I’ve been studying old Hollywood movies recently, and specifically the history of MGM; which means a lot of digging through a number of memoirs, kiss and tell-all books, and actual records where available. There is a lot of speculation in these things, with rumors and legends that show up being repeated, and argued about endlessly. That’s fine. I’ll leave it to other people to finally come up with the one true history of the industry.
However, I have noticed that there are people who show up a lot in these stories. There’s been a lot about Eddie Mannix lately, since Hail Caesar! came out, and if you want a fun read about Mannix (and Howard Strickling) you might take a look at The Fixers: Eddie Mannix, Howard Strickling and the MGM Publicity Machine by E.J. Fleming. As with everything else, it’s got a lot of speculation and gossip, but like I said, it’s fun.
But there is a person who keeps showing up in these books with very little information about him. That’s Whitey Hendry. Hendry was head of security for MGM as well as the police chief of Culver City for a while. Hendry was said to have been involved with tidying up Paul Bern’s ‘suicide’, and he was also known for fixing tickets, bribing police, manipulating the press – trust me, you can go as far down that rabbit hole as you want to. The problem is that once you start controlling the narrative, going back in later and finding what actually happened becomes very difficult, if not impossible.
So, Whitey. I started getting curious about what could be proven. After spending some time dealing with census records, marriage records, draft registrations, and his obit, we can say this with reasonable assurance.
Wayland Penn Hendry was born 21 September 1895 to Thomas A. Henry and Edythe Woodward Hendry in California. He studied dentistry. On 5 June 1917 he registered for the draft, but cited defective eye sight as a reason for exemption. He was tall, slender, with light brown hair and brown eyes.
On 27 July 1918 he married Muriel Cecila Sparks. They had one child, Wayland Marsh Hendry, b. 14 November 1919 (Marsh later got into television editing and died in 1995). W. P. and Muriel parted at some point after that.
In 1925, W.P. joined M.G.M. security. In 1926, Muriel married a man named Charles Fink. On 6 November 1927, W. P. married Louise B. Varian (B. may be for Berg, her maiden name), b. 2 June 1897. Both W.P. and Louise were previously divorced.
Whitey left M.G.M. after 28 years, in 1953.
W.P. died 30 November 1960 in Los Angeles. Louise died 28 April 1964, in Los Angeles.