Monday, July 23, 2012

Bill Finger’s medical examiner report and death certificate

As I did with Michael Siegel, father of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, I sought out the death documents of Bill Finger. Neither set was a breeze to come by but both turned out to provide invaluable insight in creating Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman.

Bill’s medical examiner report is four pages (the first of which is displayed in two images because it is too big for a single scan). I was told that a medical examiner made an evaluation only when the cause of death was not immediately known.

A few sad observations:

According to the “Report of Death” form, it was longtime friend Charles Sinclair who found Bill face up on a couch in Bill’s apartment, #9B, at 3 p.m. (That was how Charles relayed the story to me before I had copies of these forms. His memory should somehow be harnessed by the CIA.) This is how the apartment building looks today:

Apparently, word of Bill’s death did not reach the medical examiner until 8 p.m., and his half-hour examination began at 9:15 p.m.

It’s noted that Bill suffered MIs (heart attacks) in 1963, 1970, and 1973. This is also noted: “No weapons, notes. No evidence of trauma.”

The “Notice of Death” form indicates that Bill was to be cremated; the final, touching resting place of Bill’s ashes is shown in Bill the Boy Wonder. The words at the bottom of this form are haunting in their curtness: “Natural death. No history. No family.”

The “Identification of Body” form indicates that Bill’s body was claimed by his only child, son Fred, who was 25 and living in California at the time. Especially sad: Fred reported that he had last been in touch with his father three years prior.

According to the same form, Bill was “not employed.” The accurate term would have been “self-employed.”

Despite a recurring debate, there is no mention of alcohol on any of the forms.

On a broader note, the access hierarchy to vital records is bewildering to me. The following pertains to New York as of 2007:

birth certificate
only family members, I believe
birth/death indexes
anyone, but you cannot make copies from the books
social security application
yes; slightly more if you don’t know the person’s social
anyone (if person is deceased, obviously)
marriage license
death certificate
only family members (luckily I knew some of Bill’s)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Why would he be murdered? More likely another heart attack. He'd already had 3.