David Bacon was a Boston Brahmin who was born to great wealth in Barnstable, Massachusetts. His family, on both sides, were prominent and politically active. In 1845, Daniel Bacon, a retired China trade captain from Barnstable Massachusetts bought land on Prince Street in Jamaica Plain, Boston, from John Prince and built the family estate there in 1846. Bacon retained John Prince's name for the place, Spring Hill Farm, from an underground feeder of Jamaica Pond on the property. Bacon built his mansion just below the crest of Spring Hill. The entire landed estate was granted to Hellenic College in 1946)
Daniel Bacon’s grandson, Robert, was born on Spring Hill Farm, graduated with Teddy Roosevelt from Harvard and was recruited by J. P. Morgan. He quickly became Morgan’s junior partner and administrative head of the House of Morgan in 1899. He retired in 1903 and devoted himself to his own affairs in Boston, sitting on the boards of prominent railroads and businesses, including US Steel, Edison Electric and National City Bank.
He was appointed Assistant Secretary of State to Secretaries Root and Taft and became Secretary himself when Taft became President and later became his ambassador to France. With the outbreak of World War I and managed the American Field Ambulance Service in France and later as aide-de-camp to General Pershing.
His second son Gaspar served as President of the Massachusetts Senate (1929-32) and as Lieutenant Governor under Democratic Governor J. B. Ely although Bacon was a progressive Republican. An intellectual, whose writings were widely read he went up against Jim Curley in the 1934 and Curley and his ticket swept into office. He retired from politics and taught international relations at Boston University, and practiced law. Between all of that, he married Priscilla Toland of Philadelphia in 1910 and had three sons: William Benjamin, Robert, and David. (who was born Gaspar Griswold Jr.)
David Bacon had been privately tutored at home, then had attended Groton from 1926-'29. In his third year he had failed in five subjects out of seven, with the result that the headmaster, the legendary Dr. Endicott Peabody, recommended Bacon leave Groton for the less academically rigorous Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts where he came onto his own.
Like his great grandfather, grandfather and father, he entered Harvard (His father was on the board at the time) and lived at the Freshman Dormitories. At best, he was an average student but exiled as an actor in the Hasty Pudding Club. He told friends that he intended going on stage as soon as he finished school.
Bacon’s family summered at Woods Hole on the Cape, where became involved with the local stage company and was bitten by the acting bug. In the Summer of 1937, he went to Hawaii for a vacation, and upon his return moved to Manhattan to pursue his acting career. He also considered writing as a career. Between looking for acting gigs and writing scripts, he travelled to Europe where he met Adolf Hitler in Munich.
Back in New York, he landed a job as a master of ceremonies in a silent movie theatre. It wasn’t acting, but it was close. (It was about this time that Bacon changed his name from Gaspar Griswold Bacon, Jr., to simply David Bacon.)
The rumor was that he hooked up with an older British patron. It was at that point that Bacon took to wearing expensive and flashy jewelry and clothes which started speculation that he was a kept man or a professional a gigolo. It was more likely that, once away from the restraints of Boston society and his family, that Bacon was embracing the gay life, which he kept a secret until his dying day.
During those years he learned to fly, worked as a commercial flyer in Hyannis, Mass. and became an Army Airforce Cadet at Randolph Field in Texas. (Where he either washed out of the program or left due to health issues.)
Not having any success as an actor in New York, Bacon made his way to LA where he was by Howard Hughes, as a bit player. An unfounded and highly dubious story made the rounds that Bacon and Hughes were sexually involved when Hughes signed Bacon to the contract. According to the journalist Darwin Porter, Greta Keller, Bacon’s wife, bacon was preparing to write a tell-all book about the gay life Hollywood and his relationship with the enigmatic Hughes, so Hughes had him killed. Actually, Hughes agents signed Bacon, probably to help Hughes Aircraft’s sales in Washington where the Bacon family had pull. Hughes and Bacon probably never met each other.
Hughes thought that Bacon would be perfect for the role of Billy the Kid in his big-budget film, The Outlaw. But Bacon’s screen tests for the part were awful. Hughes soon lost interest in Bacon but the young actor did land a few small roles ("Ten Gentlemen from West Point," "Crash Dive," "Girls, Inc.," "Someone to Remember," which was gave him a slightly bigger and better part)
Casting directors loved him for the "a high-class gentlemen” roles. The parts were slow in coming and he went through three high profile agents while waited; Harpo Marx, the William Morris Agency and Sue Carol (Mrs. Alan Ladd) Perhaps they found him hard to place because Bacon had a past that was known around Hollywood.
On Sept. 9, 1939, bacon made a play for a 15-year-old newspaper boy named Curtis Larsen of Venice. The child had come to Bacon’s house to collect for the paper when Bacon had opened the door dressed only in the top part of his pajamas. "He invited me upstairs to see his paintings," the complainant read. "He said he was an artist” Once upstairs Bacon propositioned the boy, “I told him my uncle was waiting for me and he stopped acting that way at once and asked me if I couldn't come back later in the day."
Bacon admitted the charge and told the police he did not know why he acted that way. He was given a suspended sentence for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and was told that it would stay suspended if he left California and remained away for at least three years. He left Los Angeles but went only as far as Santa Barbara and returned to LA a few months later.
During the filming of Ten Gentlemen from West Point, Bacon became close to his co-star in the picture Laird Cregar. Like Bacon, Cregar was born into the upper class but in Philadelphia and like Bacon, he was said to be “haunted by his homosexuality”
“I met David Bacon, a dear, dear friend.” Cregar later said “We made Ten Gentlemen from West Point together. He had a small role, bless him, but that was David’s career. Howard Hughes had wanted him for something, but it didn’t work out and then he kept him under contract. Bit parts here and there. He looked up to me I think. And I became very fond of him. His career was looking up – he had been starring in the serial The Masked Marvel – when he was stabbed to death.”
Six months after bacon was killed Fox announced plans to cast Cregar in the starring role in The Lodger. To fit the part Cregar began crash dieting to lose weight. The diet included the liberal use of prescribed amphetamines which placed a strain on his system, resulting in severe abdominal problems. A few days after surgery, Cregar had a heart attack and died on December 9, 1944.
He finally landed a great part in "The Masked Marvel" at Republican pictures which looked like his road to fame and success. The film was a very popular 12 chapter serial from Republic. In the series, the hero dressed in a business suit and a face mask fights the Japanese saboteur Sakima, however, the hero’s name wouldn’t be released until the end of the series.
At around that same time, Bacon, met and married an Austrian born Cabaret singer, Greta Keller. Greta was the daughter of a Viennese industrialist who lost his fortune when she was a child. She began her career as an actress with the Vienna Volkstheater and by 1928 was a star in the Vienna production of George Abbott's “Broadway.”
During that run, she became a close friend of Marlene Dietrich, who was a member of the chorus. It was Greta’s sexy stage performance which was said to have inspired Marlene Dietrich in style and voice.
From 1929 through 1936 she performed on radio and made a few German films however she came to the United States in 1937 when she was unable to provide proof to the Nazi Party that she was from Aryan stock.
She had her own show at the Algonquin hotel.
“The Algonquin supper club was jammed every night, but Frank Case said some patrons complained about my singing in German, even though we weren’t in the war then. Since Case was paying me only $100 a week, I said the hell with it and took off for Rio de Janeiro, where I was paid $200 a week at the Copa-cabana Palace. Rio was full of Nazis and they were constantly in the club. I might have done a good job spying for the Allies and I did actually offer my services to the State Department but got no response. Perhaps just as well; I might not be alive now to tell it. One high Nazi offered me the sun, moon, and stars if I would return to Europe and do propaganda for them. He said he could get me an "honorary Humanitarian passport. I told him to go to hell, that I was an American citizen and detested what the Nazis were doing.”
She returned to the states and sang extensively on radio, appearing on “The Ponds Hour” and, with her first husband, John Sargent, dancer/ musician, she sang as a member of the Personality Trio. (Greta divorced Sargent, an alcoholic, in 1940)
“In 1941,” she said, “I went to Hollywood.” Greta said “After Pearl Harbor, I helped organize a group of former Viennese actors, including Peter Lorre. Francis Lederer and Lillian Harvey, to do USO work and sell government bonds.''
Supposedly, Greta was as much a closet lesbian as Bacon was a closet homosexual. Although the evidence doesn’t support the assumption. Greta and Bacon were likely both bisexual and the marriage, although seemingly open, was, by all accounts seemed genuine for the most part, and not the sham the gossips said it was.
Prior to her surprise marriage to Bacon, she was engaged to a dubious Hungarian Count named Theodore Zichy. Zichy, who was an actor, photographer, film director and producer committed suicide in London in December 1987.
Bacon and Greta married in 1942, she was a full decade older than him, bought a home called Castle Hill, built in 1929 in a castle motif at 8444 Magnolia Drive on Lookout Mountain in Hollywood, an exclusive area above Laurel Canyon and were expecting their first child in 1943. (Greta was 40 years old at the time, David was 29)
Supposedly, according to newspapers of the day, the couple’s home boasted a swimming pool on the second floor with every window commanding a magnificent panoramic view of the city. The music room contained David’s collection of Greta’s recording. Otherwise, the couple weren’t known to intermingle much with the Hollywood crowd and preferred to entertain at home. Greta was an outstanding cook. “If I weren't a singer I probably would be a cook” Greta said “and sometimes I wish I were. I could not bother about making records. Robert Montgomery once ate nine of my wiener schnitzels at one sitting. The languages I cook in? Well, Viennese German, of course; French, Italian, Romanian. Russian, Swedish Hungarian, Czech, Russian, Dutch East Indian, Brazilian, Chinese, Swiss and American. The word keller means cellar, (In German) and sometime I hope to have a supper club of my own and call it 'Greta's Keller where I can sing and also supervise the cooking."
Bacon and Keller’s home has an interesting history. Legend says that Castle Hill’s first owner, Castle Hill was one of the first homes built in Laurel Canyon, that the owner would fly his biplane over the house and toss tomatoes at any craftsman who was goofing off while the house was being built. One day while tossing tomatoes, he lost control of the plane and crashed into the nearly competed house.
After Bacon’s death, the home was purchased by an actress named Madge Meredith and her business manager, Nick Gianaclis. (Who sidelined as a restaurant supply salesman) Madge had been, in 1944, working behind the cash register at the 20th Century-Fox commissary when she discovered and placed into her first film. For the next two years, her career skyrocketed, she was a fresh new talent going places.
The pair went their separate ways, largely because Gianaclis, who was married, wanted the relationship to become romantic and Meredith didn’t, Meredith sued in court for possession of the house, which, she argued had been purchased with her money.
“I fell in love with the house, but was $5,000 short on the purchase price,” she told the court “I called on several of my friends for aid and finally Nick said he would put up $5,000 to complete the transaction. I took out two life insurance policies to protect Nick’s investment.”
Actually, Gianaclis had conned her because by signing the deed to the house—not a mortgage—he was a part owner in the property. The court agreed and the title was given to her.
On July 2, 1947, Gianaclis, a Greek, filed a complaint in which he charged that he and his bodyguard, a charter named Verne Davis, had been kidnapped, beaten, and taken to Lopez Canyon where they had managed to escape by sneaking up on one of their kidnappers and taking his weapon, drove to a nearby house and phoned the police. In his statement, Gianaclis said “About 9 a.m. Monday, Davis (a policeman) and I were on the way to work. When we reached the bottom of the hill at Laurel Canyon Road, we met (Madge Meredith) driving a new maroon convertible. She motioned to us to turn around and follow her up the hill to the house. (8444 Magnolia Drive) So we did.”
He added that at about t 200 yards from the house, Madge turned her car to block the road. Gianaclis said that when he stopped, a third car drove up behind him.
“There they are! Go get them!” Nick quoted Madge as saying. Gianaclis said that three men got out of the car to the rear, , and while two of them covered the victims with guns, the third beat them with a blackjack.
“We were ordered into the rear of the car,” Gianaclis said, “while we were being driven about for more than an hour, we were struck from time to time–just about every time we moved. When we finally stopped in a hilly area, the man called Jim taped our eyes. Then they made us crawl over some rocks and through heavy brush. They left a guard to watch us.”
A warrant was issued for Madge’s arrest.
Madge’s version of the events were very different and probably all true. She said Gianaclis had threatened her many times about the ownership of the house and on the day of the supposed kidnapping he had arranged a meeting in the Hollywood Hills to discuss the property rights. Madge said she was on the way to the meeting and as she drove down the very narrow and steep road from the house, she noticed Gianaclis was following her. He eventually forced her off the road and threatened her with a length of pipe. From there Gianaclis probably panicked and made up the kidnapping story.
On December 12, 1947, after a four-week trial, the jury found Meredith and two co-defendants guilty of five felony charges and was sentenced to five years in prison. A motion for a new trial was denied. Worse, her conviction was upheld by both the District Court of Appeal and the State Supreme Court. On May 9, 1949, Meredith entered the California Correctional Institution at Tehachapi, California, to begin serving her sentence.
Herbert Schofield a 71-year-old retired banker, and Charles E. Wilson, a 68-year-old real estate broker, had watched the case and decided something wasn’t right. They didn’t know Madge Meredith but decided to investigate the case on their own. They interviewed witnesses, tracked down leads and were able to prove the entire case was a setup.
Two years later, in March 1951, the California Adult Authority's parole board recommended that Meredith be released from prison after it decided that she had been unjustly convicted. An interim committee on crime and corrections of the California State Assembly issued a report saying, "The case of Miss Meredith, from beginning to end, is a mockery of investigation, of defense counseling, of trial procedure, and of justice itself."
Governor Earl Warren ordered Meredith's released saying "This is a bizarre case, perhaps more fantastic than any moving picture in which the defendant acted—but certainly having many of the attributes of a scenario."
In 1953, the federal government rejected Gianaclis petition for citizenship based on grounds of moral turpitude.
Before all that, shortly after 5 PM on September 12, 1943, a Sunday, the same day that Nazi commando rescued Benito Mussolini from his mountain top prison at the Campo Imperiale Hotel in the Abruzzi Mountains, David Bacon’s series as the Masked Marvel had wrapped, Bacon told his wife that he was going out for a swim.
"I wanted to go with him” she said “but after consulting physician by telephone it was decided it would be better for me to stay home. David said he didn't want to go without me, and I began to write come letters in bed. I dropped off to sleep and when I awakened he was gone. But he didn't take the dogs with him," she added. "He always took our three cocker spaniels with him when he ass actually going swimming”
She never saw him alive again.
It was about two in the afternoon. Bacon didn’t take his three dogs with him which he usually did when he went swimming. Bacon had mentioned that he was planning on dropping by the Santa Monica home of Geraldine Spreckels before going to the beach, Gretta was close to Geraldine Spreckels who had been married to Adolph Bernard Spreckels, heir to the Spreckels sugar fortune.
Claus Spreckels amassed a fortune by ruthlessly dominating Hawaii’s sugar trade. Born in Germany in 1828, he emigrated to the U.S. as a penniless teenager but by the 1860s, he had amassed his fortune from the Hawaiian sugar trade. He controlled a chain of plantations on the islands, he created a company town, Spreckelsville, for his Maui workers. He owned a fleet of steamers brought Hawaiian sugar to the West Coast, while his railroads in California supported his sugar beet farms in the Central Valley.
In 1884, after the San Francisco Chronicle accused the family’s company with defrauding investors, his son, Adolph Jr. stormed into the newsroom and fired several shots at the papers publisher, M.H. de Young. A clerk fired back and when it was over de Young was wounded twice while Adolph was grazed by a bullet. At trial, Adolph pleaded temporary insanity and was acquitted. To ensure that the family name was safe from the truth in the future, Adolph’s brother John bought a rival newspaper, the San Francisco Call.
The family fortune was worth about $5 billion in today’s money. At one time, the Spreckels owned almost all of downtown San Diego and all of Coronado island.
Bernard and Geraldine’s son was Bunker Spreckels (born Adolph Bernard Spreckels III) an early pioneer of a surfboard design which some people believe eventually led to the creation of the fish style of board. Bunker’s mother was remarried Clark Gable. Bunker inherited the Spreckels sugar fortune at age 21. Overwhelmed by the inheritance he developed an expensive drug habit and died of a morphine overdose in 1977 at age 27.
Some reports were that Bacon had been seen driving around the general area of the beach with another man just before the murder. The man was described as having black hair and a dark complexion who was wearing a dark suit. Another witness claimed he saw both a man and woman in the vehicle alongside Bacon on two separate occasions. The witnesses stories checked out and detectives four locals who said they recognized Bacon as someone who often frequented a certain stretch of Venice Beach, either alone or with his dogs. However, Gretta said she never knew her husband to frequent Venice beach, that he never mentioned the beach.
About three hours after leaving his house, David Bacon, dressed in only a white bathing suite, sped his maroon British-made sports car down Washington Avenue near Thatcher Avenue in what was then a sparsely settled area of Venice.
The car swerved off the road, missing a telephone pole by inches and screeched to a halt in a bean field. Bacon pulled himself from the car holding his right hand over a bloody knife wound in his upper left chest. His upper body was covered in blood. However, as much blood as there was, most of the bleeding had been internal.
He staggered a few feet from the car, stopped for a moment and then fell face first to the ground. It was one of those weird coincidences that the bean field where he died was very close to the rented house he lived in when he propositioned the newspaper boy.
Passersby rushed to the scene. An attendant from nearby gas station ran to help. When he Bacon, the actor looked up at the attendant and said, “Please help me, please help me" and then he died.
A patrol car arrived, and it assumed Bacon had died as a result of a car accident of some sort since there was no blood outside the car. The interior, however, was smeared in fresh blood. Whatever happened to him, happened inside car. There did not appear to be any signs of a struggle.
Medical Examiner Frank R. Webb arrived on the scene, found a single blow from a knife into Bacon’s back pierced his lung (Some reports say it pierced his heart but that doesn’t seem to be true) At most, bacon would have survived 20 minutes with that sort of wound but Dr. Webb had originally said that Bacon would have bled to death within a five minutes after receiving a wound of that type, meaning, according to Dr. Webb, that the killer had bee in the car shortly before it crashed. However, after the autopsy, Dr. Webb said that a man with a wound like Bacon's "might live for 20 minutes."
The question was, if Bacon had been stabbed and then bled for between 15 and twenty minutes before he collapsed in the bean field, why didn’t seek help right after he had been stabbed? He passed dozens of homes, people and business as he drove from the beach. If he had stopped to get help, he could have saved his own life.
The autopsy also determined that the weapon was a stiletto, with a six-inch blade but there was no knife found in the car. Detectives were doubtful about the blade size. A six-inch blade would require at least a five to six-inch handle, meaning the knife length would have been one foot long, a difficult instrument to handle in such a small car occupied by two full grown adults.
The stabbing probably took place at the beach and was done by someone sitting in the car beside Bacon, and based on the angle of the wound, a left-handed person. But adding to the mystery was the fact that only Bacon’s fingerprints were found inside and outside the car.
The murderer was either an acquaintance or hitchhiker who struck without warning as Bacon leaned forward and down in the car. If it was a hitchhiker, robbery wasn’t motive since bacon was still wearing two valuable rings and his wallet, containing $13, was untouched. Perhaps Bacon made a sexual advance on the killer who then stabbed the actor. Or maybe it was a lover’s quarrel.
The white denim swim trunks were dry, and particles of sand were found in the seams and cuffs, which indicated that Bacon had sat in the sand at the beach. Bacon’s bathrobe was found in his car, but no knife hole in the back of the garment, so he wasn’t wearing it when stabbed. Also, a navy blue sweater was found near the scene.
The gas station attendant had taken it from the back seat of Bacon’s car and had placed it under the actors head. The sweater was too small to have belonged to David Bacon and whoever owned it was approximately 5′8″ and 140 lbs. Several strands of blonde hair were later found on the garment. While examining the sweater in the police laboratory, detectives found three small feathers, perhaps from a duck or other waterfowl, on the sweater which led the police to assume the owner of the sweater worked in a poultry market or on a farm. (Bacon stood 6-foot-2 and had brown-hair)
A baseless rumor started that the cops also found a camera in Bacon’s car with a single photo taken. When the film was developed, the photo was of a naked Bacon on the beach.
What the Police did find was a key in Bacon’s wallet, tried it on his home and discovered it didn’t fit any of the doors there. They tracked down the key maker which led them to a studio apartment at 8481 Kirkwood Avenue, where the key fit the front door. Bacon was renting from Dr. Charles Hendricks, who lived nearby.
Bacon had taken the lease, which was in Laurel Canyon located less than ten minutes away from his own home, on Aug. 31, 1943. (The cottage was at the bottom of the hill from Bacon’s home) It was a small place with a tiny parlor, kitchen, bath and bedroom. According to Greta, Bacon was renting it for a gardener he was hiring to do work at their house. The police didn’t buy that story since there was a large trailer on their property which would have been adequate living quarters for a hired hand.
Dr. Hendricks, a retired physician and the landlord, couldn’t add much to the mystery expect to say that one afternoon he was scheduled to meet Bacon at the house to collect the rent ($20 a month) and when he arrived, he found Bacon there with a man whom he wasn’t introduced to. He noted that the man appeared to be very angry and never spoke while Hendricks was there. “The friend was rather red in the face” the Doctor said, “and I gathered that they had been quarreling before I came in, though Bacon himself was quite calm. All the time I was there he never spoke a word, nor did Mr. Bacon introduced me to him. Mr. Bacon did not have the rent money but said he would put it in my mailbox Saturday, which he did.”
That man turned out to be a deserter from the US Navy named Glenn Erwin Shaum, age 20. Police found Shaum’s phone number in Bacon’s wallet which led them to 1734 Van Ness Avenue, an apartment rented by Shaum’s wife. Shaum was a prime suspect for weeks because the blue sweater found in Bacon's car could easily have fitted him, and because he was left-handed
When the FBI arrested Shaum he said that he answered a newspaper ad for a grounds man since it came with living quarters which he needed because he was living with his wife and it would be just a matter of time before the authorities found him there. Shaum was cleared by police after it was confirmed that he had been with his wife the day David Bacon was murdered.
A search of the rented home turned up scant material except food in the kitchen, three women’s purses, towels, linens, a booklet titled Facts of Life and two books, Noel Coward’s To Step Aside, and Delilah by Marcus Goodrich. On the inside flaps, the cops found a name Wilfred V. Buckland Jr. When police found Buckland, he said that he had loaned the books to a friend named Harry Frazee who had stayed briefly in the cottage while in Los Angeles.(Buckland also owned the expensive dish set found in the house as well as the linen towel sets)
Buckland turned out to have his own strange story. He was the son of Wilfred Buckland, movie pioneer. Buckland worked with Cecil B. DeMille and Jesse Lasky a Hollywood’s first art director. He introduced a number of advancements in filmmaking, including the advances in lighting techniques, the development of architectural sets, and the use of miniature sets. In 1924, he was named one of the ten individuals who had contributed the most to the advancement of the motion picture industry since the time of its inception. A 1980 exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum advanced the argument that "everything we know as 'Hollywood' traces to Wilfred Buckland. He was among the first inductees in the Art Directors Guild Hall of Fame.
Wilfred Buckland, Jr., suffered a mental breakdown and was hospitalized at the Camarillo State Mental Hospital for a year after his mother, the actress Veda (McEvers) Buckland, died in 1941. It was Buckland’s second long term stay at the asylum.
Wilfred Buckland was a collector of ancient firearms. In 1916, one newspaper wrote that Buckland was "known as the greatest collector and authority on ancient firearms in the country," and his collection was said to be "the most complete in the world, not barring that of the British Museum."
On July 18, 1946, Buckland, then 80, in his home at 2035 Pinehurst Avenue in the Hollywood Heights, took a Mauser automatic pistol and shot his son to death while he was sleeping and then turned the pistol on himself, ending his own life. Both were shot in the head.
Wilfred Buckland left a note that explained he was dying and feared leaving his son alone in the world The note found by police read: "My only relative is my brother-in-law, Frank L. Crawford, Summit, N. J. To my dear Elizabeth Waggoner I am leaving our furniture and I am leaving William DeMille our personal property. I have told him how to find our valuables. I am also leaving for him a check to cover expenses. The studio owes me money. 1 am making him mv executor. Billy s Ford is rt L the Ford repair garage on Cahuenga near the boulevard. Goodbye. I am taking Billy with me."
William DeMille was the brother of movie producer Cecil B. DeMille, as his executor.
The police tracked Harry Frazee to a seedy apartment at 6314 Sunset Blvd. Frazee said he was a New York radio producer that he responded to an ad Bacon placed in the newspaper for a gardener and that he and Bacon struck a deal in which he could live at the apartment in return for several hours work per day.
However, he moved out after four days because he claimed, "I was between jobs and thought it would be a grand way to rest up and also find a nice spot to live," Frazee told the officers. "But after four days I obtained a position with an aircraft company with, a radio future, and took it. Then the O.W.I, offered me this other position. I moved out without notice”
Frazee was an oddball, the rent on the cottage was unexplainable and then there was the strangeness of the diary.
Two nights before he was killed, Friday, David’s aunt, Mrs. Virginia Toland, prominent in the national Republican Party, paid a visit to the couple. The actress Mary Pickford attended the dinner that night. David told Greta he wanted to impress his aunt with his success and sold his Cadillac for a Rolls Royce and the Austin Martin.
Police had no suspects. Charles While, a 23-year-old from Santa Monica confessed to the murder….twice….in drunken chatter in barrooms but upon questioning he knew virtually nothing about the facts of the case and was discounted.
A young hustler named Blakely C. Patterson a 22-year-old hospital orderly from Hibbing, Minn. Came forward and told police he had inside information on the murder. Patterson hoodwinked two newspaper reporters into paying him for supposed exclusive details of his relationship with Bacon. Patterson swore that he and Bacon were constant companions after they had met by chance at the beach in Santa Monica. He also said that on the day Bacon was murdered that Bacon told him that he was being blackmailed, but, according to the newspaper, wouldn’t explain what he was being blackmailed about. Patterson changed his story the next day and then finally admitted that he had made the entire thing up. Twenty years later, in December of 1963, the FBI arrested Patterson on grand theft and forgery fugitive charges. The FBI said Patterson took out a $12,000 loan from a savings association in Lakewood, Cal., by forging the application.
Off the record the police had a theory that Bacon was stabbed at a bath house between Venice and Santa Monica that was frequented by male prostitutes who worked night at an outcall service. The stabbing could have taken place there, detectives guessed during some sort of altercation. Trying to avoid publicity after being wounded in the bathhouse, he made a frantic attempt to drive in land to find a doctor.
Three months before his was murdered, on June 14, 1943, Bacon, who certainly knew how to manger and control great wealth, wrote out his will with a pencil on onion skin paper, of all things, leaving his estate and inheritance to Greta. The estate was estimated to be about $100,000 (Roughly about $1,400,000 today)
The will read "I, David G. G. Bacon, sometimes known as Gasper G. Bacon Jr., being of sound mind, hereby make my last will and testament. "All that I have in worldly goods I leave my wife, Greta Keller Bacon. This includes my holdings with J. P. Morgan & Co., Inc., N. Y. C; Guaranty Trust Co., N. Y. C; any savings with the Seamen's Institute, Boston; First National Bank of Boston; any cash with the Bank of America; real estate in my name; also the little house in Woods Hole Mass. whether or not it's in my name."
Bacon's body was shipped to Massachusetts for burial. David Bacon’s father died on Christmas Day, December 25, 1947 in Dedham, Massachusetts. He is buried next to his son in Walnut Hills Cemetery in Brookline, Massachusetts.
The case has never been solved. The police files on the, depending on who tells the story, have either been destroyed or gone missing.
After David Bacon left for the beach, and after her nap, Gretta attended a cocktail party and returned home. The police phoned to tell her that David was dead. When Greta heard that Bacon was dead, she collapsed.
Greta’s first visitors was Pola Negri, actress-friend of the couple. Negri was one of the more interesting actors to come out of Hollywood. In the early 1940s, she became close friends with Margaret West, an oil heiress and vaudeville actress whom she had originally met in the 1930s. The two became housemates, sharing a beachfront home in Los Angeles with Negri's then-88-year-old mother, and later in Bel Air. Negri was also questioned about the murder.
When she recovered, Gretta told the police that Bacon kept a diary written in code. She said she wasn’t allowed to read it and didn’t know where he kept it and the police searched the house for days before calling off the search. Investigators learned that the Cadillac Bacon had recently sold had been vandalized about three weeks before the murder. A convertible coupe with a canvas top, the roof had been slashed with a knife. Bacon told his wife that it happened in the studio parking lot while he was at work.
Within a few hours of the murder, Bacon’s cousin, Lieut. Ben K. Toland of the United States Marine Corps, stationed at Camp Pendleton, took over affairs at the house under the command of David’s brother David, a physician. On September 20, Gretta Bacon was hospitalized, and her baby was stillborn. Dr. Bacon told the press that the infant had been conceived outside the uterus and that it never had" a chance to be born normally.
It took some time for her to recover from the events of 1943. “After the tragic death of my husband, David Bacon” she said in an interview “I returned east and started broadcasting for the OWI and OSS, beaming messages in German to the German people. In retaliation for this, my mother, her sister and two brothers were imprisoned by the Nazis in Vienna. My mother was eventually released to have an operation on her eyes, but the others were kept in jail until the Allies liberated Vienna. I then learned from former Austrian journalist who was working with the Canadian secret service that the Nazis were beaming messages to the British, troops in Africa, -using my English recordings and claiming I was actually broadcasting them. In 1947, I returned to Vienna for the first time since 1931 and started broadcasting for the Armed Forces Network and have, returned every summer since to do so. When Vienna was restored to Austria the Russian and Allied forces marched out to the music of their respective national march music. But the Americans played Austria's beloved Radetzky March, and that certainly made a hit with the Viennese. An American writer now living in Germany collaborated with me on a number called 'Goodbye, Lieber Johnny,' incorporating part of the Radetzky March. It's a sort of peacetime Lili Marlene. I recorded it and it is already popular in Vienna. "
She returned to the US in 1958 to live in New York City. From 1959 through 1967, she made five films for television and eventually returned to America to live in New York with her companion Wolfgang Nebmaier, the co-founder of the Southern Oregon Temple of the Goddess. In 1972, she recorded the song "Heirat" (Married) for the Academy Award-winning movie Cabaret (1972). During her fifty year career in entertainment is recorded just over 1,000 songs.
For two years in the 1960s, she was the star of her own show at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. In 1971, she made several engagements in the Rembrandt Room of the Stanhope Hotel. Her last live cabaret appearance in the spring of 1976. Her last stage appearance was in the Vienna production of “Pippin” in 1974. She died on November 4, 1977, of cancer in Vienna Austria where she had been born in 1903. Until her last breath, Greta gave her age as "33 until further notice"
Supposedly, in the last year of her life, Greta told a writer that she was a lesbian and that David Bacon was gay, and that their marriage had been a cover for respectability in Hollywood. Further, according to the writer, she claimed that David had had an affair with Howard Hughes and suspected that, perhaps, David’s sexuality had something to do with his death. Most find the story doubtful.