The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Fried Rice

 

1957_0829_rice

Aug. 29-30, 1957
Los Angeles

1957_0829_rice_mug The poor thing died as hardboiled as she had lived: Renting a junky room in an old house that had been cut up into apartments. The landlord said she'd been sick for the last week. He was another writer, like her, and I wonder if he took her in because he felt sorry for her.

She got her long line of names from a long line of husbands: Georgiana Ann Randolph Fallows Ferguson Lipton De Mott Bishop. She met the last one, another writer, on her second trip to Camarillo, where her daughter put her to see if they could boil her out.

Everybody knew her as Craig Rice, author of "Having a Wonderful Crime," "Trial by Fury" and "The Lucky Stiff." Sometimes she used another pen name, Daphne Sanders.

The landlord of the house at 457 S. Serrano, R. DeWitt Miller, said she had been sick in bed for about a week and had taken a bad fall earlier in the day. She told him she was having an attack of malaria and asked him to get some quinine from the drugstore. He told her she should call a doctor, but she refused.

Two tenants found her sprawled across the bed and frothing at the mouth. James McNamara, a news editor at a radio station, and Richard Terry, an ad man, said they tried to revive her after calling an ambulance but she was dead when it arrived.

The whole place was strewn with cigarette butts and burned-out kitchen matches, and her purse was in a wicker hamper near the door, spattered with blood, The Times said. A globe of the world had fallen to the floor along with a open book: "A Family Treasury of Children's Stories."

Her pink eyeglasses were lying on a copy of her latest book, "Knocked for a Loop," next to her portable typewriter on a desk cluttered with more junk: A stuffed rabbit, Madonna and Child, and an empty vodka bottle. Beneath her ashtray were two bad checks, one for $60, the other for $410, returned for insufficient funds.

There was a wobbly pile of books on her nightstand and a painting of her mother on the wall, hanging above a fake mantel. "A somber oil portrait of a lovely woman of another era," The Times said.

She showed an early flair for drama, having been born in a carriage at Michigan Avenue and 12th Street in Chicago. She began writing poetry when she was 9 and got her first newspaper job when she was 18. Along the way, she wrote songs, publicity, a gardening column (she won a prize for her petunias), movie scenarios and had three children.

1957_0830_rice_desk

Dr. Frederick Newbarr, the medical examiner, said more tests were needed to determine the cause of death. The Times never reported on the results.

Georgiana Ann Randolph Fallows Ferguson Lipton De Mott Bishop, author of "My Kingdom for a Hearse," was 49.

Bonus fact: Earl Derr Biggers, the author of the Charlie Chan mysteries, lived at 2000 E. California Blvd., San Marino.

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Comments (1)

This Craig Rice blows me away. Amazingly prolific, considering her lifestyle. What a life. She apparently left a lot of unpublished short stories:

"Say It With Flowers" (September 1957, Manhunt; also 1997, American Pulp)
"The Tears of Evil" (1958, The Name Is Malone; John J. Malone)
"The Murder of Mr. Malone" (1958, The Name Is Malone; John J. Malone)
"Life Can Be Horrible" (1958, The Name Is Malone; John J. Malone)
"He Never Went Home" (1958, The Name Is Malone; John J. Malone)
"The End of Fear" (1958; The Name Is Malone; John J. Malone)
"Withers and Malone, Brain-Stormers" (March 1959, EQMM; with Stuart Palmer, featuring Hildegarde Withers and John J. Malone)
"They're Trying to Kill Me" (February 1959, The Saint Mystery Magazine; John J. Malone)
"People vs. Withers and Malone" (1963, People vs. Withers and Malone; with Stuart Palmer, featuring Hildegarde Withers and John J. Malone)
"The Butler Who Didn't Do It" (1960; also Alfred Hitchcock Presents: 16 Skeletons From My Closet; John J. Malone)
"Hardsell "(A Month of Mystery; John J. Malone)

For this reason, some say she died in '59, tho how The Mirror was so prescient is beyond the rest of us---or did someone monkey with the microfiche to make us think, through you, Mr Larry Harnisch, now under suspicion, she died two years before she did?? Did she go under cover in August 1957---her hideout a cemetary?!

One bio on the web sez much of her material was surreal. Gotta hire a dick to find one copy. Long live Craig Rice. ~ Craig B Hill


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