Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cecil Gold -- The Show Doesn't Go On

On the afternoon of October 24, 1927, the management at the Brown Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, forced entry into the 19-year-old chorus girl's room after a maid reported she could not gain entrance.  Inside, they found Gold (real name Helen Smith) dressed in pajamas lying dead on the bathroom floor.  Her head rested on a pillow and an empty glass was still pressed tightly to her lips.  Two empty bottles that had contained chloroform were found in the room.  A note addressed "To Whom It May Concern" read in part:  "There is no one at fault.  I just grew tired of it all.  I am not a coward.  If you grew tired of a show, would you not leave it?  I am tired of life!  I am not afraid.  My conscience is clear."

A packet of love letters exchanged between Gold and Jack D. Mead, an actor in the Princess Stock Company, partially explained the young woman's actions.

A chorus girl in the Canadian Capers company, Gold had played at the Capitol Theatre in Des Moines two weeks before her death.  After the company disbanded following a brief run in Kansas City, Missouri, Gold returned to Iowa to be near Mead.  In a letter written to Mead while she was still in Kansas City, Gold expressed her own insecurity at being only a minor player in the company:  "I don't want you to think, 'Oh, I can't take her there because she just a chorus girl and won't know how to conduct herself.'  I can be nice and refined when I have to be."  According to Gold's father, who claimed the body, he felt his daughter's suicide was prompted by her unsuccessful attempt to climb the social ladder and to realize her ambition to be a Broadway star.

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