In Suspicious Circumstances: Season 3, Episode 5

Falling Starr (30 Mar. 1993)

TV Episode  |  Drama
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Episode credited cast:
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Marcell
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Alice Meadows
David Lyon ...
Dr. Carr
John Normington ...
Stanley Faithfull
Jane Slavin ...
Starr Faithfull
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30 March 1993 (UK)  »

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Paging "Butterfield Eight"
17 December 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Judging from the paucity of information on this thread, I am making a guess about what this episode of IN SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES was about.

In June - July 1931 New York City was shaken by an odd mysterious death out on Long Island - the death of a remarkably beautiful young woman named Starr Faithful (actually her name is spelled with two "ells" in it, but the IMDb keeps reducing it to the spelling of the word, "faithful"). Starr was found on the sandy beach of the town of Long Beach in Nassau County, apparently a drowning victim. She had been missing from her home in Manhattan for about two days at the time. Starr lived in what would now be called the "Noho" area of Manhattan (North Houston Street), a little below the real Greenwich Village.

It was a drab period of newsworthy events (aside from the Depression), so the newspapers built up the tragedy. Unlike so many unsolved deaths, it turned out Starr's was really quite interesting. Her mother's brother had been Surgeon General of the United States in the Teddy Roosevelt period. They came from old New England stock (distantly related to President Franklin Pierce's family). Her mother had divorced her father (who lived in the Midwest) and remarried an inventor named Stanley Faithful. She had a younger sister (also attractive looking) named Tucker.

The really juicy stuff gradually got out. One of Starr's mother's cousins was Andrew J. Peters, a former Congressman, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (under Woodrow Wilson) and Democratic Mayor of Boston (he replaced Mayor "Honey Fitz, John Fitzgerald - grandfather of President Kenndy) and his replacement as Mayor would be James Michael Curley, in that gentleman's first term - see THE LAST HURRAH). Peters was not the best Mayor of Boston by a long shot (Fitzgerald and Curley, for all their corruption, knew how to run the city well). Peters' moment of in-glory was his botching of the Boston Police Strike of 1919, which then Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge settled, just in time to make Coolidge a candidate for Vice President in 1920 (and President by succession in 1923).

Peters had a dirty secret. Besides being a political incompetent, he was also a sexual deviant. He fell in love (or lust) with his cousin's daughter Starr, and started having sexual relations with her when she was 14. Mr. and Mrs. Faithful were kept out of it by generous pay-offs. The damage to Starr was not noted.

She became rather abandoned, going off to places like the White Mountains with cousin Andrew for one of their trysts. It was the flapper age, and Starr was sexually aware in ways most of her contemporaries were fortunately unaware. Belatedly her mother, father and step-father tried to reign her in. They sent her to Europe, and on the voyage she met Dr. Jameson Carr, the ship doctor. A romance seemed to bloom, and the two saw each other when she returned (and he was in port). But it slowly was collapsing on his part. Starr could not let go

  • and she was just too intense.




Her last days are still controversial. She was supposed to have attended a party for Miriam Hopkins (then in a production of LYSISTRATA) thrown by Bennett Cerf. She may have been down at the pier where Jameson Carr's boat was leaving for another cruise. She may have entered a taxicab at the pier (like Judge Crater did a year before), and was never seen alive again.

One other point was brought out - next door to the apartment of the Faithful's was the building that housed the official residence of Mayor Jimmy Walker of New York. Walker usually lived with his girlfriend, but he used the apartment occasionally.

A note surfaced from Starr suggesting that she was going to commit suicide. Most New Yorkers felt that she did do that. But questions have remained since. The best account of the mystery, THE PASSING OF STARR FAITHFUL by Jonathan Goodman, suggests she was murdered by a gangster named Vannie Higgins, who had heard her family held a secret regarding a city Mayor, and thought it referred to Mayor Walker. As for the story itself, it became the background for John O'Hara's novel (later the film with Elizabeth Taylor) BUTTERFIELD EIGHT.


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