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The Murder of 1954 Miss Muscle Beach Beauty Contest Winner Barbara Thomason

RIP: Born: 25 Jan. 1937 / Died: 31 Jan. 1966

Barbara Thomason - From Muscle Beach to Murder

Barbara Thomason winning the 1954 Miss Muscle Beach Beauty contest at 17 years old.

Officials Carrying the body of Mickey Rooneys Estranged Wife Barbara Thomason

(Photo above): Officials Carrying the body of Mickey Rooney's Estranged Wife Barbara Thomason on 31 Jan. 1966.

(Photo below): Married couple Mickey Rooney and Barbara Thomason.

Mickey and Barbara Rooney

Mick Rooneys Wife No 5 Slain

Footage of Barbara can be seen within this classic silent movie of the 1954 Miss Muscle Beach Beauty Contest.


This incredible 16mm silent film shows images of 1954 Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, California (near today's Santa Monica Pier) including the Miss Muscle Beach Beauty Contest. The original Muscle Beach was just south of the SM Pier, and is credited as being the source of the fitness craze in the US.

Muscle Beach dates back to the 1930's when the Works Progress Administration (WPA) installed exercise equipment immediately south of the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California. Popular gymnastic and acrobatic exhibitions were routinely held there on city-provided equipment. A platform on the beach with weight lifting equipment provided a workout area for such famous bodybuilders as Vic Tanny, Jack LaLanne, and Joe Gold. Muscle House was a "crashpad" just off the beach where many bodybuilders would live for cheap rent and convenient access to the beach. It was a common waypoint for bodybuilders such as Chet Yorton, Steve Reeves, Vince Edwards, Jack Delinger, George Eiferman, and Dave Draper.

1954 Miss Muscle Beach Beauty Winner Barbara Thomason

This is the 1954 contest won by ravishing beauty Barbara Thomason (pictured above) whose victory was headlined in the papers as: “Blonde, 17, Chosen Muscle Beach Queen.” She was described as “a bouncy, blue-eyed blonde in a white bathing suit,” with hourglass measurements recorded down to the half-inch. In 1955,  she made her screen debut (as Carolyn Mitchell) in an episode of “Crossroads,” an ABC morality-play series. Three years later Thomason married actor Mickey Rooney but their marriage was an unhappy one. Thomason was murdered by her lover, actor Milos Milosevic, after she and Rooney announced they planned to reconcile. It was quite a terrible end for such a promising and attractive young woman.


"Rooney met Thomason at a nightclub in 1958, while still married to Elaine Devry, and the two began an affair that ended when Thomason discovered she was pregnant and demanded he leave Devry. They married in Mexico in 1958, though the wedding wasn't recognized in the U.S. until 1959. In 1963, Thomason discovered Rooney was having an affair; she started one of her own with Yugoslavian actor Milos Milosevic and filed for separation from Rooney in 1965. Sadly, when Milosevic heard Thomason and Rooney were considering reconciliation – however briefly – he shot Thomason, and then himself, to death in January 1966." ~ Source



(Photo below): Milos Milosevic

Milos Milosevic

Born 1 July, 1941 - Died 30 January, 1966. Milos was a Serbian-born American actor, stunt double and bodyguard for actor Alain Delon. Milos was married to Cynthia Bouron (who would later be killed in 1973 - see news report below) from 1964 to 1966; they had one child. Reported as being a very tough character who wasn't afraid to fight.

Cynthia Bouron - Death News Report - 1973

* Article above also mentions Cynthia Bouron filing a paternity suit in 1970 against Hollywood actor Cary Grant.

Newspaper article from 1 Feb, 1966...

Mickey Rooney's Wife Murder-Suicide Victim

Hollywood (AP) - The planned reconciliation of Mickey Rooney and his fifth wife has resulted in her murder and the suicide of the young Yogoslav actor accused by Rooney of being her lover.

The bodies of Barbara Thomason Rooney, 29, and Milos Milosevic, 25, an actor known professionally as Milos Milos, were found Monday in the bathroom of the $150,000 Brentwood home Rooney once shared with his wife and four young children.

Police theorized that Milosevic shot Mrs. Rooney, then turned the 38-caliber pistol on himself because she was planning to resume her marriage with the diminutive actor.

Rooney himself was under sedation at St. John's Hospital in nearby Santa Monica, being treated for an intestinal infection acquired during filming in the Philippines.

Said Rooney's manager, Red Doff: "Mickey told me they'd (he and Barbara) had a very good talk and they were very close to reconciliation. I think Milos may have resented it."

Apparently this triggered the acts of violence by Milosevic, whose divorced wife had asked for police protection from his fits of temper.

West Los Angeles police, fitting together the sequence of events that led in the double tragedy, said this picture emerged:

Rooney returned from the Philippine location in December to discover he had been replaced in his wife's affections by the handsome Milosevic, who had been a friend of the family for a year.

A week ago, Rooney filed suit for divorce, charging that his wife "was allowing, permitting, encouraging or harboring" the Yugoslav actor at the Rooney home.

Mrs. Rooney countered with a suit for separate maintenance.

Last Sunday night, Rooney and his wife met in his hospital room, unknown to him, she had hired a private detective to tape record their conversation.

The 45-year old actor-comedian, once famed as Andy Hardy, was persuasive in his arguments for a reconciliation. His wife shut off the recorder when she began to succumb to his reasoning.

She and the detective, Herm Schlieske, returned to her home, a rambling cedarshaded house in a stylish neighborhood where Pat O'Brien, Gregory Peck, Phyllis Diller and other Hollywood personalities live.

There she met Milosevic, two of her woman friends and her attorney, Harold Abeles.

The attorney said later: "She agreed not to see him (Milosevic) anymore if it bothered Mr Rooney."

Milosevic appeared to agree without rancor to break off his friendship with Mrs. Rooney. He then invited her into the master bedroom. They disappeared inside at 8:30 pm and the door was locked.

It was the last time they were seen alive.

A house guest, Wilma Catania, 35, decided to depart for dinner an hour later. She knocked on the bedroom door. Hearing no answer, she took Mrs. Rooney's car.

She returned at 2:30 am and found the house lights ablaze.

POLICE BELIEVE that Milosevic may have fired the pistol shortly after entering the bedroom. No gun shots were heard, even though a maid was in the house and three of the Rooney children - Kelly, 5; Kerry, 4; and Kyle, 3, were in a bedroom 30 ft away.

A fourth child, Kimmie, 1, was at the home of Mrs. Rooney's parents.

Two closed doors may have muffled the sounds of shots. 

Miss Catania awoke at noon Monday. Finding that the maid had not seen Mrs. Rooney, the house guest unlocked the bedroom door. She found the bed still made. Then she opened the bathroom door.

Mrs. Rooney lay face up on the floor, clad in tan capris and a flowered blouse. A bullet had entered her jaw. Milosevic, in black pants and white shirt, was sprawled over her, a bullet hole in his temple. The pistol was next to the bodies.

Under sedation, Rooney was unable to disclose his plans.

* Above text taken from the published news article below.

1954 Miss Muscle Beach Beauty Contest Winner Murdered

Attorney Harold Abeles and Mickey Rooneys Children


Mickey Rooney (1926 - 2014) and Barbara's children were raised by Barbara’s mother. Rooney married three more times before he died at 93.

Found this news article online...

Actress attempts suicide at home of movie star, August 1958

Barbara Thomason - Takes Sleeping Pills at Mickey Rooneys Home - 1958

More on the above story can be read here.



"The photo below shows Thomason on Muscle Beach during her halcyon years there, a mere teenager, frolicking in the sun, filled with youthful hopes for a good life. She won beauty titles, acted in films, married an icon, and had four children. Any of those accomplishments would have been good legacies. Instead her death at twenty-nine overshadowed all the rest, and she's remembered as another celebrity murder victim, Hollywood style, which is always somehow both sensational and banal." ~ PulpInternational.com

17 year old Barbara Thomason at Muscle Beach


Some more info and history on Muscle Beach...


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