Hollyweird: Russ Columbo
Friday 05 December 2008
The story of the demise of Russ Columbo is one of the weirdest in Hollywood history.
Born in New Jersey in 1908, Columbo's skill as a violinist saw him move to California to become a musician and singer with the Gus Arnheim orchestra. He landed a recording contract and an NBC radio show. With hits like "You Call It Madness (But I Call It Love)", he was dubbed "the Romeo of Radio". Universal Pictures wanted him for a string of musicals.
But tragedy struck. On 2 September 1934, Columbo visited Lansing V Brown Jr, a photographer and friend. They talked, drank and played with Brown's collection of Civil War duelling pistols. Events remain unclear, but supposedly Brown struck a match on a loaded gun. A bullet ricocheted off the furniture and hit Columbo in the left eye. He was rushed to hospital, but surgery failed to save him. He was only 26.
In the best Hollyweird tradition, there's a final twist: days before Columbo's death, his nearly blind mother suffered a heart attack. Fearing for her life, the family decided not to tell her. A story about a long sailing tour was concocted, including weekly letters of comfort. The deception continued until 1944, when she died.
TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success
tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
Daredevil, Netflix, TV review: Marvel wins first fight in bid for television domination with Charlie Cox's superhero vigilante
London art exhibition features portrait of Iraqi migrant shot dead in Iraq after being refused UK asylum
Grace Dent on TV: Peter Kay's Car Share made me genuinely LOL
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds