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Vintage 1950s: The Joan Bennett Scandal by Janet Elizabeth Lynn

August 3, 2018 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , , ,

Vintage 1950s: The Joan Bennett Scandal | Janet Lynn and Will Zeilinger | A Slice of Orange

My husband, Will Zeilinger and I co-write the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series, a hardboiled mystery series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the west. Our new book, Slick Deal, begins News Year’s Eve 1956 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The first murder and clues lead to Avalon, Catalina.

During our research of the 1950s we come across mysteries and scandals in the newspapers. These give us ideas to include as background in our novels. One scandal stood out and we used in Slick Deal was the Joan Bennett Scandal. We modified the events to fit in our story.

Joan Bennett was a successful screen actress, represented by her long time agent Jennings Lang. On December 13, 1951 she and Lang met to talk over an upcoming TV show.

Bennett parked her Cadillac convertible in the lot across the street from the Beverly Hills Police Department. She and Lang drove off in his car.

Her husband, Walter Wanger, drove by and noticed his wife’s car parked. Half an hour later, he again saw her car there and stopped to wait. Bennett and Lang drove into the parking lot a few hours later. Lang walked her to her car. As she started the engine, turned on the headlights and prepared to drive away. Wanger walked up and shot and the agent in a fit of jealousy

Bennett said she saw two vivid flashes, then Lang slumped to the ground. Wanger tossed the pistol into his wife’s car.

The police, who had heard the shots, came to the scene and found the gun in Bennett’s car when they took Wanger into custody. Lang was taken to a hospital, where he recovered.

Wanger said, “I shot him because I thought he was breaking up my home.” He was booked on suspicion of assault with intent to commit murder.

Bennett denied a romance. She blamed the trouble on financial setbacks involving film productions Wanger was involved with. She said he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Wanger served a four-month sentence, then quickly returning to his career to make a series of successful films.

Meanwhile, Bennett went to Chicago to appear on the stage.

Bennett made only five movies in the decade that followed, as the shooting incident put a “stain” on her career and she became virtual

ly blacklisted.

In a 1981 interview, Bennett compared the judgmental 1950s with the sensation-crazed 1970s and 1980s. “It would never happen that way today,” she said, laughing. “If it happened today, I’d be a sensation. I’d be wanted by all studios for all pictures.”

Joan Bennett died of a heart attack on December 7, 1990 (at 80 years old).

The results of our research? SLIVERS OF GLASS, STRANGE MARKINGS, DESERT ICE and SLICK DEAL . . . and yes, we’re still married.

Website: www.janetlynnauthor.com

Blog: www.themarriedauthors.blogspot.com

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