Deannie Best ~ The Starlet Accused Of Murder

Deannie Best

Deannie Best was a beautiful starlet who was accused of murdering her husband in 1969

She born Willia Dean Doughty on September 25, 1926 in Altus, Oklahoma. Her parents divorced in 1929. At the age of seventeen she dropped out of school and moved to Los Angeles to become an actress. On April 12, 1944 she married George Balzer. The couple split up a few months later. Tragically in September of 1944 her mother, Willia Best, was murdered at the age of thirty-five. Deannie was chosen to be on the Goldwyn Girls and appeared in 1945 film Wonder Man. Then she had a small role in the film noir The Big Sleep and the musical Three Little Girls In Blue. The beautiful brunette went on a USO tour with Kay Kayser's troupe in 1945. She was briefly engaged to yacht salesman Willis Hunt (who had previously been married to Carole Landis). Deannie also dated director Howard Hawks and had an affair with married actor John Carroll. In 1948 she had a supporting role in the Charlie Chan mystery Shanghai Chest. That same year she married Hollywood attorney Albert Pearlson. The marriage was annulled a few months later but the couple remarried on March 7, 1949. Soon after she decided to quit acting and became a full-time housewife.

Deannie Best Roland WintersDeannie Best Roland Winters
With Roland Winters in The Shanghai Chest

Deannie Best In Wonder Man
Deannie in Wonder Man

She suffered a miscarriage in the Fall of 1949. After divorcing Albert she married James Neil Kennedy, a soldier, in 1953. Tragically in June of 1953 her newborn son Neil died when he was only one day old. Deannie and James split up in 1957 shortly before their daughter Dru was born. Then she reunited with her ex-fiance Willis Hunt. They were married in July of 1965 and he legally adopted her daughter. Unfortunately Willis had a drinking problem and started abusing her. On December 14, 1969 she and Willis got into a violent argument at their Newport Beach home. During a struggle she picked up a butcher knife and stabbed him. Fifty-six year old Willis died at the hospital that evening. She was arrested and charged with murder. Deannie claimed she was acting in self defense. At the trial her daughter Dru testified against her and said she intentionally killed Willis. In November of 1970 the jury found her not guilty. She told reporters “I just want to go home and rearrange my life.” Deannie spent the next three decades living a quiet life in Costa Mesa. On May 16, 2000 she died at the age of seventy-three. She was buried at Harbor Lawn-Mount Olive Memorial Park in Costa Mesa, California

Deannie Best Albert PearlsonDeannie Best Shanghai Chest
With Albert Pearlson                                                                                                                                                         

Deannie Best Willis Hunt Death

Those obscure objects of desire has a great post about Deannie