Halloween Gay History – October 31st: Actor Ramon Novarro Killed With A Jeweled Dildo and Happy Birthday Baby Jane Hudson

Whatever happened to baby Jabe

 

October 31st.  ( And a VERY freaky Halloween entry indeed)

1962:  Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, opens in theaters. Happy Birthday Blanche and Jane!

 

 

1968 : Silent film star Ramon Novarro’s body was found after being brutally murdered. A bathroom mirror has the words “US GIRLS ARE BETTER THAN FAGGITS” upon it.

Novarro a Mexican film, stage and television actor began his career in silent films era in 1917 and eventually became a leading man and one of the top box office attractions of the 1920’s and early 1930’s.  He was promoted by MGM as a “Latin lover” and became known as a sex symbol after the death of his friend (and possiblr fuck buddy) Rudolph Valentino.

Novarro was troubled all his life by his conflicted feelings toward his Roman Catholic religion and his homosexuality. His life-long struggle with alcoholism is often traced to these issues. Once MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer reportedly tried to coerce Novarro into a “lavender marriage”, which he refused.  Navarro was romantically involved with journalist Herbert Howe, who was also his publicist in the late 1920’s.

Novarro was murdered in the late evening of October 30, 1968, by brothers Paul and Tom Ferguson, aged 22 and 17, two hustlers whom he had hired from an agency to come to his Laurel Canyon home for sex. According to the prosecution in the murder case, the two young men believed that a large sum of money was hidden in Novarro’s house. The brothers of tortured  Novarro for several hours trying to force him to reveal where the non-existent money was hidden. They left the house with $20 they took from his bathrobe pocket. Novarro died as a result of asphyxiation—having choked to death on his own blood caused by a jeweled lead dildo that was given him by Rudolph Valentino being shoved down his throat.

The two perpetrators were caught and sentenced to long prison terms, but released on probation in the mid-1970s. Both were later re-arrested for unrelated crimes for which they served longer prison terms than for the murder of Novarro.  During the trial, Novarro’s sexual orientation was called into question with more vigor than the guilt or innocence of the defendants.

In a 1998 interview, Paul Ferguson finally assumed the blame for Novarro’s death. He emphasized that he and Tom had not gone to the home to rob the elderly film star, although they trashed his home as a ruse, to make police believe robbery had been the motive. They knew nothing of a supposed five thousand dollars that Novarro kept stashed behind a portrait in his home. Paul Ferguson blamed internal homophobia for the rage that led him to pummel Novarro into bloody insensibility. “When he [Novarro] kissed me, I reacted like a Catholic, what they call homosexual panic… It had nothing to do with Novarro, nothing to do with his being homosexual. It all had to do with how I saw myself. And the fact that my brother was there. And that he could see me in that homosexual act”

Tom Ferguson committed suicide on March 6, 2005 by slitting his throat in a Motel 6.

He left no suicide note.

1969:  TIME magazine runs the  cover story on “The Homosexual in America” that included a report on the Stonewall Riots. It was protested by the Gay Liberation Front because the writer said homosexuals are mentally ill and immoral.

1977:  Halloween brings thousands of queer-bashers to Toronto’s Yonge Street looking for the annual drag parade. Gay representatives meet with police beforehand to try to prevent crowd from gathering. Operation Jack-o’-Lantern, a gay street patrol is organized to monitor situation but police do little to control crowd.

1979: Fire Island Pines’ beloved disco, The Sandpiper, closes its doors after its last Halloween party.

1987: The Associated Press reported that several nursing homes in King County Washington were under investigation for refusing to accept AIDS patients or those suspected of being likely to have been exposed to HIV.

1992: The Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights held a march in London.

Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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