The 1950s Scandals by Janet Elizabeth Lynn




The Ann Woodward Scandal

          My husband, Will Zeilinger and I co-write the Skylar Drake Murder Mysteries, a hardboiled  Detective series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the west. Our new book, GAME TOWN, is set in Hollywood and exposes a scandal that rocks the Toy Companies in Los Angeles.
          While doing in-depth research into 1950s Hollywood, we came across scandals that shocked and amazed us. Really, you can't make this stuff up!
          Born Angeline Luceil Crowell in Kansas, she moved to New York to pursue a career in acting and modeling. In 1940 as, Ann Crowell, she was voted "The Most Beautiful Girl in Radio."

          Billy Woodward, heir to a banking fortune and a prominent member of New York society, met and married her. Rumor has it that Ann was his father's mistress and he gave her to his son, but this has never been substantiated. Anne was a woman of regular lineage but of great beauty. She was a Robert Powers model.

          The Woodward family were old money and blue bloods.  Hence his family did not approve of the Ann or the marriage. They had two boys, William III and Jimmy Woodward.

          On the morning of October 30, 1955, Ann shot and killed her husband.  She claimed that she thought he was a burglar that had been breaking into their neighbor's homes.



          Billy's mother, Elsie Woodward, and many other members of their social circle, believed that  Ann had killed Billy because they were getting a divorce.  LIFE MAGAZINE called it "The Shooting of the Century."

          Elsie publicly stood behind her daughter-in-law.  Wanting to save her family from scandal, she made sure Ann was exonerated for Billy's murder.

          In September 1975 Ann learned that Truman Capote had written a thinly disguised account of her and her husband's murder; the article was published in ESQUIRE MAGAZINE and later became part of Capote's book, ANSWERED PRAYERS. This landed her in the headlines of newspapers around the world. Shortly before publication, Anne killed herself with a single capsule of cyanide.

          Ann's story was also told in Dominick Dunne's novel THE TWO MRS. GRENVILLES   and in the non-fiction book THIS CRAZY THING CALLED LOVE:  The Golden World and Fatal Marriage of Ann and Billy Woodward by Susan Braudy.
         
Their children


          William Woodward III became a journalist in the late 1960's and later ran for public office. He served as New York State's Deputy Superintendent of Banks. Later, he married and had a daughter and for a time lived a quiet life. His marriage began to unravel in 1994. Mrs. Woodward filed for divorce, and the couple began a custody battle over their daughter.

          According to the NYPD, in 1998  at age 54, he jumped through the kitchen window of his East Side apartment, falling 14 stories to his death.

          The youngest, James, a handsome Vietnam veteran, quickly fell into the drug culture of the early 1970's. He jumped from a window in a hotel across from Central Park and survived. He spend time in a psychiatric hospital. However, in 1976, high on drugs, he jumped out of a fourth floor window and died.

          At her request, Ann Woodward was buried beside her husband in the Woodward family plot.

          Elsie Woodward, then in her 90's, said six weeks after Ann's death, ''Well, that's that. She shot my son, and Truman just murdered her, and so now I suppose we don't have to worry about that anymore.''

GAME TOWN is the fifth in the series and yes...we are still married!
Website:  Janet  Elizabeth Lynn     www.janetlynnauthor.com
Website:  Will Zeilinger                  www.willzeilingerauthor.com



Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger

Published authors Will Zeilinger and Janet Lynn write individually until they got together and created the Skylar Drake Mystery Series. These hard-boiled tales are based in old Hollywood of 1956-57.  Janet has published seven mystery novels and Will has three plus a couple of short stories. Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder and crime stories. This creative couple is married and live in Southern California.


The next Skylar Drake Mystery, fourth in the series, GAME TOWN will be available April 15, 2019 and yes...we are still married!







GAME TOWN
by
Janet Elizabeth Lynn
Will Zeilinger
(Chapter One)

Two o'clock in the morning. I'd just left the Emmy Awards ceremony at the NBC Television Studio in Burbank. All of Hollywood and its finest had shown up tonight to honor the best of television for 1956. The winners and losers were either at a party celebrating or hiding somewhere licking their wounds. I'd just left the event driving south on Cahuenga toward Hancock Park. My partner, Casey Dolan was in the passenger seat. It was pouring rain when we left Burbank. It seemed to be lessening as we headed away from the valley.

We'd been hired by Epic Studios to escort a couple of their up and coming starlets to and from the event. In truth, we were their bodyguards. The motion picture and TV studios weren't taking chances with their human investments.

The two young ladies in the back seat were passed out cold. I suspected they'd had a little too much Champagne before and during the ceremony.

I drove through the Wilshire Boulevard entry gate and onto Fremont Place, one of the most exclusive and expensive neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Ahead we spotted a lot of activity on the street. Dolan sat up and stared at the mess ahead, “What the Hell?”

Several police cruisers and what looked like government cars were lined up in front of a house with their spotlights trained on it. As we got closer, I saw the address. 859 in brass letter, wattached to the beam above the front door – the address where I was to deliver the girls.
Dolan rolled down his window to get a better look. He pulled his head back inside and said, “You sure this is the right house?”

I parked at the opposite corner. Dolan said, “I'll stay here and keep watch on the girls.”

I sprinted up the wet sidewalk and ducked under the yellow police tape. A uniformed cop approached me and held up his hand like a traffic cop. “Sorry, sir. This is a police investigation. You’ll have to step back.”

I showed him my PI license and explained that I was a bodyguard for the two young ladies in my car and that I was to deliver them to this address.

He took a look at my credentials and shook his head, “Sorry sir...”

I heard a familiar voice.

 “Drake, over here!” I almost didn't recognize FBI special agent Olivia Jahns. She looked like she'd just stepped off the red carpet, poured into a slinky black evening gown. She held up one side of her long gown and made her way over to me.

“That's all right officer.” She said, “I'll take it from here.” He turned away while I followed Jahns into the mansion.

“Olivia...er, Agent Jahns. What's this all about?”

She glanced back at me and said, “You'll see. Just follow me.”

I stopped. “I meant the dress, the hair and...”

She too stopped and took a breath. “Come on Drake. You're wearing a tuxedo. I can have fun too.” She continued to the front door. “Right now, we have a problem.”

Inside, the body of a woman in a pure white coat with a white fur collar was sprawled on the hardwood floor at the foot of a marble staircase. Her light blonde hair and fur coat were soaked with blood. The handle of a knife protruded from her waist. I bent down for a closer look. The blood in her hair was plastered to her face. Her mouth and hands were clenched. I detected a strong odor by the body. It wasn't cherry, but it was sweet.

 “Who is...?”

“The victim's name is Silver Brovor-Smith.” Jahns interrupted me as most FBI agents do. “She's the mother of Holly Becker, one of the young ladies in your charge.”

Brovor?...Brovor. Why did that name sound familiar? It dawned on me, "The Toy company Brovor?" I could visualize the logo – a big red circle with black and white letters.

“Yep.” Jahns nodded. “You got it.”

My mind raced. I remembered a lawsuit from years ago between family members after their father passed away. The papers had a field day with the scandal. I stood and asked Jahns, “You sure about Holly's lineage?”

“Yup, no doubt, Brovor. Since you're in charge of her, I'll leave it up to you to break the news to the soon-to-be grieving daughter.”

We looked out the front door. The press had already gathered on the front lawn. Radio and Television remote trucks had set up their lights and equipment while the newspaper photographer's flashbulbs blinded us. The reporters didn't help the chaos as the street in front of the house was already jammed with the Coroner's truck, loads of police cars and an ambulance. It seemed dark on the street. I looked up and saw that the street light was out. Strange that would happen on Fremont Place.

Jahns looked at me. “Why are you still here Drake?”

I headed for the door. It was late, and my brain had stopped working hours ago.

The two starlets came running past me, “No!” Holly yelled when she saw her mother's body on the floor.

Theresa, the other young lady, shouted, “Oh my God. Oh my God!” She struggled to join her friend Holly, but Dolan had his hands full, holding her back from the scene.

“What are you doing here?” I yelled over the two young women's screams. “You were supposed to keep them in the car.”

“Hey!” Dolan said, “There are two of them and only one of me.”

I took Holly by the shoulders and turned her away from the bloody scene. I hoped to say something comforting to her when she looked toward the stairway.

“What did you do to her?” Holly shouted at an older man wearing a white tuxedo coming down the stairs. Holly broke away from me and ran toward him. She began kicking and punching him, screaming, “What did you do to her!”

Several officers pulled her away, but she continued kicking and flailing, “You killed her!”


Comments

What a fascinating tale. H'mmm, makes you wonder what other celebrities managed to get away with murder back then. Wait! I think it still goes on. Great post, thanks for visiting Janet.
Anonymous said…
You know, this scandal is "milk toast" compared to the others we stumbled across. Life is amazing in any era!

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