John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

3 year old foster child beaten to death for wearing a diaper

3 year old foster child beaten to death for wearing a diaper

On June 7, 2017, police and paramedics were sent to a townhome in Egan Minnesota where three-year-old Zayden Lawson wasn’t breathing. He was dead by the time they got him to the hospital. He had been beaten to death. An autopsy revealed his death was due to multiple blunt force injuries and several soft tissue hemorrhages throughout his body.

His crime?
He was beaten to death because he had to use a diaper. His foster mother, Zeporia Fortenberry, stood by and watched the beating, the murder, happen. The local newspaper refused to print the specifics of the criminal complaints against the pair because the details are too graphic. Fortenberry admitted to allowing Homich, her boyfriend to punch her 3-year-old foster child in the stomach for weeks.
The day before he died, June 6, Fortenberry was working the night shift and had left her two children in Charles Homich care. The next day, Zayden told Fortenberry that his stomach hurt. He vomited a couple times and Fortenberry said he was acting lazy. She put him in his pajamas and laid him on a mattress on the floor next to her bed.

While Zayden was sleeping Fortenberry called Charles Homich and spoke to him about Zayden’s stomach complaints. After they hung up, Homich  told a coworker that he had punched Zayden in the stomach and that Zayden became, "really sick and his vomit was black," according to the complaint.
When the coworker told Homich to bring Zayden to a doctor, but Homich feared, "the doctor would see his bruises and Lawson is old enough to tell him who gave him the bruises." Another witness told investigators Homich said he “punched the (expletive) out of Zayden in his stomach.”

A while later the child stopped breathing. At the emergency room  a doctor "noted numerous bruises...", "numerous scratches..." and "healed scarring" on his body - adding "The injuries were consistent with child physical abuse and most likely non-accidental."
Investigators found messages exchanged between Fortenberry and a girlfriend reading "beat his ass," and to "place him in ice-cold water for discipline.” The friend later told police that Fortenberry " had beat his feet so much that he could only walk on tippy-toes"

In April 2019, 28-year-old Charles Homich pled guilty to 2nd degree murder. He will face sentencing at the end of August of this year.  The foster mother, Fortenberry pled guilty to one count of 2nd degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 41 months in prison………just over three years……….. for beating a kid to death….she’ll get credit for time in jail since her arrest and will serve the first 2¼ years in prison and the balance on supervised release. Remarkably, a second manslaughter charge alleging child neglect or endangerment was dismissed.

Murdered by neglect.

Murdered by neglect.

Jose and Ursula Cuatro, the parents of 4-year old Noah Cuatro, of Palmdale California told the police that their boy died due to drowning at a community pool, but an autopsy proved there was trauma to Noah's body that was inconsistent with drowning.

When Noah was placed in a temporary foster home that handles infants and toddlers in the foster care system who may need a higher level of medical care, the staff recorded that the child arrived malnourished and unable to walk. When he left the home, after seven months, to return to his parents, he was a thriving and happy child.
"He was such a joy," a staffer said. "He had this crazy wild brown hair and he was so joyful."
When the child died, he had been under active supervision by the DCFS after more then a dozen calls to the child-abuse hotline and police from people who said they suspected that the children in the home were being abused.
Noah was first removed from his mother care when he was an infant and placed into foster car. He was returned to his parents six months later. He was removed a short time later due to neglect and malnutrition.

After Noah was inexplicably returned to his parents a second time last November, his demeanor changed extremely, his great grandmother noted and a DCFS caseworker similarly remarked as much saying the child was suddenly withdrawn. In May, a caseworker finally filed a 26-page request to remove Noah from his parent’s custody for a third time, because Noah's father had kicked his wife and children in public. At one point, caseworkers confirmed an allegation that Ursula had fractured the skull of a girl related to her. The mother was not charged in that case due to lack of sufficient evidence.  However, a DCFS employee,  a supervisor at the county Department of Children and Family Services, appear to have disregarded a court decision to grant the boy’s removal from his parents’ custody in the weeks before his death, parents after a social worker filed a 26-page request with the court to do so, citing evidence of abuse. The abuse, according to DCFS, included allegations that Noah had been sodomized.

In 2013, 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale died after years of torture and abuse at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend, who were both later convicted of murder in his death. In that case, DCFS had determined nothing was wrong despite numerous contacts with the family and a call from his first-grade teacher. In 2017, two former DCFS social workers and supervisors were charged with felony child abuse and falsifying public records in connection with the Fernandez case.

Hollywood scandal: Dorothy Dandridge.

In May of 1957, Confidential Magazine ran a story entitled “What Dorothy Dandridge Did in the Woods” claiming that the African-American actress Dorothy Dandridge, “The black Marilyn Monroe” enjoyed outdoor lovemaking with a white boyfriend, Daniel Terry, a white bandleader, in the woods near Lake Tahoe.

Dandridge filed suit against Confidential, testifying at the “Trial of 100 Stars” that attempted to take down the muckraking magazine. She testified that the Lake Tahoe unofficial but very real policy against mix race, dating would have made it impossible to take a white man to a hotel "Lake Tahoe at that time was very prejudiced," Dandridge said. "Negroes were not permitted that freedom….
"I never took a walk in the woods with Mr. Terry."
Yellow journalist went out of their way to brand Dandridge as a highly sexed and promiscuous woman who couldn’t control her impulses to seduce white men like
Peter Lawford, Tyrone Power, Michael Rennie and Farley Granger Jr. The press also had a problem with Dandridge was that she unrepentantly proud and among other things refused to play roles that she felt were demeaning. In other words, she was uppity.
The last thing she needed in 1957 was more damaging gossip and hearsay about her already shipwrecked career.

Things had been fantastic for her in 1954 when Dandridge became the first black nominee for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her work in Carmen Jones. After that, Dandridge could ask $100,000 a picture, bought a huge Hollywood mansion.

In 1956, she was offered and then refused the role of a lifetime as Tuptim in The King and I, an enormous big-budget prestigious film. Although it was a supporting role, it was beefy and make her a Hollywood fixture. But on the advice, the very bad advice, of Preminger, she turned the role down because Tuptim was a slave. So the part went to Rita Moreno and the film was worldwide smash. The big studios would never offer her a major role again although Fox had her under contract and had every intention of making her a major star but even the studio's armies of scriptwriters couldn’t figure out how to put her in a leading role with a white man with facing a tremendous onslaught from the public. Finally, the writers came up with a dreadful film script called Island in the Sun which carefully paired her with John Justin, a white British actor and Harry Belafonte with Joan Fontaine. The film limped along in the theaters enough to keep Fox interested in Dandridge.
Two more films followed but went nowhere. But in 1959 Dandridge took the lead in Samuel Goldwyn’s production of Porgy and Bess, a major film production with big-name actors Sidney Poitier and Sammy Davis Jr. Dandridge hated the overall theme….. Porgy’s a drunk and Bess is a drug addict. The production was beset by one major setback after another, most of them financial and was released in the red and the film flopped at the box office.

She had an on and off again affair with married director Otto Preminger which was an open secret around Hollywood. Everything about the relationship humiliated her. The worst part was, they couldn’t be seen together in public unless they were promoting a film. Then she got pregnant with Preminger’s child but had an abortion to avoid another scandal.
In June of 1959, Dandridge married a hustler and hotel owner named Jack Denison. It was a horrible marriage but her first marriage was worse. On September 6, 1942, she married Harold Nicholas, part of the tap-dancing Nicholas Brothers act. They met at the Cotton Club in Harlem in 1938. On September 2, 1943, Dandridge went into labor with her daughter Harolyn Suzanne. But her husband, knowing she was due at any moment, took the family’s only car and went golfing, standing her. 

The child was born was severely brain-damaged. Dandridge blamed her daughters' condition on the delay in delivery, which she saw as her fault. She also blamed herself …..her lack of sexual experience……for her husband’s near-constant philandering. The marriage ended in 1951.
Harold Nicholas

Denison took over her career and ruined it by booking Dandridge into a long series of second rate nightclubs, driving down her ticket value dramatically. Denison beat Dandridge, badly, regularly and squandered her money on himself. She started to drink too much and too often and overused her antidepressants, drugging herself to the point that she fell asleep at her reception.

Dorothy and Dennison 

She lost what was left of her cash in a get rich quick scheme involving oil well investments that aimed specifically at Hollywood star. She ended up owing the IRS $150,000 in back taxes (about a million dollars today) The actress paid most of the taxes by selling her Hollywood Hills mansion, moving into an apartment and taking her daughter out of a specialty care nursing home and placing her in a state-run facility. She divorced Denison in 1962 but he was long gone by then. She declared bankruptcy and took almost any role she could find to pay her bills but severely fractured her foot while practicing for her nightclub act and was bedridden for several months costing her bookings. Dandridge begins to drink heavily and grew deeply depressed. Naturally shy, she was terrified of performing for live crowds and costs of keeping up glamorous appearances for her nightclub appearances were taking what little money she had left, but she had to keep working, surviving on what the I.R.S. left for her to have.
On September 8, 1965, Dandridge spoke by phone to her former sister-in-law Geri Branton and before hanging up said: "Whatever happens, I know you will understand." Several hours later, her manager Earl Mills found her naked and dead. She had taken a fatal overdose of imipramine. She was only 42 years old. It has never been established whether her death was purposefully or an accident. When she passed, she had $2.14 in her bank account.

You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried…………………

You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried…………………

Chicago DCFS placed boy in foster home with sex offender
James White was placed on the Illinois sex offender registry in 2002 for exposing himself to a 16-year-old victim when he was 32. On top of that, he had a record for armed robbery, burglary and possession of a stolen car. He was also on parole for an unrelated charge and living in Iowa. In 2014 Chicago DCFS placed the 12-year-old boy in  South Side foster home. White moved in with the foster mother, who was his wife. No background check was done on him. White molested the boy. The boy's social worker, who was required to visit the home weekly in the first month of placement and monthly thereafter, only visited the boy once in more than six months.

Wichita Falls foster Father was a pedophile
Jason Wayne Carlile of Wichita Falls was a foster parent while he committed an indecent act with a child "On 6/18/94, Jason Carlile intentionally and knowingly directly exposed the genitals of another adult to a child under the age 4," a Wichita Falls police officer wrote in an affidavit. "The suspect recorded this incident to videotape."

Carlile and his wife took 17 children into their foster home, which was licensed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. He is awaiting trial on four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and five counts of sexual assault of a child in incidents. Ages of alleged victims vary from younger than 14 to younger than 17.

Foster mother rapes 15-year-old foster son
Stephanie Cowan, 34, of Salina Oklahoma was sent to prison for eight years for raping a 15-year-old boy in her care.

2 year old Foster Child allegedly Punched to death in Atlanta.

Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum are on trial in Atlanta, accused of murdering their foster child, 2-year-old Laila Daniel in 2015.

The Rosenblum’s took in Laila and her older sister, Millie, in July 2015. Prior to the Rosenbaum’s the sister had been bounced from home to home. In October 2015, Jennifer Rosenbaum took Laila to a pediatric orthopedist, saying that the little girl was playing at her grandmother’s backyard, fell in a hole and then injured herself again at a gymnastics facility the following day. The problem was Laila was never enrolled in gymnastics classes at the facility and was never there. However, her old sister Millie was enrolled at the gym and the staff noted that at one class, Millie had a very large bruise on her face. When a coach asked her about it she said, "I fell getting out of the bathtub"
Millie later told authorities that she and Laila suffered spankings with belts at the Rosenbaum’s, who also beat the girls if they fell asleep in the car and not getting dressed fast enough.

The orthopedist examined Laila’s leg and saw that it was complete tibia fracture which is not typical for a 2-year-old and likely wasn’t caused the way Rosenbaum described. It was the type of broken bone that a doctor would see from blunt force trauma.  The orthopedist told Jennifer to the child immediately to the emergency room. He then had his nurse call ahead to the
 Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to get ready to treat the girl but Rosenbaum never arrived. She simply didn’t go. Instead, several days later Rosenbaum took Laila to another medical practice, who placed a cast on the child’s leg. A physician’s assistant, Charles Coppinger, noticed there were additional bruises on Laila’s leg when he re-checked her cast days later.
Several weeks later, on November 17, 2015, Jennifer Rosenbaum called 911 and said that
Laila choked while eating a chicken nugget. Rosenbaum said she try to save the child by using the Heimlich maneuver and then CPR, but Laila died anyway.
Paramedics who took the girl from the house to hospital noticed bruising all over Laila’s body. An autopsy later revealed the child suffered a blow to her abdomen that ruptured her pancreas. She also had other internal injuries and broken bones suffered over time. The medical examiner also sustained a number of injuries including bruising on the neck, face, abdomen, legs, and  Inadequate nutrition. There was simply no evidence she had choked.
The day Laila died her sister Millie was bruised all over her body. “She had bruising, but nowhere as extensive as Laila,” said Julie Espinosa, a nurse who worked at Piedmont Henry Hospital at the time. Millie told the nurse that Laila had been “asleep for a while” before paramedics and police arrived.
It was two weeks after the child’s death that the Rosenbaum’s were arrested and charged with malice and felony murder, child cruelty, aggravated assault and aggravated battery charges. Joseph Rosenbaum was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly leaving Laila in his wife’s care when he knew she was abusing the child. In total, the state leveled 49 charges against them. Jennifer Rosenbaum was a candidate for the Henry County Commission at the time of her arrest.
The child’s caseworker, Samantha White and her supervisor were both fired from their jobs with the Henry Department of Family and Children Services. Two Department of Family and Children Services workers testified in detail how the department did not screen the Rosenbaum’s properly before they were given custody of 2-year-old Laila Daniel.
Ebony Taylor, a supervisor with DFCS, said the Rosenbaum’s never should have been allowed to be foster parents.
“My staff did not screen Mrs. Rosenbaum’s maiden name,” said Taylor. “Had she been screened under her maiden name her foster care record would have come up and I would not have approved her based on that.”
The home evaluation done on the Rosenbaum’s was signed by someone at DFCS who was not authorized to sign it.

Fall In Love With the Written Word at These Literary Themed New England Hotels

On vacation, readers and writers often attempt to settle down with a good book or an unfinished manuscript, respectively. But time on windy beaches, in swarming cafes, or at hectic airport lounges is limited. Holidays are busy with distractions, and those irritating must-see sites always interfere. A few hotels in New England, however, are perfect literary retreats and ideal for vacationers hoping never to stray too far from the page or pen. Here are the New England hotels that most revere the written word.
The Study at Yale, New Haven
Just by staying the night at the Study at Yale, guests might pore through an author’s oeuvre or write the perfect opening chapter. After all, if the Holiday Inn Express can run commercials about guests with no medical experience performing surgery after one night’s stay, well then waking up to and overlooking one of the country’s premier universities seems as though it could warrant a similar claim. In any case, the hotel is still a literary locale with its intellectual clientele, leather reading chairs, and hand-selected books on the shelves in every study and suite. 203-503-3900, thestudyatyale.com
Canyon Ranch, Lenox, Massachusetts
Most people who visit Canyon Ranch use their time to pause and reflect. It’s a place of vast grounds, countless workshops on self-study and spirituality, and included spa services. While all of these items are conducive to that well-needed writer’s getaway, or to create the conditions for a reader’s sanctuary, timing your visit right could make it an even more bookish weekend. Among the many speakers presenting at Canyon Ranch are authors who conduct workshops, readings or literary discussions in the resort’s high-ceilinged library. Even if no writer is in residence, the seminars, lectures and grounds offer those kernels that could launch a project from seed to sprout. 800-742-9000, canyonranch.com
Mayflower Inn & Spa, Washington
The clichĂ© writing retreat would include footpaths for thinking, gardens for pondering, vistas framing the very scene missing from one’s manuscript, and underlit, dark-wooded libraries with reading lights that mushroom up beside comfortable, deep chairs. The Mayflower has all of these trappings, yet the beauty of the grounds is the furthest one can get from hackneyed. More than just having a garden for reflection, the property has two: the Shakespeare Garden and the American Poets Maze, where one can wander among quotes and hedges and flowers. While it’s an upcharge for spa services, the vista through barn-door-size windows of ponds and empty grounds (which, a century ago, had been home to a private school), the purity of the white room, the quality books and magazines shelved about, and the recliners designed to steal a person from doing anything but read rivals any tranquil space in New England. 866-217-0869, aubergeresorts.com/mayflower
The Press Hotel, Portland, Maine
What had once been the offices of a local newspaper is now a chic hotel that still holds the spirit of a newsroom. Images of old front pages wallpaper the hallways, and even the carpet is wordy, as the wallpaper typeface appears to have dropped entire paragraphs to the rug. And like leaves fallen from trees, those letters have been swept to one side, forming alphabetical piles that have fused with the fabric. The hotel rooms are right for a good read, though they might also inspire one to pen their first lines of fiction. In the bedside stands, classic novels supplant the Gideon’s typical offerings, and famous quotes are attached to everything, from robes to toiletry items. “Don’t skimp on ice. I prefer beautiful, big squares for my cocktails” — this Jose Andres ode to cubes sits in front of the ice bucket. Aristotle’s “Change in all things is sweet” is a handy card for guests requesting housekeeping to swap their bed sheets. Fun with words fills all spaces: that famous pangram about the quick brown fox and his interactions with that lazy dog is printed on the back of all in-room desk chairs; the hotel lobby has a peaceful library and an oversize Scrabble board; and the basement features a literary-inspired art gallery with a rotating collection. Best are the few dozen typewriters in the lobby. Most are bolted to the wall as a permanent exhibit. But a few working ones are set out for guests to punch up a quick diary entry or a letter about their fine-dining experience at the Union restaurant, which connects to the lobby and provides kids’ menus inside picture books like The Hungry Caterpillar. 207-573-2425, thepresshotel.com
Saybrook Point Inn, Old Saybrook
While the harbor and lighthouse views from the main inn are beautiful enough to stir the words out of any writer or to satisfy a reader’s need for solace, the guesthouses across the street make the Saybrook Point Inn a proper bookish escape. The inn’s two guesthouses, aptly named Tall Tales and Three Stories, are historic accommodations. In either of the two houses, bookworms can dig into a good story and wordsmiths can hammer out manuscript pages, as quaint rooms and airy balconies hark back to another time. Their less bookish companions can also stay out of their hair, keeping busy at the facilities at the main inn, in the guesthouses’ game rooms with billiards or chess, in the yard at the bocce courts, or atop the roof at the fire pits. 860-395-2000, saybrook.com
The Battle of Boston
With some of the country’s best universities, a riot of privately owned bookstores and a host of literary events, Boston has always been a city of books. While the bustle of Boston offers a different atmosphere than the peaceful retreats noted earlier, it is still a city of literary merit, and many of its hotels have a fondness for words. The Hotel Commonwealth has books available by request at the front desk. One guest room is even dubbed the Reading Suite, offering a writer’s table and housing titles, many of which have been signed by visiting authors. The Ames Boston allows guests to breakfast in The Library, which, properly, features a library. Most famous is the Omni Parker House. Long ago, the hotel had hosted the monthly meetings of the Saturday Club, which was a gathering of important minds, including some of the 19th century’s most famous poets — Emerson, Thoreau, Longfellow — and writers, including Hawthorne. Charles Dickens began his first American reading tour of A Christmas Carol at the Parker House, too. Even some of the 20th century’s most astute political minds picked up paychecks at the hotel: Ho Chi Minh had been employed as a baker just before World War I and Malcolm X bussed tables in the ’40s. Across the river, in Cambridge, sits the Charles Hotel, occupying one of the most well-read corners of the country, as it’s hemmed in by Harvard, MIT and the tree-lined banks of the Charles River. Within a few blocks, one can shop a number of bookstores, many of which host weekly literary events, like the Harvard Bookstore and Porter Square Books. The former even has a machine that will print books, manuscripts and lectures (even those once previously inaccessible) on demand. Besides the lobby library beneath the staircase, the Charles Hotel’s two restaurants are important gathering points for literary fans. Like the Saturday Club that had once graced the Parker House, the Supper Club members, or so we’ll call them, comprise dozens of Harvard and MIT professors who come to feast and imbibe, and who talk about big ideas and great books. Listening in on these conversations at the bar, for instance, with a good book or a ready pen is both a gustatory delight and some literary meddling.

Writing Matters: 5 Books That Can Help Us Become Better Writers


Some writers and teachers among us, praise be to all of them, are obsessed with writing, grammar, syntax, and our English language. They argue for concise diction, debate the use of “like” versus “as,” condemn sloppy usage, and are horrified by misspellings. Recently, for instance, a reader of one of my book reviews chastised me for spelling Mary Chesnut of Civil War fame as Chestnut, a mistake that brought an immediate “mea culpa” from me.
Many bookstores devote several shelves to these books on writing and composition, ranging from such classics as Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style” to the recently released “Dreyer’s “English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style.” (Some guardians of the language would shoot down “utterly,” arguing redundancy.) In these works, we find writers who love the English language with the fondness of children for their mother.
A score or so of these guides share a home on the shelf above my desk. Robert Hartwell Fiske wrote four of these volumes: “To the Point”; “The Best Words”; “Silence, Language, and Society”; and “Elegant English.” Fiske was the founder and editor of Vocabula Review, an online site devoted to the encouragement of clear expression. I am proud to say that several of my articles passed Fiske’s discerning eye and appeared on Vocabula.
“Silence, Language and Society,” by Robert Hartwell Fiske.
That Fiske was obsessed with writing and composition is evident in the prepared statement he wrote before his untimely death from melanoma in 2016:
Robert Hartwell Fiske, owner and editor of the Vocabula Review since its genesis in September 1999, has died. Vocabula, I am sorry to say, will die along with him. My apologies. I have taken great pleasure in getting to know you, my readers. And I will miss you mightily. I wish you all an auspicious fate, a long-lived life. (Even though many people pronounce long-lived with a short i sound, the long i is correct. Long-lived derives from the word life, not the word live.)
Now there, my friends and readers, is a man who departed this world displaying courage, wit, and class.
Here are five other books I frequently examine or else have used when teaching composition to students. In purchasing these books, my reasoning proceeded as follows: If I learned just one new trick or technique, that advice was worth much more than the few dollars I’d spent.
Five Winning Resources
“Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch” by Constance Hale.
Constance Hale’s witty “Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing” reminds writers that verbs are the engines of a sentence. She begins by quoting the verbs used by Julius Caesar, Saint Matthew, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Saul Bellow, and even her dog Homer, who “understands the commands sit, stay, heel, and fetch.” Dull verbs, dull writing.
Next up are two books by Stephen Wilbers: “Keys to Great Writing” and “Mastering the Craft of Writing.” The first I used with upper-level high school students in my final years as a teacher; the second I bought because of the pleasure the first book delivered.
Stephen Wilbers’s “Keys to Great Writing.”
Wilbers addresses the fundamentals for constructing sentences, paragraphs, and essays, all with exercises designed to underline the lessons taught. In the book “Keys to Great Writing,” Chapter 4 “Music” with its emphasis on beat, rhythm, and composition, along with dozens of practical tips, is particularly valuable both to the novice and the veteran writer.
The fourth edition of “Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace,” written by Joseph Williams and revised in this edition by Gregory Colomb of the University of Virginia, offers excellent lessons in sentence and paragraph cohesion, emphasis, and concision. On page 58 of my copy, alongside six principles of concision like “Replace a phrase with a word” and “Change negatives to affirmatives,” a note remains from the days I taught style in the classroom. “Drum these into students,” the note says. After reviewing these six points, I hope I beat that drum good and loud.
“Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace.”
Gregory Roper’s “The Writer’s Workshop: Imitating Your Way to Better Writing” harkens back to the practice of copying the style of other writers, or sometimes literally copying their work, until you find your own voice and rhythm. My Advanced Placement Composition students often undertook Roper’s exercises, often with productive but hilarious effects, by modeling passages from such works as Geoffrey of Vinsauf’s “Poetria Nova,” “The Ten Commandments” from the book of Deuteronomy, and Charles Dickens’s “Great Expectations.”
Gregory Roper’s “The Writer’s Workshop: Imitating Your Way to Better Writing.”
Roper enrolls his readers in a true writer’s workshop, with many well-constructed exercises, which, for those willing to pitch in and do the work, can help boost composition skills.
Finally, let me recommend “Style: The Art of Writing Well.” Here F.L. Lucas, a British classical scholar and writer who died in 1967, left us a book that bestows the twin pleasures of fine writing and excellent advice. Though I have not read “Style” cover to cover, I have returned to it again and again, drawn, in particular, by the charm of Lucas’s writing and by his stress on “Courtesy to Readers,” that duty owed by all writers, from the poet to the CEO, to write as clearly and as truthfully as possible for their readers. Lucas’s self-deprecation, his many examples, his humor, and his deep knowledge of literature make him a joy to read. A grand treat, but too advanced for most high school and college students.
“Style: The Art of Writing Well.”
In the Information Age, as some have labeled the 21st century, our ability to communicate via the written word is vital. Good writing is important not only in commerce—poor communication costs businesses billions of dollars per year, according to Inc.—but also in our personal affairs. Which of us has not sent an email or text we regretted, or misinterpreted one sent to us by a friend or family member?
Few of us possess the talents of a Leo Tolstoy or a Jane Austen, but through practice and diligent revision, and through the study of such books as those reviewed here, all of us can become better writers.

Hollywood scandals: The Huston Flynn fight

In 1942 Olivia de Havilland took a role in the film This Our Life and immediately fell deeply in love with the films writer and director John Huston, who happened to be married at the time. Regardless de Havilland and Huston began a love affair that was said to have lasted, on and off, for a decade.

de Havilland

On April 29, 1945, while attending a party at David O. Selznick's home, a drunken Huston and an equally drunken Errol Flynn got into an hour-long fistfight in Selznick's back garden. It started when Huston thought he heard Flynn say something disrespectful about de Havilland and challenged Flynn to a fight. And Flynn, being Flynn, accepted the challenge.

The other version of what happened was that it was Flynn who was looking for a fight. He and de Havilland were rumored to have been involved for years prior to Huston showing up, although de Havilland always denied it. “Chemistry was there though,” de Havilland later said. “It was there.”

At the time, the hard-drinking tough as nails Huston a member of the Army Signal Corps, making propaganda films for the US government. He just happened to be on leave when the incident took place. Huston said, “Having just returned from working with authentic heroes, I was in no mood to put up with the screen variety.”

However, Flynn, an Australian from Tasmania was turned down for military service due to his incredibly poor health. Not only was he a functioning alcoholic, but he also suffered from malaria, tuberculosis, and a variety of social diseases.

Adding to the advantage, Huston had been the lightweight champion of his high school before he dropped out, at age 15, to turn pro, fighting under a variety of names. His record was 23 wins and two losses. Flynn also had a history as a fighter, both in and outside the ring. In 1927, he fought as a semi-pro boxer. And Flynn’s life was dotted with violence in those years.

Three years before, on June 20, 1942, the year he was accused of raping two underage girls on his yacht, Flynn threw an enormous birthday bash for himself at his Beverly Hills mansion at 7740 Mulholland Drive. About 75 people, mostly celebrities attended. The Woolworth heiress, Barbara Hutton, lent Flynn the use of her butler, Eric Gosta Hadler who would serve as a bartender for the evening.

According to Flynn, the fight started at 4am Sunday in Flynn's kitchen between Hadler and Flynn's stand-in-secretary and former butler, James Fleming. According to Flynn, Fleming, and two guests, Hadler had been drinking most of the night and was drunk when he started the fight.

'Hadler,' Fleming said, 'had sampled amply several drinks he mixed for the party into which he had been putting six ounces of Flynn's whiskey. He was mixing drinks with six-ounce of whiskey in them. Both Mr. Flynn and I noticed his condition and got him into the kitchen. We mixed drinks ourselves after that. But Gosta kept coming back and interfering. 'As the evening went on he got more abusive. As they (the help) were going out the back door, Gosta shouted something at me in Swedish. I didn't know what he said but it sounded insulting. I went outside and asked him to repeat it in English. "'Then he hit me, and I struck back. The blow wasn't hard enough to knock a man down. Maybe he fell and hit his head.'

Hadler's head injuries were so bad that doctors were concerned he would die. However, after a day of being semi-conscious, he recovered fully. Flynn didn’t have anything to do with the fight. He had gone to bed at midnight due to a recent mild heart attack.

And the year before, Flynn had slapped a gossip columnist across the face. On September 20th, 1942, two days after his wife Dimita filed for divorce, citing cruel and unusual punishment Flynn was at the Mocambo Café and assaulted gossip columnist Jimmie Fidler. (Below)

As Flynn told it, “Fidler told one too many lies about the motion picture business … That’s why I went up to his table and told him what I thought about him. I put my left fist up against his chin and gave him a slap with my right hand on the side of the head. I said, ‘You’re not worth a fist. His wife became angered and I tried to hold her to one side, still gripping Fidler, but finally, she jabbed at me with a fork, which would have stuck me in the eye had I not turned my head. Instead, it pierced my ear. I must say that I admire Mrs. Fidler, God bless her. She has the courage to try to defend her husband
much more courage than he himself has.

Fidler claimed Flynn had come over to the table and tried to punch him. He filed battery charges, in part because Flynn was “going around saying that he’ll punch me every time he sees me.” Fidler didn’t want money
he wanted protection. His barb: Remember that Flynn is a former Olympic boxing champion. He is 31, 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighs at least 185 pounds. I am 41, 5 feet 8 inches tall, and I weigh only 152 pounds.”

A week after the Fidler complaint was settled without damages, in October, a  17-year-old actress named Betty Hansen said that Flynn and two of his friends. Less than a week later, another 17-year-old named Peggy La Rue Satterlee, filed another assault complaint, which allegedly took place on the actor’s yacht the year before, when she was only 15.

Peggy La Rue Satterlee

Betty Hansen (left)

On the stand, Hansen claimed to have gone to dinner at the home of Flynn’s friend, McEvoy, where she had been given an “evil green drink” which had made her very sick. Flynn took her upstairs and helped her undress but made no efforts to resists the actors sexual assault on her.

Satterlee said that she had been on the yacht before with her sister and that Flynn invited her back again (without her sister) She agreed, and Flynn picked her another girl up and they went cruising for the weekend with Flynn, his stunt man, and a national magazine photographer. She said that over the course of the weekend, Flynn assaulted her three times.
On February 6, 1943, Flynn, was acquitted of the rapes and statutory rapes of Peggy Satterlee and Betty Hansen after a month-long trial.

In 1944, the 34-year-old Flynn married 20-year-old Nora Eddington, who had been working at the courthouse during Flynn’s trial. They divorced in 1949 and she married the singer Dick Haymes later that year, the two had been carrying on secretly during the last years of her marriage to Flynn.

Almost everyone who witnessed the fight between Errol Flynn and John Huston agreed that Flynn got his clock cleaned by Huston who blackened both of the actor's eyes, but Flynn did a fair amount of damage to Huston’s face and broke several of the director's ribs as well.

When it was over they went to separate hospitals, to avoid the press. They held no grudges. The following day Huston called Flynn at home to ask how he was and if there was anything he could do for him, and a friendship developed. As gallant as Huston’s intention was, a few months later de Havilland dropped him for another screenwriter, Marcus Goodric, whom she married in 1946.

Hollywood Scandals: The 1970s Death by Overdose

The 1970s were filled with tragic and strange deaths of Oscar winners and nominees and other actors who just barely missed the mark starting with the suicide of Chester Morris who played the beloved character “Boston Blackie” in a series of 1940 B-movie detective films. Morris started acting at age 15, by 1929 he was nominated, at the second Oscars, for best actor in the film Alibi but lost out to Warner Baxter. He had a long, productive and successful life including a 30-year marriage to socialite Lillian Kenton Barker.
In mid-1968, Morris’s health began to decline. A checkup showed he had stomach cancer but despite that he continued to work, joining the stage production of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania. On September 11, 1970, Lee R. Yopp, the show’s producer and director of Caine, was scheduled to have lunch with Morris. When Morris didn’t show, Yopp went to the actor's hotel room and found him lying on the floor, dead from an overdosed on barbiturates.
George Sanders won best supporting actor for his outstanding work in the 1950 film
All About Eve (1950) Sanders was born in Saint Petersburg, in the Russian Empire. There was always talk that he was the illegitimate son of a prince of the House of Oldenburg and a Russian noblewoman of the Czar’s court, married to a sister of the Czar. Aside from acting, Sanders was a talented novelist and accomplished recording talent. In the late 1960s, Sanders began to show signs of dementia and suffered a minor stroke. Depression followed made worse by a divorce from his third and last wife, Magda Gabor, the elder sister of his second wife Zsa Zsa Gabor. The marriage to Magda lasted 32 days.
(Zsa Zsa Gabor had her own interesting marital matters at the time. He sixth husband, Jack Ryan owned the 16,000-foot Bel-Air mansion of Warner Baxter, the first actor to win the Academy Award in 1928. Baxter, by the way, also invented a traffic light switch for emergency vehicle drivers to change traffic light signals. Jack Ryan, who designed the first Barbie Doll and the Hot Wheels cars bought the site and lived there 1963-1977. Ryan, who enjoyed cocaine, installed 144 phone lines in the house which rang to the sounds of chirping birds. He also held a party there every other day that included the occasional orgy, circus acts and hookers. Ryan enjoyed inviting women over to the house, luring them into a room with rose petals on the floor, which led to Ryan lying in a coffin masturbating.)
On April 23, 1972, Sanders checked into a hotel near Barcelona where he swallowed an enormous overdose of barbiturate Nembutal, although the actual cause of death was a heart attack brought on by the overdose. He left behind three suicide note, the last one read “Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck. George Sanders.”
Charles Boyer was the suave and sophisticated (He spoke French, English, Italian, German, and Spanish) Frenchman who had a fleeting moment as a romantic heartthrob and an entire career as an outstanding actor who received four Best Actor nominations (Conquest (1937), Algiers (1938), Gaslight (1944) and Fanny (1961)
He was no stranger to tragedy. His only child, Michael Charles Boyer, despondent over losing a girlfriend, killed himself while playing Russian roulette in 1965. When his wife of 44 years and the love of his life, British actress Pat Paterson died from cancer in 1978, two days before his own 79th birthday, the actor took his own life two days later with an overdose of Seconal.


The diminutive actress (her top weight was 94 pounds) Maggie McNamara, a former model, had a brief but shining career in films. In 1953 she was nominated for best actress in what was then the edgy film, The Moon is Blue, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
She followed The Moon is Blue with the mainstream film Three Coins in the Fountain, in 1954. Her next film, Prince of Players, was her last. Maggie was fragile and never completely comfortable with her fame and suffered from mental illness and depression throughout most of her life. She was difficult to work with, refused to move to LA, the center of the film world and wouldn’t do publicity for any of her work. Adding to her problems was her divorce from actor and director David Swift, which caused her to suffer a nervous breakdown. She never remarried.
Almost an entire decade passed before she accepted work again, appearing in the 1962 Broadway play Step on a Crack and 1963s Come Blow Your Horn. She made a cameo appearance in the film The Cardinal as a favor to Otto Preminger and afterward did mostly television.
But again, it was all too much for her and in 1964 he dropped out of sight again and took a job as a typist and otherwise worked as a temp to get by. She also wrote a film script at around the same time.
Severe depression captured her again and on February 18, 1978, McNamara, who was only 49 years old, wrote a suicide note, took an overdose of sleeping pills and tranquilizers, laid died on her couch and her small Manhattan apartment and died.


The gentle actress Inger Stevens also took her own life by overdose on April 30, 1970, in Hollywood. Stevens was a woman beset by personnel demons. She was born in Sweden, as Inger Stensland, the eldest of three children. Her mother abandoned the family for another man when Stevens was 6 years old. Her father moved to the US, remarried, landed a teaching position at Columbia, and in 1944, sent for the children who were being cared for by a nanny and then, later, an aunt.
A few years later, Stevens ran away from home, worked in a burlesque chorus line but was eventually found by her father her brought her back home. After high school, she moved to Manhattan and found odd jobs as a model, did some summer stock and television commercials.
In 1955, she married her agent, Tony Soglio, was also her first agent. (Who Americanized her name to Stevens) They married in 1955 but separated after only six months and divorced in 1958. She made her first film in 1957 opposite Bing Crosby in Man on Fire. She fell in love with Crosby, who was twice her age, but it never went anywhere because Stevens refused to convert to Catholicism so they could marry. And so it went for the rest of her career. She would fall for virtually every leading man she worked with including James Mason, Anthony Quinn, (who was married) Harry Belafonte, (who was married) Dean Martin, (Who was married) Burt Reynolds and others.
All of these affairs ended with her being dropped which left her empty and depressed. On New Year's Day, in her first suicide attempt, she swallowed sleeping pills and ammonia which left her with blood clots in her lungs, legs swelled up to twice their size, and temporary blindness but she lived.
In 1963 she was handed her own series as Katy Holstrum, the Swedish governess, in The Farmer's Daughter. The show, a comedy, was a huge hit and earned her a Golden Globe award and Emmy nomination.
Her career went well even after the series ended. Aaron Spelling chose her to co-star in a new TV series, The Most Deadly Game, which would premiere in the fall of 1970. Filming was to start immediately.
She was wealthy and famous, but depression took its toll. Hollywood left her cold and unfulfilled "A career can't put its arms around you," she said "You end up like Grand Central Station with people just coming and going. And there you are, left alone."
At about 7:30 pm on April 29, 1970, Stevens had an argument with her boyfriend, actor Burt Reynolds and Reynolds stormed out of the house. At about 11 pm Stevens called her personal assistant, Chris Bone, talked about the argument with Reynolds and mentioned that she had drunk two glasses of wine. She ended the conversation by saying she was going to take a sleeping pill and go to bed.
The next morning Stevens friend, Lola McNally, found her lying on the kitchen floor almost unconscious. She was able to open her eyes but couldn’t not speak. Stevens died before the ambulance could reach the hospital. The cause of death was suicide by acute barbiturate poisoning. She had taken twenty-five to fifty pills and it’s doubtful that the point was anything but suicide.
It wasn’t until after death that the world learned that Stevens had been married since 1961 to an African-American actor named Ike Jones. Even in the 1970s interracial marriages were tricky and hers could have stalled her career, so she kept it a secret
to protect her career. However, the were estranged at the time of her death.
A month after her death, Jones, supported by Stevens brother, asked to be named administrator of her estate. His request was granted, but after the stars bills were paid, according to Jones, there was virtually nothing left.
Stevens friend and family didn’t believe, or perhaps refused to believe the actor killed herself. William Patterson, a former private investigator, looked into the case and also doubted the state's version of event. Among other things there was a bottle of asthma pills on the scene that didn’t belong to Stevens since she didn’t have asthma. There was a cut on her chin and abrasion on the arm, indicating that she had been manhandled. She also died with her IUD in place, which is odd. She made half of her favorite sandwich in the kitchen. His theory is that someone close to Inger Stevens came to the house and forced her to swallow enough pills to kill herself.
Ike Jones


Katherine Victoria Walsh was an actress best known for her performance as Lulu in Jack Nicholson's 1967 film, The Trip 1967. She also had a bit role in the film, The Chase and otherwise had made the rounds on various TV shows. In 1969 she married Baron Piers Patrick Francis von Westenholz, but the marriage was annulled the following year. On October 8, 1970, the 23-year-old Walsh was found dead in her apartment in fashionable Kensington, in London England. A coroners court returned an open verdict in her death, meaning they didn’t know, or couldn’t explain why she died. However, a British court official made a remark off the record that the cause of death alcohol and barbiturate poisoning, but that it wasn’t possible to establish whether the death was suicide or accidental. To this day, the English government has never revealed any other facts in the case.