Clifford T. Bell returned to the United States sometime in 1930 arriving in New York via Le Harve and Liverpool on board the RMS
Mauretania
. Perhaps Clifford had intended to return to St. Mary’s or was he was still stung by the scandal at home and seeking solace
elsewhere? Regardless it was during this passage Clifford became acquainted with the noted adventurer and film maker Carl Denham.  
This chance meeting over dinner led to Clifford to being signed as Master-at-Arms on board the tramp steamer
S.S. Venture under a
certain Captain Englehorn. The ship had been charted by Denham and was bound for a remote island located at 12°S 78°E somewhere off
the coast of Sumatra. What befell Clifford and his companions in that adventure has been best told elsewhere and does not come into his
tale here.
Above: The note card sent to Clifford
by Hollywood film maker and
showman extrordinaire Carl Denham
while both were passengers of the
Cunard liner RMS Mauretania.  

Photo: The Archives of The Noble &
Antediluvian Order
of The Brotherhood of the Purple Fez
Right: Clifford's Merchant Marine
certificate of service showing his
appointment as Master-at-Arms on
the steamer S.S. Venture.

Photo: The Archives of The Noble &
Antediluvian Order
of The Brotherhood of the Purple Fez
Returning to New York in 1933 and following the advice of moving picture director Denham Clifford went West and sought
employement the Hollywood’s rapidly expanding film industry.

Clifford quickly landed his first paying jobs in California as a technical consultant to some of the major Hollywood studios. Parlaying
his experience in North Africa, his first job was technical consultant on the 1933 Foreign Legion film serial that was surprisingly titled
The Three Musketeers that starred a very young and unknown John Wayne. Later Clifford was hired as the personal advisor to Gary
Cooper for his role in the 1939 classic
Beau Geste. The two became good friends and Coop said of his old friend Clifford many years
later:
"He was more than a little eccentric but really knew his stuff ... and he always wore a really swell hat."
Left: Actors Ray Milland and Gary Cooper in a candid
snapshot taken on set during a lull in the filming of
Beau Geste. Clifford is partially visible far left.
Photo: The Archives of The Noble &
Antediluvian Order of The Brotherhood
of the Purple Fez
Unfortunately for Clifford the Hollywood romance with the French Foreign Legion was on its last legs by the time he arrived in the
burgeoning new film capital of the world and he had been forced to seek new employment opportunities elsewhere even before he
landed his technical advisor role in
Beau Geste. Clifford would maintain the friendships within the film industry including that with
Gary Copper and apparently one with a rising starlet by the name of Rita Hayworth.
Right: This ship's portrait is the only other relic relating to Clifford's stint aboard
the SS Venture as Master-at-Arms. There is much speculation withing the
Brotherhood as to the adventures Clifford must have had but little in the way of
facts. There is some suggestions that these adventures are even more remarkable
than those that led to his discovering the Purple Fez.

Photo: The Archives of The Noble & Antediluvian Order
of The Brotherhood of the Purple Fez
Left: A copy on an invoice to the outfitting firm of
Abercrombie & Fitch in New York City in which Clifford
T. Bell specifies the purchase of a personal sidearm to be
carried during his voyage on the SS Venture - a Swiss
made, German designed .30 Luger pistol.

Invoice: The Archives of The Noble & Antediluvian Order
of The Brotherhood of the Purple Fez
Left: Clifford's "shellback" certificate awarded him for transiting the
Equator for the first time while Master-at-Arms on the SS Venture. The
certificate is signed on Davey Jones behalf by Captain Englehorn and by
movie impresario Carl Denham on behalf on Neptune Rex.

Certificate: The Archives of The Noble & Antediluvian Order
of The Brotherhood of the Purple Fez
Left: Clifford T. Bell: Author. Based on this cover from the April
4, 1937 issue of Argosy Weekly, Clifford appears to have dabbled
as an author at least once. It seems quite natural that he would
draw on his experiences in the Foreign Legion for the grist of his
subject matter. There also seems logical that he might explore
this pulp fiction career path in conjunction with his burgeoning
Hollywood avocation. It was indeed quite common at the time in
Hollywood for successful screen writers to fill in slack time by
penning such stories, often under pseudonyms to avoid
contractual issues with the studios. Being that Clifford was
employed in a freelance manner he was under no such  
obligation for this level of creative anonymity.   


I
mage: Library of Congress, Washington DC.