“When Halliburton appeared and we made our arrangement, I took him out to meet Pancho. Quite a person. So, while he was there he met Mooney.”
Mooney was there because in late 1929 he had moved out to California searching for success in the writing field. Locating work had become impossible due to the growing Depression and, as Moye Stephens indicated, he (Mooney) was taken in by famous aviatrix Florence “Pancho” Barnes. It was at one of her lavish parties, as Stephens mentioned, that Mooney met and was attracted to Halliburton. In turn, Richard was impressed by Paul's wit, confident manner and credentials as a writer. They lived together when it was possible from that time on.
“Yeah, I think I told you in one of the letters, Mike. Paul was.... I don't know if you'd call him a hanger-on. Pancho Barnes, the aviatrix, had a heart as big as all out-of-doors. I mean she'd take in stray puppies, or anything of that nature. She had a couple of them around her house, and Paul was one of them.”
In that same interview with Blankenship Stephens expanded on his rather bland impression of Mooney.
“You don't have any particular memories of Paul Mooney?.. I can’t understand what was special about Paul.”
“No. I don't. There wasn't anything special about Paul Mooney...... He wasn't an impressive person in any way.”
“I can't understand why he figures so importantly in Richard's life.”
“Well, Dick was a dominant sort of person, and Mooney was anything but. So maybe that was what brought them together. Of course, Mooney was undoubtedly intelligent. I mean I'm sure he helped Dick considerably in his writing.”
“Paul Mooney also wrote a book.”
“Yes. He ghost-wrote a book on Hitler.”
“Well, I'll be darned.”
“It was one of the very early Hitler books.”
“But, he wasn't a person that would impress you in any way that I can remember. He was around there, and I knew he was there. I just have almost no impression of what he even looked like.”
“In the afternoon, Paul and I went to Pancho Barnes - the woman flyer I’m so fond of, and she took us to Ramon Novarro’s, - a lot of drunk movie people were there - so we left early.......I’m taking Pancho to Moye’s wedding on Dec 4. Tomorrow night.”
It never happened because of a mishap that befell Halliburton shortly afterwards while filming his only movie, “India Speaks.”
“During the filming of one scene Richard and Rosie Brown, his ‘love’ interest in the movie, were drenched with a fire hose to simulate a torrential downpour. His dousing caused incubating flu germs to flare up, relegating him briefly to a hospital bed. He was crestfallen that the illness prevented him from taking Pancho Barnes to Moye Stephens’ first wedding.”
The Happy Bottom Riding Club and Pancho Barnes continued to flourish as a popular institution in Southern California. Attending its joyous events became almost a rite of passage for Astronauts, test pilots, and other adventurers of various stripes such as Halliburton and Mooney. Pancho’s colorful flight through life came to an end March 30, 1975. She was mourned by many of aviation’s greats and the many peripheral hanger-on’s who met at her joyous parties and briefly flitted through her life.