The Case of a Gay Man Killed by Doris Duke Is Not Forgotten, Ryan Field Books

The Case of a Gay Man Killed by Doris Duke Is Not Forgotten

This is a fascinating older story that happened in the 1960s involving the heiress Doris Duke and her gay male companion of 10 years, Eduardo Tirella. In short, they were both going out one day, Tirella got out of the car to open the front gates at the end of her driveway in Newport, RI, and she ran him down and killed him. I’m surprised Ryan Murphy hasn’t done a miniseries about it. I remember reading about it in a nonfiction book a while ago and I think there was a movie. 

First, here’s a pretty good article that explains what actually happened. It’s really an odd story, too. 

“It was something we’d done a hundred times before,” she reportedly told police. As he opened the gates, she would then usually drive the car through as he closed them. This time, though, it all went terribly wrong. As the New York Daily News recounted at the time, the car “struck the heavy, 15-foot high, 20-foot wide wrought iron gate with such force that the gate sprang open. Several inch-square, five-foot long sections of iron were torn out. The car, dragging Tirella’s crumpled body, lurched across two-laned Bellevue Ave. and hit a large tree.”

Here’s more. 

Duke was never charged with anything serious. I think it was negligence. It was treated as an accident. And now, all these years later, the case is still not forgotten. There has been a good deal of speculation over the years. 

Doris Duke died in 1993 and long ago escaped criminal liability. Perhaps now is the time to correct the historical record about what was clearly never an unfortunate accident?

Here’s the rest. They really do go into a lot of detail, especially from an LGBTQ POV. 

Now, if you go to this link at Wikipedia, you’ll get an excellent summary of all this. 

In 1966, Eduardo Tirella, curator of Duke’s art holdings for the previous decade, decided to leave for a career in Hollywood as a production designer. He flew to Newport, where she was staying at Rough Point, on October 6, to collect his belongings and let Duke know that he was leaving her employ. 

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“A wonderful story that I loved. The characters were well developed, and strong. Gus: A sweet young man. Doing something for all the wrong reasons. Craig: his boyfriend, he’ll go along with anything Gus say. Henry: Gus father a no nonsense man, who’s husband died last year. I enjoyed this story.”

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