Thomas Ince and the Hearst "Coverup" (Fake News: Fact-Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 9) / by Karina Longworth


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Thomas Ince was one of early Hollywood’s most pioneering producers—in fact, some credit him for popularizing “producer” as a job title and for codifying what it meant to do the job, as well as helping to develop the Western as a genre. But today, if Ince is remembered at all, it’s for his death aboard a yacht owned by William Randolph Hearst, amidst a star-studded party attended by Chaplin, writer Elinor Glyn, and actress/Hearst’s mistress Marion Davies. For decades, rumors have swirled that Ince was felled not by “acute indigestion,” as Hearst’s papers claimed, but by “a bullet hole in [his] head,” as Kenneth Anger put it. Who was Ince, what really happened on that yacht, and why have fictionalizations of his death (spread by Anger and others) flourished for so long?

Thomas Ince, Charlie Chaplin, Mack Sennett & D. W. Griffith, c. 1915

Thomas Ince, Charlie Chaplin, Mack Sennett & D. W. Griffith, c. 1915



This episode is a response to, and includes a brief excerpt from, Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger.

Hearst Over Hollywood: Power, Passion, and Propaganda in the Movies (Film and Culture Series) by Louis Pizzitola

The First Lady of Hollywood: A Biography of Louella Parsons by Samantha Barbas

Thomas Ince: Hollywood's Independent Pioneer by Brian Taves  

Silent Stars by Jeanine Basinger

“The Chateau Elysee: Scientology's Celebrity Centre Before it Went Clear” by Hadley Meares,, April 19, 2013

“Hollywood’s historic Villa Carlotta returns to rental market as upscale, Airbnb-style lodging, What about rent control?” by Jenna Chandler,, June 1, 2018

Inceville, c. 1919

Inceville, c. 1919


Original music was composed for this episode by Evan Viola. Most of the rest of the music used in this episode, with the exception of the intro and outro, was sourced from royalty-free music libraries and licensed music collections. The intro includes a clip from the film Casablanca. The outro song this week is “Life Classes/Life Model” by The Auteurs.

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

The Smoke Room - Gunnar Johnsen  
Finkelstein’s Walk in the Rain - Per-Anders Nilsson
Dust Bowl 1 - Hakan Eriksson
Loser - Anders Ekengren
My Simple Thing 2 - Peter Sandberg
Whiskey Rondo - Hakan Eriksson
Paris Waltz - Hakan Eriksson
Time to Tango - Hakan Eriksson
Black and White - Magnus Ringblom Quartet
Bad News Piano 17 - Oscar Collin
Cluedo - Hakan Eriksson
Jazz and Blue Piano 1 - Jonaton Jarpehag

The Oneida, William Randolph Hearst's ship

The Oneida, William Randolph Hearst's ship


Our special guest this week is Fred Savage.

This episode was written, narrated and produced by Karina Longworth.

Editors: Sam Dingman and Jacob Smith.

Research and production assistant: Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

Social media assistant: Brendan Whalen.

Logo design: Teddy Blanks.

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