Writer arrested for threatening wife with butcher knife, November 21 1958
Before he died at the age of 35 when he was trapped in a burning apartment, Chamales wrote "No Rent in His Hand," an unpublished novel; another novel, "Go Naked Into the World"; a play, "Forget I Ever Lived"; an outline for screenplay, "The Mill"; and 550 pages of an unfinished novel titled "Run and Call It Living."
He also spent a fair amount of time in jail during his stormy marriage to big band vocalist Helen O'Connell, whom he married in 1957, with novelist James Jones as best man.
In October 1958, Chamales and O'Connell had a violent argument at a Wilshire Boulevard restaurant, but police said she refused to press charges. A month later, O'Connell's 14-year-old daughter from a previous marriage called police from the family home at 445 Homewood Ave., to report that Chamales had threatened O'Connell with a butcher knife. While he was in jail on those charges, he was accused of passing a bad check in Florida.
In June 1959, he was fined $500 and given two years' probation for wife-beating and the next month, five LAPD officers showed up at the home to evict him.
He was survived by a daughter from his marriage with O'Connell and two sons from a previous marriage.
Curiously, and perhaps tragically, Chamales' novels appear to be largely forgotten. "Never So Few," was made into a movie with Frank Sinatra, but the book is long out of print after being reissued in 1972.
The Wall Street Journal published this story about Gerald Chamales, one of the novelist's children, in 1998.
Update: The only copy of any of Chamales' books in the Los Angeles Public Library is in Spanish!