'ACTOR IS SHOT BY KITTY GORDON
'Revolver Used in Act in Chicago Theatre Held a Bullet Which Hit a Man ''Off'' Stage.
'POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING
'Miss Gordon's Husband Says Bullet Was to Protect Jewels - Cartridge Not Changed.
'Special to The New York Times..
'CHICAGO, Jun3 23 . - Considerable mystery, which the police are trying to solve, is attached to the shooting today of Joseph A. Hack, an acrobat, with a .38 calibre bullet by Kitty Gordon, the actress. How the bullet came to be in the revolver, which is used in her act, is the problem on which the police are working, so far without success.
'Although the shot was fired from mid-stage in full view of the large audience, few patrons realized anything unusual had happened. Upon emerging from the playhouse they saw an ambulance waiting at the stage door and a crowd surging up the alley.
'The shooting was accidental. The revolver, from which the actress is supposed to fire a blank cartridge during a movie burlesque, had been used by Jack Wilson, her husband and vaudeville partner, he told the police, for the double duty of service as a stake ''prop'' and guarding Miss Gordon's jewels. In removing the weapon with blanks just before the performance, he said, he had overlooked one loaded cartridge.
'Hack was waiting in the stage wings for his act. The bullet struck him in the right arm and passed through the right side of his chest. It is said the injury will not prove serious.
'The act in which Miss Gordon appears is divided into two parts, and is given on the program as two acts. Miss Gordon is featured in the first part in a cycle of songs and dances, and Wilson in the other part in a burlesque on the movies, called ''The Surprise.''
'In the latter act Miss Gordon and Wilson are assisted by Frank Griffith and Miss Gordon's daughter, Vera Beresford [d. 1945].
'Hack Was Awaiting His Turn.
'The members of the acrobatic team of Page, Hack and Mack, the final act on the bill, were waiting for their turn as the burlesque neared the climax, which comes with the revolver shot. The weapon lay on a table. Near it stood Griffith, the ''villain.'' He was holding Vera in his arms as Wilson cranked the movie camera. Suddenly Vera screamed and hurled Griffith aside.
'Miss Gordon, taking her cue, rushed to her daughter's side.
'''It's because of such men as you that young girls cannot become movie stars,'' she exclaimed.
'''You make me laugh,'' said the villain, turning his back contemptuously.
'''Here's something to laugh at,'' exclaimed Miss Gordon in her stage fury, taking up the weapon. Miss Gordon pulled the trigger, then dropped the revolver and rubbed her hands. This was all in the act.
'Hack's partner rushed to the stage manager and told him of the shooting. He ordered the curtain lowered. Wilson, Griffith and Miss Gordon, still unaware of the accident, came into the wings where Hack sunk to the floor.
'Wilson then stepped before the curtain and announced that the last act could not be given, as one of the members had been burned.
'Wilson and Griffith were in their dressing room when the police arrived. Wilson was trembling. Perspiration poured down the grease paint on Griffith's cheeks.
'''Whew.'' he whistled, ''if that bullet had got me it would have caught me in the back of the head or between the shoulders. I've been burned several times when Miss Gordon fired too close. We always told her to shoot between us.''
'The pistol and a box of blanks as well as some ball cartridges were found in Wilson['s] dressing room were taken by the detectives. They tried to find out who put the bullet in the revolver. Griffith said he couldn't imagine. Wilson declared he had loaded the weapon with nothing but blanks.
'Chief Gharrity ordered all the principals to his office to be questioned.
'So Kitty Gordon was escorted by detectives to the City Hall. Her daughter and Griffith accompanied her.
'Miss Gordon Explains Shooting.
'''Why, really, I don't know much about it, except that I fired the revolver and it burned my hand,'' she said. ''I dropped it. It never burned me like that before. I'm dreadfully sorry about the whole thing, but I really didn't know anything had happened except that the gun jumped and it burned me. That's all I can tell you.''
'Wilson admitted he reloaded the revolver today.
'''You see,'' he said, ''I carry that gun sometimes to protect Miss Gordon's jewelry. After the show I load the gun with real bullets and before every performance I break it and reload it with blanks. Max Vasold, the stage manager, saw me reload it today.''
'''Yes,'' agreed Vasold, ''I watched him fix it, and both of us thought all the bullets were out. One must have stuck.''
'Wilson intimated he carried the gun also for protection against some one whom he or Miss Gordon feared.
'At the hospital tonight it was found that the bullet had passed through Hack's right arm, between two ribs, and emerged from the back under the shoulder blade. Physicians say they do not believe the lung was punctured.
'Hack says he intends to sue Wilson for criminal carelessness when he recovers.
'Kitty Gordon is the widow of the Hon. Henry William Walter Horsley Beresford. He was killed in the war and she subsequently married Wilson, her vaudeville partner. She was formerly well known as a musical comedy star, but in recent years has been seen principally in vaudeville and moving pictures.'
(The New York Times, New York, Saturday, 26 June 1920, pp. 1b and 11)
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