The ‘Masked Marvel Murder’ — Part 5


David Bacon’s secret getaway, from the Sept. 18, 1943, Los Angeles Herald-Express, courtesy of Steven Bibb.

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 – a 15-year-old newsboy – which was reported in a United Press story.

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

Today, Bacon’s secret hideaway.

David Bacon Secret Getaway
Here’s a better copy of the photo of Bacon’s secret hideaway, courtesy of Steven Bibb.

Sept. 18, 1943, Purses in David Bacon's Secret Getaway.
Purses found in David Bacon’s secret hideaway. Several women’s cigarette holders were also found, according to news reports. Photo from the Sept. 18, 1943, Los Angeles Herald-Express, courtesy of Steven Bibb.

Sept. 18, 1943, Bacon Hideout As reported earlier, Bacon and his wife, singer Greta Keller, lived at 8444 Magnolia Ave. But police revealed that on Aug. 31, 1943, Bacon rented a studio apartment, a small  “parlor, kitchen and bath” at 8481 Kirkwood Ave., from Dr. Charles Hendricks, who lived nearby, according to The Times.

The discovery of the hideaway solved piece of the puzzle: A key found in Bacon’s wallet at the time of his death, according to the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner.

Sept. 18, 1943, Herald-Express Hendricks said Bacon rented the apartment “for a friend,” while Keller told investigators that the lodgings were for a gardener, although the Bacons didn’t have a gardener, The Times said.

According to the Herald-Express, Bacon rented the house Aug. 31, Hendrickson said. “I thought at first it was for a women,” he told police, “but later learned the tenant was to be a man.”

Hendricks also told police that on Sept. 10, two days before the killing, he stopped by to collect $20 due on the rent. While Hendricks was there, he encountered Bacon and man whom he described as “dark and slight, foreign looking, and his face was flushed like he was angry.”

Sept. 19, 1932, Henry Frazee The landlord added: “All the time I was there he never spoke a word, nor did Mr. Bacon introduce me to him. Mr. Bacon did not have the rent money but said he would put it in my mailbox Saturday, which he did.”

Police were briefly baffled by the discovery of cigarette holders and towels at the apartment. Investigation revealed that Harry Frazee, described as a “New York radio producer,” had occupied the apartment for four days. By the time he was interviewed, Frazee was living at 6314 Sunset Blvd.

Frazee told Detective Lts. Harry Fremont and Lloyd Hurst that he found the apartment through an ad and that he and Bacon struck a deal in which he could live at the apartment in return for several hours work per day.

Frazee received help in moving from Phyllis Parker, a writer for Otto Kruger’s radio show, who said she left her cigarette holders at the apartment. (Bonus fact: Kruger played Waldo Lydecker in the Lux Radio version of “Laura.”) She was assisted by Franz Rosenwald and Wilfred Buckland Jr., identified as the “son of the prominent motion picture art director.”  The Times reported that Buckland and Parker lived at 2035 Pinehurst Road. (In 1946, Buckland was shot in his sleep by his father, who killed himself. But that’s a story for another time.)

Google Map of home and apartment

A: Bacon’s home at 8444 Magnolia Ave. B: Studio apartment at 8481 Kirkwood Ave., via Google Maps.

“I was between jobs and thought it would be a grand way to rest up and also find a nice spot to live,” Frazee said, according to The Times.

He further explained that he moved out when he was offered another job with an aircraft company and was planning on moving to San Francisco to take a radio job with the Office of War Information.

Glenn E. Shaum, Herald-Express, No Date The Times reported that Frazee had moved out by the time Hendricks had his strange encounter with Bacon and the mysterious stranger.

That individual was eventually identified as Glenn Erwin Shaum, 20, living at 1734 Van Ness Ave., according to The Times. Shaum’s telephone number was found among Bacon’s belongings and Shaum explained that he answered an ad for a gardener.

“He made an appointment with Bacon, who met him and took him to the Kirkwood Ave. apartment, later returning him to Hollywood,” The Times said. A subsequent story reports that Shaum was “an asserted Navy deserter,” who was with his wife on the day of the killing.

Yes, that’s right. Shaum was living with his wife, but he answered an ad for work as a gardener that included living quarters. Hm.

To be continued.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1943, Cold Cases, Film, Hollywood, LAPD, World War II and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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

  1. Benito says:

    I bet it turns out to be a bunga bunga-low


  2. Eve says:

    You know, if you’re going to rent a hideaway for secret assignations, don’t choose one with a big black arrow leading up to the door and a huge two-story question mark hovering over it. It’s always a dead giveaway.


  3. Mary Mallory says:

    And if you’re going to rent a hideaway, don’t get one just down the street from your house. Go to another part of town.


  4. Ed Miller says:

    Here’s a vintage photo of the living room of the “love nest” on Kirkwood Avenue.

    (Sorry, but this site doesn’t give one the opportunity to properly post a hyperlink.)


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