Thursday, June 09, 2005

Father 'Abducts' Grandchildren of Jose Iturbi

June 9, 1947
Beverly Hills

Stephen Hero, former concert violinist and one-time protege of renowned Spanish pianist Jose Iturbi has confessed to “abduct[ing]” his daughters, Iturbi’s grandchildren, and taking them to New York, where his parents live.

Mr. Hero, Maria Theresa, 10, and Maria Antonia, 9, had been living at Mr. Iturbi’s Beverly Hills estate at 913 N. Bedford Drive since their mother Maria shot herself at the home on April 16 of last year. Her father heard the fatal shot while he was practising and discovered his daughter in her room, mortally wounded, her hair in flames from the exploding shell.

Maria was estranged from her husband at the time of her death, and her father had supported the children since their parents’ 1940 out-of-court separation agreement. In 1941 Maria was granted custody, on grounds of non-support from Hero.

In March 1943, Iturbi entered Superior Court seeking custody of his granddaughters, making unspecified claims that his daughter was unfit to raise them. Before going to court, Mrs. Hero took a job in a drugstore and moved the girls out of her father’s house at 707 N. Hillcrest Drive.

In court, father and daughter appeared so chummy that Judge Edward R. Brand suggested they settle their differences out of court, for the sake of the children and to avoid airing the family’s dirty linen publically, but through their attorneys Jerry Giesler (his) and Roger Marchetti (hers), they initially declined the suggestion,

However, following Mrs. Hero’s dramatic collapse in chambers, an out of court settlement was reached which left their mother with custody, provided mother and daughters live in the Iturbi home, the children have no evening visitors, no family members be employed as domestics or live in the home, and their mother may take the children out any Sunday, providing their nurse received advance notice.

Back in New York, Mr. Hero says that Iturbi was so jealous of the girls’ attention that he refused to permit them to show any affection to their father, and further that he lived in fear of physical assault while while chez Iturbi. So when Iturbi departed for Paris to begin a European concert tour, Hero gave the servants the day off, booked a transcontinental flight under the name Frank Swartz and bundled both Marias aboard. Yes, Hero told reporters, their grandfather could give the girls material things, but not the affection that their natural father could give them.

Iturbi’s lawyer, William V. O’Connor, scoffed at Hero’s claims, and stated that a custody battle would commence once his client returned from his tour on the 20th, or possibly sooner.


Larry said...

I came across this while looking for something else:

Who Was “Red” Shay?

BURBANK, Jan. 25—[To the
Editor of The Times:] Your ac-
count of the death of Robert D.
Shay of Burbank, who was
killed in an automobile accident
Sunday, is accurate, but you do
not say who Robert D. Shay

“Red” was a driver for the
By-Ur-Dor Ice Cream Company
and by virtue of his office and
nature probably the best-loved
resident the town had. He was,
indeed, a sort of informal cater-
er to the whole community. He
knew exactly what time to ar-
rive with the dessert; a genial,
grinning discretion was part of
him, causing him to come si-
lently and go quickly, so that
the assembled company never
knew of the transactions going
on abaft the kitchen. He never

Among the children, he had
the status of an elder brother.
I am told that when he had a
free hour he repaired to the
school lot to play with them; he
mourned with them, gave them
solace and comfort when the
ice cream turned out to have
no free paddle in it; was sus-
pected, even, of loading the dice
in favor of youngsters who had
had a long run of bad luck. His
death has been a stark tragedy
to hundreds of these.


+ + +

“Red” Shay, 26, was riding with his girlfriend, Nancy Reed, in the rumble seat a car driven by his roommate, L.W. Sinclair, when it struck a Pacific Electric train on Huntington in Arcadia at the edge of the Baldwin Ranch, Jan. 22, 1933. Sinclair and his girlfriend, Lorraine Gaines, apparently survived. Shay and Reed did not.

Shay, the beloved ice cream man of Burbank, was buried at Forest Lawn, Glendale.

A happy discovery. I’ll never be able to think of the author of “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and “Double Indemnity” in the same way.

Kim said...

What a lovely find. Larry, you honor us with your discoveries!

Larry said...

Personal note:

To B.S. in Beverly Hills.

Some Las Vegas casino executives should close those swank drapes when they sit in the living room and read the paper. It's hard to clean the matching fabric on the sofa.

shiloh said...

Mr.Iturbi's house is not on "913 North Bedford Drive" it is on 915 North Bedford Drive.

Susan Liebell said...

Thanks for posting this. Stephen Hero was my violin teacher as a child. Very strange (and interesting) to find this.

Susan Liebell said...

Thanks for posting this. Stephen Hero was my violin teacher as a child. Very strange (and interesting) to find this.