Chapter 23 ~ The Two Time Loser

It was the unnamed girl living at Hansen’s house that told the undercover officer about the jewelry scam and about a curious comment she said she overheard. The unidentified girl said that Anne called Bill Miller and said that Elizabeth Short had been murdered and that, “We had better get together.”

* * *

Chief Bradley, Captain Donahoe and Sergeants Brown and Hansen all approached Chief of Police Horrall and asked for permission to bug Mark Hansen’s house. Horrall consented and Brown set up secret listening and recording devices in Hansen’s home between March and October, 1947 and made, according to Brown, “about six recordings altogether, large recordings, which are turn-on, turn off.”

The surveillance produced nothing of value concerning Elizabeth Short’s murder.

Eight or nine months after the murder of Elizabeth Short, Finis Brown decided to put an undercover man in the Carlos Avenue home to observe suspect Mark Hansen. Hansen agreed, because he “had a lot of people he wanted to talk about,” police reported.

According to detectives, “Hansen wanted to tell the Police Department about this fellow — ‘he is a pimp’ — and this girl, ‘is a prostitute’ and so forth, but that would be the ostensible purpose of putting a man out there, but the real reason was to watch Hansen.  We complied.  Hansen introduced him around to people, thieves and so forth.  Undercover man ostensibly went to work as a automobile salesman out in Hollywood area and he was watching Hansen.”

During this time, Hansen told Brown about Lola Titus, which would later lead to Hansen saying, “get Brown for me,” after he was shot by Lola  in 1949. Brown explained that Hansen had, “- given me some information on her.”  When Lola shot Hansen, she called him “a damn cop lover.” Brown said later that  “Apparently she believed he had give some information on her to the police.”

While Hansen was in the hospital, Brown said, “Jones of the Crime Lab went over the whole house, checked for blood in other rooms.  During the time that I went out there, I have checked myself, the various rooms, when the opportunity presented itself, to check bathrooms and such.”

The Unidentified Girl

An unidentified girl that lived at the Carlos Avenue house told an undercover office about a jewelry scam that was handled by Bill Miller, who operated a jewelry shop on Frank Street in Santa Monica. The girl revealed stories about how Miller was going through bankruptcy and replaced his first grade stock with “second grade, third-grade stones,” according to the undercover officer.  Supposedly, Miller brought the quality stones, valued at approximately $50,000, to Hansen and planned on paying off creditors “ten cents on the dollar.” A search of Hansen’s home turned up nothing, but immediately after, Miller settled for fifty cents on the dollar and returned the first grade material. Miller was described as “an ex-convict, two time loser.”

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.

Chapter 6 ~ The Carlos Avenue House

Beth was frequently in hot water with Mark. He would throw her out and then let her back in.  Shortly before her death, Anne said Mark told her that he was going to allow Beth to return for a few days when she got back from San Diego.

* * *

Mark Hansen’s modest home at 6024 Carlos Avenue was a block north of Hollywood Boulevard, behind the Marcal Theatre. It was also home to aspiring actresses and young girls who were down on their luck, as well as Hansen’s friend, Anne Toth.

Carlos Avenue, between Gower Street on the west and Bronson Avenue on the east, was situated one block north of the hustle and bustle of Hollywood Boulevard and a string of theaters, including Hansen’s Marcal and the Florentine Gardens. By fall of 1946, the Marcal had shown Howard Hughes’ The Outlaw, starring Jane Russell, for eight months. It was predicted that the Marcal would break all attendance records across the country.

Down the street was the Hawaii Theatre, a movie house with a tropical theme. Carlos was a residential street with the sprawling First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood on the north east corner. Along the south side were six or eight or more bungalows, set back from the sidewalk. They were single story, unpretentious homes with front porches and lap siding exteriors. Hansen’s house was a couple of doors from La Baig Avenue, a street that ran south from Franklin Avenue and dead-ended at Carlos. Further to the east was Tamarind Avenue and after that Bronson Avenue. Mark Hansen’s home was on a quiet street, just a block from the action of Hollywood Boulevard, and easily accessible through a gate in his back yard that lead to the parking lot behind the Marcal Theatre.

Anne Toth lived there while she pursued her modeling and acting career. Her boyfriend, Leo Hymes, was a friend of Mark Hansen, and according to Anne, she was the one girl that was not approached by Hansen. Anne said that Mark moved in on all the girls that stayed at his house, “-every one, outside of myself.”  She was asked by investigators what happened if he was turned down.  “Out they go,” Anne replied.  She also said that Mark Hansen discovered that Beth was a virgin, “so he didn’t want to bother with her.”

Investigators determined that the girls that lived at Hansen’s home “were financially embarrassed at the time they were living there.”  Anne was unaware whether any of them paid rent.  Sergeant Finis Brown said he couldn’t determine if the girls were paying rent or not.  “As far as I know, I couldn’t state.  Some say they were and some say they weren’t.”

Besides Beth and Anne, some of the other girls that Mark allowed in his home were Connie Starr, Rosalind Kingston, Lola Titus, Marjorie Graham, a  girl known only as Barbara, another named Cecile, as well as other unidentified young women. Anne’s boyfriend, Leo Hymes, looked at photographs of Carol Fisher and Sara Lee Testa, two former “Camp Cooke Cuties,” and said he might have seen them at Mark’s home.

The men who visited the Carlos Avenue home included, Leo Hymes and Marvin Margolis, the man that Beth called her cousin.  Finis Brown felt Margolis was still a good suspect in 1949.  He said Margolis,  “was interrogated at first, but it was not – there was nothing to tie him to the case at that time other than being a medical student.  He could possibly be a very good suspect.” By then, Margolis was living in Chicago.

Anne said that Beth got in trouble with Mark one day when she had an argument with another girl who worked in pictures.  Mark told Beth to leave. Anne’s boyfriend, Leo Hymes, recalled that, “This short girl wanted to chase that other girl out of the house.”

“I walked in there at that particular time.  We were going out to eat and Mark -the argument was over but you could tell, the atmosphere – Anne told me, ‘you remember that girl.  She really let her have it then.  Wasn’ t there – she was a little short girl.  Ann told me, ‘You remember that girl.  She was that little short girl that used to come over there all the time; little stocky girl, blonde.’  I could be off on that but that was the story on it at the time.”

As for Beth, Leo said, “-I don’t think he had anything to do with that girl.”  Investigators asked him if Hansen said anything that would indicate that. “Oh, I guess it is just- Anne told me- second-hand information, but it is just a strange thing about that setup there.  I don’t know, she – naturally I’d kid Mark about it at different times, but I’d never see her there enough to get to know her.  The few times I did see her – Mark said he never had anything to do with that girl; it just so happens it is one time I believe him”

Another time, Hansen found out that Beth had made a long distance call and left him to pay the bill. Leo said, “She called somebody down in Texas, an army camp or somewhere it seems to me.  Anne was telling me about it, because – I came over there the early part of the afternoon and I never did see that Short gal around there very much – she was gone.  In fact, I think she said Mark told her she worked for the T.W.A.  T.W.A., that’s why I think that Biltmore came into the thing, but  he was pretty hot about a phone call.  He must have found it on his bill;  he must have caught her in a lie – she must have said she didn’t  call or send a wire  collect or something like that.  I know he was upset about it.  I don’t believe I ever saw her around there  in the daytime, except twice.  She would leave there and – went to work.”

“As far as I am concerned, I think she sought more refuge with Mark and myself than anybody but I don’t know all the conversation and I think if she had more encouragement from  Mark to come back, she would have come back in a minute, if he would have asked her,” Anne said.

It wasn’t until 1949, when Lola Titus shot Hansen, that investigators were finally able to conduct a search of the Carlos Avenue house. Finis Brown said, “Jones of the Crime Lab went over the whole house, checked for blood in other rooms.  During the time that I went out there, I have checked myself, the various rooms, when the opportunity presented itself, to check bathroom and such.”  When asked by investigators why such a search was made, Brown replied, “Connected with death of Elizabeth Short, if any possibility that it could have been committed there. “Brown also said, “I talked to Lola Titus and from what I could gather the girl talks in riddles.  She is – she told me that she didn’t  know the Short girl at all.”

Brown also said he found two pictures of Beth in Mark Hansen’s home.  “There was a photograph of the Santa Barbara photograph, and another one taken by a boy named Glenn Sterns.” Brown further said that listening devices were installed in the Carlos Avenue home from roughly March to October, 1947, under the direction of Chief of Police Horrall.

* * *

Mark Hansen was a family man, but he was separated from his wife and daughters during the time he lived in the Carlos Avenue house.  In July, 1949, he moved back with his family on Canyon Drive in the Hollywood Hills. Mark and Anne kept in touch with each other for years after the murder.