Chapter 7 ~ Mark Hansen

On October 22, Glen Kearns, who lived at 2332 Gale Street, drove Beth around town all night looking for a place to stay . The next day, he dropped her off at Mark Hansen’s house.

* * *

Mark Marinus Hansen was born in Aalborg, Denmark on July 25, 1890 and moved to the United States in 1919, where he settled in Scobey, Montana. He bought a theater in Scobey and later moved to Williston, North Dakota, where he bought two more theaters.   He moved to Minnesota for about nine months where he was also engaged in the theater business.  In 1921, Hansen relocated to Los Angeles. He lived at Melrose and Larchmont and owned the Larchmont Theatre. He also had a theater in Whittier, one in San Pedro, one in Walnut Park, three in Oxnard and three in downtown Los Angeles.

In 1926, Hansen built the Marcal Theatre as a playhouse.  He moved to 6024 Carlos Avenue in Hollywood in the mid 1930.’s.  He and his wife separated from each other in the mid 1940’s and she remained in their home in Los Angeles with their daughters.

When he knew Elizabeth Short in the 1940’s, Mark Hansen was a Hollywood resident and a successful businessman. At the time, he was described as 55 years old, 5′ 9′, 175 lb, with graying hair and an accent. He walked with measured steps and was somewhat stoop shouldered.

Hansen owned at least two other dwellings, one at 6048 Hollywood Boulevard and another at 1771 Van Ness Avenue.  He was part owner of the Florentine Gardens, a successful nightclub on Hollywood Boulevard. He and silent screen actress Alice Calhoun built the Marcal Theatre on the same block at 6025 Hollywood Boulevard in 1925.

Hansen’s friend, actress Anne Toth, lived with him off and on at the house on Carlos Avenue. Beth Short also stayed at Hansen’s house for two weeks in October and ten days in November, 1946.

Anne told investigators that Mark Hansen “really liked her, he had a yen for her,” but when interviewed, he acted as if he had no interest in her. When asked if she was a sexy-type girl,” Hansen replied, “Well, I don’t know if she was sexy-type girl. She appeared to be a very nice girl.” He also said, “she appeared to be a more domestic type girl.”

Hansen said, “Well, I thought she was fair looking, average. If it wasn’t for her teeth. She had bad teeth. Other than that she would have been beautiful.”

Inspector Jemison’s report says, “Anne and her friend Leo Hymes state that Mark was crazy about her and jealous of her, that he is a man who must have what he wants.”

Lt. Jemison’s report also states, that Beth “told Anne Toth that Mark was trying to make her, that he was jealous so she had to leave boyfriends at the corner so he wouldn’t see them.”

Hansen apparently liked Beth, although he played down his interest in her. He had one of his tenants, “who was in the dressmaking business,” according to Jemison, make two dresses for her “which she fitted and made, but never delivered to the victim.”

* * *

Syd Zaid let the two girls stay at his home on Windsor Road. Around the last day in September, he introduced them to Mark Hansen at the Florentine Gardens. He told Hansen he didn’t have enough room at his place and asked if Mark could put them up at his home. Hansen agreed and Zaid drove them to the Carlos house in early October.  They stayed, “Perhaps about a week or ten days; something like that,” Hansen said. After awhile, he asked them to leave, “- because this Graham girl, she was inclined to be liquored up and I didn’t like it at all; and this Short girl, she had always some undesirable looking character waiting for her outside and bringing her home.”

Anne said, “Well, Marjorie drank up all of Mark’s liquor, so he kicked her out, so out Betty went too. I don’t blame him.” After they left, Hansen said he believed they moved into the Guardian Arms with Bill Robinson and Marvin Margolis.

Margie’s boy friend was Bill Robinson, a U.S.C. student who had been in the navy. Anne said, Beth “was keeping company with a supposedly cousin of hers, if I can remember his name.” When Jemison asked her if it was Marvin Margolis, Anne replied, “Um-hum.”   Margolis was also a U.S.C. student, studying to be a chiropractor.

Beth and Marvin both told Mark that he, Margolis, was her cousin, Hansen said. After Beth and Marjorie moved out, they came back a few times. “-they came over there one day and say they want to leave town; they were going to go east and this cousin, he was along with them- this Margolis.  They visited with Anne and then later on this Graham girl came over one night.  I wasn’t home, but she was sitting, eating dinner, and she was sitting eating dinner and crying.”

“The next day he came around there and carried the suitcase up and I says, ‘What’s this?’ He says, ‘Can she leave this here overnight? She’s going away tomorrow and would like to leave these until tomorrow.'”   Hansen said he agreed, but, “That night I come home Beth Short was there.”

“I said, “I thought you were just going to leave your suitcases,  and she said,  ‘I didn’t have no place to stay.’  Would I mind if she stayed.  She kept staying and staying. Then she moved over to the Chancellor Apartment.  Then it was after that one night she was sitting and crying about being scared – one thing and another, I don’t know.  She said she was going to Oakland to a sister.  Well, from there she wanted to know if she couldn’t come back there when she came from Oakland. She said she was scared.”

* * *

Unknown to Hansen, Anne found an apartment for Beth at the Chancellor after Hansen asked her to leave the second time. She came back to visit Mark and Anne later, telling them that she didn’t like living at the Chancellor. “I felt sorry for her.  She said there was bad company over there and she couldn’t stand it,” Hansen said.  He gave Beth a ride home to her apartment, dropping her off outside.

That was the last time he saw her, Hansen said. “She say she was going to Oakland during the holidays with her sister. When she comes back she says she would call me to see if I changed my mind, to see if she would stay at the house.”

“I never saw her again.”

* * *

On January 25, 1947, authorities interviewed Mark in his home in the presence of Anne Toth. He denied dating Beth.

“Several girls have rented rooms here at the house, but I never went out with them.  She had lots of dates. There was a language teacher that I know of, and with other persons, mostly hoodlums whom I wouldn’t even let in my house.”

He said that the address book that was recovered by postal authorities belonged to him. He also indicated that another memorandum and calendar book was missing.  “I believe Miss Short stole that, too,” Hansen said.

Anne objected to Hansen’s depiction of Beth, saying, “She was a nice girl.  She was quiet, she didn’t drink and she didn’t smoke and we ought to look on the good side of people.”

Sgt. Finis Brown was interviewed during the grand jury investigation about photographs of Elizabeth Short that were in Mark Hansen’s home. According to Brown, Hansen said he got the photos from an officer when a girl told him that she knew Beth. He said the girl told him that she “knew Elizabeth Short and gave him some information about her being at the Hal Browning Hotel -.” Hansen wanted the photos to show the girl “to see if she could identify her,” he said.

* * *

In 1949, Lola Titus shot Mark Hansen while he was shaving in the bathroom of his Carlos Avenue home. Lola, aka Beverly Alice Bennett and “The Lady in Gold,” was a 25 year old blond taxi dancer, The bullet pierced a lung and missed his heart by 7/10 of an inch and was later found embedded in the wall. Lola said afterwards, “I made up my mind that he was either going to love me, marry me or take care of me or I was going to kill him.” In the D.A. investigation Lola was described as a, “Friend of Short. Never thoroughly quizzed.”

* * *

The Carlos Avenue house was razed years ago. The Marcal Theatre became the World Theatre in 1963. It since closed. The Florentine Gardens is still a nightclub and is still open for business.

Mark Hansen died on June 14, 1964.  His wife Ida died ten years later in 1974. Their ashes rest in the Hansen niche in the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery, one mile from Carlos Avenue.

One Response to “Chapter 7 ~ Mark Hansen”

  1. Noir Falcon Says:

    The Carlos Ave. house was said to have been razed in 1977 if I remember correctly…

Leave a Reply