In case you just tuned in, I’m doing a little fact-checking as I go through Scotty Bowers’ “Full Service.” This will be fairly tedious except to a research drudge.
I have been examining what Scotty Bowers describes as his first Hollywood encounter, involving Walter Pidgeon and Jacques “Jack” Potts, presumably in 1946. The last few posts have examined the home on Benedict Canyon where the alleged tryst occurred.
Unfortunately, even for the research drudge, creating a timeline for Jacques “Jack” Potts makes the Pidgeon project seem easy. The mysterious Mr. Potts is lightly documented.
Fact-Checking “Full Service”: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17
However, he did exist, and that’s a start.
Feb. 3, 1952: A display ad in The Times offers furniture and antiques owned by Jacques Potts. Notice the reference to the home at 424 Comstock Ave. belonging to Fanny Brice (d. 1951).
“Fanny Brice: The Original Funny Girl” by Herbert G. Goldman, Page 212.
And from Herbert G. Goldman’s 1993 biography of Fanny Brice, we learn that Jacques “Jack” Potts was actually Jacob S. Potts.
He appears in the 1942 Los Angeles City Directory, online via the Los Angeles Public Library.
Even better, we get the address of his shop, listed under Fur Dealers and Furriers:
8659 Sunset Blvd.
Thus far we have confirmed that there was a man operating a shop called Jacques of Chicago, that his name was Jacob S. Potts, and that he lived in Beverly Hills as of 1942.
We also find this listing under Jacques….
Let’s keep digging.
Backtracking to 1938, we find this under Clothing Dealers — Women’s and Misses’ — Retail
And listed under Doherty, we find…
W. Harry and Ida K. Doherty selling gowns at that address.
By 1939 we find:
John S. Potts at 8659 Sunset Blvd.
Sept. 13, 1938: Jacques of Chicago advertises in The Times.
ProQuest is unable to read fancy lettering, so it didn’t detect “Jacques of Chicago.” Because the address is in regular type, we now find this display ad from 1938.
Now this is interesting: An ad from Aug. 17, 1947, for an auction of the store’s inventory and an announcement that the owner is retiring. This occurred about a year after the purported encounter with Bowers.
Thus we can conclude that Jacques of Chicago was in business at 8659 Sunset Blvd. from about 1938 to 1947. It seems increasingly likely that Jacques/Jack/Jacob S. Potts is the person in question at 1110 Benedict Canyon Drive, the address listed in the 1946 phone book.
Now I would question whether Ida K. Doherty was selling gowns with her (apparent) husband at 8659 Sunset in 1938. Perhaps she was; but as the Dohertys’ city directory listing includes both a business address and a home (“h”–sometimes “r” in the LACDs) address, I would submit that Ida may have not been involved in her husband’s business, but rather spent her time more in and around the couple’s charming bungalow at the southeast corner of Colgate and Edinburgh. While one must be careful to remember that speculation is not fact, one wonders if Ida knew Jane Dorte. Presumably she would have if Ms. Dorte was, say, a sales clerk at the gown shop. Or was Ms. Dorte installed upstairs by Harry to assist in other matters? (It seems unlikely that Ida would have run across Jane’s listing in the CD.)
My hunch is that “Dorte” sounded like “Doherty” if someone was taking information over the phone. But that’s just a guess.
Ah… this is what makes you the great researcher that you are. My ear is not so finely tuned as to notice the obvious consonance of “Dorte” and “Doherty.” As it turns out, Harry & Oliver had a daughter named Mary, middle initial “J”…for “Jane”? Mary J. Doherty is listed as a “clk” at the Colgate address in the 1936 LACD… so it was possibly she who was a clerk and living at her father’s/parents’ Sunset Boulevard establishment. (She was born in 1915.)