Reynolds, a director-scenarist best known for Westerns like The Deadwood Coach (1924), The Buckaroo Kid (1926), and Hey! Hey! Cowboy (1927), had originally planned to spend only three days in the High Sierras shooting scenes for Universal's Back to God's Country starring the sexy Renee Adoree on loan-out from MGM at $3,500 a week. Instead, the company was snowed in for three weeks at Bishop, California, before Reynolds could complete the pivotal shots. Afterward, the 36-year-old director phoned his wife in Hollywood to let her know that he would not only be coming home on the evening of February 24, 1927, but would also like to have a dinner party with friends to mark the occasion.
Arriving at his home at 8281 Fountain Avenue, a tired and emotionally spent Reynolds was displeased to find only one couple, Mr. and Mrs. William H. White, had been invited by his wife, formerly known on screen as "Kathleen O'Connor." At dinner, the woman playfully "accused" Reynolds of having shared a lunch basket, which she had prepared for him, with Renee Adoree while on location. Shouting, "It's a lie!" Reynolds countered by accusing her of adultery. Enraged, the woman tossed an ashtray at her husband, prompting him to storm off to the sunroom at the rear of the house with his wife in hot pursuit. Mr. White followed the pair into the room and saw the woman, her eyes puffy from being used as a punching bag and pleading for her life, on the floor with Reynolds above her brandishing a .38-caliber pistol. The director then placed the pistol to his head and fired. He died the next day at Receiving Hospital. Back to God's Country was finished by director Irvin Willat and released on September 4, 1927.