On an afternoon in 1948 Laura and Sean Brady drove their car around a corner in Beverly Hills, approaching the gated entrance of 1007 North Beverly Drive. The arrival of the young couple had been expected—Sean was escorting Laura on a job interview for a position as a personal secretary— and they were ushered onto the grounds of the estate by two plainclothesmen standing watch. The Bradys were directed down a long driveway that was divided by a reflecting pool and lined by the prerequisite California palm trees that pointed to a house not yet visible. Gradually, beyond the manicured lawns, the mechanical water sprinklers, and the statues and columns of varying degrees of authenticity, “the Beverly house,” as Hearst and Davies's home was called, emerged. Their final home together was a sprawling two-story Spanish-styled structure, configured in such a way that from the sky it looked like the letter H drawn in terra-cotta tiles. As Laura entered the front door of the house, her husband, waiting outside in his car, caught a brief glimpse of a man or his shadow peering through the curtains of an upstairs window.
Only a few days before coming to meet Davies and Hearst, twenty-yearold Laura Brady had been working at Twentieth Century—Fox, employed as a fill-in secretary to producer Darryl F. Zanuck, director Otto Preminger, and various other studio executives. On what started as a typical workday,