Louella Parsons – a name both feared and revered in Hollywood. Just a few lines typed out on a typewriter could end someone’s career. Accurate or fabricated, neither mattered. What Parsons wrote stood as fact. Yet how was it that this once “nobody columnist” came to be a gossip column tycoon? It’s a story made for Hollywood (and Villa Carlotta) history.
It was said that Parson’s rose to infamy due to her perfect timing, but we’ll get to that later. Her story begins at the Chicago Tribune where she created the first movie column in the country. It was here that fate took its turn. William Randolph Hearst acquired the newspaper and Parsons found herself out of a job. She moved to New York and began a similar column. She received Hearst’s attention by writing an encouraging review of his mistress Marion Davies. Shortly after, Hearst commissioned Parsons to write for the New York American.
Wildly speculated, it was the scandal that Parson’s didn’t write about that some said earned her the claim to fame and the unbridled power of the Hearst empire behind her. Parsons’ flattering piece about Ms. Davies earned her friendship and an invitation on Hearst’s yacht for Labor Day in 1924. At some point in the evening another guest on Hearst’s yacht, director Thomas Ince, was shot and mortally wounded.
The rumors say Ince was shot by Hearst himself, though the bullet was possibly intended for Charlie Chaplin. Newspapers reported Ince was not on the yacht, but instead passed from heart failure in his home. Parsons also denied attendance. Whatever happened on that USS Oneida that fateful day it most likely catapulted her to gossip column fame, as she later became Hearst’s lead gossip columnist.
Louella Parsons and the unwritten scandal have ties to Villa Carlotta. Not only was Louella Parson’s one of the famous inhabitants of Villa Carlotta, the building itself was once owned by the Elinor Ince, widow of Thomas Ince. It is speculated that the newspaper magnate financed the construction of the building as a “grief payment.” Scandalous, intriguing and (mostly) true – the exact events we’ll never know, but this story is one for the Hollywood history books.
Want to learn more about Villa Carlotta’s intriguing history, or perhaps find yourself staying with us? Give us a ring at 213. 460. 5709 or visit www.vilacarlottala.com to learn more.