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Confidential: Tells the Facts and Names the Names

August 21, 2007 |  6:11 am
1957_0819_witness_dies

1957_0820_passport Aug. 19-22, 1957
Los Angeles

Whatever Polly Gould knew about Confidential magazine died with her.

The Times said that Gould, 46, a former "investigator" for Confidential and Whisper, had once been a columnist for Jimmy Tarantino's Hollywood Night Life magazine, a thinly disguised shakedown operation in which businesses were threatened with bad publicity if they didn't buy ads.

The Times initially reported that Gould was found dead from an overdose of barbiturates in her apartment at 1925 N. Bronson. Police said later that she died of natural causes, but added the  possibility that she died of an overdose. The Times, unfortunately, never reported on the final results of an autopsy.

Ernest Wenberg, an investigator for the attorney general's office, confirmed that Gould had been called as a prosecution witness and hinted that she may have been hired to spy on Confidential's operation.

The trial was also complicated by the Aug. 12, 1957, death of a defense witness, world featherweight boxing champion Chalky Wright. A former chauffeur for Mae West, Wright apparently hit his head and drowned in a bathtub shortly before he was to testify that he received $200 for information used in a Confidential article titled "Mae West's Open-Door Policy."

West testified that Confidential's investigators got information from Wright by telling him that they were making a movie about her life and offered him a small role. "He later told me he didn't say any of the things they claim he did," West said.

Although Wright's death was apparently accidental, his former wife, Gertrude Arnold, said she had received death threats the day after being subpoenaed in the trial. Arnold, who was placed under police protection, said a gruff-voiced man called her home and warned: "Girl, if you know what's good for you, you'll clam up about this whole thing."

To be continued.

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