Saturday, July 10, 2021

FLASHBACK: MARY MARTIN & JANET GAYNOR - 1982

SAN FRANCISCO, SEPT. 6, 1982 — Mary Martin and Janet Gaynor, two of the most famous actresses of their time, were seriously hurt Sunday night in an automobile accident that killed Miss Martin's personal manager and companion. Ben Washer, a longtime friend of Miss Martin and her late husband, Richard Halliday, Paul Gregory, Miss Gaynor's husband, was also injured.

The accident occurred about 7:30 Sunday evening when a speeding van hit their taxicab broadside, knocking it into a tree at Franklin street, and California street intersection. The van's driver, Robert Cato, 36, of San Francisco, was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter, felony drunken driving, reckless driving, speeding and running a red light.

Miss Gaynor, 77, the most seriously injured, was reported to be in stable but critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital with the outlook ''very guarded'' after four hours of surgery.

''The outcome in her case will not be decided for many days,'' said Dr. Frank Lewis, chief of emergency services at the hospital. ''She had multiple trauma and has needed nine pints of blood and she's likely to need more. In a lady her age, the magnitude of the injuries is very critical.'' The Academy Award-winning actress had five broken ribs on the right side, six on the left, a right collarbone fracture, multiple pelvic fractures, a ruptured bladder and bleeding around the right kidney. Her breathing was being aided with a ventilator. 


Miss Martin, 68, was in stable but serious condition, according to Leslie Lingass, a hospital spokesman. The actress had fractures to two right ribs and her pelvic bone, as well as contusions to a kidney. A broken rib had punctured her right lung. 

In 1928, Miss Gaynor won the first Academy Award for best actress for her roles in the 1927 films ''Seventh Heaven'' and ''Sunrise'' and the 1928 movie ''Street Angel.'' Before retiring from the screen in 1939, she appeared in numerous other films, including the original ''A Star Is Born,'' ''State Fair,'' ''High Society Blues'' and ''Daddy Longlegs.'' 

Miss Martin, known for her role as Nellie Forbush in the 1949 musical ''South Pacific'' and as Peter Panin the won three Tony Awards for her work on Broadway and three New York Drama Critics awards. Shewon an Emmy in 1955 for the television version of ''Peter Pan.'' Her Broadway appearances included ''Leave It to Me,'' in which she sang the show-stopping ''My Heart Belongs to Daddy.'' She also starred in ''One Touch of Venus,'' ''Annie Get Your Gun'' and ''The Sound of Music.'' The actor Larry Hagman, Miss Martin's son, flew here from Los Angeles to be with his mother. Mr. Hagman plays ''J.R.'' in the ''Dallas'' television series.


The taxicab had picked up Miss Martin and her friends at her home and was headed east on California Street to go across Nob Hill and down to Grant Street and Chinatown to Kan's Restaurant, according to a spokesman for the Veterans Taxi Company. 

According to witnesses, as the taxi entered the Franklin Point intersection, a van headed north collided broadside with the taxi. Mr. Cato, the van's driver, was jailed after he and his passenger, John McCue, 30, of Oakland, were treated for minor injuries. The police said he had borrowed the van.
Ronald Drury, 46, the cab driver, was also treated and released last January, tougher drunk-driving lawswent into effect in California. The law requires that a first offender pay a fine of $375 and serve two days in jail or have his license suspended for 90 days...


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