Auto Accident in ’44

August 20, 2008

The cover of the Los Angeles Times, Dec. 8th, 1944, features these headlines: JAPAN ADMITS DAMAGE BY QUAKE, PATTON CLOSES IN ON SAARBRUCKEN, NIMITZ TELLS OF SINKING JAP SNEAK ATTACK SHIPS.

At the bottom of the page, there is this smaller headline:

Johnny Mack Brown, Charles Starrett Hurt

COLUSA, Dec. 7, (AP) — Johnny Mack Brown and Charles Starrett, Hollywood motion picture actors, are in a hospital here for treatment of cuts and bruises received in an automobile accident near Colusa this morning. Highway Patrol officers said their automobile collided with a truck and trailer.

Where is Colusa, you ask? Right here.

What were Johnny Mack Brown and CS doing in this little town above Sacramento?

Here’s what Charley says about the matter, “A fancy country club wanted me to join their club and sent me an invitation for duck hunting in their grounds, and I could bring one guest with me.  I called my friend Johnny and we drove my specially built Cadillac station wagon, on which I had spent about $10,000, quite a lot of money in those days.  As we were going up a country road, a big bulldozer broke loose and headed our way.  I couldn’t do anything, the darn thing landed on our roof and would have surely crushed us if it hadn’t been for the extra roof reinforcement I had put in.  It was the best investment I had ever spent on.  Johnny and I landed in the hospital with minor injuries.  Well, I couldn’t even sue the guy who owned the bulldozer, a big shot in the area, who owned a large rice plantation and just about everyone in town worked for him.  Our lawyers stated even if we tried suing, he would have the case rigged by saying we were a couple of Hollywood cowboys on a drunken spree.  It was real frustrating and it was a hopeless case.”

Duck hunting.  Rice plantation.  Bulldozers.  Gotcha.

This would have been right before Charley started wearing the mask.

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