Was Ursula in the Movies?

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Ursula Cheshire in 1926

Ursula in 1926, a couple of years before her time in Hawaii

Ursula had originally planned to go back to Hawaii and her job as a typing instructor at the Honolulu Business College after a month’s visit in California. But something made her change her mind. Maybe she decided teaching was not for her, or perhaps she enjoyed being back home among her friends, mother and other relatives so much that she chose not to return to the Islands. Or perhaps the lure of Hollywood was too strong to ignore.

By 1929, the year Ursula returned to Los Angeles, California, the movie business was in full swing. The economic downturn that started that October did not initially affect the film industry. With 20 Hollywood studios in operation by the end of that decade, an average of 800 films were released per year and the demand for movies was stronger than ever, according to AMC Filmsite. Continue Reading →

Anchors Aweigh: Here’s Wishing Ursula a Happy Voyage Home!

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Calawaii passenger list January 5, 1929

The “Honolulu Advertiser” confirmed that Ursula left for Los Angeles from the Port of Honolulu on Saturday, January 5, 1929 aboard the Calawaii

ON JANUARY 5, 1929, URSULA BADE FAREWELL to Hawaii from the Port of Honolulu, where she boarded the luxury cruise-liner SS Calawaii bound for Los Angeles. This time she was sailing on her own; her previous shipmate and dear friend Elizabeth had left the Islands a couple months earlier. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ursula made some new friends along the seven-day journey home. Her fellow passengers hailed from as far as England and Australia and as near as Pasadena and San Francisco, and included a large group of polo ponies.

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Life, and Farewells, in Honolulu

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Yankees sweep the 1928 World Series

As the drama of the shocking crime and its aftermath faded from the headlines in autumn 1928, routine life resumed for Ursula and her fellow Honoluluans (with the exception, I’m sure, of the Jamieson and Fukunaga families). By October 9, the day after the young murderer was sentenced to death, media attention had shifted to a more benign drama: The New York Yankees had swept the World Series in game 4 with “a record shattering orgy of home runs, three of them by Babe Ruth.” (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

Three weeks later, Ursula said goodbye to her good friend and roommate Elizabeth Everhardy, who was setting sail for San Francisco aboard the steamship Wilhelmina to meet up with her mother in the continental U.S. But Ursula still had her new Honolulu pals Betty, Marie and Anita, who lived nearby in a house at Waikiki Beach. Continue Reading →

Paradise Lost, Part 3

If you’re new to Mystery Dancer, welcome! The best place to start is at the beginning and go from there…Please note: Below is Part 3 of a three-part post. Need to catch up? Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

AS OF THURSDAY AFTERNOON, SEPTEMBER 20, 1928, following the discovery of 10-year-old Gill Jamieson’s body just blocks from Ursula’s apartment, the search for his kidnappers turned into a manhunt for a murderer.

Some front-page headlines in the September 22, 1928 issue of the “Honolulu Star-Bulletin”

Though several suspects were in custody, none of them panned out and the police were short on clues. They appealed to the public, as well as merchants and service stations, to study every $5 bill that came into their possession and compare its serial number with the list of numbers published in Friday’s paper identifying the 800 $5 bills paid in ransom money. Continue Reading →

Paradise Lost, Part 2

If you’re new to Mystery Dancer, welcome! The best place to start is at the beginning and go from there…Please note: Below is Part 2 of a three-part post. Need to catch up? Read Part 1 here.

ON THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 1928—two days after 10-year-old Gill Jamieson was kidnapped from his Honolulu school—the entire city was on pins on needles still awaiting news of his fate. A house-to-house search had begun that morning, and people hoped and prayed the kidnappers would be caught and the boy would be returned safely to his family.

Ursula Cheshire

Ursula Cheshire

It’s possible Ursula was in her Waikiki home early that afternoon (I’m not sure when she started her job at the local business college). If so, she would have heard the commotion in the neighborhood and learned the terrible news before the papers had time to broadcast it in their “Extra” editions: Shortly before noon, high school student Carl Vickery, who had been hunting for Gill with some friends near the Ala Wai Canal, discovered the body of a young boy lying under dense brush in a small, secluded glade between the canal and the rear of the Seaside Hotel property (opposite the Royal Hawaiian Hotel)—just four or five short blocks from Ursula’s apartment. Word quickly spread that the community’s worst fears had been realized: little Gill Jamieson had been murdered!
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