Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dareos, the (Somewhat) Soothsayer of Hollywood

If you were an actor in the 1920s, or just hung around with them, chances are that someone would eventually drag you along to visit a fortune teller or psychic.  Early Hollywood was a superstitious lot, and there were plenty of people willing to exploit it:

There are all kinds of soothsayers and prophets.  There are sincere ones, no doubt – and equally doubtlessly, ruthless charlatans…[the] good people of movieland, in no small degree, believe what the hocus-pocus peddlers tell them!  [1]

The most famous of the “hocus-pocus peddlers” was Dareos, about whom there is maddeningly little on the internet.  Photoplay investigates:

This Dareos’ full name, by the way, is George Dareos.  He has a rambling suite of rooms in a two-story building, over a branch bank in Ocean Park – a beach town near Hollywood.  He is listed in the phone book as “Dareos, George, psychoanalyst”, but he tells you frankly that he just senses things about his clients…
“[I] lived for a long time in the East and in Europe.  My people thought I was going to be a lawyer, but I didn’t want to.  It was in 1916 that I first took up this psychic work…[I] went into a fortune-teller’s tent, and…I had told his fortune instead of him telling me mine.” [2]

The only other background I could find is by Irving Shulman, in his book Jackie: The Exploitation of a First Lady (and you know there must be a dearth of info if I’m using Shulman):

[M]any of these stellar people were clients of George Dareos, formerly butler to a Hollywood star addicted to frequent consultation with a Pasadena medium.  After Dareos compared his earnings as a manservant with the medium’s takings, he decided to set himself up as a seer.

Which of these stories are true?  Who knows?  At any rate, Dareos’ prophetic skill was legend in and around Tinseltown; he advised Pola Negri, Charles Chaplin, Mae Murray, Mabel Normand, and a multitude of the cinema elite.

One of his more infamous clients was Valentino, as noted in Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino by Emily W Leider:

[H]e sought advice from a crystal-ball-gazing Santa Monica seer, Dareos, who told a reporter that Valentino had come to him in a confused state, confessing his undying love for Mrs Valentino [Natacha Rambova] and begging for a glimpse into the future.  Dareos foretold that the separated couple would never be reconciled… “I told him he was born to have many romances and that he should never get married.”

We’ve established his reputation, but the question remains: how was his accuracy? 

Let’s test it ourselves!  In the aforementioned Photoplay article, Dareos predicts the future for some big names.

Tom Mix:
“Tom Mix should be careful.  I predict that Tom Mix will be ruined if he’s not careful.  If he doesn’t watch out, some day a bolt will strike him like lightning out of the blue!” [3]

[photo courtesy Wikipedia]

Well, Mix wasn’t exactly ruined, but something did strike him – the aluminum suitcase he was traveling with, forever to be known as the “Suitcase of Death”:

On the day he died, Mix was driving north from Tucson in his beloved bright-yellow Cord Phaeton sports car.  He was driving so fast that he didn’t notice – or failed to heed – signs warning that one of the bridges was out on the road ahead.  The Phaeton swung into a gully and Mix was smacked in the back of the head by one of the heavy aluminum suitcases he was carrying in the convertible’s back seat.  The impact broke the actor’s neck and he died almost instantly.  ["On This Day in History" Oct 12 1940 --]

Constance Talmadge:
“Constance Talmadge – I told her she has many wonderful things yet to come – I predict a brilliant marriage for her, one that will last.” [4]

[photo courtesy The Fabulous Birthday Blog]

Notoriously unlucky in love, Dutch married four times, the last of which finally did last (for 25 years).  She had no children.

Joan Crawford:
“There’s talk that she and young Fairbanks will marry, but I don’t see that.” [5]

[photo courtesy]

Finally, Richard Dix:
A year ago, Dareos told Dix that within five years the star would marry one of the most important society women in America…[c]heck that on your calendar for 1932, fans! [6]

[photo courtesy Silents Are Golden]

Dix married San Francisco socialite Winifred Coe in October 1931.  The marriage produced a daughter, but was over by July 1933.

So our friend Dareos was about as intuitive as a Magic 8 Ball.  Didn't seem to hurt him though; he remained one of the most visible and oft-consulted psychics -- the Sidney Sheldon of his time -- well through the silent era and beyond:

Meet Rex Larbow Bell, the son and heir of Clara Bow…the unusual middle name is the suggestion of George Dareos, local astrologer, who is widely consulted by film folk, and who is a close friend of Clara and Rex [Bell].  According to Dareos, Larbow is an Indian name…[Harrison Carroll, “Behind the Scenes in Hollywood”, Rochester Evening Journal, Jan 3 1935]

Franklin D Roosevelt’s election fo the much debated “third term” is a certainty, in the opinion of George Dareos, noted Hollywood astrologer for many of moviedom’s noted…he declares he is a theosophist, the reincarnation of a great sociologist from the far distant past…[l]ooking ahead 50 years, Dareos forecasts a change of site for the Vatican from Rome to some place in Spain. [“Hollywood Astrologist Sees Roosevelt Triumph”, Valley Star-Monitor-Herald (Texas), Oct 20 1940]

Some years ago, George Dareos, world-famous psychic, told us he predicted that Hayley Mills would marry a man old enough to be her father…[a]ccording to present Hollywood whispers, George Dareos’ predictions appear to be coming true.  She has been guarding a romantic secret, one that involves a man of 57. (Mills was 22 at the time of the article). [TV and Movie Screen Magazine, June 1967]

The last mention of Dareos I could find was a prediction he made about Elvis Presley in 1969 (excerpted in Private Elvis by May Mann):

Elvis can live to be over 70 years of age if he stays away from private planes…Elvis, after his fortieth birthday…will stand a symbol of honesty and good character…[h]e will one day head a magnificent producing company, and hire other stars to appear in pictures he will produce (besides the ones he will star in), he will make a great success…

After that, the trail goes cold.  Aside from a Diane Arbus photograph (which I could not find in good enough resolution to reproduce here), nothing.  Very strange for a man who seemed such a ubiquitous part of Hollywood’s gold-plated fa├žade. It’s as if he simply vanished.  (I wonder if he foresaw it?)

[1--6] Harry Lang, "Exposing the Occult: Hocus-Pocus in Hollywood", Photoplay, December 1928


Citizen Screen said...

Hi! Love your site and - for what it's worth - I nominated you for a Liebster Award. :-D


Flapper Flickers + Silent Stanzas said...

Aww, thanks so much! I'm not in the habit of making special entries but you will definitely get a thanks! ^_^

FlickChick said...

Fascinating! I love stories like this and will be on a quest to know more. Thanks for a wonderfully entertaining post.

Caftan Woman said...

Intriguing Hollywood history.

If you haven't read it, you should check out Earl Derr Biggers 1929 Charlie Chan novel "The Black Camel" as it concerns the murder of an actor and a mysterious psychic to the stars. It was first filmed under the original title in 1931 and later remade as "Charlie Chan in Rio".

Anonymous said...

Well, I tried to leave a comment, but I guess I'm not computer savvy.
David Dareos

Flapper Flickers + Silent Stanzas said...

David, if you get this, please feel free to email me!

silentstanzas -at- gmail -dot- com

Would love to hear from you!

Jen :)

David Dareos said...

Hi Jen!

I tried to send a letter to you earlier this month at the address you gave me (silentstanzas etc) but don't know if you got it. It's been a year or so since I last posted.
David Dareos

Flapper Flickers & Silent Stanzas said...

I never received the email! Please try again - use this address this time:

Thank you!

David Dareos said...

Hi Jen--

I tried sending my letter to you at the latest email address you gave me, but I have no way of knowing if you got it.
I can eventually try sending it from someone else's computer.
So sorry, Jen.
Until then,
David Dareos