Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.
Nov. 5, 1947: She called it “The Amazing Career of a Girl Drug Addict” and she wasn’t exaggerating—and yet she was.
Arrested in October for driving erratically on Wilshire Boulevard, a woman calling herself Margaret Burton told police she was a former actress and had become addicted to sedatives during the London Blitz, when a physician gave her tranquilizers to calm her nerves.
This is a challenging story to track because the details are so malleable. One story says she was arrested Oct. 17 and another says Oct. 21, but The Times didn’t report the original incident in either case. The original story says she was a leading lady for Hoot Gibson and other western movie stars, but doesn’t identify them or the titles of their films. And in contrast to the initial story identifying her as Margaret Burton, the brief about her sentencing says she appeared in films as Lady Burton Edwards.
Unfortunately, neither Judge Arthur Guerin nor state and federal officers had access to imdb.com or Proquest, or they would have known that it was all phony. No actress named Margaret Burton or Lady Burton Edwards ever appeared in any films, certainly not with Gibson, an extremely prolific actor who appeared in many silent movies and continued his career into the 1930s.
In addition to her claims of a film career, she told arresting officers that she had written a magazine article titled: “The Amazing Career of a Girl Drug Addict.” Unfortunately, the name of the magazine wasn’t mentioned so we may never known the details of whoever this woman really was.
In February 1948, Burton was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years’ probation, never to be heard from again, written off by the paper as just another fallen starlet.
Quote of the day: “I don’t go for all these wheel shifts and things like that, and I don’t guess I’d know how to drive anything else if I wanted to.”
R.L. Thacker of San Augustine, Texas, on paying $995 for a 1927 Model T.