Frances Bruce was a young heroin addict who ditched her husband, an orangeade salesman in Atlantic City, for a life on the dark side. In the months since she absconded from her marital bonds she trafficked in both narcotics and liquor, bringing both in from Boston.
Eighty-nine years ago today she was heading for New York City aboard the Montreal Express. Sharing a berth with her was 21-year old "actress" Dorothy Wardell. Though Fran claimed that she and Dorothy knew each other only slightly this probably was a lie. Like Fran, Dorothy was a a heroin addict as well as a smuggler of drugs and hooch. Both were returning from Montreal where they stayed at the Hotel Windsor.
Dorothy was in fact part of a drug/alky ring that used Burlesque theater as a front for their operations. She was indeed part of the act but when the show finished its run in Canada and returned to the Big Apple the trunks containing wardrobe, props etc. also contained H and booze.
How do we know this? Well, as mentioned Fran and Dottie were users and as the Montreal Express was chugging towards NYC, somewhere along the line, the latter told the former, "At last I found some real dope." Both women indulged.
The following morning as the train pulled into the town of Harmon, NY a Pullman porter knocked on the women's door to wake them up. They didn't wake up. Dorothy was dead of an overdose and Fran needed medical care. The decision was made to keep them on the train and when it arrived at Grand Central Station Dorothy went to the morgue and Francis to Bellevue where she gave her story and said that the heroin that she and the late actress used must have been "undiluted".