The case... for suicide
On June 16th, 1959, at 1579 Benedict Canyon Drive, in Beverly Hills,
George Reeves died under mysterious circumstances.
To this day, his death remains a mystery.
Was it murder, an accidental shooting... or was it really the suicide that the police were told it was?
Once again, let's go back to that night in 1959...
And why not? It's an absolutely fascinating murder mystery.
There's a great cast of suspects!
There's the powerful Eddie Mannix, Vice President and General Manager of MGM Studios.
You didn't mess with Eddie.
He could pick up his phone and have you killed.
There was his beautiful wife, Toni, who had an open, long term romantic relationship with George.
Eddie didn't care;
he had a girlfriend. Sometimes, they would all go to dinner together.
There was Lenore, who literally slept with gangsters.
She said, "I loved gangsters!"
And there was powerful Hollywood...
To this day, the death of George Reeves remains one of the most enduring mysteries in Hollywood history.
There are people who still get together and debate just what happened the night he died.
Was it suicide... or murder?
George Reeves himself would say, "What the hells the matter with you people?
Why are you still arguing over the way that I died?"
Because in the very early hours of June 16th, 1959, something happened...
Did George Reeves do something incredibly stupid and put the gun to his head and pull the trigger?
Or was it Lenore who pulled the trigger?
Or... did something else happen?
One way or the other, Lenore is the reason that he died that night.
And all these years later, we still want to know the truth. Was it suicide or was it murder?
George Reeves and Lenore Lemmon.
They were bad for each other.
They were two people who should never have met... but they did.
In 1989, I interviewed Lenore Lemmon. She had always contended that it was a suicide.
She said it was because he could not get a job. "He just threw in the towel".
The purpose of this article is to discuss why I feel that it was indeed, a suicide.
I'm not going to get into the botched police investigation and the failure to conduct an autopsy.
The bullet that killed him lodged in the ceiling to his left.
LAPD Chief William Parker reported that chemical analysis proved it.
George was right handed.
The bullet entered the right side of his skull and exited the left, striking the ceiling.
I believe it is a natural thing for a man with a gun in his right hand,
intending to shoot himself,
to tilt his head to meet the barrel of the gun.
This would put the fatal bullet in the ceiling to his left.
There has been entirely too much written about how the shell casing ended up on the bed behind him.
Gun experts have all said that shell casings fly everywhere.
There is nothing unusual about the shell casing landing on the bed,
and then his collapsing body falling on top of it.
George and Lenore.
Why would he kill himself?
They had been arguing that night.
He had been drinking heavily.
Most people feel that George had second thoughts about
marrying her, in just days.
I have always believed that he wanted out of the upcoming marriage.
She was 35 years old (probably actually 38) and she was getting desperate.
The last thing she wanted was to return to New York City and have to start over.
His body was found with bruises.
Very possibly, she had slugged him a couple of times.
She also may have threatened him. She told me that she had loved gangster Frank Costello.
She could have angrily told George that she would call Frank
to send some of the boys to straighten
(The fact is, Lenore could have called Frank Costello and he would have taken the call).
I need to emphasize that we don't know if she really slugged him.
We don't know if she had threatened him.
Whether he was in a good frame of mind that night or not,
there are a number of reasons to think that he had no thoughts of killing himself.
For instance, he had told the son of his longtime friend, Nati,
that he would attend his upcoming
High School graduation.
Also, he owed good friend Gene LeBell one or two hundred dollars for training.
If he had planned to kill himself, he would have paid Gene the money owed,
and called or written Nati's son with his apologies.
If you know George Reeves, you know that he would have done these things.
The angry argument which became a fight, put him over the edge.
If he had given it some thought, he never
would have done it.
Perhaps... he didn't want to think about it.
Was he hurting for money? Had he borrowed money on his home?
After his death, Art Weissman told the press that most of his estate would go to paying off creditors.
How about the planned tour of Australia? Was it really going to happen?
(See the link below).
I believe that George Reeves was getting angry about a lot of things in his life.
He was putting on his nice smile and acting like nothing bothered him.
I think a lot of things were bothering him.
Photo courtesy of Jim Nolt
Jack Larson had always said that the planned shooting of 26 more episodes
(no actual date had been set) had probably depressed George.
I have always disagreed.
I believe that George looked forward to getting back to work with familiar friends.
The fight with Lenore went really bad.
He was psychologically unable to handle what was happening
in his world.
For whatever reasons, he put the gun to his head.
I don't know why he did it, but regardless of all the conspiracy theories,
the evidence supports suicide.
After all these years, why is there still a mystery?
Murder is cool. Murder sells books.
Forget about the lack of fingerprints on the gun.
Forget about the lack of powder burns.
Yes, his body was mishandled. The police made a rush to judgement.
But, if you have studied the case, you already know about all that.
I contend that many of the mysterious and suspicious details concerning his death...
are not mysterious and suspicious at all.
Yes, it is possible that during an angry and drunken fight in the bedroom,
Lenore whacked him up against the side of his head with the gun barrel and it went off.
Many people have chosen to believe this scenario.
It's difficult to accept that a hero killed himself.
It's just not as likely as suicide.
It's possible that Lenore worked out a deal with Bill Bliss, involving money and sex.
(She thought she was going to inherit the house and residuals).
They prop up the passed out George, hold the gun in his hand and pull the trigger.
Yeah, it's possible, but when you accuse someone of murder, maybe you're going too far.
Why does this mystery still exist?
It exists because it's more fun than the truth.
It's a great Hollywood mystery. People enjoy talking about it.
George Reeves fans get together and discuss their personal conspiracy theories.
I will repeat, 'Murder is cool'.
I have studied this case.
I have taken a new and objective look at the available evidence.
I have come to the conclusion that it really was suicide.
I like George Reeves. I wish he hadn't done it...
Here is my homepage for George Reeves.
Check out the articles that I have written.