A web of greed and corruption waits for its next victim

HOLLYWOOD, California – Her real name doesn’t matter. What is important is that Shelly is a real person.

Here in Hollywood, as in other big cities, there are many girls like her. Young. Pretty. Naive. Gullible. From all parts of the country they come with stars in their eyes. Many are runaways. Others just announce to family and friends that they are leaving home, going out to California or some other destination to make it big.

Shelly was in her late teens when she packed a couple of suitcases and left behind the small, rural community of Centerville. How exciting it was to arrive in the immense city of Los Angeles, especially Hollywood itself! All those lights. All that activity. Something going on around the clock.

Centerville was nothing like this. Why, back there they used to joke about rolling up the sidewalks at sunset.

Oh, there was nothing really wrong with Centerville. It’s just that it was dull. All the shows on television and the romance novels made it seem that way in comparison with the big cities.

Going for the big time

Somehow the idea of living in a small town, near family and friends, pursuing a career locally or working toward getting married and having a family became increasingly less interesting. Shelly was going for the big time.

Her parents tried to reason with her, but their pleadings fell on deaf ears. That’s too bad. There’s no reason to think that Shelly wouldn’t be alive today if she had stayed home. What happened? No one knows for sure. She was found shot to death.

In any case, it seems clear that she was drawn to her end by even more complicated circumstances.

Having arrived here, Shelly had to get a start somewhere. After all, she needed some money now to pay for food and lodging. Who wants to live in the streets?

Of course, she couldn’t merely walk into a major movie studio casting office and say, “Here I am!” There were hundreds of girls, may be even thousands, waiting breathlessly for the smallest parts, hoping they would lead to stardom. And, while Shelly was a beautiful girl, so were many others.

The newspaper classified advertisements offered little of interest – except that an advertisement for a modeling agency attracted her attention. Yes, they would pay her to model. Even though she had no real experience.

Only to get started

Of course, she found out that it had to be with no clothes on. But it was a beginning, wasn’t it? It would only be to get started. She would soon be able to do things her own way once she was discovered by a talent scout for some major studio or got some other break.

Her modeling quickly led to roles in pornographic films. She was making money, but her life was no longer her own. To an increasing extent, Shelly became manipulated by others in a sleazy world. She was in bad company. She got involved in wrong relationships that included sexual abuse and drugs. There seemed to be no way to avoid all that, now that she was in it. She was caught. Trapped.

One day Shelly must have decided she had had enough of this quicksand she had gotten into. She wanted out. Whoever pulled the trigger on the gun brought it all to a swift conclusion.

Avoid the trap

Why mention what happened to Shelly?

Because she thought such tragedies always happen to other people, certainly not to her. Because modern advertising, the movies and television had lied to her, making her believe she couldn’t be happy in the town where she grew up. Because she didn’t put her own feelings aside and listen to reason from her family.

Because certain selfish individuals in corrupt circles used her, pretending to be her friends. Because the promise of money and fleeting fame seemed to be so important. Because it needs to be told that the glitter and glamour this world offers is shallow indeed.

And because maybe, just maybe, some young person after reading about Shelly, may think twice before leaving home in search of greener pastures, even though the situation at home may not be perfect.

It could be worse.

There was no crowd of admirers and friends when they put the casket holding Shelly on the plane. Those who used her were not there. Only one family member was with her when, so soon after she arrived in Hollywood with stars in her eyes, Shelly went back home to stay.

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