The sordid and gruesome murder of Ramon Navarro.
At one time, he was incredibly famous. But by 1968 he was a rather lonely old man. He lived alone in the Hollywood Hills.
That year, on the night of Halloween, he was brutally murdered. The question was, why? He was – or seemed to be -nothing more than a harmless, retired man.
Who was Ramon Novarro?
If you’d been a movie-goer in the 1920s, you would have definitely know who he was.
He had been born in Mexico but by 1924 he was an enormous Hollywood star, reputedly earning $10,000 per week. He was often cast as the ‘Latin lover’ type.
It’s said that he had the same qualities as Rudolph Valentino and in fact, Valentino was a good friend. It would have been understandable if the two men were in competition as rivals as they were so similar but nevertheless a friendship formed between them. Maybe it was because neither of them lived up to their screen reputations when it came to seducing women in real life.Indeed, Ramon’s interests went in the opposite direction…..
Although the jury is still out on the question of Valentino’s sexuality- and we’ll probably never know – thefact remains that, most likely as a joke, he gave Ramon a rather curious gift.
Some say it was intended to mock their images on the screen as lovers and womanisers; some say it was a love token. It was a black phallus-shaped ornament, engraved with Valentino’s name. It was to play a part in Novarro’s gruesome death some forty years later.
Paul and Tom Ferguson were brothers from Chicago. They were aged twenty two and seventeen respectively and were described as ‘transients’. The older brother had been in the Los Angeles area for about five months and his younger brother had joined him just three weeks before the murder.
The older brother was picked up by police a week after Novarro’s body had been discovered by his ‘male secretary’ due to what the police referred to as ‘physical evidence’. The younger brother was picked up shortly afterwards. It was claimed that their intention had been robbery – there was a strong rumour that Novarro kept $5,000 in cash in his home – a lot of money in those days. They found only $20. Both were jailed for the gruesome murder.
It was later alleged that the two young men had not gone to Novarro’s home to rob him but due to him hiring the elder brother for sexual purposes.
The younger brother, Tom, having been released, took his own life in 2005. Paul was also released but is currently back in jail serving a sixty year sentence for other crimes.
The black phallus ornament?
Novarro had been badly bludgeoned during the attack. When he was discovered he was naked and lying on his bed. These injuries were enough to kill him but he was said to have died from asphyxiation. The phallic ornament had been thrust down his throat.
This caused him to choke on his own blood.