Chapter 8 ~ Anne Toth

As summer turned into fall in 1946, Elizabeth Short was becoming known around Hollywood. The war was over, and returning soldiers and sailors filled the streets and bars of Hollywood. Elizabeth, or Beth, as she now referred to herself, liked men in uniform and she began to spend a lot of time in bars.

Beth met many men and women during her brief time in town, but none of the friendships appeared to be close. She knew Lynne and Margie, but it was actress and model Anne Toth, described by newspapers as 24 years old, that was perhaps her truest friend.

Anne worked on the Charlie Chaplin film Monsieur Verdoux and the Merle Oberon movie Temptation, which was released in early December, 1946. She also had a small part in the Susan Hayward film, Smash-Up, which featured Anne in the trailer. Smash-Up was released in the United States in March, 1947.

Anne first  met Beth in Mark Hansen’s home after she returned from a trip to San Diego. Hansen owned the Florentine Gardens nightclub on Hollywood Boulevard and the Marcal Theatre near by. He owned other properties around town, including his home on Carlos Avenue, behind his club.   He allowed showgirls and young women, who were down on their luck, to stay at his home.  His own estranged wife and daughters lived in the Hollywood Hills.

When Anne came home one day, Beth and Mark were there. That was the first time the two girls met, Anne said.

Over time, Anne said Mark Hansen and Elizabeth Short were going together. Investigators asked Anne, “-did she want him to think he was going steady with her?” Anne replied, “Yes.” She agreed with investigators that asked if Hansen “was kind of carrying the torch for her at that time.” But the two fought with each other, too, she said.

Well, she cleaned up his bathroom for him and threw out a number of things, you know, set them out, empty bottles and things that he didn’t have any use for, but then he got awful damn mad about that. So I told him he should be thankful somebody wanted to clean it up for him. He said “I would rather leave the damn things alone and she leave my things alone. For a week he carried on about it.

LAPD Officer Ed Barrett asked, “Anne do you think Beth was afraid of Mark?” “Yes, I do,” she answered. “She never said much around him. As a matter of fact, she , she was – seemed afraid to tell me anything because I think she thought that I was in cahoots with him, I think, that I might say something to him. That is probably why I didn’t find out half as much as I should have.”

When Anne was asked if Hansen ever hit Beth, she replied, “Well, I don’t know if he did or not.” She went on to say, “Of course, maybe she was afraid to say anything because she had a feeling I was on Mark’s side, I would probably tell him. Actually, I was just living there, I was just an innocent standbyer. My friend and Mark were very good friends, they used to – he used to visit with Mark. They were pretty good buddies, so he was always around there, so he couldn’t get too rough with me. I don’t think he would of if he could, because we are both of the same nationality, I can be just as mean as he can get, so -”

Anne, who is often portrayed as Hansen’s girl friend, had her own boy friend, Leo Hymes. Authorities described Leo as a, “heavy set fellow [with a] birthmark on his nose.” Anne said she wasn’t always privy to all the goings-on at the Carlos Avenue house, because she was spending time with Leo.  She also said she was not a friend of Beth’s socially. They didn’t go out together or frequent the same spots at the same time.

Beth moved out of Hansen’s place on October 22, but she was back at his home on October 23. Anne said that Hansen allowed Beth to “come back in, and I think at that time, I think, she placed a long distance telephone call to Texas, to this Fickling, and I think that sort of — she charged it on his telephone bill, and I don’t think she told him about it. That is one of the things too, he wanted her to — then of course, I think she paid for it later, and then he let her come back in later and she had a place to stay, without Margie of course.”

Anne said that Beth told her that Hansen was trying to “make her” “a couple of times,” but that Beth lead him to believe that she was a virgin. After that, according to Anne, he didn’t bother her again. She continued to see other men, but they were not allowed to to visit her at the Carlos address.

Anne indicated that Beth moved out of Hansen’s home about November 13, 1946, after an argument with another of Hansen’s girls. Anne said Beth “was planning to stay for the evening and, of course, as Mark told Betty that he was going with her and she was going with him and vice versa. In the meantime, he was having other girls come over there, and I imagine he was trying to romance her or something. Well, anyway, Betty came along –.” The other girl was upset. “Well, anyway, Betty got out of bed, she was sleeping with me, and insisted that this tramp go home.”

The other girl told Beth to go home to her mother where she belonged, according to Anne. The girl continued to insist Beth leave. Anne said she “had a lot of high ideas, that Betty, believe me, with her Boston family and all that stuff, and she got up and locked her suitcase, and she said, ‘I don’t want to touch your damn suitcase, I don’t want anything in there.’ Anyway, words were flying back and forth and there was almost a beef and a fist fight, and Mark stepped in between them and he ordered Betty to move the next day. She was right though, I’ll tell you that.”

* * *

But it was Anne that looked out for Beth and tried to help her. It was Anne that lent her the coat that she was last seen wearing at the Biltmore on the evening of January 9, 1947. It was Anne that found her a place to stay at the Chancellor of Hollywood and paid her first week’s rent when Mark Hansen threw her out of his home. It was Anne that helped her move, and Anne that took her mail to her and it was Anne who said kind things about her.

Anne talked about how Hansen once drove Beth home to the Chancellor without knowing Anne found the apartment for her.

He didn’t know that she lived at the apartment there, because I was the one that got it for her, and he was amazed, he didn’t know what had happened to her, where she had gone or what had happened. I didn’t say anything.

I borrowed a car to move her and everything and I never told him. He would have probably gotten pretty sore at me, so I didn’t tell him that I knew she was living there, because I had been there to visit her, and he drove her home.

Anne defended Beth when others didn’t:

In the first place, she didn’t drink, she didn’t smoke, because after all, living with her, I knew, and she always came in at a decent hour, 11 o’clock, or around there. She never came in later than that, and naturally if she was supposed to be sexy and do other stuff, there is a lot more that goes to it, rather than if a decent girl – there is drinking, smoking, wining and dining, and a few other things that go with it. I don’t think she was trying to be sexy – in a very innocent way

* * *

Anne was questioned by the Los Angeles Police Department shortly after the murder. She and Mark went to see homicide detectives as soon as they heard that authorities were looking for an “Anne Todd.”

A document from the district attorney files, says in part:

“On January 16, 1947, after investigating officers had received information that Elizabeth Short had a friend, supposedly by the name of Anne Todd, they attempted to locate this person.  At approximately 11:00 a.m., officers received a telephone call from Anne Toth, who stated she was a friend of Elizabeth Short and was living at 6024 Carlos Street and that Elizabeth Short lived there with her, and that she was probably the friend referred to as Anne Todd.  She appeared at the office of the Homicide Detail with Mark Hanson shortly after noon of the 16th.  At that time she gave an account of meeting Elizabeth Short; that Elizabeth Short had lived at the address  on two occasions where she was living and where she moved.  Most of the names she could think of were friends of Elizabeth Short.

“Mark Hanson [sic] verified her statements at that time, but declined to talk where there was any chance of newspaper reporters being present, or any chance of any publicity.   When Mark Hanson and Anne Toth came into the office there were approximately twenty reporters and photographers in the office.  Anne Toth identified herself and was photographed and talked to by news reporters.  Hanson, on being asked his identity by reporters, stated he was nobody — he was merely her [Anne’s] chauffeur.”

Another time, Anne remarked to D.A. investigators that Mark didn’t want his name mentioned.  “Well, he used to get provoked at me about mentioning his name, he, at that time, to the papers, and one thing and another, which I didn’t.  Only they found the address book and, of course, they got his name, but I didn’t mention his name or anything.”

Anne was interviewed twice by investigators for the grand jury.  She made it known that she did not want publicity.  She telephoned Sgt. Finis Brown in 1949 to ask if two men who contacted her were actually from the police department, as they had indicated.  When Anne told Brown their names were Waggoner and Ahern, Brown told her to “go ahead and talk with them.”  Brown said Anne told him, “I have a lot of adverse publicity in this case and I don’t want to take any chances – .”

Another time, when Anne gave her telephone number to Lt. Frank Jemison during questioning, she asked, “None of this will be in the paper, will it?”

Later, Jemison asked, “Everything that you are telling us can be used confidentially, of course, in our secret files?” Anne replied, “I insist it be that way.”

After the grand jury disbanded at the end of the year, the active investigation of the murder of Elizabeth Short began a descent that led to cold case oblivion.  The last known time that investigators interviewed Anne was in 1950.

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