Hollywood, Calfornia—October, 1929

Not so very long ago I was a queen. I really was! My adorable face was on the covers of all the most popular fan magazines. My fans stood in endless lines to watch the film dramas in which I emoted so passionately audiences left theaters with tears in their eyes.

Successful motion picture producers competed for my talents, but I remained loyal to the Warner Brothers. Jack Warner gave me my first film role and I stayed with the Warners through thick and thin, in spite of the great demand for my talent at other major studios in Hollywood.

That demand isn't as great as it once was, but it will be. Those bigshot producers will all be yelling, "Come back, Billie Bowers!" I'll have my choice of studios again, once I get myself back together. Things have been a little rough since Jack Warner fired me, but that wasn't my fault.  He spent a fortune buying that cockamamy Vitaphone thing to make movies talk, which is absurd to begin with. Then the engineers said my voice is too shrill for talking movies and threw me off the lot. ME! That's like shooting the MGM lion.

I am certain Jack will hire me back when he realizes how much firing me is costing his studio. I have legions of fans! Why, HIGH WINDOW, a movie I made with John Gilbert on loan from MGM was one of the top box office draws of 1928, despite being in competition with "talkies" made with Warner's absurd Vitaphone sound system. Johnny and I loved working together and I know he would enjoy working with me again.

I allowed a month to pass after Jack Warner let me go—enough time for him to realize what a mistake he made. Then I called Jack's office to arrange a meeting, but Jack never seemed to be in when I called. During one call, his secretary told me he was in New York. When I told her he couldn't be in New York because I saw him leaving Musso and Frank on Hollywood Boulevard an hour earlier, she hung up on me. I intend to have her fired for such impudence.

My next step was paying a call on Louis B. Mayer at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. When I finished HIGH WINDOW with Johnny Gilbert, Louie Mayer told me personally to call him if I ever grew tired of working for the Warners. I had the mistaken idea he meant that.

I was standing at Mayer's secretary's desk when she told him I was there via an electric intercom device on her desk. Sounding even whinier and more annoying than he does in person, I clearly heard Louie the Louse reply, "I am not in for that mshuge froy . . . EVER!"

I finally realized trying to call studio heads was getting me nowhere. They were busy people who were too often out of their offices for me to catch them in with an unannounced telephone call or visit. That being the case, I decided to try approaching them through a talent agency. William Morris, Junior, of the William Morris Agency contacted me once some time ago about representation, but I turned him down because Jack Warner would have considered going to an agency while I was already under contract to his studio a personal slap in the face. I am sure it is as a result of that incident that nobody at the Morris Agency would speak with me.

In fact, the only agency that would talk to me was a new one-man outfit run by Trever Wilcox. He agreed to a meeting, but it was a short one. He quickly made it clear his only interest in me involved the new couch in his office. I did, however, learn one thing of interest from him when he let slip that Jack Warner had "put out the word on me." That meant I was poison to any studio or agency who even spoke with me. I was learning who my real friends were, and it was turning out to be a very short list.

In fact, the only real friend I knew I could count on was Art Allen. I met Arthur while he was on loan to Warner Brothers from Universal. Art turned out to be a wonderfully talented actor, as well as a swell guy and we got to be good friends. The thing is, he's . . . well, he's THAT way when it comes to women, so we've just stayed friends. Art is a smart businessman, though, and he laid out my situation quite clearly.

Art says as long as I am on the outs with Jack Warner, my chances of finding any work in Hollywood were extremely slim. It is an unwritten law among studios that to keep actors from gaining too much power, we must be kept under control. If an actor challenges the "studio system" by not signing a long-term contract and going "independent," his or her name ends up on a black list. The studio heads and producers all know who is on that list and very few those "rogue" actors can get past any but the most desperate studios' gates.

For me, the final indignity came when VARIETY printed an article that must have come from the Warner Bros. publicity department about "new" faces in Hollywood. The article included lists of Jack Warner's picks for the rising stars and those actors he regarded as falling by the wayside as the Industry entered the sound age. My name was at the top of the "has-been" list.

I sat in my living room staring at the VARIETY article in total disbelief. Jack not only sacked me, he was repaying my years of loyalty with the biggest insult of all. How could he do that to me?

Enraged, I made up my mind then and there that Mister Big-Shot Jack Warner was going to pay for his treachery! I would going to teach him a lesson by scaring him within and inch of his miserable life.

The next thing I knew, there was something heavy in my hand. I looked down. The heavy thing in my hand was a big pistol I bought a few years back during a string of robberies in my Hollywood Hills neighborhood. I don't even know how to load the wretched thing, but it didn't need to be loaded to scare Jack Warner to death.

Thursday, October 17, 1929 LOS ANGELES EXAMINER

Woman Dies In Real Life Movie Studio Shooting
By Stanley Carpenter

According to a spokesman for Warner Brothers Motion Picture Studio an attempt on the life of studio head Jack Warner was thwarted Friday when studio security officers shot and killed actress Billie Bowers as she attempted to assassinate Warner. The motive for Miss Bowers' attack on Warner is as yet unknown.

Commenting on this new movieland murder mystery, Los Angeles Police Chief James Davis said that while the incident is under investigation, so far all that police know about the relationship between Jack Warner and Billie Bowers is that the actress was recently released from her contract with the studio.

Miss Bowers appeared in seven Warner motion pictures, including her most successful film, DYING FOR LOVE with Dolores Costello and Rockliffe Fellowes. Services for Miss Bowers are scheduled for October 22 at the W. M. Strother Funeral Home in Hollywood.


Design Steve Eitzen
Story, header graphic & HPO logo © HPO Productions
Character images © 123RF--Used by license
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This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, locations, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.