Black Dahlia: Blogging ‘Black Dahlia Files’ Part 64 — Request Line IV

Large ImageNote: This is an encore post from 2006.

I have ceased blogging in real time as I read Donald H. Wolfe’s “The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, the Mogul and the Murder That Transfixed Los Angeles.” Wolfe is using the “Laura” format in which the anonymous, butchered body is discovered and the narrative proceeds in flashbacks.

Now I’m taking a few requests before I wrap it up. Yesterday, we looked at Pages 118-119

Today, Pages 121-122 at the request of Mary Pacios.

Wolfe is discussing Ann Toth, one of Elizabeth Short’s roommates at the home of Mark Hansen, the business manager of the Florentine Gardens.

The contention here, which is mostly accurate, is that Hansen didn’t want Elizabeth Short going out with other men while she was living at his house. That’s true. Not that there was any deep relationship between Hansen and Elizabeth. Of course, after her murder, he denied any interest in her whatsoever, which is probably untrue. On the other hand, judging by the accounts in the district attorney’s files, she had adequate skills for keeping him at bay. Toth said that one of Elizabeth’s ploys for keeping men at a distance was that she was a virgin (Gasp!!! What? Elizabeth Short, the femme fatale who cruised across L.A. clad in black, leaving a path of destroyed men in her wake, used to say she was a virgin???!!! Yep).

Large ImageAha. Now here’s the fictionmeister at work:

“Ann Toth told the 1949 Grand Jury
[note to ReganBooks, the publishing house without proofreaders or fact-checkers, that shouldn’t be capitalized] that when Mark wasn’t around Elizabeth would make secretive, outgoing calls on the house phone. Toth recalled that she often called somebody in Beverly Hills and she often called Maurice:”

Brown: Clement, was it?

Toth: Maurice Clement. Did you ever talk to him again?

Brown: Talked to him several times.

Toth: What is Clement?

Brown: Clement is a teacher…

I suppose you’ll be checking the end notes, Holmes?

A good place to start, Watson. Shall we?

Oh let’s!

Watson, I’m fairly sure you’re going to enjoy this. See what Wolfe does:

Large ImagePage 371

“Beth had to be cautious…” Ann Toth’s testimony for the 1949 Grand Jury—District Attorney’s Black Dahlia files.

Now what could be wrong with this, eh? Seems fine? But no! It’s not testimony before the grand jury. Let’s check the actual document, shall we?

What’s this? The document says Ann Toth was interviewed twice, once by Frank Jemison of the district attorney’s office with Police Lt. Ed Barrett (Dec. 13, 1949) and by Jemison and Detective Sgt. Finis Brown (identified as Officer Brown) Feb. 28, 1950. And it certainly wasn’t sworn testimony before the grand jury.

Ann Toth was interviewed at 1959 N. Wilcox in Hollywood. Sort of an odd place for the Los Angeles County Grand Jury to meet, wouldn’t you say?

Now let’s see what she actually said. This is from Page 9 of her second interview. Note that because the interview was transcribed, many names are written phonetically, i.e. Clemens for Clement. This is a typical and maddening phenomenon of the district attorney’s files.

Large ImageBrown: Do you remember the time she moved away when she called those people. Do you recall her calling any number in the PR ospect or PA rkway or AX minster area? [note: AX minster is the telephone prefix for Leimert Park, where the body of Elizabeth Short was found—lh]

She called somebody in Beverly Hills—that impressed me at the time.

[Note: Not secretive, outgoing calls. Of course one can only make outgoing calls, can’t one? lh]

Brown: Did she call somebody at a CR estview number?

Also she called that real estate man.


She called the teacher

Who is Oterro—was it or Clemens was it?

Maurice Clemens. Did you ever talk to him?

Large ImageBrown: Talked to him several times. And Otero, that’s the little Spanish teacher.

What is Clemens?

Clement is a teacher too but Oterro works for the public schools.

Then it was Otero then. It was a Spanish teacher, little, on the dark side.

Little fellow

Was he driving a Ford

Little Ford, two-door sedan.


Now Wolfe goes on to say:
“Finis Brown was fully aware that Maurice Clement was an employee in the Talent Department at Columbia Studios, and he knew of Clement’s contacts with Brenda Allen as a Syndicate procurer.”

In fact, as far as I can tell, Clement was “Maurice the Voice Teacher,” often described as Elizabeth Short’s roommates at the Chancellor Apartments as “her favorite boyfriend.”

I invite anyone in L.A. who has the desire to do so to swing past Maurice’s little apartment on Normandie just south of Hollywood Boulevard. It’s a very modest, ordinary two-story building. Not the opulent pad of a mobster and Syndicate procurer.

Large ImagePage 122

Now this is really choice work. A master fabricator in action:

Actual quote:

Then it was Otero then. It was a Spanish teacher, little, on the dark side.

Wolfe version:

Clement… Little… on the dark side?

In other words, Wolfe isn’t even talking about Clement. She’s talking about an entirely different man.


Remind me again what a well-researched book this is. I keep forgetting.

But of course Wolfe is only warming up.

This is what follows:

[Finis quickly changes the subject]

Do you recall of her ever going to a doctor? Did you ever know of a time when she ever rode with you or anybody that you know of, and let her off on Hollywood at any doctor’s place?

Mark [Hansen] might have driven her down. She was going to one on Hollywood Boulevard. I think maybe the teacher [Maurice] brought her down there once. It seems to me she said she was going to meet him one Sunday afternoon. But of course, he wouldn’t be in his office on a Sunday afternoon.

This is the work of a real card shark, folks. In fact, Finis didn’t “quickly change the subject.” Wolfe is the one who is changing the subject, jumping from Page 9 to Page 11 in the second interview.

I guess we’re not supposed to know that, eh?

Here’s what actually followed:

You don’t recall any numbers down around the AX minster or Inglewood area?

Well I said that real estate man. She called him in Inglewood. She called two or three numbers, but she didn’t get any answers, see, so naturally I wouldn’t know.

See what, Ann, I am trying to figure is if there is some possibility of someone she might have called down in that area there. She ever talk to Brant Orr?

No, not that I know of. She spoke about this flier out at the—supposed to be flying two weeks out of here, two weeks from somewhere else. I don’t know, she was going to move out to Burbank or something, out to a base.

And note Wolfe’s handiwork in this:

Mark [Hansen] might have driven her down. She was going to one on Hollywood Boulevard. I think maybe the teacher [Maurice] brought her down there once. It seems to me she said she was going to meet him one Sunday afternoon. But of course, he wouldn’t be in his office on a Sunday afternoon.

OK, that’s not Maurice. That’s a man named Otero who was a Spanish teacher.

This is really devious work, folks. These aren’t unintentional mistakes, rather they are scheming, calculated, malicious lies used to prop up a fictitious premise.

Time for my walk.

Shout out to:

Buenos Aires, Argentina [ISP Redacted]

Springfield, Mo. [ISP Redacted]

Procter and Gamble in Belgium [ISP Redacted]

Norman, Okla. [ISP Redacted] Windows 98? Upgrade!

Hey, you in Kerkira, Greece. 47 visits? What’s with deal?

Hurry back!

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Books and Authors, Crime and Courts, LAPD, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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