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49 Bags: The Philip Seymour Hoffman Conspiracy

It’s not the first time a major Hollywood star has turned up dead with drugs strewn all over the flat.

Tales of boozing, vice, addiction – and overdose, are not uncommon when uttered in the same breath with ‘Hollywood’ or ‘the music industry’. I remember when Saturday Night Live and Animal House comic legend John Belushi died at 33 years of age in 1982 in Hollywood – also overdosing, but on a mixture of heroin and cocaine, aka the ‘speedball‘.

The headlines and eulogies back then read much the same as they did yesterday with the passing of noted actor Philip Seymour Hoffman (photo, below) at the tender age of 46 – “what a shame, how terrible – but what a genius he was”. You could say the same about Heath Ledger, and River Phoenix. Readers will no doubt want to add to that list, which seems to grow year by year.

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GENIUS: Hoffman’s masterful performance in The Master in 2012 (Image: Film Quarterly)

The reports about the state of Hoffman during his last days seem to be getting worse by the day. Yesterday we were told he died alone, of a lethal heroin overdose with the needle still in his arm and 2 bags of ‘golden brown’ next to him on the bed. I thought it peculiar that a man would die of a self-administered overdose with a needle still in his arm, but we’ll talk about that later. Today, we’re told that police have found no less than 49 bags of heroin in his Greenwich Village flat. Really, 49 bags? The bags were marked with the Ace of Spades and the Ace of Hearts.

Only last Friday, another man, Ronald Horne, 54, from Peekskill, NY, was also caught with 49 bags of heroin in his car. Are they related? Was it the same product? Again, 49 bags.

Other reports from NYC police claim Hoffman was harbouring no less than 70 bags of heroin. Now it’s 70 bags? Was he a major supplier for the elite celebrity smack community, or just stocking up for a rainy day? Maybe his dealer got spooked, left in a hurry, and dropped the stash at Phil’s? It all sounds too outrageous to be believed, but there it is – a conspiracy playground. 

The official media narrative centres around the idea that he had recently become a “recluse”, and was battling with substance abuse for years and friends say he was very depressed following the break-up of his 12-year partnership with Mimi O’Donnell (45). Tabloids paint a slightly worse picture, of a man whose high net worth fueled the ultimate drug habit.

The classic liberal reaction to this story is as predictable as it is banal – that somehow society has failed this man, and that tougher state controls on Class A drug are needed to protect victims like this. The Conservative media will blame his death on the Taliban who they still think are growing all those evil poppies in Afghanistan (crops guarded by US and British troops).

Of course, the conspiracy mill is churning as we speak, including one which is doing the rounds regarding Hoffman’s incredible depiction – or parody (whichever way you look at it), of the late father of the Church of Scientology and author of Dianetics, L. Ron Hubbard, in the 2012 film entitled, The Master.

Hoffman made scores of brilliant films in his career but this one was unique. It was also a film that Scientologists tried to stop from being made. According to studio Svengali extraordinaire Harvey Weinstein, certain high-profile Scientologists in Hollywood laid on the pressure both before and during the making of the film. He stated that, “I’m not going to get into names, but they feel strongly that they think it’s a religion and as such they think the subject matter shouldn’t be explored”.


IMAGE: Hoffman with Joaquin Phoenix in ‘The Master’.

Actors Tom Cruise and Will Smith are regarded as the highest profile celebrities in Scientology, but there are many other church members in Tinsel Town, recruited from the Hollywood trough and offer vulnerable recruits cures to afflictions like heroin addiction through a chain of drug rehab centres called Narconon, as well as rumoured evidence that Hubbard’s Dianetics movement sought to use Dianetics to cure homosexuality. Heroin and homosexuality are certainly two controversial issues which remain firmly in the closet of Hollywood – in a land of illusions, both these are potentially very bad for business. The fact that Scientology has been subject to a number of investigations and probes into what some describe as a highly organized international criminal racketeering operation that carries out sanctioned intimidation, harassment, beatings, abortions and imprisonment – does not really help their reputation.


According to many a chattering forum, Hoffman’s acclaimed lead role in The Master did not do Hollywood’s controversial church any favours – showing it up as a cult and purveyor of quack science. Following news of Hoffman’s death, one blogger remarked:

“The Scientology parody film The Master, two of its actors are dead so far. This first was Christopher Evan Welch who plays the sceptic in the film dies in Dec 2013. The second is Philip Seymour Hoffman who played a parody of L.Ron Hubbard died Feb 2014. This is a ritualistic revenge by the Scientology and illuminati for insulting their religion. How many more “overdose” celebrities is it going to take before people wake up”.

It sounds like a real stretch, but when you consider the incredible scene of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, you have to expect that everyone will be questioning the official story – which is sensational and over-the-top in its own right. Scientology is an easy target for conspiracy buffs in this story, maybe too easy a target. What is more important to me are the facts surrounding the scene of his death. Did he have any visitors that day, and if so, who were they? This would certainly help to paint a full picture.

The scene of Hoffman’s death immediately reminded me of the death of one of my sporting heroes, heavyweight champion boxer, Sonny Liston (photo, left), who was also reported to have died of a heroin overdose – some say with a needle still stuck in his arm. Although Liston may have had enemies because of the fights he turned down, he still made a lot of syndicates rich over the years. He also broke a lot of people’s arms and legs for the mob we’re told. You’d think he’d be given a free pass. I never could understand how Liston, a giant among men, could have met his maker by overdosing on smack. Turns out, I may have been right.

According to the tell-all book released in 2013 entitled, Warjac: Most Wanted, by author Greg Swaim, son of the legendary late mob hit man Dale Cline, aka James John Warjac, Liston was murder by a forced lethal heroin overdose, which is well-known as a popular mob execution technique. If a dose was cooked to be lethal – then it would kill almost instantly, and with the needle still left in the arm. 

Like Hoffman, John Belushi (photo, left) was also in the prime of his career, although much younger. The circumstances surrounding the reported death were similar, although with Belushi, he had an accomplice with him, a professional groupie named Catherine Evelyn Smith:

“On March 5, 1982, Bill Wallace found Belushi dead in his room, Bungalow 3 at the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California (…)… In the early morning hours on the day of his death, he was visited separately by friends Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, each of whom left the premises, leaving Belushi in the company of assorted others, including Catherine Evelyn Smith. His death was investigated by forensic pathologist Dr. Ryan Norris among others, and while the findings were disputed, it was officially ruled a drug-related accident.” (Wiki)

There are still some very compelling ‘conspiracy’ theories still floating around on Belushi’s demise, including one which was put forward by the godmother of conspiracy investigations — the late Mae Brussell.

According to Brussell, the official story released about his death smelled bad from the beginning:

“When John Belushi died, there was much confusion in Los Angeles for the first week or so from the coroner’s office and police officials concerning the cause of death. A week later, the headlines delivered a fait accompli – that he was always drunk, a slob, took drugs all the time. He had this expensive drug habit.”

Brussell believed that Belushi may have been bumped off by the mafia because of the two projects he was about to make including, Blue Moon Over Miami, which would have blown the lid off the FBI and mob’s drug pipeline between Miami and Columbia. 

The film, Wired was finally made in 2001, telling one version of Belushi’s life and untimely death, but that film was made without the support of Hollywood – who saw the project as ‘too truthful’ and were scared away by early depiction of some of Belushi’s fellow drug enthusiasts – namely super star icons Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro.

What does this all mean to fans of Philip Seymour Hoffman? Not a lot, unfortunately, but that will not stop the rumour mill from spinning.

It’s the land of fake names and false reflections – where the gossip alone constitutes a near billion dollar industry. With so many Hollywood secrets, untold vice, and so much money – and so many marketable reputations at stake, it’s little wonder that everyone is interested – with a magnifying glass in hand.

So don’t expect the talk to stop on the count of 49 bags.

READ MORE HOLLYWOOD NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Hollywood Files

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