Carole's Last Day & Death


Tragically on July 5, 1948 Carole was found dead in her Pacific Palisades home. She had committed suicide at the young age of twenty-nine. Carole spent her final evening alive with her married lover Rex Harrison. Many people have speculated about what actually happened that night. Here is a timeline we have put together based one everything we know ...
   
SUNDAY, JULY 4

12:00 PM - Carole hosts a pool party for some friends at her home located at 1465 Capri Drive. She goes swimming and is in a very good mood. Carole tells her friends they have to leave early because she is having a private dinner with Rex Harrison. This is the seventh night in a row that they have had dinner together. Rex is married to actress Lilli Palmer and Carole has been having an affair with him for over a year. Because of the affair she had filed for divorce from her husband Horace Schmidlapp and put her mansion up for sale.

Her Pacific Palisades home                                                                                                            Carole at her pool
 
6:00 PM - Carole puts on a plaid skirt, a white blouse, and gold sandals. She is also wearing her favorite gold cross and a St. Christopher medal. Before dinner Carole and Rex each have a Scotch and Soda. They dine on cold roast chicken, a tossed salad, and lemon chiffon pie that Carole had baked herself. She plays "Warm Kiss And Cold Heart" on her phonograph. Rex will later claim they had a pleasant evening discussing Carole's career. The truth is that during the evening they have an argument and he ends their relationship.
 
Listen to Warm Kiss And Cold Heart

 
 
Carole and Rex Harrison

9:00 PM - 12:00 AM - Rex says he left Carole's house at 9:00 but other sources say he was there until after midnight. He is the last person to see her alive. Rex goes to visit his friend Roland Culver who live a few blocks away on Napoli Drive. Carole is alone in her home and has a few drinks. Her autopsy would show that her blood alcohol level was .12 which meant she was not drunk. She tries to call several friends including Marguerite Haymes but no one is home. Marguerite gets Carole's message later that evening but decides it's too late to call her back.

 
 Carole and her friend Marguerite Haymes (the mother of actor Dick Haymes)
  
MONDAY, JULY 5

12:00 AM - 3:00 AM - Carole collects all of the photos and mementos from her relationship with Rex and puts them in a suitcase. Then she drives to Roland Culver's house and leaves the suitcase in his driveway. She also leaves a note saying she is going to kill herself. Unfortunately Roland does not find it until the next day. After Carole's death Roland burned the note and everything that was in the suitcase. Carole returns home and writes two final letters on her personal stationary. First she writes a four line lovers farewell to Rex. Then she writes a heartbreaking note to her beloved mother Clara. She folds the notes and puts them on her dresser.

"Dearest Mommie - I'm sorry, really sorry, to put you through this but there is no way to avoid it - I love you darling you have been the most wonderful mom ever And that applies to all our family. I love each and every one of them dearly - Everything goes to you - Look in the files and there is a will which decrees everything - Good bye, my angel - Pray for me - Your Baby"

3:00 AM - Carole goes into an upstairs bathroom and takes an envelope filled with Secanol out of her cabinet. She suffered from insomnia and had been prescribed the pills to help her sleep. There is writing on the envelope that says "Red - quick - 2 hours. Yellow, about 5, Can take 2. Use for severe pain". Carole swallows approximately forty Secanol tablets. She leaves the envelope and a glass of water on the bathroom counter. Then Carole goes into her bedroom and lays down on the bed for several minutes.

 Carole's prescription bottles and envelope with Secanol

3:30 AM - She walks back into the bathroom where she collapses. Sadly Carole will die on the bathroom floor. She is lying on a carpet next to an open cabinet. Her arms are bent as if she had been trying to raise herself up. Carole's head is resting on a jewelry box and her left hand she is holding a satin bookmark with the Lord's Prayer on it. She had taken five times the amount of Secanol needed to cause death. This was at least the third time she had attempted suicide but in the past she had always been rescued by friends.

Carole on bathroom floor
 
9:00AM - 11:00AM - Carole's maid, Fannie Mae Bolden, arrives at the house. The front door was locked so she had to enter through the back door. Fannie said that she sensed something was wrong as soon as she walked in the house. The kitchen table was still full of food and dishes from the night before. Carole's camera and some papers are scattered on a table in the living room. Fannie spends the morning cleaning the house. Rex calls several times but Fannie tells him Carole is not awake yet.

Detectives view Carole's body

3:00 PM - Rex arrives at the house and shocks Fannie by telling her "I think she's dead". Together they go to the bathroom where they find Carole's body. Rex says "Oh, no, my darling, why did you do it?". He feels Carole's wrist and says there is a slight pulse. Instead of calling for an ambulance he walks out of the house leaving Fannie alone. She said "Rex didn't call anybody. He didn't call the coroner, the police, or anyone. He just walked out." Fannie goes to a neighbors house for help and and they call the police. They also call Florence Wasson, Carole's best friend, to tell her what happened. 

 Detective Emmett Jones in Carole's bedroom                                                                                           

4:00 PM - The police arrive to investigate. They find the note that Carole left for her mother but there are conflicting reports about the second note. Fannie Mae Bolden and Florence Wasson both say that they saw the note. Florence claims it was simply a memo Carole wrote about taking her cat to the vet. However Lilli Palmer will later admit that a police officer found the personal love note Carole wrote for Rex. The Harrison's paid the officer $500 to destroy the note.

Carole's parents after learning of her death
                                                                                      
7:00 PM - Carole's mother Clara Ridste and her sister Dorothy Ross arrive at the house. Clara is heard screaming "Oh my baby, I want to see my baby. Why didn't somebody call me?" and then collapses. There are dozens of reporters and photographers at the house. The next day photos of Carole's dead body will be in almost every newspaper in the country. Rex returns to the house and is questioned by the police. Carole's body is taken to the funeral home. Detective Emmett Jones says he believes the death is a "definitely a suicide".