The ‘Masked Marvel Murder’ — Part 6

'The Masked Marvel'
In case you just tuned in, we are looking at the unsolved Sept, 12, 1943, killing of actor David G.G. Bacon, who appeared in Republic’s “Masked Marvel” serial.

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.

In Part 3, we looked at his personal life and his marriage to singer Greta Keller, who was 11 years his senior and apparently more established in her career. Of particular interest was his arrest for contributing to the delinquency of a minor – which was reported in a United Press story, with no further details.

In Part 4, police were trying to determine the mysterious contents of a diary that Bacon kept in code.

In Part 5, it was revealed that Bacon rented a studio apartment a mile from his home.

Today we will look at the mysterious sweater found in his car.

Sept. 18, 1943, Sweater

Wayne Powell, who saw Bacon crash into the bean field, told police that he had taken the sweater from the car and put it under Bacon’s head as the actor was dying.

The Times described the heavy, navy blue sweater as a “crew-neck type knitted for Navy and merchant marine seamen.”

Police Capt. Thad Brown of the homicide bureau told The Times:

“It is logical to assume that whoever stabbed Bacon departed so hastily he left his sweater behind. It certainly does not belong to Mr. Bacon — in fact, it is much too small.”

Whoever wore the sweater was about 140 pounds, 5-feet-8 and had blond hair, based on strands of blond hair found around the neck of the sweater, police said.

Homicide Detective Lts. Harry Fremont and Lloyd Hurst visited a variety of civilian and military suppliers and inferred that the sweater was commercially made “in the East” and was about 5 years old. Police later told The Times that the sweater was of the type given to lettermen “at a beach high school” five years earlier, which would be about 1938.

Subsequent examination revealed “three little feathers,” which led police to speculate that the killer “may have been employed in a poultry market or on a farm,” The Times said.

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, Homicide, LAPD and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The ‘Masked Marvel Murder’ — Part 6

  1. kthursby says:

    Great read, you’ve got me hooked.

  2. Gregory Moore says:

    Hey Larry,
    Really enjoying this latest “whodunnit” series. I’m already braced for the fact that it went unsolved…unless (STOP THE PRESSES!) you’re about to reveal the name of the killer, lo these 70 years later? I wouldn’t be surprised, Mr. Harnisch!

    Interesting that this story never even hit my radar at all, since I’m a big Hollywood scandal-hound. And a Greta Keller fan, to boot. I find it interesting that she is commonly referred to in other articles I’ve since read about this case (after having my interest piqued by your series) as an “opera singer”. She was anything but that! She was more of a “female crooner” of the 1930′s and her recordings really do hold up to scrutiny today. And if she sounds somewhat familiar (other than from her vocal appearance in the 1972 film, “Cabaret”), it’s because Marlene Dietrich pretty much copied her entire vocal style, lock, stock and barrel and claimed it as her own. In fact, when I’ve played Greta recordings for friends, they instantly assume it IS Marlene. Wonder how ol’ Greta felt about that?

    • lmharnisch says:

      Thanks… I promised myself after the Ted Healy/Wallace Beery extravaganza that I wouldn’t do any more extended posts — they are extremely time-consuming. But this story is too good to pass up. It goes on for a couple more weeks, so keep reading.

    • lmharnisch says:

      There’s quite a bit of her on archive.org. I posted a link pretty early on.

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