Oct. 15, 1944: The NBC Symphony Orchestra, with guest Marian Anderson, conducted by Frank Black. Courtesy of otronmp3.com.
Oct. 15, 1944: The NBC Symphony Orchestra, with guest Marian Anderson, conducted by Frank Black. Courtesy of otronmp3.com.
A portrait of Georgette Bauerdorf published in the Daily News, Oct. 13, 1944.
It’s unclear from news reports whether Georgette Bauerdorf was pursuing any further education after apparently graduating from the Westlake School for Girls. Several stories in the Los Angeles papers say that she worked at one of the local papers, possibly as a copy messenger, but none of the stories identifies the newspaper. The Daily News (Oct. 13, 1944) said: “Last year, anxious to become a newspaper reporter, she worked for several weeks on a Los Angeles daily.”
The newspaper accounts of the killing say that she was a junior hostess at the Hollywood Canteen, but none of them say when she began. Apparently she was one of about 30 young women who volunteered at the canteen on Wednesday nights.
The Herald-Examiner published a photo of Georgette Bauerdorf with a question mark, one of its visual cliches of the 1940s, Oct. 13, 1944.
The investigation revealed that the young woman found face-down in the bathtub at 8493 Fountain Ave., was Georgette Bauerdorf, who was born in New York on May 6, 1924. Her father was George F. Bauerdorf and her mother was Constance Bauerdorf. She had an older sister, Constance Ann Bauerdorf, born May 1, 1920 (d. 2014).
Oct. 14, 1944:
Danton Walker says: David Sarnoff, RCA president, predicts a television gadget that will be worn on the wrist but contains a practical television screen.
Louella Parsons says: Constance Moore and Dennis O’Keefe report next week for “The Earl Carroll Vanities” — but hold everything! Republic has just bought the rights to the title and there’s not a single Carroll beauty in the lineup. And Earl, himself, will be conspicuously missing. I can’t think of anything funner, except a Ziegfeld Follies movie without a Follies girl!
This week’s mystery movie has been “Badlands” (1973), written and directed by Terrence Malick, starring Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek and Warren Oates. I generally avoid more recent films, figuring that they are too easy, but realized that 41 years isn’t all that recent anymore. I chose “Badlands” because it was based on the Charles Starkweather saga of the 1950s. I try to vary the eras and genres to make the mystery films more challenging, although I have neglected musicals because most are so well known and westerns because I don’t have many in the archives.
Georgette Bauerdorf found dead, Oct. 13, 1944, Los Angeles Times.
Oct. 13, 1944
This account has been assembled from newspaper stories that generally agree, but contradict one another on some details. Newspapers of this era often published long excerpts from coroner’s inquests, but not in the Bauerdorf case, so I have had to gather the details piecemeal. Here’s what I have gleaned from The Times, the Examiner, the Daily News and the Herald-Express.
Note that breaking news stories in this era were typically done by rewrite men taking information over the phone. As a result, names are often spelled phonetically, depending on what the rewrite man thought he heard, such as Atwood/Attwood and Lulu/Lula.
Hollywood and aviation took off at about the same points in history, helping to put each other on the map. Early American aviators inaugurated the fledgling field in the early 1900s, just as early filmmakers were introducing short motion pictures to the American public. These film directors and producers sought out the magical sport of flying, capturing it with their cameras and screening it for astonished audiences. The Wright brothers’ first flight, the Dominguez 1909 Air Rally, as well as several others, were shot as moving pictures and shown to the public. Soon, stars themselves took to the air, with actress Mabel Normand possibly the first celebrity aloft in the 1914 Keystone short, “A Dash Through the Clouds.” Aviation really took off when it helped win the Great War in 1918.
Air thrills excited audiences, particularly those tricks performed by former war pilots barnstorming the country, so the movie industry quickly turned their cameras to the skies. Early films captured flying stunts by building large stands atop high hills and shooting angles that made it appear stars were aloft in the area. By the early 1920s, studios hired veteran aerialists to devise spectacular air stunts to energize moviegoers, stunts which also goosed the adrenaline of the thrill-seeking pilots. Mostly forgotten today, except by dedicated aviation fans, Richard “Dick” Grace stands out as perhaps Hollywood’s top daredevil sky pilot, intentionally diving and crashing planes for movies, living to tell the tale. Grace’s life and flying career rival any daring adventure concocted by film studios.
Thanks to Earl Boebert for pointing us to this one. From Awfulannouncing.com:
For years, [Joe] Streater has been falsely linked with one of the greatest scandals in the history of college sports. Streater was 100% not involved in the point shaving scandal despite the fact media organizations including Sports Illustrated, The Associated Press, local media outlets, and Boston College blogs say he did. Here’s the AP version:
“BC basketball players Rick Kuhn, Joe Streater and Jim Sweeney were persuaded to fix nine Eagles games during the season. Kuhn and two money men were handed 10 years each in prison.”
Streater wasn’t even on the team or in school at that time the point shaving took place in the 1978-1979 season, an observation that is occasionally made on message boards and comment sections, but is quickly dismissed given the abundance of articles stating that Streater was among those involved.
So how does a man’s name become besmirched to the point where his false indiscretions are constantly retold to the point they become common fact in today’s media?
The answer – Wikipedia.
Oct. 11, 1944: Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge. Courtesy of otronmp3.com.
El Palacio Apartments, 8491 Fountain Ave., in a photo from the Los Angeles Herald-Express, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library.
El Palacio in 2008, as shown by Google Street View.
Los Angeles Times, May 10, 1931: El Palacio is dedicated.
El Palacio Apartments, where Georgette Bauerdorf was killed, were designed and built by William R. Hauptman, with gardens by Seymour Thomas. By the time El Palacio opened, Hauptman had built several apartment buildings in West Hollywood, including the Coral Gables, Royal Madrid, Royal Palms, Villa Poinsettia and Wyngate Manor. The Times noted that in December 1928 that the emperor of Japan attended the dedication of the Lotus Garden apartments, which adjoin El Palacio.
Oct. 10, 1944
Walter Winchell: All Around the Town
The Waldorf’s special entrance for private railroad cars … Ramshackle Lower East Side apartments without any bathing facilities – in the world’s most modern city .. The 22 reservoirs that supply the town with aqua … Sidewalk tie salesmen now hawking campaign buttons as a sideline … Debutantes perched on a limb of their family tree – looking down on the peasants … Greenwich Village trees that live without sun and water … Bowling Green, the burg’s oldest park, where the Injuns sold Manhattan … West Street, the most expensive waterfront property in the world: $470,000 an acre. At one time it was covered with water … Card sharps who sit in cheap hotel lobbies and practice shuffling cards … Grimy houses near Washington Market that were swanky mansions a century ago. Time rubs the glamour off everything.
Louella Parsons says: The news was hardly out that “Jubal Troop” had been postponed than Claudette Colbert was knee deep in scripts. The story that caught her attention, and the one she has accepted is “Guest Wife,” which she will do for Bruce Manning and Jack Skirball. But hold everything — that isn’t all! Don Amecho co-stars with Claudette. This means Don’s first independent fling, “What Manners of Love,” will wait.
Now it is Carole Landis wealthy Al Vanderbilt is beauing to the nightspots. Apparently he and K.T. Stevens are no longer romancing, for he is seeing the ex-Mrs. Wallace every eve.
Oct. 3, 1942: Abbott and Costello outside the Hollywood Canteen at the opening ceremony, in a Times photo.
Cahuenga Boulevard south of Sunset Boulevard, former location of the Hollywood Canteen, via Google Street View.
One of the important locations in the Georgette Bauerdorf killing is the Hollywood Canteen, a club for enlisted men at 1451 N. Cahuenga Blvd., where she volunteered as a hostess. When Bauerdorf was killed, investigators initially focused on a “dark, husky soldier” who insisted on jitterbugging with her “against her wishes,” according to The Times. (More about that later).
Oct. 9, 1944
Walter Winchell says: Wendell Willkie* didn’t know the real reason for his hospitalization. Intimates persuaded news and air reporters to “play it down.” … When the flash of his passing reached midtown spots at 2:30 Sunday ayem — it sent many people home depressed … Beatrice Lillie was welcomed back to the U.S. with a barrage of legal entanglements, aimed at the contract she has with Billy Rose.
*Willkie died Oct. 8, 1944.
Louella Parsons says: Overheard two party guests recently discussing which is the more enthusiastic new father — Ronald Colman or Charles Boyer.
Danton Walker says: Luise Rainer, recovered from malaria contracted during her tour of the African war zone, returns to show business via radio’s “Here’s to Romance” Oct. 26, about the same time confirming her engagement to the heir of a major aviation firm.
Jan. 23, 1947: The Herald-Express publishes an article headlined “Werewolves Leave Trail of Women Murders in L.A.” (The obnoxious watermark is so that people who see this image after it has been swiped by Pinterest, skyscraper.com and all the Black Dahlia sites will know where it’s from).
One reason I’m devoting so much time to the Georgette Bauerdorf killing of 1944 is not because of what it is, but because of what it is not.
The Bauerdorf slaying is not in any way related to the Black Dahlia killing of Jan. 15, 1947. Armchair sleuths and dreadful “true” crime books have done much work to fuse the two crimes together over the years. Their narrative arcs are quite similar and follow the typical “life cycle” of an unsolved murder, but the details are entirely different.
I will revisit this issue at the conclusion, but it’s important to state from the outset that regardless of what people might have read elsewhere, these two cases are not related.
Reginald de Koven’s “Robin Hood” will be performed in Philadelphia.
Oct. 8, 1944: Louella Parsons says: The first official visit Effie Klinker, Edgar Bergen’s new wooden spinster, made was at my house. The old gal, who Edgar says was a teacher before she joined Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, was dressed to the teeth for the occasion. She wore a shirtwaist of purple taffeta, a John Frederics hat in green, and gaiters – of all things – to say nothing of a watch on her bosom.
Dec. 31, 1944: Major crimes increased in the city of Los Angeles, except for auto theft. Homicides are up 29.5% over 1943.
There are many ways to portray 1944 in Los Angeles, when Georgette Bauerdorf was killed. We might talk about the upcoming presidential election in which Democrat Franklin Roosevelt would defeat Republican candidate Thomas E. Dewey for a fourth term. Or the current movies, although it’s likely that only the most hardcore TCM viewers have seen “Wilson,” “The Merry Monahans” “Maisie Goes to Reno” or “I Love a Soldier.” Much of the Daily Mirror has been devoted to the popular culture for 1944 and Life magazine has provided the basics of World War II, so there’s a fair amount of context.
So before getting into the Bauerdorf case, let’s focus on crime in 1944.
Oct. 7, 1944
Danton Walker says: Agnes De Mille is the unseen star of “Bloomer Girl,” as she is the star of almost any show for which she is choreographer. This much-touted extravaganza, though gorgeously costumed, sumptuously set and brimming over with talent, is too heavily fraught with all this new world a-coming stuff for a lighthearted operetta. Though laid in 1861, its topics are all pointed up to apply to 1944, probably because Hollywood had a hand in it.
Louella Parsons says: One thing about Preston Sturges, he doesn’t underrate his own talents. He was approached recently to act as commentator on a radio show. “Yes I am interested,” drawled Sturges, “providing you give me a two-hour show and build a theater for me.” Which shows how interested Pres really was in the idea. He has just signed Ray Steele, of “Hail the Conquering Hero,” to a long-term contract. Steele, incidentally, is the first actor signed by the satirical Mr. Sturges.*
*Apparently she means Freddie Steele.
LIBRA: Not especially auspicious but with your help, the intelligence you can give undertakings, you need not slip behind in any worthy endeavor. Hard work will advance you.
This is “Madam Satan,” directed by Cecil B. DeMille and written by three women: longtime DeMille collaborator Jeanie MacPherson (d. 1946), Gladys Unger (d. 1940) and Elsie Janis (d. 1956). It starred Kay Johnson, Reginald Denny, Lillian Roth and Roland Young. Mitchell Leisen was assistant director and got credit as art director, along with Cedric Gibbons
A postcard of Lookout Mountain, courtesy of Mary Mallory.
Long before the developers of Hollywoodland offered potential buyers the chance to enjoy the magnificent views at the top of the hill above their giant advertising sign, the real estate syndicate promoting Lookout Mountain Park smartly decided to construct a high-end resort at the top of the development. While Lookout Mountain Inn survived less than 10 years, it provided the grandest views of the Southland from its wide porches.
The Aug. 14, 1908, Los Angeles Times announced that a new real estate syndicate would soon start construction on a “pleasure resort” on the peak of Lookout Mountain, reached by scenic railway and automobile. Purchased for $98,000, their 280 acres of hill and mountainside loomed above West Hollywood with some of the most spectacular views anywhere around Los Angeles, ranking as one of its top tourist attractions. The newly formed Lookout Mountain Park Land and Water Co. would build a hotel and bungalows, develop and sell water, and reforest the hillsides with eucalyptus and pines.
Oct. 3, 1944
The sensational trial of Frances Andrews, 37, in the shooting death of Jay Lovett, 19, prompts a crackpot confession letter (a popular pastime in the 1940s, as found in the Black Dahlia case). This one included receipts that allegedly bore the victim’s bloodstains.
On July 15, 1944, Jay Lovett, 19, was found shot in the head at the gateway to the Carmel Valley ranch of his wealthy and socially prominent employer, Frances Andrews, whose husband, Cpl. Frank Andrews, was at a party at the ranch of movie actor Victor McLaglen in Clovis. A .25-caliber semiautomatic found next to the body belonged to Andrews.
On Aug. 3, 1944, Andrews, 37, was indicted in Lovett’s death. In a jailhouse interview, the “blond and chic” suspect said that Lovett had committed suicide. Prosecutors, however, charged that Andrews killed Lovett out of jealousy over his relationship with a neighbor, Nancy Linde, whose husband was a San Francisco doctor. Continue reading