Saturday, April 08, 2006

Blogging the Wolfe Book, Request Line VI

Large ImageI 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 found and the narrative proceeds in flashbacks.Now I’m taking a few requests before I wrap it up. Yesterday, we looked at Page 131 at the request of Mary Pacios. Today, we’ll look at Page 162 at the request of Regular Anonymous Commenter.

Page 162

This chapter is titled “A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery…” paraphrasing former Examiner reporter Will Fowler, author of “Reporters.” As stated previously, “Will Fowler remembers” are three of the most frightening words in the English language, as we have caught Will in any number of false statements. I knew Will for years and treated him as a friend, but he lied his head off to me about the Black Dahlia case. I don’t think it was malicious; he just like to tell a good story.

Holy smokes!

I backed up a page to get a running start and have to pick my jaw up off the floor on this one.

Large ImagePages 160-161

“According to Vince Carter, many officers in Administrative Vice knew Donahoe was misleading the press and the public regarding the facts in the Black Dahlia case but they were afraid to come forward because of Donahoe’s underworld friends:

Donahoe had a reputation as a killer and he was a close friend of another killer—Jack Dragna, who was Lucky Luciano’s West Coast representative. Somewhere along the way, Jack Dragna and Captain Jack Donahoe became friends. Dragna had control over the narcotics business and Donahoe was an important contact…. It was Dragna who introduced Donahoe to Chickie Stein, Dragna’s narcotics distributor in L.A., and she and Donahoe became quite close. Chickie was a beautiful Sicilian woman with dark brown eyes who was brought up in a New York whorehouse. Her mother had been one of Lucky Luciano’s whorehouse madams….. Chickie was introduced to Dragna by Luciano when she was in her early twenties. Luciano trusted her completely and when Luciano was arrested by Thomas Dewey, and Chickie’s mother’s prostitution business folded, Chickie came to Los Angeles as Luciano’s West Coast heroin connection under Dragna’s guidance. Donahoe and Chickie became close friends and he presented her with a gold medallion with the Christ crucifixion on one side and the Star of David on the other. Chickie wore this around her neck on a fine gold chain. On one occasion she showed it to me and Captain Jack Donahoe’s name was engraved on one side of the medallion. Chickie was as proud of it as if it had been given to her by one of the mob bosses—which in my opinion was not too far off the mark.”

Wow. That’s about a dirty a deal as I have ever read about Jack Donahoe who in reality was squeaky clean and one of the most admired men in the Los Angeles Police Department.

Large ImageI mean, this is the Jack Donahoe I know:

“Police Captain Jack A. Donahoe, commander of the Robbery Division, was honored by the City Council yesterday for his refusal to retire after 30 years of service to the Police Department.” Los Angeles Examiner, Nov. 11, 1954.

“No police officer in the city has done more or worked more conscientiously for the protection of the community and the riddance of criminals than Jack Donahoe,” Len Jacobsen, head of a charity known as the Roorags. Los Angeles Times, Aug. 18, 1955.

And this:

“He has been repeatedly cited for efficiency, cooperation, leadership, courage, alertness and devotion to duty. The recommendations come from the FBI, Treasury Department, Naval Intelligence, California Highway Patrol, District Attorney’s offices and State and local police throughout the nation.

“On the occasion of Donahoe’s 30 anniversary with the department, Chief of Police William H. Parker cited him for ‘devotion to duty and outstanding police work.’ In all his years as an officer, Donahoe has only missed 20 days on sick leave.” Gene Sherman, Club Magazine, September 1955.

And this:

Large Image“The capacity crowd [for Donahoe’s retirement in 1962] jammed the Police Academy for what was believed to be the largest police retirement dinner in Los Angeles history.” Los Angeles Times, May 3, 1962.

And this:

More than 1,000 mourners attended funeral services for retired Police Capt. Jack A. Donahoe in the Church of the Recessional, Forest Lawn Memorial-Park. About 600 stood outside the church [note: this is in June] in which seating arrangements could be made for only 400, and heard the services over loudspeakers.

Police Chaplain William Riddle said Donahoe was ‘ not just a policeman but a man who was building for us a future freedom which only law enforcement can make possible.’ ” (Los Angeles Times, June 23, 1966)

OK, let’s see Wolfe’s source on this baloney. This is attributed to Carter’s “LAPD’s Rogue Cops Cover Ups and the Cookie Jar,” a self-published book we covered earlier.

“Rogue Cops,” Page 156.

Now recall, before we even look, that Carter started with the LAPD in 1942 said he was working as a reserve officer at the Hollenbeck station while Donahoe worked downtown. Recall further that Carter says he never worked the Dahlia case but always followed it.

OK, let me check that again: “Mogul” Page 160-161 is attributed to “Rogue Cops,” Page 112, 156, 158.


Page 112 is too long to quote in its entirety, so I’ll quote the first line of every paragraph:

  1. A gambler like Mickey [Cohen] only bet on sure or fixed bets.

  1. Before Mickey left Cleveland in his early twenties he and some of his friends were arrested on robbery charges.

  1. The old line vice take in Los Angeles was in disarray and was being reorganized by Captain Jack Donahoe in the Robbery-Homicide Squad.

Note: Robbery and Homicide were separate divisions in the 1940s. Oops.

  1. While Luciano, the top mob man in the nation, was in prison, he controlled the New York mob through Frank Costello, Meyer Lansky and other mob leaders.

Here’s Page 156:

  1. big cities, are controlled by those who control vice activities. The prison officials who worked with Nate…

  1. Ron asked Nate where he got women for the men

  1. “We used young men, boys, who came into the prison.”

  1. The war was coming to an end and Nate had a chance to get out of prison.

  1. Ron Hardman told me bits and pieces of his life.

  1. Big Jack Donahoe, Captain in charge of Robbery Division, exercised considerable power in 77th Street Division, an area which was predominately Black. Donahoe controlled narcotics and other vices in the Division. Everyone, crooks and cops alike, was afraid of Donahoe. He was known to have killed several men.

For the record, I can’t find a newspaper story about Donahoe ever killing anybody. In fact he went out of his way to take Edwin Walker alive, even though Walker had killed CHP Officer Loren K. Roosevelt. [The case was the basis for the Richard Basehart film “He Walked by Night.”]


Everybody was afraid of Donahoe, cops and crooks alike? I suppose that’s why his retirement party was the biggest in Police Academy history and why there were 1,000 people at his funeral, eh?

Now let’s go to Page 158:

  1. They visited the Division Captain before roll call the following night, Ron said.

  1. The Captain understood the problem fully. Apparently he didn’t believe that he could buck Captain Donahoe either.

  1. Ron said that everything went smoothly at Juvenile.

  1. Ron didn’t know it, but 9th and Broadway was the worst place in the department.

  1. Nate Rubin said that he knew the structure of vice operations in the city well.

  1. Nate trusted Ron Hardman and talked freely to him.

OK to be fair, Carter does drag Chickie Stein into the last paragraph. But I don’t see a word about this gold crucifix/Star of David.

Ha! Got you, Vince Carter:

Page 161

Ron told the two Irish detectives about our visits with Chickie and Bernie at Chickie’s boutique. He described the medallion Donahoe had given her, with his name engraved on the back side, and how she bragged of her relationship with Big Jack. He also told Bain and McGhee that Chickie had bragged about being in bed with Jack Dragna in a Hollywood motel when he died of a heart attack.

In fact, Dragna died in Room 125 of the Saharan Hotel on Feb. 23, 1956, and was found by the maid. He was alone. No “Chickie Stein.”

Maybe you’re thinking of police recordings made with a microphone concealed in the headboard of a bed in 1951. That, Dragna buffs, was 24-year-old Annette Eckhardt. (Los Angeles Examiner, June 6, 1952, cites arrest date of March 11, 1951).

No Chickie, No Washie.

OK, so I didn’t get to Page 162, requested by Regular Anonymous Correspondent. I couldn’t ignore this smear of Jack Donahoe, one of the finest, most admired and most popular officers in LAPD history.

I’ll get it tomorrow.

Shout out to:

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Hurry back!

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Blogging the Wolfe Book, Request Line V

Large ImageI 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 found and the narrative proceeds in flashbacks.

Now I’m taking a few requests before I wrap it up. Yesterday, we looked at Pages 121-122, today, we’ll examine Page 131 at the request of Mary Pacios.

Recall that yesterday we found some particularly nasty, scheming misuse of the district attorney’s material on Ann Toth, one of Elizabeth Short’s roommates. Wolfe actually skipped several pages with the note “Finis quickly changes the subject” and altered a name in the material to make it appear as if Toth were referring to Maurice Clement when she was referring to another man.

Not trivial errors, folks. This is a scheming, calculating, cynical lie intended to prop up a fictitious premise.

Let’s see what Wolfe has in store for us today:

Hm. Wolfe is talking about Maurice Clement. Let’s back up a bit to Page 130.

Witnesses said Elizabeth Short frequented Brittingham’s Restaurant. That’s true. Wolfe says it was around the corner from Columbia Studios. That’s also true. Brittingham’s was next to KNX in Columbia Square but is now closed.

Wolfe quotes George Bacos, and says he was an usher at CBS, also true. But then he quotes Nina Blanchard, a name I don’t recognize.

To the end notes, Watson!

But my dear Holmes, there’s no attribution!

Not a word, Watson. Now where do we get this Blanchard woman?

Well that’s a mystery and a half:

Large Image“George Bacos, an usher at CBS across the street, stated to police that he had often seen her there, as had Nina Blanchard, who later became a famous modeling agency executive. At that time, Nina Blanchard was a waitress at Brittingham’s, where many of the Columbia Studio executives and employees socialized. According to Blanchard, Elizabeth used to frequent Brittingham’s and was also seen with studio executive Max Arnow, who was in charge of the Talent Department.”

OK, let’s do what any decent researcher would do and check Blanchard’s clips.

Blanchard indeed ran a modeling agency. In 1967, Brenda Lee Meinsenheimer, one of her models, died in a bizarre accident while filming a Pontiac commercial. Meinsenheimer was driving toward a camera truck, which was coming the other way. The camera boom was supposed to rise, but didn’t and she crashed into it. Raffael John Esposito, the camera operator, also died.

Hm. In 1965 Blanchard lived at 2045 Stanley Hills Place.

Hm. Looks like Blanchard was working as a model in 1965. Let’s do some math. If she was working as a waitress at Brittingham’s in 1946, let’s say she was 18. That would make her born in 1928. If she were modeling in 1965, that would make her 36. A bit old for the modeling game, I’d say. But wait. Hollywood High School’s alumni page says she graduated in 1946.

Hm. 1960. Teenage fashion show, Nina Blanchard provides the commentary.

With Jan and Dean? Oohh.

Hm. Junior League’s annual fashion tea, 1961.

1985, she pronounces Don Johnson sexy with or without “Miami Vice” stubble.

Sold modeling agency to Ford in 1995. Founded in 1961. Apparently still alive. That’s quite interesting. Wolfe usually relies on conveniently dead people. And this is the only reference in the book to Nina Blanchard.

Hm. Arnow was at Warners, then Columbia, died 1984. Nothing but a paid obituary in The Times.

Well, as far as I can tell, there was a Nina Blanchard, although it’s unclear she was a Brittingham’s waitress, let alone whether she saw Elizabeth Short. And there was a Max Arnow. So far, Wolfe is way ahead of John Gilmore’s “Severed,” which relies heavily on nonexistent people. But neither Blanchard nor Arnow appear in the district attorney’s files and since Wolfe gives no attribution for this little nugget I’m at a loss as to where he got it.

Large ImagePage 131

Hm. In discussing Toth, Wolfe says:

“In her testimony to the district attorney investigators, Toth had estimated that it was at least two weeks before she left the city—sometime in November—that she had dropped off Elizabeth near the Biltmore, where Toth believed she was meeting Maurice. And Toth thought it may have been Maurice who had driven her to a doctor’s office on Hollywood Boulevard shortly before Elizabeth suddenly left for San Diego.”

OK, well there’s a couple things wrong here.

First, Toth didn’t say that Maurice took Elizabeth Short to the doctor, it was a fellow named Otero, as we saw yesterday. Wolfe is faking the evidence to say it was Maurice.

Here’s Wolfe’s excerpt:

Toth: 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.

Not Maurice Clement, but Mr. Otero.


Second, Elizabeth Short didn’t suddenly leave for San Diego. Her departure from Los Angeles was well known and she spoke of it frequently. The only wrinkle, and it’s a major one, is that she claimed all along she was going to spend Christmas with her sister Virginia in Berkeley and went to San Diego instead. But the departure wasn’t sudden.

And finally and most important, let’s see what Toth told the district attorney’s investigators about taking Elizabeth Short to the Biltmore.

Here’s the actual quote from Page 12 of the second interview, with Finis Brown. Notice that Toth says “schoolteacher,” meaning Otero, who taught high school Spanish.

You drove her downtown in Los Angeles there near the Biltmore hotel on one occasion didn’t you? Near there?


About how long was that before she left for San Diego do you have any idea?

About two weeks.

Didn’t she give you any reason whatsoever to be to ask to be taken down there to the Biltmore Hotel? Didn’t she tell you who she was going to meet?

I thought she was supposed to meet the schoolteacher there. She might not have been telling me the truth either, you see. It didn’t mean a thing, later I would up getting her a place over here anyway because she was without means of any kind.

Did you ever take her down to the Biltmore Hotel more than once?


By the way, there is no attribution for Page 131 whatsoever. Poor work, folks.

Regular Anonymous Commenter asks me to add Page 162. Consider it done.

Time for my walk.

Shout out to:

Boca Raton, Fla. (

Linux user (

Aol user ( 14 hours!

Brea, Calif. ( 6 hours!

Hurry back!

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Blogging the Wolfe Book, Request Line IV

Large ImageI 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]

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:

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Springfield, Mo. (

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

Hurry back!

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Blogging the Wolfe Book, Request Line III

Large ImageI 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. Last time, we looked at Pages 108-111. Today we are looking at Page 119, at the request of Mary Pacios.

The title of this chapter is “Persons Unknown” and I couldn’t help but notice an unfortunately familiar name on Page 118: Robert Slatzer. For those who are unfamiliar with the story, Will Fowler of “Reporters” fame used to claim that he was the ghostwriter on Slatzer’s “memoir” of being married to Marilyn Monroe for three days until the studios scotched the deal. In conversations, Will used to trash Slatzer every chance he got and worked Slatzer over on Pages 286-288 of “Reporters.”


“After the book was published, I found it to be filled with fantasies. It has turned into a type of unliterary work that gives Hollywood history a hernia.” “Reporters,” Page 287.

Large Image
Note also that Wolfe claims the late Slatzer as a friend.

Now this is the funny part:

“Robert Slatzer, a young man from Columbus, Ohio, who had traveled to Hollywood to become a screenwriter, often went to the Florentine Gardens and dated Ann Toth several times before becoming the boyfriend of another Hollywood wannabe, Norma Jeane Dougherty.”

Of course, this is absolutely absurd. Have you ever seen a picture of Robert Slatzer? I imagine Wolfe credits it to an interview with his conveniently dead friend.

Oh! This is better than I even imagined. Wolfe credits it as a joint interview with Slatzer and “Severed” author John Gilmore. Now I have trouble imagining those guys in the same room, but here’s the citation:

“Marilyn liked going to the Florentine Gardens and ….” int. Gilmore/Slatzer, 1989. int. Wolfe/Slatzer 2004.

Large ImageOf course, the unpublished draft of “Severed” in the Gilmore archives at UCLA uses Slatzer as the source for a story about a purported lesbian affair between—oh guess—Elizabeth Short and Marilyn Monroe. Apparently this was too much even for the publishers of “Severed.”

In fact, according to the district attorney’s files (recall that this book is titled “The Black Dahlia Files” rather than the more appropriate “Severed: 2006”) Ann Toth had a regular boyfriend named Leo Hymes and didn’t date at all.


“Slatzer remembered….” Boy, that’s a phrase almost as frightening as “Will Fowler recalls.”

Page 119

OK. Wolfe is talking about Ann Toth, one of Elizabeth Short’s roommates.

“According to Ann Toth, Elizabeth had been promised extra work in the movies and a role in NTG’s [Nils T. Granlund’s] next Florentine Gardens revue. It was inferred in the press that Elizabeth had become one of [Florentine Gardens business manager] Mark Hansen’s many girlfriends, but he adamantly denied to the police that he had ever been intimate with her. ‘She dated many different men while she was living here,’ Hansen said, ‘mostly hoodlums whom I wouldn’t even let in my house.’ ”

Large ImageThe quotes are fairly routine and lifted from the newspapers, rather than the district attorney’s files. But this stuff about Elizabeth Short being promised work in the Florentine Gardens revues is a new one on me. Let’s check the end notes. Nope, nothing. Figures.

Wolfe seems to be setting up poor old Maurice Clement as a mob torpedo and made man. Like all those mob guys were driving 10-year-old Fords as Wolfe implies:

“He drove an older model black Ford sedan. Beth called him ‘Maurice’ and he had promised to ‘setup’ [note to ReganBooks, the publishing house without proofreaders or fact-checkers, that is ‘set up’] Elizabeth in an apartment in Beverly Hills.’ Ann Toth had put a name to the mysterious ‘short, dark complexioned man’ who used to park in front of the Hawthorne and pay Beth’s rent—the mystery man who picked up Beth in his ‘old black Ford sedan’ and helped her move to Mark Hansen’s place on Carlos. Was it the same ‘1936 or 1937 black Ford sedan’ seen by Robert Meyer and the newsboy, Bobby Jones, as it remained parked for several minutes at the site where Elizabeth Short’s mutilated and bisected body was disposed of in the predawn hours of January 15, 1947? Apparently Det. Harry Hansen suspected that it was and that ‘Maurice’ may have been the connecting link between Elizabeth’s Hollywood acquaintances and the ‘sacred setting’

“Witnesses at the Chancellor and the Florentine Gardens were uncomfortable talking about Maurice or mentioning the mystery man’s name because he was a dangerous subject. Maurice was connected.”

Large ImagePage 120

“Maurice proved to be Maurice Clement, a minion of Bugsy Siegel and Mickey Cohen, who was a procurer for the Syndicate call-girl ring run by the notorious Hollywood Madam, Brenda Allen.”

Well this rambles on and on and I won’t quote more of it.

Gad, I wish Wolfe could make up his mind whether he’s going to call her Elizabeth or Beth. Note that he uses both names in the same paragraph.

Beth called him ‘Maurice’ and he had promised to ‘setup’ Elizabeth in an apartment in Beverly Hills.’


I don’t want to go back through all the nonsense about the “boy on the bicycle” from the crime scene because it covers 10 posts. That’s what the search feature is for and it’s very nice. From

And Maurice never helped Elizabeth Short move. I don’t know where Wolfe got that one. Of course, all she had were a couple of suitcases and a hatbox so it wasn’t all that much.

Rather than get into all of Wolfe’s mumbo-jumbo about dangerous little Maurice, the mob torpedo and wiseguy who was driving a 10-year-old Ford (the vehicle of choice for flamboyant gangsters, don’t you know) here’s what the district attorney’s office says about him:

(Oh, and I wouldn’t attach any significance to the order used in the list of suspects. Note that Mark Hansen is last and he was one of the more prominent candidates—although he, too, was exonerated).

Large ImageWolfe even reproduces it way back on Page 276:

“Maurice Clement, Apartment 107, at 1616 North Normandy [Normandie] was working at Columbia Studios at the time of the murder. His name appeared in this victim’s address book. He knew Short socially and is a likely type of character but has been partially eliminated by Los Angeles Police Department. See their reports.”

Nothing about him being connected to the mob. Nothing at all, in fact. Completely bogus.

In case you want to check, yes, the building is still there. It’s a two-story apartment house on the east side of the street just south of Hollywood Boulevard. It’s a very unassuming little building and not exactly what you’d expect for an elegant mobster pad.

I should mention something else just because it’s amusing. There’s a lot of claims about what was known on the Columbia lot about poor old Maurice and how he was such a prominent figure. Except that that the picture Wolfe publishes of him on Page 310…. Uh, that’s not him. That is an unlabeled photo in the district attorney’s files on Elizabeth Short. In the files on another case, however, the photo is labeled as Salvador Torres Vara. That’s No. 9 on the list of 22 suspects. (Except he’s “Vera” there, remember that these reports were dictated so many names are spelled phonetically).


Large ImageTime for my walk.

Shout out to:

Hastings, England (

Cyveillance (

Melrose, Mass., (

Hurry back!

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An Early Bodybuilder

In a 1907 article in the Los Angeles Times, Eugen Sandow offers this advice to women seeking to retain their youthful appearance, noting:

“At first I thought it might seem that for a woman to look only 25 years old when she has actually seen 40 summers was too good to be possible.

But among my own acquaintances there are many women of 40 who look no more than 25 and others of 50 who would certainly be ‘guessed’ at not more than 30 or 35.”

Sandow noted three factors in a woman’s appearance: diet, exercise and, yes, the corset.

He recommended these exercises:


Ready Position—Bend forward from the hips and hold the [dumb]bells down in front of the body.

Movement—Raise the bells slowly upward and outward, arms straight, until they are above the level of the back of the head. Pause, then slowly press them down to ready position.


Ready Position—Breathing exercise. Arms by side, hands in front of thighs, stand erect.

Movement—(1) Raise the arms slowly outward and upward until they meet above the head, expand the chest, inhaling through the nostrils all the time the arms are in motion. The face should look up, following the motion of the hands. Maintain this position for a moment, and then (2) bring the arms slowly down sideways and in front of the thighs, exhaling through the mouth to the utmost.


Ready Position—Stand erect, arms stretched well above head.

Movement—(1) Bend forward, making the hip joint the hinge of movement. Try to touch floor 12 inches in front of toes. (2) Stretch upward and to the rear, the hands leading. Inhale through the nostrils going up, exhaling going down.

(It’s unclear what size weights he recommended).

One final bit of advice, ladies:

“This exercise must, however, be scientific exercise, and not the rough and tumble pastimes indulged in by the other sex. Games, such as football, cricket, hockey are not—although I know many women will disagree with me—suitable for the gentler sex.

“Certainly, if a woman wishes to keep young and fair to look upon, she will not indulge in them. They may be healthy in a way—that is a moot point—but they have a distinctly coarsening effect upon both figure and complexion.”

And “motoring” is bad for your skin, ladies, so if you insist on going out in a machine take proper precautions or you’ll get “motorface.”

Sandow (born Friederich Wilhelm Mueller) died Oct. 16, 1925, in England.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Blogging the Wolfe Book, Request Line II

Large ImageI 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” and am taking requests for particular pages. Wolfe is using the “Laura” format in which the anonymous body is discovered and the narrative proceeds in flashbacks.

Yesterday, we looked at Pages 101-103, today it will be Pages 108-111.

As I continue on this project, I have speculated as to whether Wolfe ever considered the title “Severed: 2006” as it draws so heavily on John Gilmore’s book.

To the haz-mat pile of Dahlia books.

Page 108-111

Wolfe is continuing his portrayal of Elizabeth Short’s purported decline into the world of prostitution. This promises to be rather juicy. Entirely fiction, of course, but juicy.

“One of the Hollywood hopefuls who fell through the tinseltown trappings was the curvaceous blonde starlet, Barbara Payton, who became a prostitute on her way down the ladder of success—before literally dying in the gutter from a narcotics addition. Elizabeth Short met Barbara Payton through Lucille Varela at Al Green’s Nightlife Bar and Grill on McCadden. “Al Green” was Albert Louis Greenberg, a former bootlegger for Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky, who had a long rap-sheet and did odd-job robberies and rub-outs on the side for Bugsy.”

Large ImageJust “for fun” (fun being a relative term) let’s see the source on this—if indeed there is any.

Nope. No source whatsoever.

You’re not surprised are you?

Oh and then Wolfe recycles the old nonsense about Elizabeth Short and Franchot Tone from “Severed,” (I really think this book should be titled “Severed: 2006.” I can’t understand why John Gilmore calls this work “crap” when it relies so extensively on his book. Of course he also called it “destined to become a true-crime classic. A must read!”).

Page 109

“During her stay in Hollywood in 1944, Elizabeth frequented the Hollywood Canteen, where she danced with servicemen and met some of the movie star volunteers.”

Page 110

Well this is actually somewhat interesting. Sort of like catching a card sharp palming an ace.

Of course Wolfe knows none of this happened because he has quoted from “Movements of Elizabeth Short Prior to June 1, 1946,” in the Los Angeles County district attorney’s files, which says that Elizabeth Short was nowhere near Los Angeles in 1944 and 1945. Not being one to let the facts get in the way of some scandal, Wolfe buries that information and picks up the lies from “Severed” (25% mistakes, 50% fiction).

Large ImageAh, but for some reason he wants to graft back on to reality, saying that in 1945, Elizabeth Short returned to Medford. I don’t know why he bothers at this point, but he does.

Let’s quote the document again:

“In December, 1943, she was employed at the Rosedale Delicatessen, 1437 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, Fla., by Mr. Meyer Yedlin (22) as a waitress, and was living at the El Mar Hotel 220—21st St., Miami Beach. She was employed there a few months and went to work for Mammy’s Restaurant located at that time at 2038 Collins Ave., and was employed there during 1943 and up into 1944, working there until the latter part of 1944. She left there and visited her mother (1) in 1944. She returned later and lived at the El Mar Hotel with Mrs. Devaul (23) during the last part of 1944 and until the first part of 1945 but did not work. She was employed from Mar. 30, 1945 to Sept.1, 1945 at the St. Clairs, Inc., Boston Mass., Mr. Burk (25), Personnel Mgr.”

Page 111

Large Image“Following her seasonal travel pattern, Elizabeth returned to Miami and spent the winter at the Colonial Inn, an upscale hotel owned by Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky, which was known by the FBI to be a hoodlum-run gambling establishment. Police investigators found no record of Elizabeth’s employment during her stay at the Colonial Inn.”

The end notes, Holmes?

Absolutely, Watson. Shall we wager? “Severed?” Nobody?

I won’t bet with the likes of you, Holmes.

Hm. Wolfe attributes this material to the district attorney’s files, presumably the “Movements of Elizabeth Short Prior to June 1, 1946.” I suppose we are to take it on faith that the Colonial Inn was a mob joint since he doesn’t cite anyone for that little goodie.

Let’s check “Movements of Elizabeth Short,” shall we?

Holmes, you’re laughing! What is it?

Stop, tell me what it is!!!!


Watson, I swear, the man cannot read what is in front of him.

See for yourself.


Large Image“In the latter part of September 1945, she registered in the Colonial Inn, 2104 Riverside Ave., Jacksonville, Fla., Mrs. L.U. Burkett (24) Mgr. And stayed there until Jan. 9, 1946. During her stay there she received checks from her mother (1) and there is no work record of her in Jacksonville.”

Great Scott, Watson, calm down!

But Holmes, Jacksonville, Fla., is 354 miles from Miami Beach!


Oh, and for the record, Barbara Payton didn't "die in the gutter." In May 1967, her parents found Payton's body in the bathroom of their home at 1901 Titus St., in San Diego. She was survived by a son who was then serving in Vietnam. And she was 39.

Time for my walk.

Shout out to:

Large ImageBarcelona, Spain (

Portugal (

My homies in Germany (

University of Windsor, Canada ( Windows 98? Upgrade!


Regular visitor at Air Force Systems Command (

Regular visitor at Dark Horse Comics.

Hurry back!

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Blogging the Wolfe Book, Request Line

Large ImageI have stopped 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.

The two-minute executive summary:

As promised, I went through the Wolfe book page by page until I finished with Elizabeth Short’s funeral. As throughout the book, we have found any number of errors, fabrications and instances in which Wolfe cites a source and then contradicts it. For example, he states that Harriette Manley divorced Robert M. “Red” Manley (the last person known to have been seen with Elizabeth Short) a year after the murder.

In fact, as shown in the district attorney’s files (remember that this is called “The Black Dahlia Files”) they were not only still married in 1950, she was present when he was interviewed by Frank Jemison of the district attorney’s office.

Further, Wolfe ignores what’s in the district attorney’s files about Elizabeth Short’s mother, Phoebe, identifying the body, in favor of a maudlin scene from John Gilmore’s “Severed,” embellishing it so that instead of stoically containing her grief (as portrayed in the Examiner) Phoebe collapses, sobbing “She was a good girl! She was a good girl!,” prompting a pledge from Detective Harry Hansen that he would find the killer—alas, the district attorney’s files show that Harry Hansen wasn’t even there.

Large ImageOops.

My daily blog concludes with a quotation from Deuteronomy that was read at Elizabeth Short’s funeral.

Now the request line is open and I’m going to take them in order.

So far I have:

Pages 101-103 (Regular Anonymous Correspondent)

Pages 108-111 (Regular Anonymous Correspondent)

Page 119 Mary Pacios

Pages 121-122 Mary Pacios

Page 131 Mary Pacios

Page 167 Mary Pacios

Page 197-198 Mary Pacios

Pages 213-215 (Regular Anonymous Correspondent)

Page 218 Mary Pacios

Large ImagePages 219 (Regular Anonymous Correspondent)

Pages 226-227 (Regular Anonymous Correspondent)

Pages 239-258 (ColScott)

Page 277-281 Mary Pacios

Page 284 Mary Pacios

Pages 293-296 (Regular Anonymous Correspondent)

Page 296 Mary Pacios

Page 311 Mary Pacios

Pages 345-357 (Regular Anonymous Correspondent)

So let’s start with Page 101

The title of this chapter is “By a Person or…”

Wolfe is dealing with the “lost week” between the time Elizabeth Short was left at the Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles and when her body was found Jan. 15, 1947.

“Detectives [Harry] Hansen and [Finis] Brown concluded there was no viable identification of her whereabouts during that missing week, and they deduced that she had been abducted and held captive at a secluded location until the murder and subsequent transportation of the body.”

That’s probably somewhat true. At least none of the many purported sightings were ever conclusively verified. I’m not sure Hansen and Brown (and recall that Wolfe has grossly reduced the number of detectives working the case to the two lead investigators) ever decided that she had been abducted but that is one possible scenario. Not the only one, but it certainly is an option.

Large ImageHm. I don’t recognize this quote:

“No matter how questionable each lead appeared on the surface,” Finis Brown stated, “we had to track it down, and in this case, each lead seemed to open into something else, and it went on and on, and none of them were giving a clue to the missing week, or to the murder itself.”

OK, now this could have come from Brown’s lengthy statement in the district attorney’s files (and recall this is titled “The Black Dahlia Files”) or it could be from “Severed.” Brown was occasionally quoted in the newspapers, but not frequently.

I’ll guess “Severed.”

Holmes! Why are you never wrong?

Because I’m an author’s creation, Watson. As are you.

But let’s check Wolfe’s homework, shall we? “Severed,” Page 150.

(Isn’t it amazing that this book draws so much from “Severed” and so little from the original sources? I wonder if Wolfe ever considered calling this book “Severed 2006” or something).

Large ImageUh-oh. Let’s check that again.

Chapter 7, Page 101. “No matter how questionable each lead…” Gilmore, Severed, P. 150

Actually, Page 150 of “Severed” has nothing to do with any of this. But it is one of my favorite, favorite, FAVORITE pages. Why?

Because it’s about one of the invented characters, cleverly named “Martin Lewis.” Gilmore’s claim is that police found Lewis’ business card in the Elizabeth Short items mailed to the Examiner. Of course, nobody knew then exactly what was in the envelope, so it was a safe claim. The district attorney’s files, however, give an exhaustively detailed inventory. And guess what. No business card from Martin Lewis or anybody else running a shoe store in Hollywood.

But this is my favorite part:

“… if it had not been for a good friend with the Hollywood Citizen-News who was very close with the Hollywood chief of police, they may have continued to badger me.”

Large ImageLet me run that quote again:

“very close with the Hollywood chief of police”

Now think. Where is Hollywood?

Los Angeles.

Is it part of the city of Los Angeles?


Then isn’t it under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Police Department?


And then Hollywood wouldn’t have its own police chief—would it?

Uh. Nope.

Wouldn’t you expect a crime author whose father was a Los Angeles police officer to know an elementary fact like that?

Objection! That calls for a conclusion on the part of the witness!

OK. That’s a totally blind lead. I don’t know where Wolfe got the quote and I’m not going to dig through “Severed” looking for it.

Large ImageOhhh. “Investigators learned….” This is almost as scary as “Will Fowler remembers,” perhaps the three most frightening words in the English language.

“Investigators learned that prior to Elizabeth Short’s return to Los Angeles on January 9, 1947, with Red Manley, she had been a resident of Los Angeles on three separate occasions. Her brief initial visit with Cleo and Mrs. Yanke in January 1943 ended when she traveled to Camp Cooke. She was later arrested in Santa Barbara and sent back to her mother’s home in Medford.”

Now this is sort of true. Except Mrs. Yanke wasn’t there.

Ahhh. Then it’s a straight lift from the “Movements of Elizabeth Short” in the district attorney’s files. I don’t know about Finis Brown’s role in it, but this is more or less her location. Don’t know about the “Victory Canteen” either. That sounds suspicious.

But let’s press on.

“In letters to her family, Elizabeth said she was also ‘modeling’ for a Miami man named ‘Duffy’ Sawyer.”

Large ImageOh? This sounds like one of the bogus people in “Severed.” Sawyer isn’t in any of the official sources. This has to be from “Severed” if it’s from anywhere. Let’s see.

Hm. Not attributed anywhere or to anyone.

Really nice work by ReganBooks, the publishing house without proofreaders or fact-checkers.

Here we have something really juicy for a true researcher.

“Elizabeth traveled to Los Angeles for the second time in August of 1944. She stayed briefly at the Clinton Hotel in downtown Los Angeles at Eighth and Broadway, where she shared a room with a slim, dark-haired girl named Lucille Varela.”

Now this is completely false and Wolfe knows it. How does he know? Because he had access to “Movements of Elizabeth Short Prior to June 1, 1946.”

And what does it say? She stayed at the Clinton Hotel? She knew Lucille Varela?

Try this:

“In December, 1943, she was employed at the Rosedale Delicatessen, 1437 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, Fla., by Mr. Meyer Yedlin (22) as a waitress, and was living at the El Mar Hotel 220—21st St., Miami Beach. She was employed there a few months and went to work for Mammy’s Restaurant located at that time at 2038 Collins Ave., and was employed there during 1943 and up into 1944, working there until the latter part of 1944. She left there and visited her mother (1) in 1944. She returned later and lived at the El Mar Hotel with Mrs. Devaul (23) during the last part of 1944 and until the first part of 1945 but did not work. She was employed from Mar. 30, 1945 to Sept.1, 1945 at the St. Clairs, Inc., Boston Mass., Mr. Burk (25), Personnel Mgr.”

Large ImageSo where does all this mumbo-jumbo about the Clinton Hotel come from?

From “Severed” Pages 34-35!

How wonderfully funny. Gilmore makes up the Clinton Hotel “on Broadway” (“Severed” Page 34) while Wolfe locates it more precisely at Broadway and 8th.

Um. Now not everybody has a 1944 Los Angeles Yellow Pages lying around the house. But I do. (Thank you, ebay).

How much do you want to bet there’s no Clinton Hotel listed?


Looks like Elizabeth Short would have had no place to stay even if she were in Los Angeles in 1944, which she wasn’t.

So all this stuff up to Page 103 about Elizabeth Short being a B-girl with Lucille Varela in 1944 (lifted from “Severed”) is made up.

I know this goes down hard for all the fans of “Severed,” but the book is 25% mistakes and 50% fiction.

Large Image

That’s it for today.

Shout out to:

France (

Livonia, Mich. (

Belgium (

West Virginia Network For Educational Telecomputing (

Regular visitor in Kerkira, Greece ( Looks like a nice spot, judging by Google.

Hurry back!

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