DATELINE: New movie book challenges true story!
One of the more interesting, great untold stories about Hollywood concerns the murder on location when John Wayne was filming The Alamo in 1959.
Most books on Wayne assiduously avoid the topic, but Wayne’s progtege, actress LeJean Ethridge, was given a larger role in the picture by Duke Wayne—and one of her roommates, a man named Chester Harvey Smith, stabbed her to death.
Wayne testified at a hasty hearing—and the subject was buried almost as fast as the unfortunate actress. Chester Smith was given a 30-year sentence—and the story was allegedly over.
Now comes an alternative history book called MURDER AT THE ALAMO, which pulls no punches with its speculative look at what may have precipitated the controversies around the movie.
Wayne apparently lost control of his film—and nearly lost his personal fortune. Casting problems and egotistic costars dogged Duke. It’s no wonder he had John Ford come to the rescue to film scenes and give the star a break. It was too much to star and to direct under such pressures.
The book looks at how a rival star seemed to exacerbate Wayne’s troubles. We can’t tell where the truth ends and fictional speculation begins. And, if you can’t tell, perhaps the difference no longer matters after 50+ years.
The story is told in press releases, news reports from minor newspapers, and gossip columnists. And, there is a who’s who of appearances of notable figures to weigh in on the controversy.
A fascinating tale, this re-telling of tragedy and movie history compels the reader to wonder why the killer was let out of prison 4 years later with a large stipend of money that he parlayed into a radio network empire.
Now available on Amazon.com for ebook and soon as paperback by 1960s gossip columnist Dam Chewy.