Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Patricia Styles -- The Self-Improvement Suicide

On May 28, 1947, the pretty 23-year-old actress, radio singer, and daughter of West Coast radio producer-entertainer Hal Styles swallowed a handful of sleeping pills in Hollywood after Nate N. Sugarman, 44, terminated their stormy four year romance.  Styles survived and continued to see the wealthy investment broker, but was shattered when Sugarman announced at a party in early December 1948 that he planned to marry a San Francisco radio singer.  On December 13, 1948, Styles phoned Sugarman and asked him to drive her to a girlfriend's house in the San Fernando Valley.

During the drive through North Hollywood, they discussed Sugarman's upcoming wedding, and Styles told her former lover that she was engaged to marry a doctor.  At her request, Sugarman stopped the car in front of a house at 11816 Riverside Drive.  Styles produced a .32-caliber revolver, shot the businessman in the thigh and skimmed his head with a second shot.  In the struggle for the gun, the pair fell into the street where Sugarman disentangled himself, and fled as the scorned woman continue to fire at him.  According to one witness, the actress then placed the pistol in her mouth, pulled the trigger, and fell dead in the street next to the car.

A cryptic penciled note found by authorities in the dead woman's purse read:  "I'm going to lose any and all deep-rooted inhibitions and completely lose any self-consciousness that I might have....And that I'm going to become rightfully self-confident so that I fear nothing or no one so that competition doesn't phase [sic] me in the least."  Refusing to believe that his daughter committed suicide, Hal Styles demanded a "full investigation."  Despite conflicting eyewitness testimony, a coroner's jury ruled that Patricia Styles had taken her life after attempting to kill the man who had jilted her.

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