Crime story movies are very apt at portraying mysteries and intrigues on film if the right combination of director, cast, funds and a whole lot of other factors align.
But at times, a combination of different factors make the real-life Hollywood where many of these movies come from just as ripe for a crime story. Unfortunately. Because in these instances, the events are real and the people whose life is forfeit are as well.
Here’s a few Hollywood unsolved death mysteries that to this day make many lower quality crime stories look like a joke compared to the real deal.
1. Natalie Wood
You know Christopher Walken, right? Well he knew Natalie Wood, the actress most popular for “West Side Story” as well. Quite well, since their close-friendship is what caused Walken to be on the same yacht with Wood and her husband (Robert Wagner) the night she died in 1981.
Now if the fact that husband and wife + close friend alone on yacht can be explained easily, why she was found floating in the water, drowned, with (possible, hard to determine) bruises despite her husband’s police statement that she simply went to bed and left him and Walken to finish the argument that they were having, gets a bit trickier.
Especially if you take into account that the argument in question was, according to a later declaration by the ship’s captain, about Wood’s closeness to Walken.
2. George Reeves
The famous “Adventures of Superman” (1952 – 1958) actor is one of the most known Hollywood mysteries because he was found dead from being shot in the head. Notice the “being shot in the head” expression I chose, because despite the official police report that he had committed suicide from depression, his mother and a private detective she hired are sure that he would never have done such a thing and that he was in fact murdered.
By none other than his mistress Toni Mannix, wife of Eddie Mannix of MGM or by Eddie himself. Corroborating their claim is the fact that at the time of his death, his fiance Leonore Lemmon and three guests were downstairs. Yet they took long to call the police and were not immediately alarmed by the shot. As well as a supposed confession by Toni in 1999 to a publicist.
3. The Notorious B.I.G.
By his real birth name Christopher George Wallace, Biggie smalls a.k.a. Notorious B.I.G. was one of the two major poles of the rap industry in the 90s alongside Tupac Shakur who was the other one. Biggie represented the East coast, while Tupac was the iconic leader of the West coast.
Their enmity is complex and not fully understood to this day, so it would take too long to present here. What is clear is that their story is entwined, in a twisted way, until the end. Because Biggie’s death took place in 1997, via drive-by, just six months after Tupac’s own death by drive-by.
To this day, it’s not known whether both rappers ordered and carried out each others’ death, or if they were actually eliminated for political and cultural reasons (because they were gaining too much power), or even if at least Biggie was the victim of an excessive police force (LAPD) that wanted to eliminate his influence on the town.
4. Elizabeth Short
If instead of Elizabeth Short you would have read The Black Dahlia, it’s almost certain that something would have clicked in your memory. And there’s a high chance that the oft-repeated refrain: “The Black Dahlia Murder” would have come entirely (hey, there’s even a band with this name, among many other references of it in other domains).
What people know as The Black Dahlia Murder (due to the press giving it this bombastic name at the time, as it did for all particularly shocking murders) refers to the death of the actress Elizabeth Short in 1947.
This might just be the most gruesome murder that took place at Hollywood, because she was found cut in half, with signs of having had her arms tied and suffered torture, a nasty cut over her face from one side to the other and … drained of blood.
What’s even more galling and shocking is that the murderer was never even identified, let alone caught. Despite the fact that he anonymously toyed with policemen later, including mailing things from her purse!