Their exploits were often the lead story on society pages, whether sailing on the family yacht, Casiana, or attending a dinner at a table that "glowed with a handsome mound of Richmond roses. In , even a car Ned purchased for Lucy was newsworthy. It was described as "the classiest creation of the year," custom made by Earl Automobile Works:. But life for Ned Doheny was not all play and no work.
He and Hugh then traveled to Washington D. Ned handed over the money to Fall, a friend of his father from the rough and tumble mining days. Fall handed Ned a promissory note. Within a month, Doheny Sr. This simple transaction would turn Ned and Hugh's world upside down. The exchange of money, which Doheny would call a loan to an old friend, and numerous government officials would call a bribe, was part of the infamous Teapot Dome scandal, which would consume the rest of the s. In , Albert Fall, fellow oil man Harry F.
Sinclair, and E. At a grand jury hearing in D. However, due to endless political duels in Washington, E. In the midst of this chaos, doting and perhaps grateful E. Built on acres overlooking the still sleepy village of Beverly Hills, Greystone was designed by Gordon Kaufmann, a prominent architect whose work included the Hoover Dam and the Los Angeles Times building. Begun in , the room mansion included a bowling alley with a hidden bar, walls made of leaded glass, a main hall of checkered Carrara marble, a personal switchboard, secret passageways, and grand rooms filled with European antiques.
The exquisite grounds, including an foot waterfall which could be turned on with a switch, stables, riding trails, a swimming pool, kennel, and the still awe-inspiring Renaissance inspired "Cyprus Lane," were designed by landscape architect Paul Thiene. According to Thiene's main designer Emile Kuehl: "The sky was the limit. I would ask Mr. Thiene what the client might want.
Greystone , ca.
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It was to be Ned and Lucy's home, but it was Hugh who oversaw the construction of Greystone. Ned was frequently in Washington supporting his father through the Teapot Dome scandal. According to another family retainer, "Hugh often signed checks for Mr. Doheny totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. He attended to most of the details of the new home and actually paid the contractors bills with checks made out in Mr.
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Doheny's name. In the fall of , with the house nearing completion, the Doheny faithful claimed that the once quiet, even tempered Hugh was starting to unravel. Some blamed trouble with his teeth, others a dependence on sleeping pills, the breakdown of his eleven year marriage, and other "unknown problems. And although Ned had been assured immunity, Hugh had not. Against this tense backdrop, the Doheny clan moved into Greystone before Thanksgiving. Ned and Lucy celebrated their first holiday season at Greystone with a thirty-foot Christmas tree adorned with piles of presents.
They hosted a party featuring one hundred couples dancing to Christmas songs played by an orchestra sitting in a special gallery above the mansion ballroom. On Christmas Eve, Hugh supposedly suffered a complete "nervous breakdown," and was put in the care of the family doctor, Dr. Ernest Clyde Fishbaugh. By February, the Doheny circle claimed Hugh was completely unhinged. According to Dr. They urged him to take a "rest" at a sanitarium. Was this to get him mental help, or to exempt him from testifying at Fall's upcoming trial?
Or both? We will never know.
Whatever the case, the doctor claimed that "Hugh refused. He simply sat there. Almost shaking at times. Hands clenched. Jaw set at times. He said he would come out of it all right. I could see it was no use to push him further and so I left.
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Ned Doheny with his mother and father L. Times, February 18, According to the "official story," in the early evening of February 16, Ned and Lucy went to visit Hugh at his apartment, again urging him to get help. During this visit, Ned uttered some "impulsive remarks" that upset Hugh. Ned and Lucy left Hugh, and went to the theater. They returned to Greystone. As they were getting ready for bed, Hugh called. Lucy implored him not to. A little while later, Hugh let himself into the main house with his pass key.
Ned found him in the guest bedroom he often slept in, and sat down to talk with his troubled friend. An hour or so passed, and the two men had drinks and smoked cigarettes.
Lucy was in another part of the house. According to Doctor Fishbaugh:. Both men had been shot in the head and were dead. Frantic calls went out to Lucy's brothers-in-law, to D. Fitts, and to the Beverly Hills police. Old E. Doheny was awoken at his home at Chester Place, and rushed to the scene. The ensuing, if brief, media storm cast Ned as a hero who had "died the finest kind of death," trying to help a troubled friend. Many in law enforcement, including forensic investigator Leslie White, doubted the pat story of murder-suicide. The gun used in the murder lay under Plunkett's body, very warm, as if someone had heated it in the oven.
Fishbaugh -- the main mouthpiece for the Doheny family -- was caught in several lies, including withholding the fact that Ned had been alive when the doctor burst into the room, breathing although already unconscious.
White also observed that it appeared that Ned had been shot at very close range, while it seemed that Hugh had not. The city of Los Angeles was titillated by this tragedy of titans. Ned's funeral at St. Vincent's, the beautiful church funded by E. Hundreds stood outside the Catholic Church, held back by a special detail of traffic officers. Ned was buried at Forest Lawn in the magnificent temple of Santa Sabina, which once contained the bones of an Italian Saint of the second century. A day later, Hugh was buried only a feet away from Ned on Sunrise Slope.
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