Death of a Beauty Queen: Barbara Ann Thomason & the Dark Underbelly of 60s Hollywood Glamour

Barbara Ann Thomason was a pretty All-American girl who seemed destined for stardom. She adopted the moniker Carolyn Mitchell, and went off to Hollywood in pursuit of that elusive 1950s bleached-blonde fame. After marrying manlet movie icon Mickey Rooney, she seemed all set. However, an affair with Serbian gangster Miloš Milošević resulted in a premature and bloody death shrouded in conspiracy and controversy. What happened to Barbara on the night of Jan. 31, 1966 remains a gruesome mystery which implicates celebrities like Rooney, Alain Delon & Cary Grant; and this is just a haphazard attempt to decipher it.

California Girl

Born in Phoenix, AZ on January 25, 1937, Barbara was an impetuous and airy Aquarius who was always the center of attention. She was known as “the prettiest girl in Phoenix,” and would probably have been a top tier Instagram thot had she lived in our time. She was engaged to several different men in her youth, but none stuck. Much to her delight, her family moved to Inglewood, CA in 1951. L.A. fit ambitious Barbara like a glove, and she entered several beauty pageants. October of 1953 saw her win the “Miss Venus” contest, and a year later she attended the famous Hollywood Professional School.

“Miss Muscle Beach of 1954′, 20 June 1954. Barbara Thomason – 17 years (Morningside High School — winner). Thousand spectators watched the contest in which 30 girls where entered at Santa Monica. Other figures, (Barbara’s own): 5 foot, 3 inches, 110 pounds and 36-21 1/2-35 1/2. She is blonde with blue eyes.” (Photo by Los Angeles Examiner)

Barbara began weightlifting to perfect her already impressive physique, and she bagged many more interesting titles; such as “Queen of the Championships of Southern California” and “Miss Surf Festival.” At the April 1954  “Junior Miss California” pageant, judges told Barbara she placed second because she was supposedly 8 lbs. overweight. By June, she secured a win at the “Miss Muscle Beach” pageant, beating out 32 other contestants. She achieved this by only eating one meal every 48 hours. It’s tragic to see how rampant eating disorders run in Hollywood!

In 1955 alone, she won six different pageants. After high school, she worked at the Arthur Murray dance school, and modelled for pin-up magazines. That same year she played in an episode of the ABC anthology series Crossroads. Needing quick cash, she pin-up modeled for the lurid Modern Man magazine in 1957 under the moniker of Tara Thomas. In early 1958, 21-year old Barbara hit what she thought was a financial jackpot. Thanks to a car salesman named Bill Gardner, she was introduced to 38-year old Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney at a nightclub. He was only 5 ft 1″ and not much to look at, but he was an Oscar-nominated player who succeeded in charming tons of women.

“Miss Bay Beach Beauty Contest, 6 September 1954. Barbara Thomason, Morningside (Inglewood) High School senior, and winner of 14 previous beauty contest titles, who won first place today. They wore masks in initial stages of contest so judges could judge figures only.” (Photo by Los Angeles Examiner)

Dating a Movie Star

Mickey Rooney’s former flames included the likes of Ava Gardner (she referred to him as a “lecherous shit” and a “sex midget”), Martha Vickers and Lana Turner (who he claimed farted in his car). There’s even a gross story about him preying on 14-year old Elizabeth Taylor on the set of National Velvet (1944). There is no doubt that Mickey was a sleazebag, and he was even accused of predatory casting couch behavior. Barbara would become Mickey’s fifth wife, and by the time he died at the age of 93 he had been through eight marriages. She starred in her first movie in 1958; a forgotten B-motorcycle gang flick called Dragstrip Riot.

At the time that they met, however, Mickey was still married to red-haired firecracker Elaine Devry. Barbara demanded he divorce his wife, so he bought Barb a $4,500 fur coat to keep her mouth shut. Mickey ran back and forth between the two women. Elaine was once married to a basketball player named Dan Ducich, who was later convicted of armed robbery. He supposedly committed suicide by .22 caliber pistol in June of 1954, leaving a letter saying he was too deep in debt to live. Elaine and Mickey also had a turbulent marriage where she would hit him in the face after catching him flirting and slipping his digits to other women.

A beautiful and fed up Elaine Devry, just barely tolerating Mickey Rooney.

Elaine claimed he swore and verbally abused her, and that “our home was in constant uproar. I never knew when he was coming home. Sometimes he would call and say he would be home in half an hour, then he wouldn’t be home for at least three hours.” She received a nearly $400k settlement after divorcing, plus monthly stipends; which Barbara claimed Mickey was blackmailed into paying. In 1959, another boyfriend of Elaine’s would mysteriously die during a horseback riding incident.

Elaine Devry in A Guide for the Married Man (1967)

In 1967, Elaine would go on to say that:

“I entered my marriage to Mickey in all honesty. I told him I didn’t love him, that I was still in love with my first husband. He said he didn’t care. I was lonely at the time. I was on the rebound. I liked Mickey very much. We had first met at a golf driving range where I was taking lessons. He aroused the maternal instinct in me. I was young and foolish. I thought I could learn to love him. I gave the marriage everything I had. I tried everything Mickey suggested. After years and years I’d had enough. Living with Mickey is no bed of roses. Six wives can’t all be wrong.”

Why did so many men in her life seem to die prematurely? How strange that the ex-husband Mickey was jealous of ended up dead, as well as another boyfriend. His marriages also seemed to be perverse money-for-sex arrangements with much younger women.

Suicide Attempts and Other Troubles

On April. 12th, 1958, Barbara overdosed on sleeping pills at Mickey’s 12979 Blairwood Dr. home while he was at a dinner party. She called over her friends Pat Landers and Kiff Chance, who undressed her and dunked her into his pool to revive her. An ambulance then took her to North Hollywood Hospital, and she was discharged the next day after Mickey visited her. Barbara told the press “I’m madly in love with him and he with me.” But Mickey’s agent Red Doff told a different story:

“It’s all a publicity stunt cooked up by these three girls. Sure Mickey knows Barbara and has taken her out a few times. But Mickey likes all girls. After all, he’s not even divorced yet and here someone is trying to get him married already. I’m Mickey’s closest friend and you can quote me as saying that he enjoyed Miss Thomason’s company just as he did the many other girls he has been out with since separating from his wife. But that’s as far as it went! They’re just good friends. He has no thought of marriage.”

However, boxer Art Aragon spoke differently: “If Mickey says he wasn’t serious about Barbara, he’s not telling the truth. Pat [Landers], Mickey, Barbara and myself were out together just before the [Carmen] Basilio scrap and he couldn’t keep his eyes off her.” Still, many believed the suicide attempt was a sleazy PR stunt to get Mickey to marry her. The odd couple had a 17-year age gap which led to some very hysterical incidents. That same year, Barbara starred in Roger Corman’s low budget gangster film noir The Cry Baby Killer, alongside Jack Nicholson. That was unfortunately her second and last movie role.

Lobby card for The Cry Baby Killer (1958)

In June of 1958, she went to Club Largo with super rich billionaire hotel heir Conrad “Nicky” Hilton (the great-uncle of Paris Hilton). He was the first of Elizabeth Taylor’s eight husbands, as they married in 1950 and divorced eight months later due to Conrad’s alcoholism and physical abuse. Instead of learning from the past, Barbara decided to go on a date with Conrad… and of course they ended up getting into a fight. He left Barbara stranded at the club, and she got a ride home from singer Tommy Sands.

Despite Barbara’s flirtations with other men, she moved into Mickey’s rented 12979 Sherman Oaks home while he was still married to Elaine Devry. On August 7 of that year, Barbara attempted suicide for the second time. She took a bunch of sleeping pills when she was home alone, and Mickey was performing at a Lake Tahoe nightclub. An annoyed Mickey demanded she smooth things over with the press, and Barbara lied to reporters that; “I had been ill for a number of weeks with acute bronchitis. The doctor prescribed some sleeping pills. I reached in my purse and took some. I don’t know how many.” She went back to live at her mother’s house for a month after being discharged from the hospital.

A Toxic Marriage

Unfortunately, the deranged pair reunited in September. Barbara’s sugar baby methods worked, and she wed Mickey after he divorced his wife in June. They married in Mexico on December 1, 1958. Things weren’t exactly rosy, and the marriage was not a legal one. After Barbara became three months pregnant, she demanded Mickey to marry her in a real ceremony or face consequences. In March of 1959, the bipolar Barbara threatened to commit suicide once again. After she gave birth to their daughter Kelly Ann in September, Mickey finally announced their marriage to the press. In Dec. of 1959, the messy couple celebrated their one year marriage anniversary. But that same day, a drunken Mickey appeared on The Jack Paar Show and got into an embarrassing fight with the host; clearly indicative of some marital trouble.

Santa Monica, Calif.: Shown here at St. John’s Hospital is Mickey Rooney, wife Barbara Thomason and their new daughter Kelly Ann. As you can see, she is way out of his league.

The toxicity and drama lagged on, and Mickey took until 1960 to officially wed her in an L.A. church. Their marriage was like an incessant battle, full of explosive fights. Barbara gave birth to four children all together, getting pregnant almost every year of their marriage in a desperate attempt to keep the two together. Their lifestyle was not as glamorous as Barbara hoped it would be. Despite the fact that Mickey made over $12 million across his 35-year career; he was extremely mentally unstable, an alcoholic, and a gambling addict who compulsively spent and bet away his savings.

He once lost over $50,000 at the Riviera Casino in Las Vegas, and was indebted to the Mafia and numerous bookies. The Mob even wanted him dead, and writer Richard Lertzman said that “Mickey put everyone around him in jeopardy from the Mob.” Actor Wally Cassell added that Hollywood studios constantly protected Mickey from the Mafia because “it would be bad for business for them to put him in a cement block.” According to writer William Birnes, “Mickey attempted suicide when Barbara threatened to leave him. He had at least four suicide attempts as he battled lifelong depression.” 

Mickey glossed all his financial guilt over, and whined to the press that; “Out of the money I earned, I’d say $10 million went to taxes. The rest is an open book. I’ve been married five times and had four divorces.” He declared bankruptcy in 1962 and the IRS confiscated $100k in back taxes. Not only did Barbara have to deal with Mickey’s financial woes while dealing with four children, he also repeatedly cheated on her! In August of 1963, a pregnant Barbara accompanied Mickey to Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia to film the cheesy Roger Corman war movie The Secret Invasion. He took whichever role he was offered in order to pay the bills.

Even though she accompanied him during filming, Mickey always managed to cheat on her. He then found a stripper mistress who resembled Sophia Loren in Atlantic City, which caused a huge catfight between the two women on a 1964 TV set. Barbara was fed up, and went off on Mickey’s nasty ass. They nearly divorced, yet instead just moved out of glamorous Beverly Hills to a quieter Brentwood home. They bought it at a bargain of $65k, due to the fact that the previous homeowners died in a freak accident. This was another bad omen in an already red-flagged relationship.

A Lethal Affair

In 1964, Mickey Rooney became friends with similarly-depraved French actor Alain Delon, who constantly associated with violent criminals and the mafia. He then introduced Mickey to the suave 24-year old Serbian actor and gangster Miloš Milošević, who was also his stunt double and bodyguard. The defining moment came when Mickey went off to the Philippines to film a movie, and asked Milos to take care of Barbara while he was gone. Milos had been a good family friend for about a year, so Mickey felt comfortable leaving them together.

Milos Milosevics and Alain Delon, doing his best “sunglasses douchebag” gaze

This is where he messed up. Barbara was fed up with Mickey’s constant philandering, so she took on Milos as a lover to get revenge on him. Milos had a part in the cheesy 1966 war comedy The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming, and Barbara shamelessly accompanied him on set in Fort Bragg. Mickey was infuriated. While he cheated on his wife, he expected her to stay loyal and to never embarrass him in public. Milos was described by a co-star as “very pleasant but nuts. He would drive sports cars and aim for people. They would have to jump out of his way. This was always a big laugh to him.” He was also accused of abuse by his ex-wife, Cynthia Bouron, and L.A. police had arrested him for domestic assault. Regardless, Barbara was attracted to the uncouth thug, and the two had an intense love affair and spent almost all their nights together.

Milos came from a prominent Serbian family from Knjaževac, where his grandfather was once the mayor and his father headed an exporting guild. Under communism, the family became reduced in its fortunes; so Milos and his cousin Stevan Marković turned to street fighting in Belgrade to make quick cash. In 1962, the rough pair met Alain Delon, who changed their life. There is a myth that Milos hired some hoodlums to try and attack Delon, after which he intervened and saved him. He then hired him to be his bodyguard and stunt double, and he received all the privileges that came with being in Alain Delon’s social circle.

Milos and Alain

Milos styled himself as a James Dean-like figure who wanted to make it in showbusiness. With his salary from Alain, Milos went to Italy to try and make it in showbusiness; but that attempt failed. He seduced several women, including Alain’s wife Francine Canovas AKA Nathalie Delon, who he met in Paris. Milos was known to have triggered Alain: he bragged about sleeping with Nathalie, and joked that Alain’s son Anthony was actually his. Milos also claimed he was a better actor than Alain. Rumor had it that Milos even had flirtations with Jane Fonda and Natalie Wood. He then married American grifter and alleged call-girl Cynthia Bouron after being introduced to her by Alain in 1964, and she helped him get into the U.S. in exchange for money.

The two had an open marriage, and the status-climbing Milos was struck by Barbara after seeing her at a restaurant with Mickey. Milos told a friend that he would surely win her over. He was a new breed of Yugoslav gangster: he dressed well, worked out, spoke good English, hung out with stars, drove a Bentley car and enrolled in an NY acting school. In 1965, Delon (perhaps having some secret knowledge on what was to unfold) warned Milos to return to Paris. Milos adamantly refused, and declared that he was in love with Barbara. There are rumors that Corsican gangster François Marcantoni was involved in the ensuing homicide, as he was Delon’s godfather and close associate.

Upon his return from the Philippines, the couple filed for separation and Mickey went to live at the Bel-Air hotel. To add insult to injury, Milos moved into the house which Barbara and her children had once shared with Mickey in December of 1965. After spending Christmas apart, Barbara decided to sue Mickey for monthly separation maintenance. Mickey countersued by filing for a divorce on grounds of mental cruelty in January of 1966. He also filed a restraining order to keep Milos out of his home, and for custody of their children.

Milos and Barbara

Once Barbara realized her children might be removed from her and that she would receive only a measly $1k a month from Mickey, she considered reconciling with him. The hot-tempered Milos was said to have freaked out at the idea of the couple reconciling and being left in the dust by his sugar mama. Barbara decided to hire a private detective named Herm Schlieske to help her tape a conversation with Mickey while he stayed a hospital for an intestinal bug he had gotten in the Philippines. Barbara asked her husband for forgiveness and offered; “If it makes you unhappy for me to see Milos, then I won’t even see him as a friend.” Surprisingly, Mickey seemed receptive to a reconciliation, and managed to convince Barbara as well; after which she shut off the tape recorder.

A Mysterious Demise

On the night of Jan. 31, 1966, an unsuspecting Barbara went to dinner at the glamorous Daisy restaurant on Rodeo Drive with Milos and her best friend Marge Lane. The dinner went normally, and the trio returned to the 13030 Evanston St home. Barbara then revealed that she had talked to Mickey about reconciliation the day before, and she played the recording for Milos, Marge, detective Schlieske, and another friend. At 8:30 p.m. Barbara and a seemingly calm and understanding Milos retired to the master bedroom, and sometime later that night was when the horror unfolded. It was supposedly the last time anyone saw them alive.

After the children went to sleep, houseguests Wilma Catania and Susie Sydney asked Barbara through the door if they could take her car to a lit Hollywood party. They received no reply, so the two just took the car regardless. How rude tbh! They returned home at 2:30 a.m. and noticed nothing out of the ordinary, except that the house lights were on. Wilma went to sleep in the guest house. That noon, the maid and Wilma were forced to break into the master bedroom with a screwdriver after there was still no response. Their bed was made and untouched, but in the bathroom there was a shocking sight.

13030 Evanston St today

Barbara and Milos lay dead on the floor; the former lying on her back with a bullet hole in her jaw, and the latter facedown over her with a bullet wound in his temple. Barbara wore a floral top and tan capris, and Milos was in a white shirt and black pants. They had been shot with a nickel-plated .38 caliber revolver purchased by Mickey Rooney in 1964. According to police, the jealous Milos had popped Barbara and then killed himself in a gruesome-murder suicide. He was painted as an O.J. Simpson type, who murdered his lover due to his criminal nature. But why had no one heard the sound of bullets that night; neither the maid, or the three children down the hall; nor the two other houseguests? How had Milos gotten access to Mickey’s gun? Why was the bed still made? The official story was fishy.

(Original Caption) Los Angeles: “Officials remove body from the home of the estranged wife of actor Mickey Rooney after Rooney’s estranged wife and a Yugoslavian actor were found shot to death in an apparent murder-suicide, according to police. Officers said that Miles Milosevic, 25, apparently had shot Barbara Ann Thomason Rooney with a .38 caliber revolver and then turned the gun on himself.”

Was Mickey Rooney Involved?

As usual, Mickey pulled out his agent Red Doff to cover his ass: “Mickey told me that he and Barbara had a very good talk and they were very close to reconciliation. I think Milos may have resented it.” Conveniently, Mickey was still in the hospital, which was his alibi; and he stayed in there for another day due to shock. The press was told that he was under heavy sedation. He later said “I died when she did. I am furious at what happened to her.” Oddly, he was never really considered a suspect in the investigation despite having obvious gangland ties. Mickey was once friendly with Samuel H. Stiefel, a B-movie producer and Jewish mafia figure (associated with gangsters such as Mickey Cohen and Bugsy Siegel) who ended up extorting him.

Attorney Harold Abeles escorts three of Barbara and Mickey’s children from the murder house. (Kimmy Sue was at her grandparent’s house in Inglewood)

Sam became his business manager in the 40s, and initially paid off Mickey’s gambling debts and loaned money to his mother. Soon, Sam demanded $$ payback with interest, as well as the $159k loan. The morphine-addicted Peter Lorre had also once been scammed by Sam. Mickey was forced to do several trashy movies under contract with Sam in order to pay him back. This story shows just how irresponsible Mickey was in associating with dangerous criminal figures, and suggests that those mafia connections may have lingered throughout his life.

There were also rumblings in Serbia that Milos had been killed by Hollywood insiders. According to the Yugoslav Kinoteka site, an autopsy found traces of violence against Milos; including a swollen face and blue bruises. There were no fingerprints on the gun, and he was also said to have a skull fracture and broken arm. An examination in Belgrade found barbiturate-laden whiskey in his body. The American media did not report this. In February, Barbara was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California. She was only 29, and had spent eight years of her life entangled with Mickey Rooney.

Milos’ family at his funeral in Serbia

The LA Times described Mickey as “grimly composed, but her mother… and sister sobbed throughout the ceremony.” Her funeral service was held by the same Reverend Douglas Smith who had once married her to Mickey. He gave a touching eulogy: “This beautiful girl was like a spray of roses, now only the fragrance remains.” Milos’ body was returned to Belgrade, Yugoslavia upon his mother’s requests. There are rumors that Alain Delon paid for Milos’ funeral costs, even down to the suit he was buried in. Milos’ family firmly believed he was innocent and that he had been killed because of his connections to Hollywood and the Corsican Mafia. Were they just in denial or was there a grain of truth to this?

Things got even stranger: that same year Barbara was murdered, Mickey married her best friend Marge Lane in a quickie Vegas wedding… the same woman who went with Barbara to her last restaurant dinner on her final night of life! Is this the behavior of a mourning husband or friend? As usual for him, their disastrous marriage only lasted 100 days. Barbara’s parents ended up raising their four children while Mickey continued his degenerate lifestyle. In 2005, their son Michael “Kyle” Rooney described the day his mother died, and how he and his siblings were quickly spirited away:

“I don’t remember a thing. I was about three or four. And my mum and my dad were going through a divorce. My mum was kind of seeing somebody on the side. But then my father and my mother decided to get back together, and the guy my mum was dating wasn’t having it. So he took the very gun that my father gave my mother for protection and killed her in our house. Then killed himself. It was a murder suicide. We were in the house when it happened. But I don’t remember a thing. We were scurried out and told we were going to see the movie Mary Poppins. It wasn’t like, oh, your mother’s dead upstairs.

Well, my father was going through a tough time in the 1960s, so my grandparents adopted us, my mother’s parents. It was stable after that. He doesn’t like talking about it at all. But we’ve talked a couple of times. He told me that my mother was one of the most wonderful ladies he had ever met, that she was really nice, a caring person, she was wonderful with us and loved us all. At that point, I really needed to hear that.”

Mickey had the decency to speak well of Barbara to the children, but he was an absent father who lived hedonistically and struggled to emotionally support all of his nine kids. He also told their children what they wanted to hear rather than the truth. Their daughter Kelly Ann was in denial that Milos and Barbara were lovers:

“My dad and [Milos] became friends. My dad was trying to help him in the business. And unbeknownst to my mother, he fell in love with her and became obsessed with her. … She and my dad had such a loving relationship. When you saw them together, it was that look of love. My mother loved him dearly. And my dad loved her dearly. She was a hands-on mom who taught us to say our prayers and brushed our teeth. We had a lot of love from my mom. Losing her put a real hole in our hearts. My dad called me in 1992 and said, ‘Kel, I want you to hear something. I have to apologize to you because I couldn’t save her. And I’m so sorry.’ I know he carried around a big bag of guilt about that.”

It is touching that Kelly Ann loved her parents, but they did not have a loving relationship at all. And the guilt Mickey held over Barbara’s death sounds kind of… suspicious… considering he married her best friend immediately after.

Occult Ties?

This morbid story has many odd side plots. Other than the dumb 1966 comedy The Russians Are Coming, Milos had one other cinematic role. I had discussed in a previous blog post the alleged curse around the 1966 horror film Incubus; a cool black and white B-movie filmed in Esperanto. The stars of the film were plagued by bad luck: starlet Ann Atmar committed suicide after the film’s release, actress Eloise Hardt’s 17-yo daughter Marina Habe was brutally murdered in 1968, and leading man William Shatner‘s wife Nerine Kidd was found drowned in his swimming pool in 1999. Nerine was an alcoholic who Shatner had attempted to divorce earlier that year. She was found naked in the pool and was drunk, drugged, as well as bruised with two cracked neck vertebrae; leading some to speculate that foul play was involved.

William Shatner and Allyson Ames in Incubus (1966)

The official story goes, however, that she was chronically drunk and that she dived into the pool without caution. Which Trekkie wants to believe Captain Kirk bumped off his wife? Not me. But the amount of death surrounding this movie is fascinating. The most cursed aspect of this film is of course Milos Milosevic. Filmed in 18 days on a shoestring budget, the horror flick tells the tale of a naïve Shatner trying to save the soul of a female succubus. While doing so, he encounters an evil and Satanic incubus (a male demon who seduces female victims) played by Milos; who rapes and murders his sister. The final scene of Incubus involves Shatner fighting a possessed Milos, who transforms into a monstrous Baphomet goat. Crazy stuff.

Milos as the titular incubus.

Critics praised Milos’ intense performance, with the 1966 San Francisco film festival describing a scene of him emerging from hell as “one of the most splendid pieces of horror since the late James Whale conceived the idea of Frankenstein’s electronic monster.” This was hearty praise considering that Milos only appears 47 minutes into the movie. Shortly after the film’s completion, Barbara and Milos were found dead in a presumed murder-suicide. Due to the postmortem scandal surrounding their lead villain, Leslie Stevens was unable to find theatrical distribution and his production company eventually went bankrupt. Incubus was released in France after being ignored in the U.S., and the original print remained lost until 2001. For those who are superstitious, it seems that Milos’ creepy appearance as a demon in a cursed movie couldn’t have helped his already dark and criminal image.

Milos’ performance as a wicked incubus basically cemented him as a psychopath in the public eye. Was it just a character he played or did it have a deeper significance?

The Bloody Trail Leads to… Alain Delon

Let us return back to Milos’ cousin Stevan Marković, a fellow Serb hoodlum, boxer and bodyguard of Alain Delon. In 1964, Milos introduced Stevan to Delon, for whom he became a bodyguard. Delon knew Stevan was a rough character, but he still bailed him out of jail for the job. In 1970, Delon defended his criminal ties to the press as “probably something you wouldn’t understand. It’s a question of origin. I myself am Corsican, and in places like that, they still have a sense of honor and the given word.” Ironic considering he sold out his friends despite his alleged honor.

Nathalie Delon and Stevan Marković

Stevan was a gambler and blackmail artist who threw lavish parties with upper class invitees; who he then secretly recorded in sexually compromising positions. Like Milos, he triggered a lot of people and they wanted him dead. Delon became upset after his bodyguard went haywire and attracted negative media attention. He also had an affair with Delon’s wife Nathalie, and they were often photographed in public together. A humiliated Delon tried to pay off Stevan to GTFO, but he refused and demanded even more money.

Stevan, Nathalie and a suicidal Alain

Stevan had somehow managed to attain pornographic group sex images of French prime minister Georges Pompidou’s wife Claude Jacqueline. On Sept 22, 1968, Stevan was last seen leaving his apartment and getting into a cab with a mysterious man. On Oct 1, a badly beaten Stevan was found shot dead execution style in a garbage dump in Yvelines, France, with his limbs tied up with rope and his body wrapped in a sheet. Delon had an alibi as he was filming La Piscine in St. Tropez, but he obviously had someone else do his dirty work.

Stevan looking flirty with Delon’s wife

After Stevan’s death, his brother Aleksandar publicly accused Delon of whacking him because he allegedly had footage of him having gay sex. He had a letter from Stevan that said, “If I get killed, it’s 100% the fault of Alain Delon and his godfather François Marcantoni.” The scandal rocked France because it implicated a well-known movie star and Pompidou, who would somehow manage to become president in 1969 despite being involved in a very public murder and cucking! It was labelled the Marković Affair; which ironically made Stevan infamous for all the wrong reasons.

Nathalie and Alain with their son

Delon, of course, has never been held responsible for any deaths. He finalized his divorce with Nathalie in 1969, who was no doubt aware of her bloodthirsty husband. Delon was extremely hypocritical and jealous that Nathalie slept with his bodyguards, despite the fact that he cheated on her with men and women alike. It is too odd to be coincidental that both Milos and Stevan ended up dead with bullets in their skull a mere two years apart, after serving as bodyguards for Delon and smashing his wife. Delon was overconfident and sleazy, not realizing his mob connections would come back to bite him in the ass. Ex-drug dealer Gérard Fauré even accused Delon of pedophilia at his former property in Morocco. Yikes.

Nathalie gazes fondly at Stevan

Who Killed Cynthia Bouron?

The final thread of this long, complicated, and sordid tale ends with Milos’ ex-wife Cynthia Bouron. To recap: he married her in 1964 in order to secure citizenship in the U.S., and treated their marriage as a revolving door. He cheated openly, and was also accused of assaulting her. They split up in 1966. But who was Cynthia and how did she get caught up in this noirish tale? And why was it that she met such a brutal end? Like her husband, she pissed off the wrong people. And sadly, they made her pay with her life.

Born Cynthia L. Krensky to Jewish parents from New York; she changed her last name after marrying Parisian dentist Robert Bouron. After their divorce, she went to Hollywood to try and make it. She had two sons: one from Robert, the other from Milos. Cynthia presented herself as a writer, producer, radio talk show host, and actress; but there were shady things going on behind the scenes. She was actually a call-girl escort for Hollywood celebs, and she had ties to the criminal underworld through Milos. After his death, Cynthia was arrested and charged with burglary. Some saw her as a conwoman, and others considered her a Hollywood groupie.

At least her baby was cute!

In 1969, 35-year old Cynthia had an ill-advised affair with 65-year old Hollywood legend Cary Grant, who had a thing for much younger women. A year later, Grant was up for an honorary Oscar. He had been rejected and sidelined by the Hollywood Academy for 12 years due to his refusal to be a contract studio player, and for instead working on his own independent terms. Just before he was about to appear onstage at the 1970 Oscars to accept the award, Grant was sued for paternity by Cynthia; who claimed he was the father of her seven-week old baby girl.

A geriatric Cary Grant with his fourth wife Dyan Cannon and their baby. He was 33 years her senior.

Many believed the lawsuit was an initiated bid to humiliate Grant by his numerous powerful detractors, and that Cynthia was a mere pawn in a larger game. Her daughter Stephanie Andrea was born on March 12, 1970, and appeared to be of African-American descent. Cynthia put down Grant’s name as the father on the birth certificate, and all hell broke loose. Grant demanded that the baby take a blood test to prove paternity, but Cynthia failed to show up and present proof three times. It was obvious that Cary Grant was not the father, but it was evident that he had an illicit affair with Cynthia.

Raquel Welch and Cary Grant circa 1970s

According to tabloids, Cynthia had an English collie dog whom she named Cary Grant, and she would’ve named her child after him too had it been a boy. A humiliated and enraged Grant was force to bow out of the ceremonies, and went to Bristol, England to visit his ill mother. He then flew to the Bahamas in Howard Hughes’ private plane, and lived in his luxurious villa until the hype died. But Cynthia wasn’t backing down. According to his biographer, Cary Grant was getting bullied by his ex-lover:

“During his absence, Bouron held a press conference to announce that she intended to show up at the Academy Awards, hold a press conference in front of the red carpet, reveal her new baby’s full name, and if Grant dared to show, hand him the subpoena that he had thus far been able to avoid.”

The paternity suit had larger implications: Grant feared he would be forbidden from visiting his daughter (also named Stephanie), who he fathered with much younger actress Dyan Cannon. He was also worried that his close friend Prince Grace Kelly of Monaco would have her name caught up in the bad press. Grace was supposed to have shown up after a long absence from the spotlight to present the Honorary Oscar to Cary Grant, but bowed out after his scandal. At the insistence of friends Gregory Peck and Howard Hughes, Grant showed up at the 1970 Oscars to accept the award anyways. Cynthia retreated from the public eye in defeat, and moved to a small house at 513 Mariposa in Burbank. She worked as a studio writer and department store saleslady to support her two sons and daughter. But the bad blood was not to be forgotten.

Cary Grant receives his pseudo-Oscar from a heavily toupee’d Frank Sinatra.

Before Halloween on October. 30, 1973, 39- year old Cynthia Bouron’s corpse was discovered in the trunk of an abandoned car outside Cali’s Market Basket grocery store on 11315 Ventura Blvd in Studio City. The body was discovered after employees and customers complained about a foul odor emanating from the vehicle, which had been parked there for six days. Cynthia was reported missing by her sons after she disappeared ten days earlier. Seven years after the mysterious California death of her ex-husband Milos Milosevic and his lover Barbara Ann Thomason, five years after the Parisian death of his cousin Stevan Markovic; Cynthia was also found deceased in a tragic and strange manner.

Market Basket Supermarket in the 60s – Source

The autopsy revealed that Cynthia’s body had decomposed for a week, and that she had been tied up and brutally beaten to death after being bludgeoned on the head. Whoever murdered her had an angry grudge against the poor woman. Her killer was never found, and no one was ever officially suspected of the murder. The news was devastating for her 17 and 14-year old sons, the latter of whom had already lost his father Milos. Her children were raised by a relative, and Cynthia Bouron’s lurid story lay forgotten in the treacherous annals of Hollywood history.

Was Cynthia’s murder connected to Barbara’s? Milos’ women both met untimely ends.

Similar to the Mickey Rooney and Barbara Ann Thomason case, people couldn’t help but wonder if Cary Grant was somehow involved in Cynthia’s demise. After all, wasn’t it suspicious that several players in this Hollywood social circle kept turning up dead? Was it too conspiratorial to assume that it was somehow all connected? Perhaps so. But when examining Cary Grant’s personal character, it was evident that the man had serious issues; just like Mickey Rooney did.

Cary Grant told Dyan Cannon not to bleach her hair blonde since they “were bubbleheads because peroxide is absorbed into the brain.” Lmao.

Grant took hundreds of acid trips which made him mentally unstable, had five wives (several of whom accused him of being abusive and a control freak), and was a cheapskate who billed his own guests and spied on his housekeepers. Dyan Cannon accused Grant of beating her and locking her in her room (for wanting to wear a miniskirt), and force-feeding her LSD, which he used to control and brainwash the 28-year old. According to Grant’s first wife Virginia Cherrill, she divorced him because he “drank excessively, choked and beat her, and threatened to kill her.” Hollywood is indeed a freak show.

Virginia Cherrill and Cary Grant in 1934. He was bisexual and could not stop cheating on her with longtime lover Randolph Scott.

Postscript

Ok, so the man was a jerk: but what proof is there that he was involved in Cynthia Bouron’s murder? Officially, none. Perhaps Cynthia had been done in by another client who she was blackmailing. Maybe she was bumped off by the same people who killed her ex-husband. It was impossible to know. The case of Barbara Ann Thomason is similar. There is no concrete proof that Mickey Rooney was involved directly in her murder, but he was never thoroughly investigated by police anyways.

This complex story is spread out over a large group of shady people mixed up in an orgy of crime and strange coincidental death in the 60s and 70s. Mickey’s wife Elaine Devry had a dead husband and boyfriend in her wake; with the husband Dan Ducich being shot in the head the way Barbara, Milos and Stevan were. Like Mickey Rooney in the hospital during the time of his wife’s murder, Alain Delon had a clean cut alibi that he was filming La Piscine in Southern France when Markovic was whacked. Mickey and Alain were good pals who both had mob connections, and Milos had slept with both of their wives and caused trouble for them.

Milos and his cousin Stevan Markovic met their demise only two years apart, after hanging around Alain Delon. Markovic and Cynthia Bouron had a habit of blackmailing powerful people. Mickey Rooney’s own personal gun somehow got into Milos’ hands, which he then shot Barbara with while their home was filled with people at nighttime. Nobody woke up. Mickey married Barbara’s best friend right after her death, as if nothing had happened. And then in 1973, the dead Milos’ ex-wife Cynthia Bouron was found killed in the trunk of a car; beaten just the way Markovic was.

Delon and Markovic

Cary Grant, who was accused of hitting his wives, had no reason to like Cynthia. Neither did Delon (who introduced her to Milos) or Rooney, who may have been blackmailed by her too. There is no way of knowing exactly what happened. There is only speculation and mystery. Were these legendary actors involved in the most underrated mass crime scandal of the 60s? Milos was also known as an abusive and unstable individual who beat women, and was certainly not innocent of crimes himself. But Serbian news sources depict him as the victim of a Hollywood conspiracy, and of latent American racism.

Perhaps Milos pulled the trigger on Barbara that murky night of January 25, 1966, out of rage and envious passion. Maybe he really was inconsolably mad that he was being dumped for Mickey Rooney. Or maybe Mickey the jealous and cucked husband arranged the death of the mentally unstable wife he had lived with for eight years; who fathered four of his children and once attempted suicide to bag him. Barbara was an emotionally turbulent Hollywood dreamer whose fantasy was cut short by an angry lover (or husband?). Her death was quickly forgotten and glossed over by Hollywood studios who were seeking to protect Mickey’s image, but it set off a wave of mystery and murder which puzzles and mystifies to this day.

Mickey Rooney once said: “Had I been brighter, had the ladies been gentler, had the scotch been weaker, had the gods been kinder, this could have been a one-sentence story: Once upon a time, Mickey Rooney lived happily ever after.” In this timeline, however, Barbara Ann Thomason certainly did not live happily ever after.

4 thoughts on “Death of a Beauty Queen: Barbara Ann Thomason & the Dark Underbelly of 60s Hollywood Glamour

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