Monday, October 14, 2013

Clara Bloodgood -- How to Shoot Straight

Worn out by a long road tour of the South, and concerned about her physical and financial health, the 37-year-old actress shot herself in the mouth at the Hotel Stafford in Baltimore, Maryland, on December 5, 1907, as an expectant audience waited in the Academy of Music to see her perform in the Clyde Fitch comedy The Truth.  Bloodgood, gowned only in a loose wrapper, was found lying on her back across the bed with blood flowing from her mouth.  The actress had fired three shots.  The first missed and lodged in the ceiling while another was never found.  The death wound came from a round that passed through the roof of her mouth in front of the soft palate and into her brain.  A few days before the incident, Bloodgood purchased a pistol, a .32-caliber hammerless double-action Smith & Wesson, and had even queried a bellboy at the Stafford on its use.  A medical book containing marked sections outlining the parts of the brain was found in the room as was a tome titled How to Shoot Straight.  The contents of a sealed letter addressed to her stockbroker husband located on a nearby table later proved to have no bearing on the suicide.  Onstage for nearly ten years, Bloodgood previously starred on Broadway in two of Fitch's plays ( The Coronet of the Duchess, 1904; The Girl with the Green Eyes, 1904) before purchasing the rights to The Truth, and embarking on an exhausting 30 month road tour.

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