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1911: A Killing in Paradise 

 

 

On February 1, 1922, the bullet that struck down director William Desmond Taylor marked the passing of Hollywood's age of innocence.  A decade before, on October 27, 1911, the fatal shooting of another leading director of outstanding talent, Francis W. Boggs, symbolized an earlier transition from Hollywood's initial, heady pioneering days to a more settled community now tempered by the film industry's first great tragedy.  But whereas the failure to resolve the identity of Taylor's killer has provided endless speculation for decades that knowing who did it might establish a motive for the crime, the Boggs case has presented posterity with an entirely different, perhaps even more complex situation.  Here the identity of the killer was never in doubt, but the "why" of his deadly action still remains unclear nearly a century later.  Was he purely delusional to the point of insanity or was he trying to exact revenge for some perceived slight or injury?  The unanswered questions surrounding the Taylor case led to a virtual state of siege in Hollywood, a climate of paranoia that the killing was an inside job somehow enveloping the entire film colony in a sense of guilt and scandal although there is no proof whatever that such communal "angst" was at all warranted.  No such climate of scandal and fear emerged from the killing of Boggs, however.  Although it was perpetrated by an employee of the studio, the murder was widely viewed as the work of an outsider due to his ethnic background and baffling motives.  At the same time, the killer had already sundered his ties with his own culture and would later refuse to return to his country of origin, preferring a lifetime of imprisonment in the strange little world of his own he had created behind bars to freedom in his native land. 

This page includes newspaper articles in a single continuous sequence, articles that are also featured separately on this site in the news and clippings section.  The articles from 1911 delineate the course of the case from the first reports of the shootings of Francis Boggs and William Selig in Los Angeles to the sentence of Frank Minematsu for the fatal assault.  The page concludes with an account of Minematsu's death 26 years later, a passing which brought a measure of closure to the 1911 tragedy, and a touching proposal in 1915 by actor Hobart Bosworth for a memorial to his friend and colleague, Francis Boggs.  Amidst the onrush of dynamic feature films and the international fame of Hollywood as the movie capital of the world, the name and achievements of the man who had helped pave the way for this exciting new age were rapidly being forgotten.

William M. Drew

July 8, 2009

October 27, 1911        Oakland Tribune

 

October 28, 1911             Los Angeles Times 

 

 

  October 28, 1911        Chicago Daily Tribune

Steven Point Daily Journal

(

Sheboygan Press, The

 

Oakland Tribune

 

October 30, 1911        Los Angeles Times

October 31, 1911        Los Angeles Times

November 1, 1911      Los Angeles Times

November 3, 1911      Los Angeles Times

November 9, 1911      Los Angeles Times

November 27, 1911       The Englewood Economist

 

December 16, 1911    Oakland Tribune

December 20, 1911    Woodland Daily Democrat

July 28, 1937               Ukiah Repubican Press

      

December 13, 1915      Woodland Daily Democrat      

   

 

OTHER INFORMATION

 

"New Orleans Times-Picayune," January 12, 1909:

                                                PICTURING THE CITY.

                                                         _________

                                   The Moving Tableau Army Here to

                                                  Take the Town.

                                              

                                   Scenes to Be Shown All Over the

                                         Country, Adding to Fame of

                                                      Metropolis.

                                                         _____

    New Orleans is to be the vast stage upon which stirring moving picture dramas are to be played, and

not alone thrillers and hair raisers be converted into swiftly-moving films, but scenes peculiar to this section of the country, typical of its industries and people, are to be featured also.

    The moving picture army is already in the city, has established quarters at the White City Park; in fact, has begun operations and will continue to operate for two strenuous months.

    The Seelig Polyscope Company, of Chicago, one of the biggest concerns of its kind in the United States, is the firm that has chosen such a likely field, and starts in with a company of twelve competent artists, several carloads of scenery, half a dozen improved and up-to-date machines, electrical appliances, to produce storm effects, etc., and the whole business is under the direction of Francis Boggs. Mr. Boggs is the playwright of the company; that is, he conceives the subjects for the pictures, arranges the details and the locale, coaches the actors and brings the whole drama, comedy or what not to pass, just as it is afterward seen on the canvas.

   The Company is making its town headquarters with Josiah Pearce & Sons, Managers of the Winter Garden and the Dauphine Theatre and Mr. Pearce, in speaking of the subject yesterday, said that everything indicated that it would be followed out on a grand scale.

    Mr. Boggs has a great one "up his sleeve," and he is rounding out the plot and finishing the details as rapidly as possible. The drama will be intensely realistic and true to life in this city as the older citizens knew it in the days before the war.

    In this picture many of the historic points of interest, such as the French Opera, Jackson Square, the old Cabildo, the strange streets of the French Quarter and the dueling ground under the oaks, will be shown and the plot is said to be a splendidly conceived one, with any number of startling climaxes.

    Another picture that Mr. Boggs is working on will show the City Hall, several of the big bank buildings, the Courthouse, the Parish Prison and other structures known to fame, and these scenes will be in connection with a stirring piece which will call forth all the ingenuity and skill of the actors and actresses.

    The Company will take views along the Levee, showing the manner in which cotton and sugar are moved and the way the great ocean liners are loaded, and these views are calculated to give the people in the North, who know New Orleans only by reputation, an idea of the city's commercial importance. Through these moving pictures New Orleans will receive splendid advertisement all over the country, and all interests are ready to render every assistance to Mr. Boggs and his operators.

    Mr. Boggs has leased the White City for two months, and every day things will be doing behind the high board fence. During the Carnival season pictures of the parades and maskers will be taken.

    The films on New Orleans subjects will be released at many points in the country at one time, and Mr. Pearce stated yesterday that his firm had already contracted for the pictures for the first days.

 

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