Jul 28, 2014

Manly P. Hall: Gay Psychic Murdered by His Lover

When I lived in Los Angeles, there was a University of Philosophical Research at 3910 Los Feliz, near the Silverlake gay neighborhood.  But it wasn't a university, and it didn't do any philosophical research, although it had a library of 50,000 volumes.  It was a mystical/occult organization founded by Manly P. Hall (1901-1990), who published The Secret Teachings of All Ages (1928).

I haven't read it.  It's a gigantic compendium of occult lore, thick, dense, and impenetrable, with chapters on "The Bembine Table of Isis," "The Hiramic Legend," "Hermetic Pharmacology," and "Fundamentals of Qabbalistic Cosmogony."  But it was immensely popular, on the shelf of everyone from H.P. Lovecraft to F. Scott Fitzgerald, and it has never gone out of print.

Hall became one of the biggest celebrities of the era.  In 1934 he founded the Philosophical Research Society, and stocked its library with thousands of rare occult volumes purchased for him by wealthy disciples, notably oil heiress Carolyn Lloyd.

He wrote many more books -- nearly 200 -- some with beefcake covers, like this rather buffed deity with a shining phallus creating the worlds.

He delivered over 7,000 lectures.

For all his erudition, Hall's philosophy was simple.  His Ten Basic Rules for Better Living include:
1. Stop worrying.
2. Don't try to dominate and control other people.
3. Learn to relax
4. Cultivate a sense of humor
5. Reign in your ambition.
6. Don't accumulate more than you need.
7. Believe in something bigger than yourself.
8. Never intentionally harm anyone.
9. Beware of anger.
10. Never blame others for your own mistakes.

Elvis Presley was a fan.  So was Ronald Reagan. He officiated at the wedding of horror movie great Bela Lugosi.

Disciples stood in line around the block on Los Feliz Avenue to hear his advice.  Astrologers, bodybuilders, magicians, actors, writers, philosophers.

A few -- the best and brightest, the most eager, the most muscular (see top photo) -- stayed on, to become his assistants.  Like future paranormal researcher Arthur Louis Joquel.

Hall was gay or bisexual.  He was married twice, but neither marriage was ever consummated.  His wives and disciples turned a blind eye to his interest in attractive male proteges, and quickly put a stop to any hint of scandal. Except for the last one.

In 1988, when Hall had become morbidly obese, almost unable to walk, and showed signs of dementia, he fell in with a salesman-turned-psychic named Daniel Fritz, who claimed to be a reincarnation of a prince from ancient Atlantis, and his son David, who regularly took spirit-journeys to Jupiter.

No different than the hundreds of other psychics, astrologers, occultists, and reincarnated princes that Hall had entertained over the years.  But his disciples suspected that these two were con artists.  

In August 1990 Hall rewrote his will to give Daniel his entire estate, worth some $52,000,000.  Six days later, he was dead.  Daniel and David were alone with the body for several hours.  Disciples believed that the two had murdered him.

An inquest found no evidence of foul play.  But the will was contested, and the estate reverted to Hall's widow.  Daniel and David moved on to other clients.