An undisclosed Hollywood studio has acquired the rights to a new Regan Arts book on Inez Burns, who became one of California’s richest women by performing illegal abortions in the early 20th century.
The studio reportedly plans to make a TV series based on Stephen Bloom’s The Audacity of Inez Burns: Dreams, Desire, Treachery & Ruin in the City of Gold, the New York Post reported. The book was released earlier this month.
Author Bloom claims that Burns performed more than 50,000 abortions over a 40-year period. Burns performed the abortions on a mixed clientele. Most of the clients were married women who couldn’t afford another mouth to feed. But there were Hollywood starlets (unnamed in the book). Bloom claims that if the woman undergoing the procedure didn’t die, police generally looked the other way.
Operating out of a Fillmore Street address in booming San Francisco, Burns became a well-known figure in California. As the author describes her, Burns was a “combination of Wallis Simpson, Mae West, Margaret Sanger, and Coco Chanel.”
That large profile angered district attorney Edmund G. (Pat) Brown, who went on to become California governor and the father of current state head Jerry Brown. He started a campaign to bring down Burns under the guise of police corruption, in that Burns was paying beat cops and others an estimated $20,000 per month, huge money in any era but likely worth 10 times as much today.
Brown eventually beat Burns after three high-profile trials, two no-bill grand juries, and a lot of political intrigue.