The ‘Masked Marvel Murder’ – Part 2

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In case you just tuned in, we’re looking at the strange, unsolved killing of movie actor David G.G. Bacon in September 1943.  Because he appeared in Republic’s “Masked Marvel” serial, shown above, I’m calling it the “Masked Marvel Murder.”


In Part 1, witnesses saw Bacon’s car jump the curb on Washington Boulevard near Thatcher Avenue and crash into a bean field. Neighbors went to help him and found that he had been stabbed in the left side of his back.

Wayne Powell said:

I knelt beside him and he whispered “Please help me” two times and then he died…. (Later Powell said) He was just lying there between two bean stacks, kicking and squirming. I told him to lie still and save his energy. Before he died, I asked him who had done it but he couldn’t say.

Investigators ran into curious questions almost immediately.

Washington and Thatcher
Washington Boulevard near Thatcher Avenue, as shown by Google Street View. In 1943, this was bean fields.


The large amount of blood inside the car, without a trace on the exterior, led police to believe that Bacon had been stabbed while in the car, “struck without warning as he leaned forward,” The Times said. Because there was no sign of a struggle, police speculated that he was stabbed without warning. But by whom?

Map
The route from 8444 Magnolia Ave., to Washington Boulevard and Thatcher via Google Maps.


His wife, singer Greta Keller, who was five months pregnant, told police that Bacon left the house, 8444 Magnolia Ave., about noon on the day of the killing, according to The Times. According to an Associated Press story, neighbors said Bacon left about 2 p.m.

She said:

I wanted to go with him, but after consulting our physician by telephone it was decided it would be better for me to stay home. David said he didn’t want to go without me and I began to write some letters in bed. I dropped off to sleep and when I awakened he was gone.

Police noted that Bacon hadn’t taken his three dogs, as he usually did when he went swimming. “Police theorized he may have made an appointment with someone unknown to his wife,” The Times said. They also said robbery was probably not a motive for the killing, noting that Bacon had his wallet, which contained $13, and was wearing two valuable rings.

The Times noted the theory that he was killed by a hitchhiker, adding that the scenario was supported by “statements from friends and acquaintances that Bacon habitually gave lifts to pedestrians whenever he was driving his car.”

Detectives established that the small British car he was driving had been seen “at Ave. 40 in Venice late in the afternoon,” about three minutes from the crash scene, The Times said. However it’s unclear what was meant by “Ave. 40,” because there’s no Avenue 40 in Venice that I can find.

To be continued.

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1943, Cold Cases, Crime and Courts, Film, Hollywood, LAPD and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The ‘Masked Marvel Murder’ – Part 2

  1. Eve says:

    Hmmm. The hitchhiker theory may make sense. If he was going swimming, that explains his deshabille. Perhaps he was pulling over when a hitchhiker started getting scary, and that’s when he was stabbed.

  2. William Desmond Taylor says:

    Hum. Somewhat random questions:

    Why would he go to Venice beach, versus what is now on the map rt. 2/66 direct to Santa Monica, the most popular beach I assume?

    How bohemian or remote was Venice in the early 1940s? It was kinda wild and was developed during prohibition, but by the 40s wasn’t it run down?

    Wasn’t it patriotic to give people rides during the war?

    But given his age, why wasn’t he drafted? Because of the wife and child?

  3. Charles Seims says:

    Maybe it was Doctor Hodel who did it.

  4. Eve says:

    Dr. Hodel dressed in drag as Mary Miles Minter’s mother!

  5. William Desmond Taylor says:

    Eve, I think you are on to something… The murderer was really Charlotte Shelby – Mary Miles Minter’s mother! Makes sense, she had a motive. Something against closeted bisexual men.

    I also heard that the crazed evil Dr. Hodel was the inspiration for Dr. No.

  6. Eve says:

    Probably because everyone who reads the Hodel books keeps shouting “No!”

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