For the past decade, writer Liz Brown has researched the life and trials of Harrison Post, "a wealthy gay man who was taken captive and defrauded by his family under the guise of 'protection'" in the mid-1930s, chronicled in her new book Twilight Man: Love and Ruin in the Shadows of Hollywood and the Clark Empire.
In an essay for Slate, Brown draws parallels between the Post case and that of Britney Spears, whose allegations of conservatorship abuse at her father's hands have gripped the public for the past month.
• "In newspapers, Harrison was identified as 'clubman,' 'art collector,' or 'Hollywood millionaire'... In the world of wealth management, Harrison was an interloper. He didn't ascend into that rarified sphere as a man did, through the accumulation and control of capital, but as a woman was expected to—through a relationship to such a man."
• "In March 1934, Post experienced some kind of collapse... In later years, Post mentioned having had a “nervous breakdown,” though he also told people he’d had a stroke. Whatever led to his illness, he was convalescing in a luxury sanitarium that June when Clark died suddenly of a heart attack. Within days, Post's sister Gladys [Crooks] petitioned the court to have him declared incompetent, and she was subsequently appointed the guardian of his estate, which totaled well more than $200,000, or nearly $4.5 million today."
• "Clark had established a $100,000 trust for Post, and yet the Crookses claimed this was insufficient. [Gladys] moved her brother to a cheaper sanitarium, then deemed that institution too expensive and brought him back to his estate in the Palisades... Post would later claim he'd been medicated against his will, 'held in complete physical restraint,' and recorded with Dictaphones to be sure he wasn't conspiring to escape... One of [Gladys'] first purchases was barbed wire."
• "Gladys told the court she needed to raise funds to maintain Post's care. She sold his Rolls-Royce, Plymouth Coupe, horses, antiques, silver, and art. She auctioned off his books to his friends and peers... Later, she would tell him the books had been 'misplaced.'"
• "The doctor who testified to the Superior Court of Los Angeles in 1934 that Post should be declared incompetent was a neurologist named Samuel D. Ingham. Samuel Ingham III, who resigned as Britney Spears’ attorney after her June 23 statement to the court, confirmed to [Brown] in an email that [this] was his grandfather. 'I was aware that he did competency assessments for juvenile offenders, but was not familiar with the Post case,' he wrote."
• "Few people in these arrangements are ever restored to competence. Post was. On March 9, 1936, the court declared [he was] 'now sane and competent and capable of taking care of himself and his property.' By then, there was little of his property left. Gladys had dissolved and cashed out the trust Clark had established for her brother."
Britney Spears’ ordeal has haunting echoes of another dark episode in Hollywood history. https://t.co/O863j9OXCl— Slate (@Slate) July 20, 2021