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Photograph: courtesy
Salem (Virginia) Museum and Historical Society.

Ned Finley
(same as Ned Finlay)

Born 10 July 1870 in Virginia, USA, as Charles Campbell Hammit.
Died 27 September 1920 in New York, New York, USA, by suicide (strychnine).

Father of actor Charles Campbell Hammit Jr. (Dick Camp).

Ned Finley began his acting career on the stage in New York, and started working in motion pictures in 1911. He was a stock player for The Vitagraph Company of America from 1912 through 1916. Over the course of his motion picture career, Finley directed, produced, wrote and appeared as an actor in more than 60 films.

Finley retired from motion picture work in 1918 when he lost an arm to blood poisoning after a failed attempt to commit suicide by slashing his wrist in New York’s Central Park. Broke, despondent and a morphine addict in his last years, Finley took his life with a dose of strychnine after a previous attempt minutes earlier with what he believed to be cyanide.

References: Website-IMDb : The New York Times, 28 September 1920, p. ? : with additional information provided by Gayle Adams Peterson.


[The New York Times, 28 September 1920, page ?] Taking copious doses of bicarbonate of soda in the belief that it was cyanide of potassium, Ned Finley, an actor, sat down to a desk in his room early yesterday in the Hotel de France, West Forty-ninth Street, and penned the impressions of a deliberate suicide. It was his second attempt at self-destruction in two years. / After waiting for forty minutes for the poison to act, Finley realized that the druggist had peered beyond his muttered excuse that he wished cyanide to kill a dog and had supplied him with a cure for indigestion. Then he took a large dose of strychnine and wrote his last note. This was his first note, found by the police on his desk: / “I have already taken what the druggist said was cyanide. I bought it on the pretense to poison a dog. At the time I write this is is 2:30 o’clock, just ten minutes after taking the supposed fatal dose. I feel very much alive and have had no bad effects.” / He Writes a Second Note / After waiting a few minutes longer for the effect of a deadly drug that he knew ought to act quickly, he wrote this note: / “I have some strychnine, which I am going to try next, and hope this takes my life. I will wait until 3 A.M. before I take it.” / Another wait followed and the bicarbonate of soda still failing to cause death Finley took a heavy dose of strychnine and penned another farewell note. Here it is: / “I have just taken a quantity, but don’t know how much, of strychnine. The doctor said it is enough to kill several dogs. The acid did not work. I am suffering no pangs of conscience. Don’t believe I have such a thing. Hope that this is good-bye.” / At noon yesterday a maid rapped at the door of his room. There was no response. An hour later she called again. Still failing to arouse the sleeper, she called the manager. The police broke in. They saw the lights still burning as the actor had used them while he wrote his death notes. He was lying across the bed as if he had fallen there heavily, the stump of his left arm sticking out at the side — he lost the hand with blood poison two years ago when he slashed his wrist in a futile attempt to commit suicide in Central Park. / Turning to the desk, the police found the death notes, the last written in a more and more irregular hand as it reached its end. Death agonies shook the hand before it had finished the confession, so that the last words were almost illegible. / Other Notes Are Found / There were other notes, too. One told the Actors’ Fund of America to provide a cheap funeral; another asked that his effects be left to his wife, who, the police said, was a Miss Henri before her marriage to the actor — they don’t know where she is now. Heaped near these letters was a hotel bill, a pile of pawn tickets bearing recent dates and a single copper — all the money left in the room. / Dr. George Hohmann, assistant medical examiner, said that Finley had taken enough strychnine “to kill and elephant,” but that the white powder believed by him to have been cyanide of potassium was merely bicarbonate of soda. The physician also said that the effect of the strychnine apparently had been counteracted for a few minutes by morphine. Finley was a drug addict and his arm was heavily dotted with needle punctures. / Finley was born in Virginia about fifty years ago. He had lived in the hotel for seventeen years and the walls of his rooms were covered with lithographs advertising his appearance in various films. Stationery found in the room bore the line: “Ned Finley — Theatrical and motion picture productions. Ned Finley, general manager.”


Ned Finley’s death certificate:

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