December 1, 2023 | Sarah Ng

Thomas Ince Met A Mysterious End


Thomas Ince made over 800 films and was even called the “Father of the Western.” However, to this day, his death remains one the great Old Hollywood mysteries.


A Doomed Birthday

In 1924, Ince boarded a cruise, looking forward to celebrating his 44th birthday—and he wasn’t the only famous one on board. The owner of the yacht was none other than the media tycoon William Randolph Hearst, and actors Charlie Chaplin and Marion Davies also made the list.

Now, the story surrounding Ince’s death seems accurate. Apparently, after dinner, he got sick with indigestion, left the yacht to seek medical help, and eventually ended up dying from heart failure. However, in the aftermath, the rumor mill began working overtime.

Portrait of Thomas Ince Fred Hartsook, Wikimedia Commons

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His Passing Sparked A Scandal

Shockingly, some claimed that Ince had been murdered. According to this rumor, William Randolph Hearst had tried to shoot Charlie Chaplin for canoodling with his mistress Marion Davies—but mistakenly shot Thomas Ince instead. It was a wild theory, but those who believed in it suggested there’d been a cover-up.

There May Have Been A Cover-Up

After the supposed incident, stories began circulating that Hearst had not only given Ince’s widow a hefty trust fund, but also offered a witness a lifetime employment contract. In addition to these alleged pay-offs, Chaplin’s valet said that he saw Ince transported on a stretcher, with his head “bleeding from a bullet wound.” Of course, those who believed the rumors took this “evidence”—and ran with it.

Though many of these claims have been disproved, all of this speculation truly transformed Thomas Ince’s legacy—the scandal often overshadowing his illustrious career.


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