For a New York Times article regarding this crash see:http://dnausers.d-n-a.net/dnetGOjg/170648.htm
After responding to your query, I went looking to see if I could find the FAA acident report for this crash. I happened upon the above newspaper report.
It seems as though my memory wasn't too far off. Although it would seem that the celebrity I identified as Billy Rose was really Earl Carroll. (It was his severed hand that I saw the photograph of.) And it seems that the pilot was attempting an emergency landing on a culm bank. But it does seem that smoke in the cockpit was a problem with the DC-6.