As poor Christina cowered trembling on the floor, Griffith (above) calmly asked if she had ever been unfaithful to him. Christina sobbed in terror, “Oh, Papa, you know I have always been true to you.” Griffth was convinced that the Pope in Rome, working through his Catholic wife, wanted to have him murdered. Christina tried to reason with her husband but the only sounds she could force from her throat were horrified sobs. She felt the cold steel of the barrel press hard against her temple. She flinched. And as she did, Griffith pulled the trigger. The bullet exploded into her left eye, blowing her eyeball apart. She screamed in terror and agony, and impulsively threw herself out the nearest window.
Over night the 51 year old Griffith became the most hated man in Los Angeles. On Tuesday September 8th. Griffith was unanimously removed from the city Parks Commission and the Los Angeles Times suggested that “Griffith Park” was “handicapped so signally by its name” that it should be returned to its donor. The park’s highest peak, Mt. Griffith, became Mt. Hollywood. People now remembered Griffith as “…a roly-poly, pompous little fellow”, a “midget egomaniac” and a “vain little Napoleon” who wore heel length coats and carried a gold headed walking cane.
He was also the man who had held the city’s access to drinking water from the L.A. River hostage for a $50,000 payment. The land he had used in this maneuver was the very same Rancho Los Feliz that he later donated to the city as Griffith Park, for which he was awarded a significant tax deduction. And Griffith’s behavior after the shooting did little to quell the public’s outrage. Released on bail he repeated his allegation that Christina had shot herself, and then assured the public that his social position would protect him. When Christina, now called "the society wife who refused to die", filed for divorce the “Colonel” contested the custody of their son, which made Griffith appear not just crazy but cruel. His lawyers did their best to repair the damage, leaking to the Los Angele Examiner that “Mrs. Griffith…believed her husband was insane and she thought he should be locked up, but she was averse to a swearing of a felony complaint against him....” Christina did not take the hint.
Griffith J. Griffith died of liver disease on July 6, 1919. His bequests were carried through and overseen by his son, Van, - as was the erecting of a statue of his father near the park’s main entrance. Today the observatory and the Greek theatre are highlights of Griffith Park, the jewel of Los Angeles.
Today it is impossible to imagine Los Angeles without Griffith's Park.
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