38th Anniversary of Veteran Actor Charles Wagenheim Hollywood Murder: A Bizarre "Zodiac" Connection That Spanned 27 Years
March 31, 2017
This month marks the 38th anniversary of the murder of veteran actor, Charles Wagenheim, who was beaten to death in his Hollywood apartment on March 6, 1979.
Here is the “fact stranger than fiction” Wagenheim story that begins in 1952 and ends with my investigation and solving of his murder in 1979. From Most Evil II, Chapter 6:
The Murder of Veteran Actor, Victor Kilian Just Five Days Later
Just five days after the murder of Charles Wagenheim, a second elderly well-known actor was murdered less than three miles away. Victor Kilian, who resided in the legendary Lido Apartments (Pictured in The Eagles album cover for “Hotel California”), was also bludgeoned to death in his apartment. Here’s an LA Times article from back then, in which I informed the public “the two crimes were not connected”.
Wow Steve that is really interesting stuff. Did (do) you believe that the Killian murder was in fact unrelated? If so, did you ever have any theories as far as suspects, motive, etc? Obviously GHH was familiar with Wagenheim being the cinephile he was. If you had gone to work with GHH when he offered you a position in Manila, do you think he would have ever revealed (in his typically obtuse way) anything about his career as a killer to you? He really seemed to take a special (psychopathic) delight in your being a detective and he the monstrous serial killer. I admire you Steve, all of this musn’t be easy but as I’ve said before you are the only person alive to tell the tale of GHH and what a tale it is. CAN NOT WAIT for “The Early Years”.
Lucas: Yes, no connection between the known/identified Wagenheim suspect, Stephanie Boone and the Killian murder. Best guess was Killian’s killer was probably someone he invited home from a local bar. Those years attracted a lot of tough street type hustlers to Hollywood and he may well have become the victim of that type of predator. No, I’m sure dad would never have revealed his “night job” to me had I joined him in Manila. But, yes he did love the cat-and-mouse game and no question that being who he was it must have pleased him to no end to know that his son was a ‘big city homicide detective” at the same time he was committing his crimes in the San Francisco Bay Area. Thanks for the kind words. Steve
Charles Wagenheim was my Dad’s cousin. A few years before he died, I .flew from NJ to California and he took me to lunch. A very nice man…
Hi Kal: An amazing body of work he left us over his fifty plus years of acting. He was there almost from the start. I’m sure he was a remarkable individual off-screen too. Nice that you had a chance to meet in person. May he rest in peace. Best, Steve.
What ever happened to Stephanie Boone? Where is she now?
Wendy C: Have no idea what became of her after her release from prison. Not sure how many years she actually served, but my guess is probably about six or seven years?. SKH Note: Oops. I see in the blog above I indicated she served “eight years” so must have seen or read that somewhere. Sounds right.
I hope SOMEBODY know what happened to the killer nurse!
Hopefully she never became a caretaker to someone else!
From 1974-1976, when I was 5-6 years old, my family and I were tenants in a home on Laurel Canyon and Charles Wagenheim was our landlord. He filmed small roles in The Apple Dumpling Gang and The Missouri Breaks while we lived there. I have fond memories of him and his dog, Harvey, from those days. Our family had moved to the northeast at the time of the murder., and he was always very nice to me. By the time of his murder, we had moved to the northeast, and I was very sad when I heard he had been killed.
Tim K: Thanks for sharing that information. Yes, I’m sure Charles was a great individual aside from his remarkable career as an actor.
Interesting that you tell us his dog was named “Harvey”. That was my grandfather’s last name and here’s an excerpt from a prior blog on the subject.
Re. my grandfather Charles Eugence Harvey:
(Author Note- 6.6.2010- With the new documentation we can now further correct the record. We now know that grandfather Harvey was employed as a Hollywood High School printing instructor from 1928 until at least 1941, so his job at the Los Angeles Examiner was either a partime second-job during the Depression years or he worked two jobs.)
At age 62 (?) he washed his hands of the printer’s ink, and in semi-retirement, donned the uniform of a doorman, complete with gold buttons and epaulets, at one of Hollywood’s fancy hotels.
Mother had a tremendous love for her father. She spoke proudly of the chess-playing atheist who was a voracious reader, a liberal, a thinker and a scholar. She affectionately described him as a lover of people and life.
My favorite anecdote about grandfather was the story mother told us about when he was a hotel doorman in Hollywood. At the hotel he met a woman, who was staying as a long-term guest. Everyday grandfather would be there to open the door for her as she came and went. The woman was a writer, and being kindred spirits–naturally, they became friends.
One day, she checked out of the hotel and returned to the East. During her stay at the hotel, she had written a play. In November, 1944, it premiered on Broadway. It was a smash hit and ran for nearly five years. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1945. The name of the playwright? Mary Chase. Her play? HARVEY. Based on her friendship and affection for grandfather, the friendly hotel doorman, she honored him by naming her pooka, the invisible 6-6″ rabbit, after him!
Wow! That’s an amazing story that I never knew. Harvey was one of my favorite James Stewart films…thank you for sharing where the inspiration for the pooka came from… 🙂