Oddly enough, in a city where the billionaire mansion-owner who killed his millionaire wife once stumbled on her sleeping side piece lying unattended in the house and realized he had the job of finding her buried beneath the drawing room, almost nothing happened to Julia Tuttle. Before her body was found she had been gagged, shackled and completely cut off from her friends, acquaintances and social circle. The man who killed her – Stanley Titcomb, a divorced part-time thug – left her in a desert near Ft. Lauderdale. There Julia waded in water in a shallow grave without the benefit of clean water, knowing very well that when Stanley returned, he would kill her.
So what happened to Julia Tuttle? Who does she marry, or at least who has met her for a meal? A billionaire Miami lawyer, certainly! And she’s there for lunch! On Wednesday, Sept. 19, 11th-grader Julia Tuttle – known for her conviction in the murder of the neighbor girl missing from the Meyer Lansky Estate – was accepted into the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts.
“I figured that [the experience] might teach me about the character of a mother and the difference between intuition and the rational mind,” Tuttle, a 17-year-old from Boca Raton, said. “The opportunity to work with Jim Wexler gave me opportunities to delve into the inner stages of my character and to build her. As an actor, Jim enabled me to think outside the box, find in my performance my most dangerous impulses as a human being.”
[Click here to see the interview with Julia]
Oddly enough, Julia was in the NewsHour’s Wednesday broadcast from the Herald Examiner studio, followed by a watch party of 300 journalists from around the globe. After the first broadcast the room began to fill, viewers stayed throughout the broadcast to discuss the views of Henry Ford as attributed to her; from her casting as the Queen, her high school friend and spirited Spanish teacher, to her falling out with her mother about Stanley when he met her after Julia’s first kidnapper was arrested. The public seemed to be thrilled.
She’s the next Ellen Burstyn, supporters crowed, echoing the reference in Zora Neale Hurston’s classic novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Julia’s acting school in New York City also fought to defend their popular star from the criticism and imitators: “Julia is amazing,” tutor Dale Jekabson said, “so people who judge her based on this one story … her performance will speak volumes, then they will understand and respect her.”
But Julia was also cautious about her place in history. “My mother would take me to the grocery store,” she told me, “I’d wave her hand, then after seeing people all around me whom I was beginning to know from kindergarten, she would start whispering about Henry Ford and his first great hero. ‘The water and the sun comes to God’ she’d say, ‘in that little house with Mickey and her sister,’ while talking about Stanley’s life. At the grocery store she was the one who said, ‘I have no kind words for that child.’ ” It has been said that her early life was little more than a series of increasingly atrocious robberies – arson, assault, kidnapping, killing – until Stanley showed up as the inmate with a big chance.
In that way, Julia Tuttle epitomizes what we can all look forward to, in the future, of the American heroine: less brutal beginnings, more acceptance and better understanding of those who do not make it to a certain age or have an easy life – whoever they are and however they do it. But it also highlights the dangerous nature of our society, with millions of people willing to take a chance on girls and women trying to advance themselves.