Olive Day and the ‘Love Mart’ Case

Olive Day was the madam involved in the 1931 prostitution ring newspapers called the Love Mart/Love Market/Love Bazaar/Girl Bazaar. Like others before her and those still to come, the story played out the same way: lurid headlines, young girl victims’ parades for the photographers, a little black book containing the names of wealthy and/or famous men clients said to be shaking in their boots for fear of exposure (which never came), the madam is left holding the bag while the underworld bosses behind the operation are not charged (or even named) and simply start again with a fresh madam and new girls once the public outcry dies down.

Child Star

Olive Day was born Dorothy Clark on March 19, 1905 in Boston to parents William H. Clark and Evelyn Ethel Howard.

Evelyn had been born into a prominent New England family in Hallowell, Maine on January 9, 1879 as Emma E. Howard, daughter of Charles W. Howard and Ada P. Beals. As of 1900, at age 21, she was living in Augusta with her grandfather, Joseph Howard. By 1904, she had become Evelyn and was living in Boston and listed her occupation as nurse. It was there that she met William H. Clark.

Though Evelyn took the name Clark, the couple were not married. Though later sometimes described as a “wealthy mining man,” according to Dorothy, her father was not in their lives at all.

Dorothy would give many versions of her childhood story for sympathy or dramatic effect but the underlying truth is that her mother got her into vaudeville as a dancer when Dorothy was about 4 or 5 years old, travelling between Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, and had very little opportunity for formal education.

In 1916, she appeared on stage in juvenile roles in a few productions at the Los Angeles Morosco Theater, including “The Dummy,” a “lively detective comedy,” and one whose title foreshadowed her future: “On Trial.” She is sometimes billed as “Dorothy Love Clark.”

Dorothy at age 11 in the Morosco’s production “On Trial.” LA Evening Express 10/9/1916

 

Ad for Morosco’s “The Dummy” featuring Dorothy in a juvenile role. LA Times 10/30/1916

 

11-year-old Dorothy in “The Dummy” at the Morosco in 1916. LA Times 11/2/1916

 

The Morosco Theater at 744 S. Broadway, Los Angeles. Opened in 1913, it was almost new when Dorothy was there as a child performer.

With an ambitious stage mama, it was inevitable that while in Los Angeles, Dorothy would try to break into motion pictures, which had only recently started establishing studios on the West Coast. Dorothy did, in fact, play minor roles in some movies for Bluebird Photoplays, a subsidiary of the Universal Film Manufacturing Company, most notably “Love Never Dies” starring Ruth Stonehouse.

Universal child stars Lena Baskette (right) and “Baby” Zoe Rae (center) with Dorothy (left). Film Fun magazine 1916 via Lantern.

At that time she met Universal contract player Herbert Rawlinson. The English-born actor, 20 years Dorothy’s senior, would later tell reporters: “I first met Mrs. Clark and her daughter Dorothy on the Universal lot in 1916 or 1917- I am not sure which. The little girl was taking dancing parts as an extra. They were very poor. I felt sorry for them. For some reason, little Dorothy seemed to take a fancy to me, I guess because I always spoke a pleasant word to her. The Clarks were living here in an apartment house and once in a while I would drop by their place and say ‘hello.’ Often I would leave $5 or $10 to purchase things to eat. I never gave them any large sums.” (LA Times 3/29/1922).

Herbert Rawlinson

Dorothy documented her meeting of Rawlinson and their subsequent visits in her childhood diary, later excerpted in the Hearst press.

Dorothy in 1916. Chicago Tribune 4/3/1922

Dorothy failed to take Hollywood by storm, and she and her mother moved to New York. Dorothy worked as a stage dancer. She would also say, in 1931, that her mother introduced her to prostitution while Dorothy was still in her teens, and waited in the hotel room to take the money. Dorothy and Rawlinson stayed in contact through letters.

Photo of Rawlinson inscribed to “My Darling Dorothy,” dated 4/21/1919.

In the summer of 1920, Rawlinson was in New York and visited the Clarks “a number of times” at their 48th Street apartment, again leaving them small sums of money because he’d “learned they were having a hard struggle” (LA Times 3/29/1922). Dorothy’s diary documented his visits, which continued through October 30, 1920. Dorothy was then performing at the Hippodrome Theater.

 

Dorothy appeared in minor stage parts in New York through early 1922. New York Daily News 1/22/1922

 

The Hippodrome Theater, New York City.

On March 28, 1922, Evelyn Clark, then living in Boston, filed a $200,000 lawsuit against Herbert Rawlinson in Los Angeles through her California lawyer, accusing the actor of sexually assaulting Dorothy in New York on October 15, 1920.

LA Times 3/29/1922

Rawlinson, who was in the midst of a divorce suit, emphatically denied the charge and in turn accused Mama Clark of just trying to blackmail him.

Dorothy herself initially denied the attack as well, though later reversed her statement. She released her diary to Hearst reporters for publication.

It would not be the last time a “love diary” of Dorothy’s would be headline news. Washington Times 4/3/1922

Rushing “home” to Boston, on April 4, after telling reporters she refused marry her “childhood sweetheart” Karl Elms, a piano salesman, until she had “cleared her name,” she, in fact, rushed to the alter with Karl.

LA Record 4/5/1922

In Boston, Evelyn Clark heard of Dorothy’s marriage and searched frantically for her daughter. Unable to find her, she reportedly swallowed poison in an unsuccessful suicide attempt.

Washington Times 4/11/1922.

Dorothy and Elms separated on May 5 (Dorothy would annul the union later that fall). In the summer of 1922, the Clarks moved back to Hollywood to prepare for the Rawlinson lawsuit. They rented an apartment at 1645 North Harvard Street, managed by a lady named Ruth Clark (no relation). Ruth resided at 1645 with her husband Curtis and their three young daughters, Doris (8), Camilla (7) and Catherine Love (6). Camilla Clark, like Dorothy had been, was an established child bit-part performer at Universal.

Camilla Clark, “clever kiddie actress,” LA Evening Express 1/1/1920

On August 23, 1922, Dorothy called Herbert Rawlinson at the Hollywood Hotel, where he was staying, and, saying she was weak from hunger, asked him for $20. Despite the pending lawsuit, Rawlinson agreed, and said he’d leave it for her at the front desk. She said she didn’t even have enough for carfare to get there to pick it up. Incredibly, Rawlinson said he’d bring it to her, and drove out to 1645 North Harvard in his “expensive sport roadster.” What happened next became a matter of dispute.

Rawlinson said Dorothy came out to the car, he gave her the $20 and then he drove away. Dorothy- and Evelyn (who said she was watching from behind a tree)- claimed that he attacked her in the car.

1645 N. Harvard Blvd. today. Unknown of that’s the same tree Evelyn hid behind.

The week of September 20, 1922, Dorothy and Evelyn (now going by Ethel) Clark went to District Attorney Thomas Woolwine’s office and, relating their version of events on August 23, demanded that Herbert Rawlinson be indicted for assault. Rawlinson, in turn demanded that the DA indite Dorothy and Evelyn for blackmail.

This headline relates to the claimed assault of August 23, 1922, not the original civil suit. LA Times 9/20/1922

Deputy DA Asa Keyes took the joint accusations in hand. Dorothy produced love letters from Rawlinson as well as her birth certificate (though there was some drama when at first it could not be located), establishing that she was, indeed, born in Boston in 1905. Evelyn said that she’d arranged the August 23 meeting in hope she’d that Rawlinson (now divorced) would “fall in love” with Dorothy and marry her. Dorothy angrily insisted Rawlinson had attacked her and she didn’t want to marry him- she wanted him punished.

LA Times 9/23/1922

Dorothy and Evelyn Clark. LA Times 9/23/1922

On September 25, Deputy DA Keyes announced that he was dropping both the Clarks’ August 23 assault case and Rawlinson’s blackmail case. After a “thorough investigation,” Keyes declared Dorothy’s charge “manifestly untrue.”

Dorothy was unavailable for comment- she seemed to have vanished. LA Times reporters soon tracked her down in Tijuana, where she was working at a cafe/ bar as a dancer.

LA Times 9/29/1922

Tijuana’s club district in the 1920s.

Dorothy returned to Los Angeles and the week of November 7, 1922, appeared in a vaudeville at the Hippodrome Theater on South Main Street.

LA Evening Express 11/8/1922

The Hippodrome Theater (on right) at 320 S. Man St., in 1923. LAPL photo.

The original $200,000 civil suit against Rawlinson went to court on January 22, 1923. Dorothy, “in a white tam o’shanter with her hair in “cute baby curls” and, a LA Evening Record reporter noted, “a sophisticated look in her eye that suggested the former Tijuana dancer was more interested in the outcome of the case than a 17-year-old would be expected to be,” read Rawlinson’s love letters aloud in court. Further proceedings were halted, however, by the illness of Evelyn Clark. The judge continued the case until February 23, expressing the hope that it would meanwhile be settled out of court “for the good of all concerned.”

Indeed, the day before the trial was to resume, Rawlinson’s lawyers requested and got a postponement due to a “probable” settlement. The move was strictly “to avoid notoriety,” they insisted, and was totally not an admission of guilt. It’s not clear how much more notorious it could get given that his letters had already been read in court, but in any case, the parties reached an agreement and on June 12, 1923, the suit was dropped.

LA Times 2/22/1923

LA Times 6/12/1923

Unlike the treatment of Fatty Arbuckle during the same time period, the studio, the film industry and the Press rallied around Rawlinson. He made the transition to sound pictures and went on to have an extremely long career in film, radio and television.

Dorthy’s show business career, on the other hand, was essentially over. She and her mother settled into a hillside home in Hollywood at 2573 Glen Green Avenue.

2573 Glen Green today. MLS photo.

From the Glen Green home, on May 27, 1927, “Mrs. William Clark” told local reporters that her daughter had married again, to another “childhood sweetheart,” Livingston Day, in Chicago. Harold Livingston Day was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1901. Newspaper accounts of the marriage stated that he had “fallen in love” with Dorothy after seeing her at a theater in Chicago when she was 8 years old and had employed a detective to “track her down.” (Since her name and address had been in newspapers across the country for the two years, it wasn’t exactly a case for Sherlock Holmes).

LA Times 5/27/1925

In October 1927, Evelyn Clark, still residing at the Glen Green house in Hollywood, made a visit to Boston. What happened there is sketchy as we only have Dorothy’s version of events. Evelyn ostensibly checked on some stock investments and found she’d lost her savings of $3400. She contacted Dorothy and threatened suicide. Dorothy rushed to Boston from New York to be with her mother. On October 14, they parked outside the Federal Building and Post Office. Dorothy left her suicidal mother in the car and went in to run an errand. She returned to find Evelyn dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

LA Times 10/15/1927

Boston Globe 10/15/1927

Evelyn died in the Haymarket Relief Hospital without regaining consciousness. She was buried in the Howard plot in her hometown of Hallowell, Maine.

Dorothy would later claim she was suspected of killing her mother. While she was questioned by authorities, there’s no indication that she was considered a suspect or that Evelyn’s death was not by her own hand.

Dorothy and Jobelmann, Jobelmann and Pantages

Adrift without the mother who had long guided her life, Dorothy said that she worked as a telephone operator for 8 months and wrote a novel.

In August 1928, she divorced Day in Reno, Nevada. There was a new man in her life: William H. Jobelmann. Dorothy would at one point claim she’d known Jobelmann before her mother died and had wanted to marry him, but her mother objected. Now, in 1928, Dorothy announced that they’d married in Reno as soon as she was divorced from Day, but that was not true- they were not actually married. They settled into Evelyn’s house at 2573 Glen Green.

The relationship was violent at times. In early September, Jobelmann broke a window to get into the house after Dorothy had locked him out. Dorothy called the police and Jobelmann was booked into the Hollywood police station jail for 30 days. With another 10 days to go, Dorothy had a change of heart and tried, unsuccessfully, to get him released early.

LA Evening Express 9/26/1928

Dorothy Clark with William Jobelmann in the Hollywood jail, September 1928. LAPL photo

William Herman Jobelmann was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1892. A sailor in the navy at age 17, by the late 1910s he was on the West Coast and in 1916 went to work as a publicity man for the new T&D Theater in Oakland, which opened in November of that year.

Oakland’s T&D Theater, 1916.

Oakland Tribune 2/25/1917

From 1917 to March 1923, Jobelmann was in charge of advertising and publicity for the T&D Jr. Enterprises, Inc. chain of theaters in the Bay Area, Stockton and Sacramento. In October 1920 he married San Francisco actress Billie Rhodes. She divorced him in May 1922 on grounds of cruelty.

By the late 1920s Jobelmann allegedly became a press agent for the Los Angeles Pantages theater, built for Alexander Pantages in 1920 as the latest link in his national theater chain. He may have been, but no evidence was found to confirm this (other than assertions). In 1931, Pantages himself would claim he had only known Jobelmann for about two weeks.

The Pantages Theater at 7th & Hill streets, 1926. LAPL photo.

During those “two weeks” Pantages claimed he knew Jobelmann, on August 9, 1929, a 17-year-old dancer named Eunice Pringle accused Alexander Pantages of rape. The attack occurred in a small janitor’s closet near the theater’s main offices. Pantages denied the charge. Jobelmann that night was a key witness for Pantages, telling police that he’d heard screams coming from the little room then overheard Pringle threatening to blackmail Pantages if he didn’t hire her for one of his stage acts. Prosecutors would later say in court that Jobelmann recanted this statement a few days later, telling the DA it wasn’t true, that he’d been coached by Pantages in what to say. Pantages was arrested and held over for trial.

Headlines recall similar ones about Dorothy and Rawlinson in 1922. SF Examiner 8/10/1929

On the witness stand at Pantages’ trial, when confronted by prosecutors with his conflicting statements, Jobelmann was unable to recall much of anything at all. Pantages was found guilty on October 27, 1929 and sentenced to 50 years in prison. Held without bail in the LA County Jail pending appeal, Pantages hired up and coming mob lawyer Jerry Geisler. Geisler fought the “no bail” ruling all the way to the State Supreme Court, which decided on June 6, 1930 that Pantages could be released on $100,000 Depression dollars bail, owing to his poor health.

Pasadena Record 6/6/1930

Dorothy, Jobelmann, Pantages, Mills and Shreve

Dorothy would later state that it was in August 1930 that she and Jobelmann started the so-called Love Mart “business.” They recruited girls from schools and off the streets and by advertising for maids. 2573 Glen Green was their home base, though they also operated out of other addresses. They soon had a card index listing 100 teen-aged girls and were constantly searching for new prospects to replenish the supply. The client list was equally long, with at least 4 dozen “regulars.” One demanded a fresh girl delivered to him at a downtown hotel every week. The standard fee was $200 but could go as high as $1000. The girls got only a pittance.

In February 1931, DA Buron Fitts’ office became aware of the scheme and investigated. On February 27, Jobelmann was arrested in San Francisco, ostensibly on a phony check charge and brought back to Los Angeles by DA investigator Leslie T. White, who had been assigned to the case by Chief Investigator Blaney Matthews.

Hollywood Daily Citizen 2/28/1931

Jobelmann and Dorothy (now using the name “Olive Day”) reportedly confessed to their role in the Love Mart operation and were arrested on March 5, as was millionaire real estate developer John P. Mills. Dorothy would later claim her confession had been forced by Leslie White and others from the DA’s office, who she said held her at the Rosslyn Hotel and plied her with liquor.

Jobelmann and Dorothy Clark in 1928. LAPL photo

Newspapers no doubt thought it made a better story if Dorothy had been “famous.” Infamous, maybe. But famous? No. 3/6/1931

There are various stories of how Jobelmann and Day came to the DA’s attention.  According to some newspaper accounts, DA Fitts said one of the girl victims confessed to her mother, who then came to the DA’s office to complain and that Dorothy’s diary describing potential victims was found during a search of 2573 Glen Green. Other accounts suggested Dorothy and Jobelmann brought attention on themselves by fighting over the division of the girls’ fees. The Illustrated Daily News said it was precipitated by a client who had been “shaken down” by the couple and complained to authorities. According to Leslie White, she’d left the diary for safekeeping with “an old friend” and the brother-in-law of one of the victims read it; seeing his sister-in-law’s name mentioned, he brought it to the DA. Of course, White’s version in secondhand, as he only came onto the case after the DA’s office had the diary.

LA Record 3/6/1931

The timing of the bust is also curious. Charles Crawford’s syndicate had run vice in Los Angeles; Farmer Page, who also ran liquor and gambling rackets, had established Lee Francis as the syndicates #1 madam as well as June Taylor. But Crawford’s power had since waned and Guy McAfee, a former LAPD vice squad officer, had taken over. Crawford was planning a comeback, however, and in early 1931 was engaged in a power struggled with McAfee, attacking him as boss of the vice rackets in a publication titled Critic of Critics. There is zero chance Jobelmann and Day could operate at this scale without the knowledge and backing of the LA underworld (who of course would get a hefty cut of the profits) and if they were foolish enough to attempt it without “protection” of the syndicate, they’d be shut down. The mob does not tolerate competition.

However and why the investigation was initiated, the sad fact is one of the victims was Camilla Clark, daughter of Ruth Clark, Dorthy’s former landlady when Dorothy and her mother lived at 1645 North Harvard. Ruth had been widowed in 1928 and no longer managed the apartment house. Doris, her oldest daughter, had married in December 1930; her husband Harold Rees could have been the brother-in-law referred to.

It also appears from published excerpts of Dorothy’s diary that Ruth’s other daughters had been considered but rejected as potential victims:

“Doris- engaged to be married”

“Katherine- 13, too young”

Camilla Clark in 1931. LAPL photo.

Leslie White et al’s pursuit of other leads in the diary initially led to victim Clarice Tauber, 16. Clarice, who listed her occupation as ‘servant’ in the 1930 US census, identified John P. Mills as the man she’d been set up with by Dorothy at a hotel in downtown Los Angeles on December 22 and 30, 1930, and that had led to Mills’ arrest.

Two other two victims were located: Lydia Nitto (aka Alice Blake), 16, and Helen Livingston, 19. They told the DA they had been taken to San Diego by Dorothy and Jobelmann for a “wild party” with Mills and two other men at the El Cortez Hotel on October 30, 1930.

Lydia Nitto aka Alice Blake. LAPL photo

Helen Livingston. LAPL photo

The El Cortez Hotel San Diego

Born in 1890, John P. Mills had made a fortune in Southern California real estate developments. Mills, Pantages and Jesse H. Schreve, another millionaire San Diego developer had formed a company together in 1925.

LAT 8/6/1925

Mills had previously lived in Long Beach. More recently he’d been a resident of San Diego but now lived in Los Angeles. Dorothy’s diary reveals that she had known Mills since at least February 1928.

The trio- Jobelmann, Day and Mills- were arraigned the same day as their arrests and a preliminary hearing date of March 31 was set. Jobelmann and Mills posted the $5,000 bail and walked. Dorothy alone remained behind bars in the County Jail at the top of the Hall of Justice.

In the evening of March 6, Dorothy gave a jailhouse interview to Hearst reporters, admitting to everything and telling the sob story of her difficult childhood on the stage. The following morning, someone (she would describe him to Leslie White as a “swarthy” man) posted her bail and she vanished. There were a lot of silly reports of death threats and possible foul play. Leslie White knew where she was the whole time: at a hot springs resort. But “Where is Olive?” headlines kept the reporters busy.

At this point the circus really began. The version below is as simplified as possible. Warning: trying to follow the legal shenanigans of DA Fitts’ office would be like trying to follow a tennis match with 46 balls in play. Dizziness may occur.

On March 9, Fitts and Blaney Matthews discussed how to proceed with the case and how far to carry it. Whether additional men would be implicated was up in the air. Fitts told reporters that he absolutely would not name or arrest any more men without corroborating evidence.

“We are not going to arrest anyone merely on the say-so of girls,” Fitts said. “The district attorney’s office is eager to do anything possible to protect girls below the age of 18, but we are not taking any chances ruining men’s reputations on evidence that is not substantiated.”

“Sugar Daddies Breath Easier.” LOL. San Pedro News Pilot 3/10/1931

Fitts clearly thought that the best way to get rid of this problem was to make it San Diego’s problem. After all,  some of the crimes had occurred there. On March 10, San Diego Sheriff Ed F. Cooper issued warrants for Jobelman, Dorothy (still missing), and Mills- and Alexander Pantages and Jesse Shreve on behalf of San Diego DA Thomas Whelan. Lydia Nitto and Helen Livingston had identified them as the men they’d been with at the October 20, 1930 party. Did Whelan’s office have the corroborating evidence Fitts demanded? DA Whelan charged Pantages with statutory assault (rape). Jobellman, Mills and Olive were charged with conspiracy to commit statutory assault and conspiracy to violate the juvenile court laws. A separate complaint charged Shreve with statutory assault of Helen Livingston and Jobelmann, Mills and Dorothy with a second count of conspiracy charges.

Pantages (who, remember, had already been convicted of raping Eunice Pringle and was free while his lawyers argued for a new trial) and Mills (out on bond awaiting his hearing in Los Angeles for the assaults on Clarice Tauber) were located at the races in Agua Caliente. So, too sick for jail, not too sick for the races. Got it. Pantages denied everything and said it was just his enemies trying to smear him to hurt his chances of a new trial. The two turned themselves in to San Diego authorities on March 11. Pantages (as prearranged with his lawyer) breezed in and out through a side door, posting $15,000 bail. Mills posted his $20,000 bond and was gone. Shreve posted a bond of $25,000 and walked. Jobelman was unable this time to come up with his $5000 right away and had to briefly cool his heels in the county jail before he, too, walked. Dorothy remained “missing.” Their preliminary hearing in San Diego was set for April 13.

On March 14, Blaney Matthews, with his counterpart from the San Diego DA’s office observing, interviewed Camilla Clark.

Camilla told being invited by Dorothy on a car trip to San Diego on September 20, 1930. The visited a house in Point Loma (a subdivision being developed by John P. Mills, Jesse H. Shreve and Alexander Pantages). Olive introduced her to a man she called Bill Martin. After being slipped a mickey in her drink, “Martin” raped Camilla. Dorothy gave her a $2 hat. She later went back to San Diego with Dorothy. On that occasion, Dorothy gave her a $40 coat. Dorothy had admitted to Matthews in her confession that “Martin” paid Dorothy $175 and $150 for these visits.

Camilla Clark was apparently unable or unwilling to identify “Bill Martin” as no charges relating to her abuses were ever filed.

DA Fitts agreed to let the San Diego prosecutions go before his case. The Los Angeles hearing of Mills, Dorothy and Jobelmann was therefore postponed.

San Diego

The preliminary hearing in San Diego opened as scheduled on April 14. Lydia Nitto bravely recounted her experience with Pantages on October 30, 1930. Helen Livingston faltered, unable to recall details of the attack by Sheve she’d previously described to LA authorities. Leslie White repeated Dorothy’s confession to him that she’d arranged the “wild party” with Mills, Pantages, Jobelmann and Schreve. All 5 defendants were bound over for trial. Pantages, Mills and Schreve and Dorothy went free on $25,000 bail. It would be interesting to know where Dorothy, who couldn’t come up with $5000 bail a month earlier, got that kind of cash.

The 5 entered pleas of not guilty on April 28 and a trial date was set for May 25, 1931.

On May 20, 1931, Charles Crawford was shot to death in Los Angeles at his Hollywood office on Sunset Boulevard, along with journalist Herbert Spencer, editor of Critic of Critics.

On May 23, it was announced that John Mills had made a plea deal, agreeing to turn State’s evidence and testify against Shreve and Pantages. He would plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor (Lydia Nitto).

George Shreve, lawyer brother of Jesse Shreve and part of his defense team, said that the murder of Crawford would affect their plans for Shreve’s defense as they had planned to call Crawford as a witness, asserting that Crawford was a close friend of DA Fitts and Mills. Fitts was subpoenaed by Schreve’s lawyers as a defense witness.

The trial got underway as scheduled on May 25. Mob lawyer Jerry Geisler’s defense of Pantages was to drag the girls’ reputations through the mud. He attempted to establish that Lydia Nitto had given her age as 22 (Pantages’ initial claim was that he’d never been to party, then it was yes I was at the party but I thought she was 22). He asserted that Mills, and indeed the entire Los Angeles DA’s office, were just trying to frame his poor multi-millionaire client.

The San Diego trial, June 1931. LAPL photo

Geisler’s tactics (or perhaps some jury tampering) worked. On July 19, the jury announced it was unable to reach a verdict. A retrial was set for July 13.

When that date arrived, DA Thomas Whelan asked that the charges against all 4 defendants be dropped, stating that did not believe “a jury from the body of the county” would bring in a verdict of guilty as a result of the “showing made at the first trial as the past life” of Lydia Nitto.

With his former co-defendants now acquitted, John P. Mills decided his plea agreement was unfair. Why should he have to cop to a misdemeanor when, had he taken his chances and gone to trial with the others, he’d have been set free? he wondered. The court did not accept a retraction of his guilty plea but did give him a sweetheart deal. He paid a fine of $1000 and walked.

LA Times 7/16/1931

 

Pomona Progress Bulletin 8/8/1931

 

Los Angeles

Back in Los Angeles, with the San Diego case concluded, Fitts now had to deal with Jobelman, Dorothy and John P. Mills for their crimes against Clarice Tauber. The long-delayed preliminary hearing was set for September 13.

On August 13, the news became public that Clarice had gotten married a few days earlier- not unlike the way Dorothy had abruptly married her “childhood sweetheart” in the midst of her earlier sex scandal involving Herbert Rawlinson.

The LA Record 8/13/1931

It was a dream come true for the defense. The jury would now see Clarice as a married (and therefore presumably sexually experienced) woman rather than as the innocent schoolgirl she’d been at the time of the crime. Why had Fitts allowed the marriage to happen, when Clarice was in his technical custody at the time?

On September 9, 1931, it was reported that Fitts was seeking to drop the felony statutory charges against Mills so that he could use Mills as a witness against Jobelmann and Dorothy in the misdemeanor charges against them. Huh?

LA Times 9/9/1931

At the preliminary hearing on the 13th, Fitts indeed moved to drop the charges against Mills. He claimed to have a letter from Clarice Tauber stating that she was a married woman now and wanted to avoid further notoriety. Therefore, she would not testify against Mills. Over the protest of Municipal Judge Curtis, on September 15, the felony charges against Mills, Jobelmann and Dorothy were dropped.

Burbank Daily Evening Review 9/15/1931

As they left the courtroom, Jobelman and Dorothy were promptly re-arrested on the misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency charges. The pair would have separate trials.

Clarice Tauber, though ostensibly unwilling to testify about John P. Mills, did testify at Dorothy’s preliminary hearing on October 6, 1931. It was brave, especially having seen what the defense did to Lydia Nitto. Tauber told of having been groomed by Dorothy and lured by her to the hotel twice in December 1930 where she met John P. Mills, whom Dorothy introduced as “Frank,” a “well-known artist from Santa Barbara.”

Mills, who was supposed to be a State’s witness, did not appear. He was “missing.” The DA’s office couldn’t find him.

Jobelmann’s preliminary hearing took place on October 6 and 14. Clarice Tauber appeared for both dates and was questioned by Jobelmann, acting as his own lawyer.

It did not go unnoticed that Clarice was apparently willing enough to testify- just not against John P. Mills aka Frank.

On October 21, Deputy DA Florence Woodhead issued a complaint charging John P. Mills once again with contributing to the delinquency of a minor in the case of Clarice Tauber.

Long Beach Sun 10/22/1931

Coincidentally, on October 22, 1931, Fitts returned to Los Angeles from a visit to Chicago shocked-SHOCKED!- to hear “rumors” swirling that a payoff was behind his decision to dismiss charges against John P. Mills. He went to the grand jury and asked- demanded- rather- that they investigate him.

LA Record 10/22/1931

The grand jury, which had been contemplating that very thing, was happy to oblige. Foreman Charles S. Hutson wrote State Attorney General U.S. Webb asking that he delegate a special prosecutor to hear evidence.

It would be ironic were Fitts to be charged with bribery. He’d gotten the job of DA in 1928 after successfully prosecuting his boss, Asa Keyes, for bribery.

The Whittier News 10/23/1931

Meanwhile, Mills’ preliminary hearing was held October 29, 1931…and the charges were (drumroll) once again, dropped. Clarice Tauber appeared, but refused to testify on grounds that she might incriminate herself. Huh?

Illustrated Daily News 10/30/1931

On November 4, 1931, the grand jury requested the California State AG’s definite involvement in the Fitts-Mills bribery probe. The next day, Fitts, decided to take charge of the his own bribery investigation and rushed into the jury room with four witnesses prepared to testify on his behalf that there was totally no payoff in the Mills dismissal. The witnesses were one John P. Mills (who seemed able to appear and disappear at will), Lucien Wheeler (a former Deputy DA in Fitts’ office turned PI, whom Mills had hired to dig up dirt on Clarice Tauber), attorney Leonard Wilson, and San Diego DA Thomas Whelan.

LA Times 11/6/1931

State AG Webb responded to the grand jury’s request for his involvement, asking for a short list of qualified attorneys, from which he’d pick a special prosecutor. Los Angeles attorney J. Karl Lobdell was selected.

On November 27, 1931, Alexander Pantages’ second trial for the rape of Eunice Pringle ended in his acquittal. Jerry Geisler, having had lots of practice smearing Lydia Nitto, dragged Pringle’s reputation through the mud and the jury ate it up.

Dorothy’s trial for contributing to the delinquency of Clarice Tauber opened on November 30, 1931 but was promptly delayed until December 8 as the principal witness- Clarice- could not not be found. Deputy DA Florence Woodhead insisted she’d been served with a notice to appear, but admitted no one had seen her since she’d appeared (but refused to testify) for the Mills hearing in October. Fitts had assigned no investigators to the case and made no special effort to locate Tauber.

Dorothy, all smiles and legs at the opening of her Los Angeles trial, November 30, 1931. She had reason to grin- the main witness against her was a no-show. LA Evening Express 11/30/1931

Actual image of the DA’s office looking for Clarice Tauber.

Under special prosecutor Lobdall, the grand jury investigation into Fitts officially got underway November 4, 1931. The graft inquiry was centered on certain real estate transactions involving Lucien Wheeler (hired by Mills) and certain members of Fitts’ family. Dorothy appeared as a witness, as did Jobelmann and Lydia Nitto. Fitts derided the probe he’d asked for as politically motivated by his “enemies” and said he would call 67 witnesses of his own. Upfront he accused any witnesses testifying against him of committing perjury or subornation of perjury.

LA Evening Express 12/4/1931

Dorothy’s own trial resumed on December 8. Clarice was still “missing.” Deputy DA Florence Woodhead read a transcript of Clarice’s preliminary hearing testimony instead. It was the State’s only evidence introduced.

Dorothy took the stand to claim her original confession back in March 1931 (which she’d also happily given to reporters from her jail cell) had been coerced by the DA’s office. She said Leslie White and a woman investigator, Jerry Six, had plied her with liquor at the Rosslyn and promised her immunity if she turned State’s witness. She also claimed John P. Mills offered her her $50 if she if she would help him “frame” Pantages.

 

LA Record 12/10/1931

Despite the State’s lack of effort and Dorothy’s last minute “forced confession” allegations, the the jury found Dorothy guilty on December 11, 1931. Dorothy’s lawyers immediately petitioned for a new trial on the bases of the forced confession story. It was rejected.

Jobelmann had a much easier time of it. At his trial on December 17, the charges against him were dropped on the basis that the State had failed to do due diligence to located the witness, Clarice Tauber.

Santa Rosa Republican 12/17/1931

The new year, 1932, began in Fitts’ favor as the 1931 grand jury dropped the investigation into his Mills payoff.

Pomona Progress Bulletin 1/12/1932

On January 8, 1932 Dorothy was sentenced to one year in San Quentin (which still held women State prisoners as Tehachapi had not yet opened). Her lawyers of course continued to appeal the conviction and in July 1932 the State Supreme Court granted a new trial on the basis that her March 1931 confession was “forced.”

The second Dorothy Clark trial began October 14, 1932. Again, Clarice Tauber was a no-show; again her preliminary hearing testimony was ready into evidence; again Dorothy Clark was convicted, and again her lawyer appealed. Dorothy was free on bail pending the outcome of her appeal.

Hollywood Citizen News 10/14/1932

Burbank Daily Evening Review 10/19/1932

 

Hollywood Citizen News 10/19/1932

On January 23, 1933, the District Court of Appeals took up Dorothy’s case and on March 29, 1933, she again won a reversal of her conviction. The court opined that because the prosecuting witness- Clarice- did not appear and her prior testimony was read into court- that this was only okay if “due diligence” on the State’s part to locate the witness had been expended, and the court found that diligence lacking. The State, however, appealed the decision to the State Supreme Court, which on December 27, 1933 upheld Dorothy’s 1932 conviction.

Hollywood Citizen News 12/27/1933

It was the end of the road, finally. But it wasn’t as bad as originally thought, She could do her year in the County Jail, not State prison. Nor did she ultimately serve a whole year. Dorothy started her jail term on February 8, 1934 (free on bond until then). She would be released on December 8, 1934, let out two months early for “good behavior.”

Her client list was never made public. No other men were ever charged. The heads of the prostitution syndicate were never investigated, let alone charged. No one ever followed up on reports that girls who grew too “old” for primo clients were sent to brothels in less desirable locations like the Mexican border. Dorothy was the only one involved to do jail any time.

Fitts may have felt relief that it was all over, and confident at having been “cleared” by the 1931 grand jury. But then in August 1934, the LA Times sniffed out that the 1934 grand jury, overseen by superior court judge Fletcher Bowron, was looking into potential perjury committed during the 1931 grand jury investigation. Clyde C. Shoemaker was appointed special investigator.

LA Evening Post 8/25/1934

On November 2, 1934, both Fitts and his sister Bertha Gregory (who also served as his secretary) were indicted on charges of perjury stemming from their testimony about the Love Mart bribe to the 1931 grand jury. Fitts screamed that it was a political hit job by Bowron. Oh, and he hired Jerry Geisler as part of his team of lawyers.

LA Illustrated Daily News 11/2/1934

Through a series of legal wranglings, Fitts managed to get the case delayed, and delayed, and delayed again, until the trial finally began January 15, 1936.

LA Illustrated Daily News 1/15/1936

Buron Fitts #1, with his lawyer Jerry Geisler, #4, at Fitts’ perjury trial, 1936. LAPL photo.

In the end, Fitts was acquitted on February 7, 1936.

LA Times 2/8/1936

In April 1936, Fitts announced that he would seek reelection. He called the recent case against him a “political assault” and crowed about his vindication. He was, inevitably, elected to another term as DA in 1936. It would be his last. Clifford Clinton, cafeteria owner and 1937 grand jurist, organized a citizen-led vice investigation that helped oust corrupt mayor Frank Shaw in September 1938. Fletcher Bowron was elected to take Shaw’s place. Clifford then turned his attention to campaigning against Fitts in 1940.

In April 1940, another major prostitution ring was exposed when, once again, a madam and two male operatives were arrested. The ring recruited young girls much in the same way Dorothy and Jobelmann had. The madam, Ann Forrester (aka Forst), named Guy McAfee as the head of the ring but McAfee was never charged, nor even interviewed, except by reporters. Like Dorothy, Ann would be the one to get any significant jail time.

Fitts lost to reform candidate John F. Dockweiler in November 1940.

Dorothy Clark got religion after her release from jail and took bible study classes at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. In 1933, while free on bond, she had married again to a man named Roy Haskin. As Dorothy Haskin/Dorothy C. Haskin, she became a prolific writer: young adult novels, advice books for teenagers, and reams and reams of Christian-themed tomes like God in My Kitchen, God in My Home, and A Practical Guide to Prayer. In the 1950s she was co-editor of Child Evangelism magazine (!). She also penned self-serving “as told to” memoirs for criminals who, like herself, had found religion- including Why I Quit Syndicated Crime by Jim Vaus, the electronics expert who had worked for Mickey Cohen and made secret recordings of another madam, Brenda Allan, in 1949.

Dorothy was a frequent guest speaker at religious retreats and women’s events, telling highly fictionalized stories of her life. In the 1960s she toured Asia as a missionary.

She continued to live at the 2573 Glen Green street house, where as Olive day she had lured young girls with “promises of great wealth,” up until her death, August 31, 1995.

WWII Draft registration card for Roy Haskin showing Dorothy still at the Glen Green house.

Hollywood Citizen News 8/25/1960

What a gall! Dorothy published a dating advice book for teen girls in 1956, writing in the intro “I love girls. In fact, I’m prejudiced in their favor.”

 

Dorothy also penned self-serving “as told to” memoirs for criminals who like herself had found religion- including Jim Vaus, the electronics wiz who worked for Mickey Cohen, recording an LAPD vice squad officer’s convos with Brenda Allen (the madam 2 prostitution ring scandals removed from Dorothy’s) in 1949, as well as Vaus’ wife’s version of events.

Dorothy’s purported autobiography exaggerates her Hollywood career and does mention her crimes.

 

In the mid-1950s, Dorothy co-edited Child Evangelism magazine.

 

Dorothy told fictionalized versions of her life story for sympathy but clearly was not frank about her past. Hopefully she was legit about going straight, and wasn’t using Youth for Christ events as recruiting opportunities. The Big Bear Grizzly 7/23/1953

Holly crap! What a crock! There are a lot of blatant lies and lies by omission in Dorothy’s version of her life story here. She wasn’t born in Maine- her mother was. Suspected of killing her mother? That’s a new one. She greatly overestimates her Hollywood career, and she was not in any Our Gang shorts, which didn’t begin until 1922, when Dorothy was knees-deep in the Rawlinson case- which she yada yada yadas right over along with the “Love Mart” years.The Big Bear Grizzly 7/23/1953

 

Notes

Dorothy Love Clark’s IMDB lists her birthday as 1902 and birthplace as “the Mediterranean Sea.” These are false facts. She’s Dorothy Clark, born in Boston in 1905. Likely Evelyn Clark made her daughter older when it suited the needs of a part.

Asa Keyes became DA the following year when DA Woolwine had to retire for health reasons. In October 1928 he was accused of bribery and “fixing” case and found guilty .

Rawlinson’s last picture was an Edward D. Wood production called Jail Bait. He died in 1953, age 67.

At the same time, Pantages’ wife was in court for a fatal hit and run accident that killed a pedestrian, Juro Rokumoto, and was convicted of manslaughter in September 1929.

Day also used a hotel at 1027 West Sixth Street.

Guy McAfee was suspect #1 in the Charles Crawford/Herbert Spencer shooting but had a perfect alibi. Former Deputy DA Dave Clark confessed to the shooting of Crawford and Spencer, claiming self-defense. Clark’s trial for Spencer’s murder took place at roughly the same time as Dorothy’s trials. Both Lee Francis and June Taylor factored into the proceedings. The name of John P. Mills also appeared in an address book kept by Clark.

Camilla Clark was born August 8, 1914. She later married and died in Oceanside in 2002.

Lydia Nitto was born in Genoa, Italy on February 19, 1914. She had come to the USA as a child in 1919 and became a naturalized US citizen in 1940, listing her occupation as “model.”

Helen Livingston was born April 8, 1912. She married three times and died in 2005.

Claurice Tauber was born March 31, 1914. She and her first husband remained married into the 1940s. In 1950 she married again and seems to have found happiness. She died in 1985.

Jobelmann died on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Pantages died at home of a heart attack on February 17, 1936.

Mills died in 1978.

Shreve was born in Alabama in 1885. In 1933 he was indicted in federal court in Arizona with his brother, charged with using the mails to defraud in a stock scheme. His first trial ended in a hung jury. He was found guilty in the retrial but the conviction was overturned by the State Court of Appeals. At his third trial in February 1938, he was again found guilty on 11 counts and faced 4 years in prison. Sheve appealed the verdict all the way to the US Supreme Court and lost. He committed suicide in October 1939 as the decision was being handed down.

Blaney Matthews resigned from the DA’s office effective November 1, 1936. He became chief of the M-G-M studio police.

Leslie White left the DA’s office and became a detective fiction writer. Me, Detective, which included his account of the Love Mart case, was published in 1936.

J. Karl Lobdell, special prosecutor in the 1931 grand jury investigation of Fitts, took his own life on June 14, 1935, but leaping from the 11th floor window of his downtown office at 411 West Fifth Street.

Jerry Geisler, mob lawyer, became the go-to guy when you were guilty, had money, and didn’t want to go to jail. He died in 1962.

See post on George Contreras for information about a 1935 Hollywood prostitution ring that operated remarkably similar to the “Love Mart” case, and another in 1937 involving a so-called “party diary.”

One of the your girls who testified against Ann Forrester in 1940 was Brenda Allen Burns, who went on to become a madam herself. That prostitution ring broke wide open in 1949.

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