Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
November 24
October 30, 1968
Ramon Navarro murdered

Ramon Navarro came to LA in 1913 with hopes of making a new life for himself. While working at the Alexandria Hotel, he was spotted by director Rex Ingram who cast him first as an extra, and then as the lead of Prisoner of Zenda in 1923. The beautiful young man was deemed the worthy successor to Rudolph Valentino’s Latin lover role. Reportedly he shared more than a legacy with Valentino as the two were close friends and supposedly lovers at one point. Despite his success with films like Ben-Hur and The Student Prince, Navarro never really transitioned to sound. His next big headline would have nothing to do with cinema. On Halloween, 1968, the police found the naked, dead body of the famed silent film star. Following phone records, detectives found Paul and Tom Ferguson, two brothers who’d visited Navarro on October 30. Towards the end of his life, Navarro was an avid consumer of male hustlers. But the brothers were there because they falsely believed that Navarro had $5,000 buried under his floorboards. As Tom was on the phone with his girlfriend in Chicago––the call the police used to catch the brothers––Paul beat Navarro to an inch of his life to get him to tell him where the money was. In defeat, the brothers attempted to make the scene look like a rape/robbery. After stripping the star down and tying him up, they scrawled "Us girls are better than those fagits" on the bathroom mirror. Navarro soon choked to death on his own blood. During the trial, the defense attorney Richard Walton blamed Navarro’s sexuality, exclaiming "Back in the days of Valentino, this man who set female hearts aflutter, was nothing but a queer. There’s no way of calculating how many felonies this man committed over the years, for all his piety." Both brothers were sentenced to life, but paroled after only seven years. Paul was again arrested and convicted for rape.


More Flashbacks
Emir Kusturica November 24, 1954
Emir Kusturica born

Emir Kusturica, one of the most acclaimed figures in world cinema, was born on this day in 1954 in Sarajevo, the former Yugoslavian city which is now the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Read more »
November 24, 1948
The Bicycle Thief released

When Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief opened in New York, many heralded it as the finest realization of the Italian Neo-Realist style.

Read more »
November 24, 1947
Making a Black List

On 24 November, 1947 –– just days before Thanksgiving –– the House of Representatives voted 346 to 17 to approve citations against the famed Hollywood Ten for contempt of Congress. A month before, the House Un–American Activities Committee (HUAC) had turned its attention to Hollywood, calling up 43 people whom they suspected of communist sympathies, eventually whittling that list down to 11. Of these, Bertolt Brecht agreed to answer questions and immediately left the country. The remaining ten – nine screenwriters and one director – stood pat in their belief that the Fifth Amendment provided a Constitutional right for them not to testify against themselves. The House of Representatives’ vote on 24 November, however, disagreed. The next day, Hollywood joined in, suspending pay for the Hollywood Ten and issuing a joint statement showing their solidarity to fight the red menace. The top studios publicly proclaimed that they would fire anyone who was or had been a communist, and would not hire anyone with communist sympathies (proved or otherwise). Within weeks, scores of studio employees were on the street, pounding the pavement for another job. And the Hollywood Blacklist had officially begun and was in full force.

Read more »