The ‘Masked Marvel Murder’ – Part 3

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Sept. 14, 1943, Lowell Sun

In case you just tuned in, we’re looking at the unsolved September 1943 killing of movie actor David G.G. Bacon, who appeared in the Republic serial “The Masked Marvel.”

In Part 1, witnesses described Bacon driving erratically on Washington Boulevard, then crashing into a bean field, where he died of a deep stab wound.

In Part 2, we found that Bacon  went to Venice by himself, leaving his pregnant wife, singer Greta Keller, at home. He also didn’t take his three dogs, as was his custom when he went swimming. Police said that robbery probably wasn’t the motive, because he had $13 in his wallet and was wearing two valuable rings. They also noted that he habitually picked up hitchhikers.

Today we’ll look at Bacon’s life.

Sept. 15, 1943, Bacon Crime Scene
A crowd watches as officials remove the body of actor David G.G. Bacon, as published in the Sept. 15, 1943, Ludington, Mich., Daily News.


According to news reports, Bacon, born March 24, 1914,  was from a prominent Massachusetts family. His grandfather was Robert Bacon, an ambassador to France and assistant secretary of State. His father was Army Lt. Col. Gaspar Griswold Bacon, of Dedham, Mass. who had served in the Massachusetts Senate, had been lieutenant governor and a law professor at Boston University.  At the time of Bacon’s death, his father was serving overseas, according to news reports.

He had two brothers, William Benjamin Bacon, a physician in Boston, and Robert Bacon, an Army Air Corps cadet.

According to a Sept. 13, 1943, Associated Press story, he grew up in Barnstable, Mass., attended the Deerfield Academy and Groton. He graduated from Harvard in 1937 and appeared in “amateur theatricals,” The Times said. He was an aviator and had “traveled extensively abroad,” The Times said.

His acting credits included “Ten Gentlemen From West Point” and “Someone to Remember.”

What The Times did not mention, but was picked up in a Sept. 14, 1943, United Press story by Frederick C. Othman, was that Bacon “had been arrested once on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, but the case had been settled to the satisfaction of a juvenile judge.” Because the offense involved a minor, there are no further details, so one can only speculate that the incident might have been plea-bargained down from a more serious offense.

Aha!

Thanks to regular reader Steven Bibb, we have the answer, and it’s just as I suspected:

Sept. 13, 1943, United Press story
“In 1939, Bacon was arrested for contributed to the delinquency of a 15-year-old newsboy. Sentence was suspended on his promise to leave California for three years. He returned earlier than the court ordered to work in a film “Ten Gentlemen From West Point,” according to a Sept. 13, 1943, United Press story.

Greta Keller album

A Greta Keller album, listed on EBay as Buy It Now for $30.95.

Sept. 23, 1942, Bacon Engagement

Sept. 23, 1942, Bacon Engagement Sept 23, 1942, Bacon Engagement

On Sept. 23, 1942, Hedda Hopper announced Bacon’s engagement to singer Greta Keller.

Keller, a Vienna singer who appears on the soundtrack of the film “Cabaret,” had been in Los Angeles since at least 1933, appearing at the Pasadena Playhouse. According to Hopper, she was a longtime friend of Hedy Lamarr. Keller (born Feb. 9, 1903, making her 11 years older than Bacon) was mentioned somewhat often in The Times society columns and appears to have  had more success professionally than Bacon.  Here she is singing  “Spielt ganz Leise” in 1938 with the Peter Kreuder orchestra, via Archive.org. More songs are here.

So what we have are a man who is 29 married to a woman who is pregnant at the age of 40, and apparently the first marriage for both of them. Although he is from a prominent (and apparently wealthy) family, his success in the industry is far less than hers.

And then there’s the secret diary kept in code….

Sept. 16, 1943, David Bacon's Coded Diary
LAPD Detectives Lloyd Hurst, left, and Harry Fremont examine David Bacon’s coded diary, via the Lowell, Mass., Sun, Sept. 16, 1943.


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.

3 Responses to The ‘Masked Marvel Murder’ – Part 3

  1. Eve says:

    Oh, dear. OK, it’s starting to sound more and more like he picked up a hitchhiker for sex and it went very wrong. Boys and girls, don’t pick up strangers for sex on the highway: do it the safe way, on Craigslist!

  2. aryedirect says:

    The cliffhanger ending of today’s episode is somehow appropriate for a ‘Masked Marvel’ actor. Will be sure to be here for the next exciting chapter.

  3. William Desmond Taylor says:

    Maybe an industrial spy for a company. Or for the Nazis?

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