Thursday, December 15, 2011

Was William Holden's Death an Accident or Murder?

What I am about to tell you is going to shock you. Many people have written articles about William Holden in the past and even to this day. What they fail to provide you is the facts of the story. Bottom line, they fail to provide the truth.

If you 'Google' "William Holden" or “William Holden’s Death” I am sure you will find pages upon pages of articles, blogs and stories pertaining to his untimely demise. However, no one wants to actually figure out the whole story. If you were around when William Holden died you probably read about it or heard about it on the news or radio.

Most stories include that he slipped or tripped on a throw rug and hit his head on a night stand, which in turn caused the injury that killed him. Another tidbit they never fail to mention is that he was allegedly “drunk” due to his blood alcohol level at the time (0.22) according to the Coroner. Of course that would never be left out, given Holden's reputation for alcoholism. This leads you to the conclusion that whole thing should be written off as a 'drunk slip and fall accident' and nothing more.

There are some who say that the apartment Manager, Bill Martin became concerned and let himself into the apartment only to find Holden’s body. Many also claim that Stefanie Powers was the long time love of his life. Due to this theory, people assume that is why she inherited most of his fortune after he died.

What if I was to tell you that there was more to this story?

What if I was to tell you that William Holden was no longer with Stefanie Powers but was planning to marry someone else, someone he had a relationship long before Stefanie?

What if I was to tell you that the day he died was just one month short of a planned trip he had with his “secret love.” A lady that seems the media has chose to leave out of the story for the last 30 years?

Today, here and now you are going to hear the real facts of the story that have been long left out since November of 1981. You will also see the possible link to Natalie Wood’s death as well. Now I am not going to sit here and defame or accuse people downright, but I am going to lay out the facts and then you can be your own detective and draw your own conclusions from it.
Sounds good? Ok, here we go………….


William Holden’s body was found Monday, November 16th after the persistent calls from Brian and Elaine Keating, Holden’s live in staff at his Palm Springs home. But what many don’t know is that they weren’t the only ones who were calling the Manager there at Holden’s complex at 535 Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica.

In fact, Patricia Morgan Stauffer was the one who kept insisting that someone check on Holden after she hadn’t heard from him for several days. Contrary to many stories, the Manager Bill Martin did not seem to care at all about the welfare of Holden. In fact no one had seen or heard from Holden in days until Patricia Stauffer and The Keating’s got the police involved after being refused entry into the apartment by none other than the Manager, Bill Martin. Sargeant Dick Tapia was called to the residence and was the first person to discover the body after breaking down the door.

Most people do not know who Patricia Stauffer is in this whole story. She is usually just mentioned briefly in one or two sentences as a caring friend who was concerned about Holden after not hearing from him for several days. 

Holden and Stauffer had planned a trip to Africa on December 13th and were to be married at the Kenya Safari Club on New Years Eve just seven weeks from that date. Holden wasn’t answering his calls or calling her back for any sort of explanation. After speaking to the Keating’s they also grew worried about Holden and started making phone calls.

William Holden’s friends and employees, the Keating’s were aware that Patricia was his love, not Stefanie Powers as many believed. Even Holden’s friend and former publicist Jay Bernstein claimed that he believed that story of Holden and Stauffer planning to wed to be true because he claimed that Bill “had always been in love with her.”


Patricia Morgan Stauffer met William Holden on New Year’s Eve in 1964. Soon after, Patricia -who was married to Teddy Stauffer at the time, started an ongoing affair with Holden for nearly 10 years while he was going through ups and downs in his marriage to actress Brenda Marshall.

In 1966, Stauffer divorced from her husband while it took until 1971 for Holden and Marshall to be divorced. Patricia claimed that the first round of her relationship with Holden lasted until 1974, when he eventually he became linked to actress, Stefanie Powers. It was known in Holden’s family and through his close friends that during his relationship to Powers that he continued to remain very close with Stauffer. It was also not a secret that Holden preferred to keep his personal life quiet and that is why much about his relationship with Patricia before and after Powers,was unknown.

Holden had mentioned marriage to Patricia for years after the divorce of his first wife, but it wasn’t until he proposed officially to her over the Labor Day weekend September 1981, that she accepted in front of their friends in La Costa, Calif.

The mainstream media says that Holden was with Stefanie Powers at the time of his death, since she did inherit most of his fortune which he had bequeathed to her in his Will, while Stauffer only inherited a small amount of money (according to my research). 

According to Powers in her many interviews she acted as if they were still together at the time of Holden’s death despite the fact she no longer lived with him. When asked about their relationship in an interview for she says: “Bill and I were like soul mates. He came along at the lowest emotional point in my life. I was working- surviving, but at the end of a very unsuccessful marriage. He helped make me back into a human being....”

When asked about marriage Powers also stated: “We didn’t need to get married. We’d both done that before. There was no question of having children- Bill couldn’t have anymore. We simply didn’t feel the need to marry.”

“We didn’t need to get married”- may have really meant he didn’t want to marry her, not that he didn’t ever want to get remarried. Especially so since Patricia Stauffer- who knew Holden much longer than Powers, claims he had spoken of it often to her since the early 1970’s.

It is not a secret that Powers’ and Holden’s relationship was volatile. There are several stories about them having a very explosive relationship and sometimes even having physical fights with one another. Then there are the rumors of his drinking problem and that he was impotent due to extensive alcohol issues, which caused more problems in their relationship. It is true that Powers was no longer living with Holden at the time of his death, but it is very possible she still had a key to the apartment.

So here we are on the day of his death, which the Coroner claims was November 12th (which happened to be a Thursday) and his body was found on Monday the 16th.


Holden was found in his apartment on Monday, November 16th laying on the floor of his bedroom in his Santa Monica apartment. It appeared to Medical Examiner Thomas Noguchi his initial feeling was that Holden had been murdered. However, over the course of the investigation somehow Noguchi’s opinion changed.

Holden’s body was found in an advanced state of decomposition. He was dressed only in a white blood stained shirt and a robe. His head had a large laceration on the forehead and there were maggots present on his skin and wound due to many days of decomposing on his bedroom floor. The floor surrounding his body was full of blood and body fluids, as well as the sheets of his bed. There was blood spatter on the phone in the bedroom on the nightstand although no evidence that the phone had been used to call for help.

According to Noguchi’s notations: "On the basis of the autopsy findings and the at scene investigation, it became clear that the decedent accidentally fell due to tripping over the throw rug on the bedroom floor beside the bed, and fell into the sharp edge of the bedside table causing a deep cut on the right forehead followed by profuse hemorrhage. There is no evidence of vomiting blood as there is no evidence of hemorrhage in the Gastrointestinal Tract or gastric contents in the blood pool on the bed or on the floor. There is no evidence of foul play as the room is not disturbed and the room was well secured as well as presence of numerous blood soaked beside the bed."


So the report claimed that Holden’s blood alcohol level was 0.22. So what!
If you read my story about Natalie Wood you would know that I have clarified the fact that when a person dies their body starts to produce ethanol on its own, to start the decomposition process. So basically unless you check the vitreous humour (in the eye) to check for pre-mortem alcohol levels there is no way to differentiate the two types of ethanol in your system (pre or post mortem) from the blood or organs. 

Therefore, after four days of William Holden’s body laying there rotting away on the floor, the ethanol his body created to start decomposition is more than likely the cause for such a high blood alcohol level and not that he was drunk. I am so surprised that these doctors, being that they are licensed and supposed to be able to figure this stuff out just left all this out of both Natalie’s autopsy report and William Holden’s as well.


I find it quite interesting that Dr. Noguchi stated that at first glance he thought Holden had been murdered, but then he later recanted that statement. I also think it is quite interesting in how the Coroners claim he died. They think he slipped on a rug and hit the teak nightstand in his bedroom. The autopsy claims that his head hit with such a force that it caused a “blunt laceration of the scalp” which was 2 inches long and the nightstand was pushed so hard into the wall that it left an indention in the wall 3 inches deep.

When one of the investigators at the scene tried to move the nightstand he had to ask for other men to help him move it. Doesn’t that tell you something? How did William Holden trip and hit his head so hard on the nightstand that it would leave such a deep impression into the wall, but yet it was so difficult for one man to move on his own? 

(Personal Opinion: I think that someone hit him over the head with an object, and staged the nightstand to look as if he hit it and caused the injury.)

If this was the case, it had to be more than one person to move that nightstand, too. It was also stated that the apartment was decorated to look like the stage of the movie "Love is a Many Splendoured Thing" and everything was neat and put in its place most of the time. But upon investigation the teak nightstand was sticking out like a sore thumb in the way it was placed in the room, it had been moved there by didn't appear that it was supposed to be there normally.

So here we are at the scene, can you imagine it now? 

There is William Holden, he has been hit by some object and is profusely bleeding. The reports say he may have been conscious for up to fifteen minutes before death. It was obvious that if he was murdered, he was awake in the room with his killer or killers. 

The injury didn’t crack his skull as many appear to think, because the death certificate says his cause of death was “exsanguination” meaning he bled out. The laceration on his forehead was also on the death certificate but there was no mention of skull fracture or brain injury from the blunt force to the head.


Many speculated that Holden was a depressed drunk and had committed suicide however his friends and family knew that was not the case. “That is not what Bill left us, the fact that he had a battle with alcohol is not the story of his life,” said friend and former publicist Jay Bernstein. “He was not looking to end his life. He had proposed marriage to someone he had known for seventeen years.”

In fact, as soon as Bill Holden had found out that work on an upcoming project, “The Championship Season” had been postponed until the Spring of '82, that is when he made plans to go on his Kenya Safari vacation with Stauffer to spend those weeks together, marrying on New Years Eve.


So how is all this connected to Natalie Wood? Well, I cannot give you a concrete affirmation that this is connected to her death. But I will state to you the scenario that is a possibility.

So here it is the early 80’s and the series “Hart to Hart” starring none other than Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers is in its prime. Powers’ and Holden’s relationship was not much of anything anymore and Powers’ was living in her own house as well. Remember, Stefanie Powers wasn’t all that famous before she got with William Holden. Their May-December romance was one many didn’t understand or cared to understand. Holden had nothing to gain out of his relationship, but Powers’ had everything to gain. When he died, she got a huge chunk of his estate, and the media craze from Holden’s mysterious death sky rocketed her into serious celebrity status.

FOR THE RECORD, I am not accusing or insinuating that Stephanie Powers had ANYTHING to do with William Holden's death, I am merely stating the information that is already out there in public domain that speaks about their past relationship. One thing though that I would like you to remember, Holden was planning to marry Patricia Stauffer and they were just about to leave on their trip and get married. He wasn't in a relationship with Stephanie Powers when he died.

I just find it very strange that both William Holden who was linked to Powers (Hart to Hart) and Natalie Wood who was married to Wagner (Hart to Hart) both died within two weeks of one another. Both people suffering from suspicious deaths, both examined by Dr. Noguchi and both ruled “Accidental” when the evidence says otherwise.

The evidence doesn’t lie. Go ahead and do your own investigation into William Holden’s death and I am sure you will find holes in it, just as you will find tons of holes in Natalie Wood’s death, too.

It hurts me to my very core wondering what truly happened to both Natalie Wood and William Holden, and how much I feel that the two deaths are somehow connected. Even if there isn't any way of proving it.

History is full of mysteries and unsolved or suspicious deaths that are ruled “accidental” but sometimes with the right information and the passion to uncover the truth you can see through the veil of lies and open your eyes to the truth, hidden in plain sight!

Bill Holden with Patricia Stauffer Labor Day Weekend 1981 (source: Associated Press Photo 1981)

J’aime Rubio (Copyright 12/15/2011)
some of my sources:
William Holden Death Certificate, Autopsy Report
Arguss Press (11/17/1981)
William Holden: A Biography- Michelangelo Capua
Daytona Beach Morning Journal (11/220/1981)
Ocala Star Banner- (11/19/1981)
Hart to Hart Online


  1. Possibly Bill HOlden was murdered to frighten Jackie Onassis into silence about her suspicions of who had JFK murdered? Breaking story about release of her tapes, she had an affair with William Holden. Could it be????

  2. Masteraceman123456- Thank you for your comment. You bring up a good point. However, if someone was going to kill William Holden in regards to Jackie O's suspicions one would think it would have happened way back when all of that was fresh...right after JFK had died. Personally I think Jackie O was spot on because you have to think "Who would have anything to gain by JFK being killed?" -Answer: the Vice President. Of course once he became the President he had his powers to do what he wanted and shut whoever he wanted up. But, I just don't think Bill Holden would have been killed so many years later because of it. Again, though there is really no way to know. Maybe Jackie O confided in Bill? We may never know the whole truth to it, but you did make a great point and you have inspired me to look into the Jackie O tapes further. Thank you!

  3. Just discovered your blog looking for info about Paul Bern. It is fascinating and well-written. I have always been interested in true crime, and Hollywood, and your stories are the best of both. I have read much of the material on Natalie Wood, but you are the first person I have read to raise questions about the death of William Holden. I will tell you, my mom, who died from Alzheimer's in July at the age of 87, fell in her bedroom in my house 2 yrs ago, and hit her head on the dresser going down. My husband checked on her after we put her to bed because he saw a light under the door. She had a wound on her forehead about 2 inches long, and I would never have believed the pool of blood she was in if I hadn't seen it myself - it surrounded her whole body and looked like her whole blood volume was there on the floor. Head wounds do bleed profusely, and my mom surely would have exsanguinated if my husband hadn't found her. Of course, Noguchi's turn about and the position of the teak piece are something else entirely. I can't wait to read your blog archive. Thanks and best wishes.

    1. Thank you for that comment Penny. I appreciate you giving your view of such an injury since you have witnessed a similar situation. I do agree with you that head injuries can be very fatal, as I have spoken to a few other people after publishing this piece that confirm that a cut on the forehead can bleed out profusely...having said that, I thank you about my theory too. I could see that if the teak nightstand hadn't been moved and hadn't been pushed into the wall to "look" like Bill Holden slipped and fell onto it, then I could see how it would probably be an accidental death. But knowing all the circumstances surrounding his strange death leads me to believe in foul play. Thank you again for your lovely comment. I hope you enjoy my many stories. Take care!

  4. J'aime:

    You have been blessed with a gift for spotting the truth. I have known for almost 6 years that William Holden and Natalie Wood were murdered but having a new voice proclaiming this news keeps the truth out there. Keep talking!

    1. Thank you Justice777....I appreciate that comment. I do my best to find the answers even when no one else wants to give them. I truly believe that Bill Holden and Natalie Wood were murdered, again that is my opinion. I am glad that others such as yourself can put 2 and 2 together and come to the same logical conclusions as well. I am a truth seeker and someone who hopes for justice in all cases. Let's hope one day the media "gets on the ball" and sees it for what it was... take care!

  5. I wanted to express my opinion since I have become increasing interested in this case as well as the Wood case. At first it was just to read about how Wm Holden died and then I came across this site and it sent my detective instincts out. I have a degree in MA Forensic Psych so this is something that has troubled me since the Natalie Wood death, but then when Stephanie Powers name came up it set bells and whistles off and the realization how close in time these two deaths are linked. The connection is uncanning and I have never believed Robert Wagner for a minute--the whole story doesn't make good logical sense. I have been researching Wm Holden's death as well and that is when I came on this site, It would be questionable that someone would fall and not ring for help if as the corner stated he was conscious for 15-20 minutes, that is a natural instinct when one is injured, I know alcohol consumption can diminish one's ability to reason, but why did it take 4 days to get some to check on Holden? Unfortunately he has been cremated so there is only the hope that something else with develop in the Wood case which for a while seemed to be getting some place. There could be a death bed confession but I doubt that will happen. The sad part is when money is involved especially the kind we are confronted with in these cases it seals a lot of information.
    I appreciate the "rest of the story" It bothers me that no one else has looked into this deeper and opened another investigation.

    1. Thank you for the comment Linda! (I got your email, too. thanks) I agree with you that it bugs me no one has ever looked into Bill Holden's death more thoroughly. Remember this, Noguchi oversaw both Natalie and Bill's autopsies. And like you say, money talks.... I enjoy when I get a comment from someone in regards to my stories because I see there still are "TRUTH SEEKERS" left out here in the world...sometimes its lonely out here thinking we are a dying breed. Most people nowadays walk around with blinders on.

      As far as pointing the fingers on "whodunnit" I can't say as far as Bill's story. I do know that he was engaged to Patricia Stauffer at the time of his death, and it was her urging the manager of the apartments he was living in to check on him that led to discovering his body after he failed to contact her for their trip to Africa to get married. --- Who came in and killed him? We will never know for sure. We have no evidence to point to anyone, only speculation. Remember, its not about what we think we know, its about what you can prove. --sadly.

      As far as Natalie Wood, well we know there were only 3 other men on board of the boat so there are three suspects (if not all)....that we do know. And hopefully the new investigation on Natalie Wood's death will finally answer those questions. (By the way, did you notice that my blog on Natalie Wood's death was written ONE YEAR prior to all the major newspapers recent articles basically stating what I had already covered 12 months earlier?)--- Neat huh? I out scooped the major papers.....

  6. I just wanted to mention a point. Your blog says that William Holden and Patricia Stauffer were going to leave for Kenya on Nov. 13th, but reading the article in the Daytona Beach Morning Journal that most of this appears to be based on, it says they were scheduled to leave Dec. 13th, about a month after Holden died. It doesn't really change anything, but if they had actually been scheduled to leave on Nov. 13th and he had not shown up at the airport for the flight, she probably would have been even more concerned and gone directly to his apartment with the police. As a result, the body might have been discovered only a day or so after he had actually died. Forensically, this might have made some difference in the autopsy.

    Anyway...I think it is all interesting and indeed a bizarre coincidence that Holden and Wood died mysteriously under accidental circumstances within just a couple of weeks of each other. Not sure it necessarily means foul play, especially in Holden's case. Just very sad that such a great and talented star could die in this way. He was still making very good movies; in fact, his part in "S.O.B.", released the summer before all this happened, is really one of his best I think.

    1. In my investigating I must have somehow read it wrong, you are absolutely right about it being December and not November. My apologies. It does make a difference, however Pat still tried to get a hold of him for days before they finally got into the apartment and found him. The fact that both Holden's and Wood's deaths were so close in time and similar in being "accidental"-both autopsies done by Noguchi leaves room for many theories and much speculation. Personally, I still feel there is more to this story than we will ever know.- Thanks again for pointing that out to me, much appreciated. (I will fix it ) :-)


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