Chapter 22 ~ The Frolic Room & The Crown Grill

Elizabeth Short lived in Hollywood for much of the last four months of her life, and while some assumed she was working at Western Airlines or at the airport in Burbank, or elsewhere,  she was, in reality, unemployed and quickly becoming a bar scene regular.

* * *

According to acquaintances, bartenders, rumors and news reports, Beth was seen at Steve Boardner’s on Cherokee Avenue, just a few blocks from the Chancellor, where she lived, and at Melody Lane at Hollywood and Vine. She reportedly went to Tom Breneman’s Vine Street restaurant, where the popular radio program, Breakfast in Hollywood was broadcast. She was seen at Brittingham’s, next to CBS on Sunset Boulevard, and on Hollywood Boulevard at the Four Star Grill, Bradley’s 5 and 10, and other locations.

* * *

Daniel Jackson was a private investigator for Lucian C. Wheeler in the Equitable Building at Hollywood and Vine in the 1940’s.  He dated a girl named Marjorie, who worked as a secretary for a theatrical agency in the Pantages Building next door.

Jackson occasionally had drinks with Chuck Morgan nearby at the Frolic Room on Hollywood Boulevard.  Morgan described himself,  “as an expert mechanic, particularly on racing cars,” according to Jackson.  One day in November, 1946,  when Daniel and Marjorie were drinking in the Frolic Room, Chuck Morgan walked in with another man and Beth Short.

Jackson said, “I was working under cover on a studio strike taking place at that time, and I had been working day and night and keeping going by drinking whiskey and Benzedrine, and anything I could do not to sleep -.”

Morgan and the others joined Jackson and Marjorie. Morgan asked them if they would like to join his party and go for a ride. Jackson said, “-having probably had too much to drink , I agreed.”  They left with Morgan in his older model Ford sedan.  They eventually made their way downtown.  “I would say down on Los Angeles Street or San Pedro Street- someplace.” They  “stopped in a dark street in lower Los Angeles. Chuck got out of the car and went away and returned in about five minutes.”  Then, they headed back to Hollywood, making a few more stops. The group drove to  Sunset Boulevard and went to the El  Zarape at 2905 Sunset Boulevard, where Daniel and Marjorie separated and took a taxi back to the Frolic Room.

Later, after the murder, Jackson recalled the evening, but was never sure of the name of the girl that accompanied the group downtown.  He described  her, saying “She was  a brunette, very black hair, dark hair -.”

Jackson later found out that Chuck Morgan and the man that was with them that night were arrested for armed robbery and assault, he believed.  He and a friend, Tom Bickmore,  also a patron of the Frolic Room, went to visit Morgan in jail.

Jackson said:

I think as I remember, our conversation with Morgan, that he had been arrested several days or – I don’t remember how much time between his arrest and the murder.  After the murder took place and the pictures were in the paper- the pictures of this girl looked like the girl that was with Chuck Morgan very much, and that evening that Morgan was with this girl he told me that he and this other fellow had either met her in San Diego or picked her up in San Diego and brought her to Los Angeles, and as I remember she was supposed to  have been working in a burlesque house in San Diego, and there was some reference to San Diego in the newspapers following the murder, which also made me think of this girl.  So, in a conversation with a friend of mine- Tom Bickmore, who was a police reporter for the Los Angeles Examiner, I mentioned this incident to him and he said that Chuck was in the County Jail, which was the first I knew where Chuck was, and Tom said, “Let’s go up and talk to Chuck,” so using his credentials as a reporter, Tom and I went to the attorney’s room in the County Jail and talked to Chuck Morgan.

When Jackson and Bickmore asked Morgan if the girl he brought into the Frolic Room that night was Beth Short, Morgan replied, “Yes, it was,” according to Jackson. They also said she, “was a user of marijuana and frequented places that degenerates frequented,”  Jackson remembered.

Investigators told Jackson, “We do know it to be a fact that Beth Short was in that cocktail bar and around that locality numerous times just before  her murder.”

* * *

The Crown Jewel Cocktail Room, at 754 South Olive Street, in downtown Los Angeles was a favorite drinking spot of Elizabeth Short and her friends, according to Lt. Frank Jemison. He testified before the 1949 Grand jury hearings about his investigation. In a written statement he said that, “Elizabeth Short and her friend Marjorie Graham and Anne Toth were known drinking customers of this bar located at 9th and Olive, which is two blocks from where Elizabeth Short was last seen alive.”

Several employees of the Crown Grill identified Elizabeth Short as a regular customer. Frances Campbell, a waitress there, identified Beth by a photo shown to her by authorities. She was working at the Crown on January 9, but said she did not remember seeing Beth that night. According to Lt. Jemison, “Officer Ed Barrett was told by a bartender in the Crown Grill that victim was in there that night alone.”

Two other waitresses, Bernice Smith and Majorie Underorbok “all knew victim as a customer of this bar two blocks from the Biltmore Hotel,” Jemison said. He also stated that Joe Scalise “was a bartender on duty the night of January 9, 1947 at the Crown Grill, the night Short was last seen alive. He was bartender on the Olive Street side. It will be remembered that victim Short was last seen alive walking in the direction of this bar as she left the main door of the Hilton on the Olive Street side. This suspect had a reputation for being high-tempered with any woman who would not date with him after closing time. When questioned at his home in the Adson hotel he appeared very nervous and stated, ‘Yes, her body was found right over here’ (pointing to where it was found eight blocks away) and said, ‘I was sleeping in a room right across the hall at the time.’ But he denied that her photograph looked familiar to him as a customer of the bar.”

Beth had been to the downtown area many times in the past. Anne Toth recalled dropping her off near the Biltmore about two weeks prior to her leaving for San Diego on December 6. Anne’s boyfriend, Leo Hymes, recalled the drive downtown to Jemison:

I know it was a rainy day. Anne was with me; we took her downtown somewhere.  Either she had an argument; was going away or something.  Now I think I gave Anne the car at that time; I got out on Eighth Street; I believe she was going to take her somewhere – I don’t quite remember.  I know it was raining to beat the – because that is why I know it was at that time, but I don’t  know if she was going away on a trip.  It seems to me she was mad about something.

When Jemison asked him if she could have been going to the Biltmore, Leo replied, “It’s strange, but I really think she did.  I wouldn’t swear to it, but it seems to me there was some comment about the Biltmore – maybe she was going to catch a plane or train or -.”

At the time, Leo’s office was on the corner, close to the Crown. He said, “Well, I used to eat there quite a bit; that would be at noon, but I would say I would go in there, oh, late in the afternoon different times.  I knew the boys there that owned the place.  In fact I am very friendly with them right now.” He also said he would drink there at night.  “Yeah, lots of times.”

But he never saw Elizabeth Short at the Crown Grill.

3 Responses to “Chapter 22 ~ The Frolic Room & The Crown Grill”

  1. Maurice Says:


    Original material….

  2. Rhetta Says:


  3. Bob Says:

    I think Bette Short knew how to manipulate men with her sexuality, and she probably was a bit of a cock tease as well.
    I can understand how she might have crossed paths with the wrong people.

    Not a very smart woman in regards to the company she kept either.

    Very sad ending to her life.

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