Sidney Olcott, le premier oeil

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January 31, 2015





Robert Vignola tells the circumstances of Sidney Olcott's death

Friday, December 16, 1949. 6 997 Whitley Terrace, Los Angeles. Shortly before 7 pm, Robert G. Vignola, actor and film director knocked at the door of the guest room of his house, perched on the heights of Hollywood.
«  Sid ?  » No answer , he opens the door. «  Sid ?  » Silence. In the darkness, the pudgy little man walks up to the bed, turn on the light. « What confronted me was about the worse shock I ever experienced », said he later. « His face was blue and his eyes were staring into space. I called to him. Somehow I felt he heard me and made an effort to move. His body was still warm. »
Vignola rushes to the phone in the kitchen and called an ambulance. When help arrives, they can only observe the death. John Sidney Allcott says Sidney Olcott, born September 20, 1872 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, was dead.

Olcott and Vignola, is the story of a friendship that dates back to the early twentieth century. Both are actors. They shared the poster of «  Billy the Kid”, in 1904, with Joseph Santley, a star child actor. Vignola is the villain in Olcott's film shot in New York, Florida, Ireland, Egypt and Palestine… And whose most famous role was that of Judas in " From the Manger to the Cross " (1912). He became later a director. When their career separates, their friendship remains intact as the first day.
March 1949, while Valentine Grant, Olcott's wife, is dying of cancer at Orange's Hospital, Ca, Vignola proposes to his friend  : «  If ever anything happens to Val, I want you to know that you will always be welcome to come and share my home with me. »
Val dead, Olcott who has never had a house of his own, moves willingly to Bob. This was done in April. «  We spent hours nostalgic us to remember the old days of our beginnings before we dive into watching a silent film from a reel », says Vignola. They attend the same friends, the same clubs, the same theaters…

Thursday, December 15, Sid Olcott is busy writing his Christmas cards, he signs Val and Sid. « When I asked him why, he looked me in the eye and replied : «  Because that's how I wanted to. This will be the last time they will receive a map of us and so the story will be complete. »
In the evening, Olcott dined out. He returned around 11 pm. Vignola plays bridge with three friends. Olcott can not play it. He greets the guests, says it's cold tonight and excuses himself as he retired to his room, because he is a little smeared. He had venison.

Friday 16 in the morning, Bob Vignola takes breakfast at 8.30 am alone. « Olcott often slept until nine or later. » The actor will be seen in his room. It is always smeared. He will just take a little lemon and hot water that brings him Bessie, the cook. « After taking it he came to my room and flopped on my bed. Spoke of being through with eating rich food. I asked if he didn't want me to call the doctor for him. No that was not necessary. After borrowing some Sal-Hepatica and an electric pad to place on his stomach, he went back to his room. »
At noon, he refuses vegetable soup prepared by Bessie. He says he just needs to rest. Vignola went out. On his return, Olcott has not left the room. «  I heard him talking over his private phone. » At 4 pm, Bessie went into his room and turned on the heat and put a blanket over him. «  He was sleeping peacefully. » At 7 pm, Vignola decides to wake his friend. The rest is history.

Vignola is a little taken aback. Despite the strong friendship that bound him to Olcott, he realizes that the life of the latter includes shadows. « One morning – a couple of months ago - after reading about a plane accident that killed numerous people, I said : « Sid sometime we must get together and talk over what must be done in case anything happens to either of us. « Yes - we must.” He mused thoughtfully. But nothing was done ever it. »
In 6 697 Whitley Terrace on runs. In addition to the emergency ambulance, two detectives arrive. There was also her niece Frances Piazza North Hollywood with her daughter Rita and her husband Lt. Lynn Kane. And two mutual friends, Dr. Ernest Holmes and his wife. He is Dean of the Institute of Religious Science in Los Angeles. Vignola feels less alone. By telephone, Dr. Dickey, the attending physician Olcott installed at 5046 Hollywood Boulevard, reports that it has suffered for three years of thrombosis of the heart. It proposes that the remains to the company Graham & Isbell funeral set at 915 West Hollywood Street.
Vignola is convinced Olcott wished to be buried alongside his wife Valentine Cypress View Cemetery in San Diego. But he knows no parent Valley. He just remembers that Sid had scheduled a Christmas meal with an aunt of Val who lives in Coronado, across San Diego Bay. « Decided to look in one his address books to see if could find anyone listed from Coronado. As I entered his room to search the desk for his address book – his telephone rang. It was a long call distance from Coronado asking to speak to Sidney Olcott. To me it was a miracle ! God has fulfilled my desire for the call was from Val's aunt, Mrs Joseph Waldrop, residing at 1117 Fourth St., Coronado. The shoking news was a terrible blow for her. She became so emotionally upset that Mr. Waldrop had to finish the telephone conversation. »

Vignola also attempts to join Sid's New York Lawyer. William C. Mayer, whose offices are set Singer Building , 149 Broadway. A close friend and advisor . « Since Sid often spoke of having no living blood relatives it would ease my burden considerably if someone with legal authority could be with to take charge of the funeral arrangements etc.  » The telephone company locates Mr. Mayer 's home in Brooklyn but fails to attach. «  I finally sent him an night letter asking him to phone at once .  »

In the evening, a reporter from the Los Angeles Examiner called Vignola . The newspaper published an article in the morning. Radios relay the information. William C. Mayer contacts Vignola and said he takes the plane on Saturday night and that he will return to New York on Monday night. Earlier , Bob called Paul W. Beider , the Hollywood branch of the Bank of America , which manages Sid Olcott's estate . An hour later , at summit meeting with Mr. Bob Isbell Beider and funeral . «  I spoke of the plan to bury Sid next to his wife in San Diego. Then Mr. Biedler brought out a copy of Sid's last will, made shortly after Val's died, and read aloud a paragraph stating that he wished to be buried in Humbervale Cemetery, Toronto, Canada. This was a quite surprise for me. His mother was buried in Humbervale Cemetery. Since then the name has been changed to Park Lawn Cemetery.  »

Sunday 18 in the morning. William C. Mayer, Olcott's lawyer landed in Los Angeles. « The biggest downpour of rain it has had in years.   » Vignola puts aware of what happened . They develop the events . They choose the metal coffin for transporting the body plane. And call Toronto to finalize details . Among the hundreds of calls that day , that of Mrs. Waldrop who said : « I wanted to tell you that when Sid was down here for Thanksgiving dinner , he mentioned that he wanted to be buried in Toronto, Canada, where he was born. He said that as a boy he wasn't able to do all he wanted for his mother before she passed on and when his time came he wanted to be close to her.  »

Monday 19 , 3 pm. A funeral service was held in the church cemetery in Hollywood. « It was a dismal rainy morning but at noon the sun came and cleared the sky for the reste of the day. » The church was full of people who wanted to pay their last respects to Sid . Among the wreaths those of Paramount, West Coast Lambs , the Masquers and many friends… Dr. Robert Bitzer , who heads the Hollywood section of the Institute of Religious Science, officiated . Robert Flack sang with Raymond McPeters organ.

Vignola did not attend the burial of his friend at the Park Lawn Cemetery . However it gives details of his will . « Sid, who has always been ready to help a needy friend in life, is equally as generous in death. In his Will , left large portions of his earthly earnings to the Salvation Army  ; the Motion Picture Relief Fund Inc  ; American Cancer Society Inc. ; the Lambs Club Relief Fund in New York  ; the Actors Fund  ; the Science of Mind Institute of Los Angeles  ; the Boys Home of Toronto , Ontario, Canada ; the American Heart Association for research of heart ailment  ; the Institute for m edical research of the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles and to many personal friends whom he felt could use his financial tribute to ease their worries.  »

PS The sentenced-quotes are from the letter Robert Vignola sent to Sidney Olcott's friends to relate the circumstances of his death.

Sorry for my English

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©2009 Michel Derrien