Ferguson, aged 22 and 17, who called him and offered their sexual services. Novarro was troubled all his life by his conflicted feelings toward his Roman Catholic religion and his homosexuality. The phallic ornament had been thrust down his throat. Novarro is buried in Calvary Cemetery, East Los Angeles, California. If they went there with knowing there was to be a sexual encounter, then surely it wasn’t because of that. His was no longer a marquee name from distant silent films. Next on the stand came Victor Nichols, a friend of Paul Ferguson, who admitted to everyone that he had been the one to provide the brothers with Novarro’s phone number. It was later alleged that the two young men had not gone to Novarro’s home to rob him but due to him hiring the elder brother for sexual purposes. I am investigating a report that Paul Ferguson committed suicide in 2005. The younger brother, Tom, having been released, took his own life in 2005. He had in the past hired prostitutes from an agency to come to his Laurel Canyon home for sex, and the Fergusons obtained Novarro's telephone number from a previous guest. John. What a shame.  When his career ended, he was still able to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. I did , however, learn of his horrible death, years later. Was it as your story touched on, the money issue and discovering he had none, they became so enraged they killed him? It’s very gratifying to hear from other readers who respond tosubjects addressed on my blog.  At the time of the Mexican Revolution, the family moved from Durango to Mexico City and then returned to Durango. Still alive after murdering an innocent man. These injuries were enough to kill him but he was said to have died from asphyxiation. The police never investigated. But he was never happy making movies. Posted on April 22, 2019 by Deranged. Looking back, you might think it would have commanded media headlines for days — the bloody murder of America’s first genuine Mexican movie idol, the star of 1925’s “Ben-Hur” and so many other films. Including Ramon. Thirteen children were born there: Emilio; Guadalupe; Rosa; Ramón; Leonor; Mariano; Luz; Antonio; José; a stillborn child; Carmen; Ángel and Eduardo. ‘Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Navarro’ by Andre Soares. John, © 2020 John W Harding - WordPress Theme by Kadence Themes, Mrs. Patrick Campbell and the Myth of the Female ‘Vampire’, Before You Pull the Covers Over Your Head …. In 1968, Ramón Novarro was murdered just a mile or so from where I was living, yet it pretty much escaped my notice. He was a dancer in the beginning, and he sincerely hoped for a careeer as a singer. Paul Ferguson received a 60-year sentence for rape in Missouri. When his contract with MGM Studios expired in 1935 and the studio did not renew it, Novarro continued to act sporadically, appearing in films for Republic Pictures, a Mexican religious drama, and a French comedy. He was part of my own celebrity neighborhood, and well worth the effort of finding out more. In October 1969, Navarro invited Paul and Tom Ferguson, 22 and 17-years-old, to come to his Lloyd Wright Hollywood Hills home for a romp. Thank you and return again soon. One reason I write is to get more intimately acquainted with the people and subjects I find of particular interest. Novarro was born José Ramón Gil Samaniego on February 6, 1899, in Durango City, Durango, north-west Mexico, to Dr. Mariano N. Samaniego, and his wife, Leonor (Pérez Gavilán). To elude his mobs of fans, he took to traveling incognito, donning a fake mustache and beard. Regards, John.  With Valentino's death in 1926, Novarro became the screen's leading Latin actor, though ranked lower than his MGM contemporary John Gilbert as a leading man. In late 2005, the Wings Theatre in New York City staged the world premiere of Through a Naked Lens by George Barthel.