Silent Forever:

 

Silent Forever; The murder of Ramon Novarro. Ramon Novarro was a silent film star of such Hollywood classics as Ben Hur, The Silver Chalice, and Mata Hari. A significant star during the 1920’s second only to Rudolph Valentino. Ramon Novarro was gay. A romantic leading figure popular with both men and women. On October 30th, 1968 he was brutally murdered by two brothers Paul and Tom Ferguson. Novarro invited the two brothers over for a quiet evening at his estate in Studio City, Ca. The Ferguson brothers, were both hustlers who had dabbled in the gay porn industry.

 

Ramon Novarro was hoping for a night of intimacy with one of the brothers. The Fergusons  were looking to steal a large amounts of money that they believed was hidden away in his mansion. Novarro admitted he kept no money on the premises, and offered to pay them by cheque. This infuriated Paul Ferguson who knew that Novarro was wealthy man. So began a night of terror for Ramon Novarro. Paul Ferguson began to beat Novarro with a silver cane. Ferguson pummelled the 68 year old movie star on the back, stomach and groin areas of his body, that left the actor black and blue.

 

None of the cane blows proved to be fatal. The actor died of asphyxiation, choking on his own blood. During the beating the younger brother Tom Ferguson spoke to his girlfriend over the phone for 40 minutes. To her horror she could hear the screams of Mr. Novarro who was pleading for his life. When the police arrived they stumbled upon a truly gruesome scene. Scrawled in grease pencil on the bathroom mirror was the phrase’ “US girls are better than those fagots” [sic]. It was also reported that Paul Ferguson sexually ravaged the actor with a silver lead dildo given to Ramon from his friend Valentino, although this is unsubstantiated.

 

When the news broke of the murder, the rumors of Ramon Novarro’s sexuality were exposed. Private details of his sex life became fodder for newspapers around the world. Headlines claiming that the actor was a degenerate, luring the two brothers with money and promise of an acting career in exchange for sex, damaged the credibility of the actor and incited the public into a witchhunt against homosexuals. In 1968 gay people did not enjoy the freedoms we have today; one could be imprisoned for being gay, or lose one’s job, or risk being beaten and harassed, just for being gay, or suspected of being gay.

 

The murder trial of the Fergusons exposed the drab lives that these two brothers had. Raised in poverty, often neglected, and repeatedly beaten by their father, it isn’t hard to fathom how these boys became murders. Uneducated and ill prepared for life these two young men became petty criminals, hustlers, only ever finding work in menial jobs. Like many other young men with similar backgrounds, they often found themselves in desperate situations.

Silent Forever

acrylic, mix media on panel

24" x 36"

2015

40 mins

acrylic, mix media on panel

8" x 8"

2015

Portrait of a Killer

acrylic, mix media on panel

8" x 8"

2015

22 Deadly Blows

acrylic, mix media on panel

8" x 8"

2015