Emily Hall Tremaine & pals vs. the British Nazi (1937-38)

In the thick of the anti-Nazi / Nazi fight in California, the pal of Emily Hall Tremaine (previously Baroness Emily von Romberg), Philip Chancellor, was the victim of an extortion attempt by Leopold McLaglen, the brother of a British actor. It is understood, via spy reports, that this money was allegedly to fund the assassinations of 24 prominent people in Hollywood. What did Emily & pals know, when did they know it, and what did they do about it? Was Emily the alleged seductress "Baroness Von..." that McLaglen first apparently claimed, then denied, that tried to lure him into the bedroom, reported by the United Press on 14 March 1938?

R.J. Preece (ADP)
Art Design Publicity at ADC | Emily Hall Tremaine / Collection | 18 May 2024 | Updated 20 May 2024
Emily Hall Tremaine w friends

Left to right: Philip Chancellor, Emily Hall Tremaine (previously Baroness Emily von Romberg), Elza Chancellor, Baron Max von Romberg in the Trocadero, Los Angeles. A similar photo, but in reverse, was in Emily’s scrapbook. Neither the 2001 nor 2019 books mentioning Emily’s discussion-generating 1930s mentioned the Chancellors, and likely didn’t know about this. What are these socialites up to in this mysterious photograph? Daily News (Los Angeles), 24 February 1937, p. 21.

In Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews foiled Nazi plots against Hollywood and America (2017), in chapter 14, "Slaughter the Hollywood Jews", p. 205, we learn that [British Nazi] Leopold McLaglen, brother of actor Victor McLaglen, had an idea: "Promising to use the money he received [via extortion] from [Philip] Chancellor to pay for the hit men, McLaglan [sic] began compiling, with his friends, a list of people they would kill." ...

"[This list included] some of the most famous people in the world: Jack Benny, Herbert Biberman, James Cagney, Eddie Cantor, Charles Chaplin, Emanuel Cohen, Sam Goldwyn, Henry Herzbrun [film producer], Al Jolson, Leon Lewis, Fredric March, Louis B. Mayer, Paul Muni, Joseph Schenk, B. P. Schulberg, Mendel Silberberg, Franchon Simon, Donald Ogden Stewart, Gloria Stuart, Sylvia Sydney, Ernst Toller, Walter Winchell, Marco Wolff, and William Wyler" [noted in October 1937 Jewish-led group spy report; McLaglen’s activity with Chancellor was noted to have begun as late as April 1937].

McLaglen was later arrested and put on trial for extortion, reported in newspapers across the United States. The planned assassinations did not happen. In a funny aside, McLaglen was asked if he once said that a "Baroness Von... " was trying to lure him into the bedroom. There was laughter in the courtroom. He insisted he didn’t. After the trial, there was agreement that McLaglen would leave the country.

Was this "Baroness Von... " Emily Hall Tremaine? Was she a witness in this case? How much was she involved? To date, only one mention of the mysterious "Baroness Von... " has been found, spotlighted below. Time to pull the court record, but until then see the national publicity on the case below!

This media / source compilation is in development. In planning, dog show craziness, Max’s controversial house, his will, and his quietly becoming a US citizen and expatriating from Germany will be added. Also, the Frome murders in late March near El Paso which shocked the country, and its ties to California, will be mentioned.

NOTE: In the sources, sometimes "McLaglen" is spelled with an "e" and also with an "a" as in "Leopold McLaglan".

NOTE: Start of investigation of McLaglen, requested by Chancellor was mid-September 1937, noted in 27 October 1937 reporting.

Emily & Max, Philip & Elza: The two couples became friends in Santa Barbara after 1933. Elza was a Hungarian silent film actress in Berlin, fled Germany and married Philip in London after Hitler took power. Philip had spent time in Berlin under the old regimes in the 1920s+. Elza was in the "avant garde" and for example, her risqué 1932 film with Conrad Viedt was reportedly banned by Hitler’s regime. Then later Philip & Elza reportedly moved to Beverly Hills by December 1937 (they seem back and forth from LA to SB from 1935-37) during this legal situation. There are a number of photos / social press clippings of the Chancellors with Emily and Max in Emily’s scrapbooks.

Philip later reportedly became employed by US Navy Intelligence towards and during the war, but there are some questions about his activity. (We’re awaiting the declassification of a 1939 report; but due to its small size, it seems a false flag.) Elza and Emily’s older sister, Jane Hall Noble, were also friendly to some extent and Jane’s husband was also reportedly in higher levels of the US Navy Intelligence sphere and up to WWII.

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In 1940, Emily claimed in her secret deposition that it was Elza that cooked up with double agent Georg Gyssling, German Consul to Los Angeles, the scandalous event at Emily’s villa in Montecito hosting the Duke of Saxe Coburg and Gotha, ally to Hitler. (In this possible three-country spy operation, the dodgy duke from the British royal family, under the guise of being the head of the German Red Cross, was meeting certain politicians including Roosevelt and the mayor of Cleveland, socialites and businessmen, was touring the US, often staying in posh American hotels, while the country was still neutral after the outbreak of the European war... and after WWII, believe me, these higher society folks with any ethics were in for a stomach-turning shock finding out what this duke became associated with. See "The disturbing story of the Nazi royal".)

Feb 1937 - Emily, Max, Elza, Philip

See the texts

Selected social mentions

1937 - social photo / caption - Elza, Philip

(4 February 1937). Caption: Hollywood couple enjoys recreation at Catalina [with photo of Elza and Philip]. Hollywood Citizen News, p. 8. (Viewed 18 May 2024. P01637).

[Caption continues:] “Mr. and Mrs. Philip M. Chancellor, socially prominent residents of Hollywood, frequently indulge in a busy day of recreation at Catalina Island. They fly over to the island on the morning plane and motor to Eagle’s Nest Lodge for an afternoon of riding, returning by motor and then plane to the mainland that night. Mr. Chancellor, a scientist and explorer, is now devoting most of his time to color photography.” (Excerpt in full.)

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1937 - social photo / caption - Philip, Emily, Elza, Max

(24 February 1937). Caption: An interesting bon mot [“clever remark”]? (See photo at top of page.) Daily News (Los Angeles), p. 21. Daily News (Los Angeles). (Viewed 18 May 2024. P01490).

"[Caption continued] Emily Baroness von Romberg, seated left, Mrs. Philip Chancellor and Maximilian Baron von Romberg seem to be interested in something Philip Chancellor just said… the foursome who are great friends, made a recent party at the Trocadero" (Excerpt from above.)

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APRIL 1937: Presumably this is when contact between Philip Chancellor and Leopold McLaglen began.

Jul 1937 - Emily, Max, Elza, Philip

See the texts

1937 - news mention - social, Emily, Max, Elza, Philip in Santa Barbara

Dorrance, James F. (10 July 1937). Smart set rendezvous reopens; brilliant groups entertained at resort opening [no photo]. Los Angeles Times, p. A5. (Viewed 6 January 2020. P00781).

"The smart set of Santa Barbara, Montecito and the Hope Ranch flocked to the brilliant re-opening of the Santa Barbara Biltmore last week-end for the dinner-dances and to enjoy the Coral Casino and the Olympic-sized swimming pool... Baron and Baroness Max Von Romberg of Montecito arranged a no-host table which included [Mr. & Mrs.] Philip Chancellor..." (Excerpt from above.)

> It’s important to not that Philip was "Philip M. Chancellor" and his father in Montecito was "Philip S. Chancellor".

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Sep 1937 - Emily, Max, Elza, Philip

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1937 - social news mention - Emily & Max, Philip & Elza, Beverly Hills

(23 September 1937). Tennis ball to honor visitors; guests tonight asked to wear gowns and suits of red and white [news mention, social, Emily & Max, Beverly Hills] [no photo]. Los Angeles Times, p. A5. (Viewed 6 January 2020. P00795).

"Ranking foreign players of the eleventh annual Pacific Southwest tennis championships will be complimented at the red-and-white tennis ball this evening in the Beverly Hills Tennis Club.

Reservations have been made for... [Messrs. and Mmes.] Samuel Hoffenstein (Jewish) … James Bodrero… Phillip [sic] Chancellor... Baron and Baroness Maxmillian [sic] von Romberg... Gen. and Mrs. Walter P. Story…. Jeanne Gilbert Rackerby… Daisy Parsons... Joine Alderman... Paulette Goddard [Jewish], Carole Lombard, Rosalind Russell… Janet Gaynor, Helen Hayes… Groucho Marx [Jewish]… Clark Gable…" (Excerpt from above.)

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Historical note: 11-23 October 1937. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor (former King Edward and American socialite Wallis Simpson) visited Nazi Germany and met with Hitler.

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They also met with the Duke of Saxe Coburg and Gotha (a British royal in Germany, ally to Hitler, and unofficial "go-between" for Hitler and Britain) who later ended up at an event in Emily’s Montecito villa noted above ("See More") in April 1940 (a presumed three-country spy operation). In a widely known photo of the Duke, Duchess and Hitler together, Fritz Wiedemann, Hitler’s former boss and here, adjutant, is to the right. In 1939, Wiedemann became the German Consul to San Francisco, in charge of the Nazi spy network for the West Coast, South America and Pacific (military, aircraft industry, shipping, technological developments, possible industrial sabotage). He replaced the rabid Manfred von Killinger (who later in Romania killed his staff and himself in 1944). As German passport holders, Emily and Max likely officially had to deal with the thuggish Von Killinger, report to the consulate, serious threats. etc. (1936-38).

1937 - news brief, arrest of McLaglen

AP (Los Angeles, Oct. 27). (27 October 1937). Brother of movie star is arrested [with mention of Philip Chancellor and Leopold McLaglen] [no photo]. The Evening Times (Sayre, PA), p. 5, col. 4. (Viewed 30 May 2021. P01639).

"Leopold McLaglen… was booked at the county jail today on suspicion of solicitation of the commission of a crime and suspicion of… perjury… McLaglen denied he tried to ‘shake down’ millionaire Phillip Chancellor for an $8,000 salary bonus… Held in technical custody as a material witness was Chancellor’s former secretary, Stanley Glimm…" (Excerpt from above.)

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1937 - news brief

AP (Los Angeles). (27 October 1937). M’Laglen held for "shakedown" [no photo]. Santa Ana Journal (Santa Ana, CA), p. 3, col. 3. (Viewed 26 February 2023. P02638).

"... McLaglen was taken into custody last night after what Inspector Penprase said was a six weeks investigation requested by Chancellor..." (Excerpt from above.)

1937 - news brief

Associated Press (Los Angeles, Oct. 27). (27 October 1937). Victor McLaglen’s brother held in $8,000 "shakedown" try. The Evening Star (Washington, DC), p. A-5, cols. 2-3. (Viewed 23 February 2023. P02651).

"… Chancellor… hired him to teach him a new form of jiu-jitsu. Chancellor told Inspector Penprase he decided to write a book and McLaglen persuaded him to take espionage for his subject, agreeing to supply material on various international intelligence operations…" (Excerpt from above.)

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Elza Temary Chancellor

1937 - social - photo/caption - Elza & Philip move to Beverly Hills

(12 December 1937). Photo caption: Beauteous matron new Beverly resident [with photo of Elza Chancellor / Elza Klecker / stage name: Elza Temary]. Los Angeles Times, part IV, p. 5. (Viewed 16 April 2021. P02112).

[Continued photo caption:] "Mrs. Philip Matthiessen Chancellor (Elza Klecker of Temesvar, Hungary) has just moved from Montecito to a new home in Beverly Hills. She is shown here with Dolly, her favorite dachshund. One of her pets, though, is an interesting collection of tiny books. None of the volumes is more than four inches in height." (Excerpt in full.)

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emily hall tremaine & friends

1938 - social photo / caption - Emily, Max, Elza and Philip

(20 February 1938). Main caption for three photos: Society and its visitors lunch and dine at famous places in Santa Barbara and its fashionable suburbs [including photo of Max (far left), Emily (center), Philip (left of Emily) and Elza (woman seen right of Emily) with friends; at the Valentine dance at the Santa Barbara Biltmore a week earlier (see above)]. Santa Barbara News-Press, p. 11. (Viewed 20 May 2024. N00205).

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More Feb 1938 - Emily, Max, Elza, Philip

See the texts

1938 - social mention - Emily, Elza

(11 February 1938). Concert at Coral Casino magnet for music lovers [with mention of Emily and Elza]. Santa Barbara News-Press, p. 10. (Viewed 18 May 2024. N00216).

"… Baroness von Romberg [Emily] will have Mrs. Philip M. Chancellor as her guest at luncheon and the concert afterward…" (Excerpt from above.)

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1938 - social mention - Emily, Max, Elza, Philip

(12 February 1938). St. Valentine dance at Biltmore to be gala party [with mention of Emily, Max, Elza, Philip]. Santa Barbara News-Press, p. 12. (Viewed 18 May 2024. N00204).

"… Baron and Baroness von Romberg’s guests will include Mr. and Mrs. Philip M. Chancellor of Hollywood…" (Excerpt from above.)

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1938 - social mention - Emily, Elza

(13 February 1938). Swank Coral Casino scene of concert, Valentine dance [with mention of Emily and Elza]. Santa Barbara News-Press, p. 9. (Viewed 18 May 2024. N00217).

"Baroness von Romberg [Emily] had as her guest Mrs. Phillip [sic] Chancellor of Los Angeles…" (Excerpt from above.)

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1938 - article, trial

UP (Hollywood, March 1). (2 March 1938). Star’s brother goes on trial [with portrait of Leopold McLaglen]. The Eau Claire Leader (Eau Claire, WI), p. 2, col. 2. (Viewed 26 February 2023. P01645).

"[McLaglen] was charged with attempted extortion, bribery, preparing false evidence, and soliciting a perjury…"

Chancellor said the threat was based on an expedition they made one night to a Hollywood office building when, McLaglen leading the way, and promising to show him a quantity of ’seditious literature,’ the millionaire furnished the pass-keys to enter the office. There was no such literature, he testified…" (Excerpts from above.)

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elza temary

1938 - news brief - McLaglen trial / Philip Chancellor

AP (Los Angeles, March 7). (7 March 1938). Accused to testify in own behalf [with photos of McLaglen (col. 2); Philip and Elza Chancellor to the left (cols. 1-2) (See above)]. Pomona Progress Bulletin (Pomona, CA). (Viewed 26 February 2023. P01646).

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1938 - news brief - McLaglen trial / Philip Chancellor

(8 March 1938). McLaglen on stand fights charge of extortion attempt [no photo]. Daily News (Los Angeles), p. 5, col. 2. (Viewed 26 February 2023. P01647).

"Capt. Leopold McLaglen, 50, … charged he had been ’framed’ by Chancellor, his former employer, and Stanley Glimm, Chancellor’s secretary who testified as State’s witness…

[McLaglen] said he was fully convinced Chancellor was a member of the Naval Intelligence Unit…

Chancellor even took him on trips to the Naval Intelligence headquarters in San Diego and this strengthened McLaglen’s belief he was working for the Government, he said…

[McLaglen] was dismissed last October 1…" (Excerpts from above.)

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Historical note: 12 March 1938, Nazi German troops marched into Austria

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Emily’s younger friend, now in her 80s, told me a few years ago regarding the pro-Nazi cloud over her head, "I DID hear rumors. But nothing real. Not one hint of anti-Semitism. Not ONE HINT!"

Emily and her older husband were art / design pals after WWII. He and his family had to flee Austria quickly. They were Jewish.

1938 - spotlighted article - McLaglen trial / Philip Chancellor & "Baroness Von—"

Baron, Leo (UP - Los Angeles). (14 March 1938). Leopold McLaglen explodes when asked if he ever "rubbed the Baroness" [sic] back or called her "strumpet" [with photo of McLaglen]. Knoxville News-Sentinel, p. 10. (Viewed 18 May 2024. P01649).

"[McLaglen] exploded when he was asked if he ever rubbed a lady’s back as a gesture of socialability.

The lady was a baroness, who supposedly lured him into her bedroom, but McLaglen branded it all a lie and part of the ’frame-up’ he contends is behind his prosecution on attempted extortion charges. He was convicted Saturday of trying to ‘shake down’ a former wealthy employer…

The business of the baroness and her ticklish back cropped up as Deputy District Attorney Vernon Ferguson was taking Leopold over the jumps in rebuttal testimony. He was asking him about a purported conversation, allegedly overheard on a dictograph machine, between McLaglen and Stanley Glimm, secretary to Philip Chancellor, his former boss.

’Did you say the Baroness Von—was a little strumpet?’ Mr. Ferguson asked. Leopold turned red like a tomato.

’I’m a gentleman,’ he shouted hoarsely. ’I don’t talk that way.’

’Did you say, "She tried to get me to go to bed with her on the pretense of rubbing her back. She closed the bedroom door, I opened it again and left. It was too disgusting." Did you say that?’ persisted the prosecutor.

Leopold’s face turned from tomato to beet red. His massive frame shook with rage. The spectators tittered [giggled].

’It’s a lie,’ he bellowed. ‘I never said that or anything like it’.. " (Excerpts from above.)

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1938 - social mention - Emily, Max, Palm Springs, Edmund Goulding, Elza

Smith, Anne Thompson. (5 April 1938). Letter from Palm Springs [with no photo]. Daily News (Los Angeles), p. 24. (P01245).

"Saturday night dances at the Racquet Club are fun. I saw Mrs. Philip Chancellor with her mother, chatting with friends… "

“… Emily Baroness von Romberg and Husband Max were house guests of [British screenwriter and film director] Edmund Goulding [possibly gay], the film director, I hear. Didn’t get a chance to see them…" (Excerpts from above.)

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1938 - news brief - McLaglen ordered to leave US or go to jail

AP (Los Angeles). (6 April 1938). Leopold M’Laglen ordered from U. S.; Leave or go to jail, is court’s ultimatum in extortion attempt [“In a dramatic court decision…”; with photo of McLaglen]. The Atlanta Constitution, p. 10. (Viewed 18 May 2024. P02660.)

Max von Romberg plane crash

1938 - spotlighted article with photo / caption - Max, plane crash, dies

(Staff correspondent, Fair Haven, NJ). (5 June 1938). German flier killed [yesterday] as plane falls in river; Romberg’s body taken from wreckage— was en route to Eatontown for polo [re. the death of the former husband of Emily Hall Tremaine (previously Von Romberg)] [photo of plane wreckage on riverside] (Photo above). Asbury Park Sunday Press (New Jersey), pp. 1-2. (Viewed 9 December 2019. P00816; P01088).

Front page full length headline: Baron dies in Fair Haven crash

> NOTE: Max, with German nationality (his grandfather was Edmund Converse of Conyers estate, Greenwich, CT), was quietly taking American citizenship, and thereby expatriating from Germany, possibly with knowledge of Nazi agents in US immigration in California. The alleged former assassin Manfred von Killinger was the German Consul to San Francisco and to some extent keeping a close eye on German nationals. Apparently, he was linked to Nazi thugs in the US, and apparently Nazis worked in aircraft maintenance at some US airports. The crash was suspicious as were the steps of the investigating authorities from local up to state level. For more reporting, see the overview page, section on Max’s plane crash at Emily Hall Tremaine / Collection.

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2017 - spotlighted book mentions

Ross, Steven J. (2017). "Slaughter the Hollywood Jews", chapter 14 (pp. 198-213, with mention of Philip Chancellor, pp. 202-13). Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews foiled Nazi plots against Hollywood and America. (See additional quotes in introduction at top of this webpage.) Bloomsbury: New York and London. (Viewed 18 May 2024.)

"... Hoping to string the wary men along so they would help in a deadly plot he soon planned to reveal, [Leopold] McLaglan [sic] told them a partially true tale of how he had betrayed Santa Barbara millionaire Philip Chancellor...

Chancellor, who served in the U. S. Navy Reserve..." (Excerpt from above.)