Stairway to Scandal
the stairs leading to the Walker mansion
My story was solely intended to be about mysteries and ghosts, with a Halloween flair. I felt that if I added too much historic/biographic information it would bog down the story and greatly subtract from the original intent.
A quick recap:
My story is about the old Laurel Canyon mansion in Beverly Hills that was supposedly owned by magician Harry Houdini and haunted by his ghost.
In fact, the mansion was never owned by Houdini.
The real owner was department store magnate Ralf Marc Walker.
Legend has it that, at a Halloween party in the 1920's, Walker's son pushed his gay lover off a balcony and the unfortunate man fell to his death.
In recent years there has been some speculation as to whether Ralf Walker indeed ever had any children - and there has been doubt as to the authenticity of the legend.
What I know for a fact is that Walker was a man of great mystery and much of his existence has been clouded by a heavy shroud. Long ago when I was living in Beverly Hills and researching this story, I talked to several Hollywood old-timers who swore that the death at the party was true.
This much is certain:
Ralf Marc Walker married Eliza Fitzgerald in 1908. It is assumed that they never had children, mainly because none are listed in the Los Angeles census. The census is not always accurate, however, and children weren't always listed.
Even Ralf M. Walker wasn't listed in the 1920 census, simply because he was traveling in Europe at the time.
One thing is definite:
Ralf Walker and his wife did have a foster son named George. He is listed as living with the Walkers in the1920's - and very possibly even lived with them before that time.
George A. Scott was born in Scotland, migrated to Canada, and eventually wound up in Los Angeles - where he worked as a stock boy at Walker's downtown department store. Ralf Marc Walker took a very keen interest in the young man and unofficially "adopted" him. No one knows what their exact relationship was, but they were unusually close companions. George moved into the Walker mansion. Ralf Walker and George even took extended trips to Europe together (without Walker's wife Eliza).
Ralf Walker and George Scott eventually became business partners. They were on the verge of opening a new San Diego department store in 1935, when Walker died of a heart attack.
Did Ralf M. Walker have homosexual inclinations? Was his "adopted" son gay? Where they lovers? Was there a third person involved who inspired jealousy??
The whole "affair" could certainly have been innocent, but my keen intuition smells something very gay about the entire situation.
There is always some truth in rumor and legends.
The pieces of the puzzle aren't all there, but what lingers is the echo of authenticity:
a Halloween party at the Walker mansion, gay lovers, jealousy.......
........and even possibly murder.....
Hell, why not?
I will post the whole story later tonight.