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L.A. Then and Now

Tale of Wealth, Murder and a Family's Decline

August 20, 2000|Cecilia Rasmussen

Rogers spent that night in the prison morgue, performing the autopsy on the executed man himself. When he opened the skull, he looked for lesions, cracks, tumors, any kind of brain distortion or damage. He found nothing. The absence of physical evidence of insanity, and the moral revulsion he felt over the execution, pushed Rogers to the belief he would hold for the rest of his life: that capital punishment was socially immoral in all instances, not just where criminal conduct could be explained by physiology.

Author W.W. Robinson wrote that by the time of Rogers' death in 1922, it was said of the courtroom genius: "Close to a hundred slayers escaped the gallows through the efforts of Earl Rogers; and there is little doubt that most of them were guilty."

The execution of Chloe's killer did nothing to arrest the Canfields' familial decline.

Her 57-year-old husband never recovered from his grief. He aged quickly and died a wealthy widower in 1913.

Over the next few decades, the Canfields--once beloved for their philanthropy--became best known through press accounts for their greedy courtroom squabbles over trust funds, divorces, child support, alimony and assault charges.

Chloe's daughter Daisy divorced Danziger and, in 1923, married suave silent screen idol Antonio Moreno, second only to Rudolph Valentino in popularity as a Latin lover.

With the help of her father's money, she hired Robert D. Farquhar--architect of the Pentagon and Los Angeles' California Club--to build a 22-room, Spanish-Italian-style villa on five acres overlooking Silver Lake.

The combination of Daisy's social ties as the daughter of an oil magnate and her husband's Hollywood connections brought entertainers and high society together at their home.

By 1929, after adopting two children, the couple moved, and Daisy and her three sisters, Florence, Eileen and Caroline, who married sporting goods king Silsby Spalding, the first mayor of Beverly Hills, deeded the estate to the Chloe P. Canfield Memorial Home for girls. Later it would be run by Franciscan nuns.

Life in the fast lane ended for Daisy in 1933 after she and Moreno separated. She died a few weeks later when the friend she was riding with drove her car over a 300-foot cliff while racing along Mulholland Drive. Her friend lived.

Moreno never remarried and died in 1967 at age 80.

The nuns ultimately closed the girls school, and the mansion built by a family ruined by wealth, murder and revenge sat empty for a decade until it recently passed into private hands and was renamed The Paramour.

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