Thursday, January 9, 2014

Charles J. Chic -- Rubber Death Mask

The Philadelphia-born Chic (real name Schick) came to Los Angeles in his youth, attended the University of Southern California, and began his motion picture career in 1918 as a prop boy at Universal.  Serving his film apprenticeship as an assistant director under William Duncan and W. S. Van Dyke, he moved to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1927 and by 1938 had worked his way up the studio ladder to become a $1,000 a week production manager.  Although active in his work, the 48 year old had recently worried over his poor health.  On April 26, 1941, Chic's Japanese servant girl found a brief note addressed to her after arriving at her employer's Beverly Hills home at 151 1/2 Bedford Drive.  It read:  "I have killed myself.  First call Helen Lawson [his secretary].  If you can't get her call Rachel Chic [his ex-wife].  I thought that the garage would be too noisy, so I'm near the lot in Beverlywood."  Police found the production manager's body under his limousine at a dead-end road at South Beverly Drive and Oakmore Street in Beverly Hills.  Chic has fashioned a death mask out of a rubber hot water bottle by slashing its bottom and stretching the opening tightly over his face.  Next, he fitted the funnel end of the container over the car's exhaust pipe after starting the motor.

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