Read Part 1 here.
Since the beginning of the trial, June DeLong had been living with Marjorie Fairchild, an investigator with the district attorney’s office, who had not let June out of her sight. However, on the morning of July 14, the day June was due in court for cross-examination, Fairchild walked down the block to buy some food for breakfast, leaving June sitting at the kitchen table, writing in a note pad.
When Fairchild returned, June had vanished. On the table was a suicide note, folded around a studio portrait of June. The Los Angeles Times printed the note in its entirety:
Eight hours later, June was spotted a few blocks from her apartment - curiously enough, it was a mystery novelist, Nellise Child, who found her. “I saw a woman stumbling along Western avenue and I thought there was something familiar about the figure,” Child told reporters. “Then I realized the features were those of June DeLong, whose photograph I had seen in the papers. I went up and asked her if she was alright, and she mumbled something about having been a reader of the Bible and trying to be a good girl.”
Child took June to her husband’s auto dealership. Her husband immediately recognised June, as he’d sold her a car the year before. They drove her to the district attorney’s office, where June said she’d taken some pills, thinking they were poison, but they’d only made her sick.
June might have expected to be granted some respite from the trial, but the DA’s office seemed to have little sympathy for her, and placed her on the stand again the next morning.
The deputy district attorney examined her in court on the circumstances around her suicide attempt. She told him, simply, “I wanted to die because Gloria Marsh is in trouble and I felt so sorry for her.”
Dave Allen’s attorney, Jerry Giesler, didn’t let June’s suicide attempt persuade him to go any easier on her than the DA’s office had. As June had feared, he told the court about her arrest for prostitution. He suggested she was “possessed of unnatural desires”. He called her a perjurer and a schemer. “Did you ever say to yourself, what is my responsibility in this affair? Did you ever ask that? Don’t you know if these people are guilty, you are guilty with them?”
June sobbed, “Do you think I wanted this disgrace? That’s why I wanted to commit suicide. I have nothing to live for.”
The courtroom scene dragged on for two more weeks, with the ever-increasing supporting cast of witnesses getting more lines than the leads, who were reduced to bit-part players in their own drama. Gloria Marsh generally sat absolutely motionless, her head bent; Dave Allen fidgeted restlessly; and June DeLong grew ever more wretched.
A radio actress, Myra Russell, testifed that, four months before the wild party, she had overheard June and Pearl Owings discussing a plot to frame Dave Allen. Blayney Mathews, the chief investigator for the district attorney, testified that Pat Harmon had bragged that he would shoot Dave Allen if he didn’t get more work, and a variety of extras were brought in to state that they’d heard similar threats. Harmon’s dentist testified that, the month before the wild party, he’d heard Harmon tell another man, “Allen soon will need a good criminal attorney. I’ve been trying to get him a long time, and when those affidavits become public, it’ll blow Hollywood wide open.” A police detective testified that June DeLong had admitted to him that she had had dinner with Harmon the night before the wild party and that he’d told her that, if she got Allen over to her apartment the next day, “it would mean work for all of us.”
Pat Harmon, of course, testified that he had never threatened Allen and that he bore him no ill will. The only surprising item to emerge from Harmon’s time on the stand was an admission during cross-examination that he was involved with a “secret organization” of actors that had planned to dramatise the story of the events behind the trial and present it at a Hollywood playhouse. However, the plan appeared to have been dropped.
Gloria Marsh took the stand only briefly, to state that she had not participated in any kind of immoral behaviour at June’s apartment, that she hadn’t known the reason why June invited her over, and that she hadn’t even removed her hat before Pearl Owings entered the room.
After the closing speeches, the jury retired to consider their verdict. They were out for 30 hours, but were unable to come to an agreement and remained divided: eight for conviction and four for acquittal. Dave Allen and Gloria Marsh were shocked. They had expected a unanimous verdict in their favour, based on the overwhelming evidence that they had been the victims of a blackmail plot, but it seemed that June DeLong’s description of the lurid scene in her apartment had lodged unshakably in the minds of some of the jury. After all, why would a girl say those things unless they were true?
A retrial was scheduled for later in the year. Allen’s lawyers immediately set about calling for postponements and trying to find ways of attacking the validity of the initial prosecution. Meanwhile, Dave Allen took another approach.
On January 16, 1935, Pat Harmon had just left the Fox studios when he was set upon by three other extras, who punched him to the ground and beat him with a length of gas pipe, smashing out his teeth, splitting his face and scalp and breaking his thumb. This picture was taken the next day:
Harmon said that one of the men was Seymour Schindell, another ex-boxer, who had only been in town for a year or so. Schindell was picked up by the police, but was released after being questioned. He went on to have a solid career as a bit-part heavy, appearing in the same kind of tough-guy roles that Pat Harmon had specialised in, such as gangsters like the one on the far right of this still from the Three Stooges short, Calling All Curs (1939)
and heavies like the bouncer in Nick’s bar in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946):
Harmon knew that his beating had been arranged by Dave Allen to try to stop him testifying again, but he wasn’t deterred - at this point, Harmon's only hope of working in movies again lay in Allen's complete ruination, and even that might not be enough. He had no choice but to try to see the thing through.
The prosecution limped on from postponement to postponement until two events finished it off: the spring 1935 conviction of Pat Harmon and Pearl Owings for the crime of stealing a horse, which resulted in Harmon getting a two to ten-year sentence in Folsom prison; and the indictment in October that year of the prosecutor, Buron Fitts, on charges of bribery and perjury in connection with the dropping of a statutory rape charge against a millionaire real-estate promoter.
In November, a year and a half after the wild party, the charges against Dave Allen and Gloria Marsh were dismissed.
Dave Allen had won, but only by default. He was forced to resign as head of Central Casting, which meant that Pat Harmon won, too, in a way. The new head was Campbell MacCulloch, a government official, not a studio man. Columbia Pictures gave Allen a job as head of casting. He stayed there until he died, in 1955, at the age of sixty-eight.
Pat Harmon served his time in Folsom and never worked in Hollywood again. He died in Riverside, California, in 1958, at the age of seventy-one.
There’s no further trace of June DeLong or Gloria Marsh, under either those names or their real names, Anna Snyder and Gloria Turner. If, as Dave Allen had said, the studios didn’t want whores, they were even less likely to want ones whose faces had been all over the papers. June and Gloria were finished, as actresses.
Gloria came from Utah; June from a small town further east. Hopefully, they went back home. Given the alternatives, that’s as close as either of them could hope to get to a Hollywood ending.
Sources: Syndicated AP news stories, printed between May 1934 and November 1935 in, among others, the Fresno Bee, San Mateo Times, Montana Standard, New Castle News, Brownsville Herald, etc; and coverage in the Los Angeles Times.