Saturday, July 02, 2005

Film Cinderella Sought For Kidnap Questioning

July 2, 1947
Los Angeles

Madge Meredith—what went wrong? The little Iowa City blonde, discovered while working as a cashier in the 20th Century-Fox commissary, later signed to RKO where she starred in “Child of Divorce” and “The Falcon’s Adventure,” though her contract recently lapsed, is today a fugitive, wanted on kidnap charges!

Two men are in custody following the daring escape from remote Lopez Canyon of Miss Meredith’s former business manager, 38-year-old Nicholas Dan Gianaclis and his assistant Verne Vinson Davis.

The men were allegedly shanghaid when they arrived at the base of Laurel Canyon Boulevard for a planned meeting with Miss Meredith. She turned up in a new red convertible, and motioned for them to follow her to Gianaclis' house up the hill. Near it, she used her car to block Gianaclis’ car while pointing him out to three associates in a third vehicle, one of whom administered a blackjack beating while the others held guns. Gianaclis and Davis were forced into their assailants’ car and driven for more than an hour, with blows punctuating every move they made. On arrival in Lopez Canyon, they were held at gunpoint for six hours, until they managed to escape and find aid at Slocum Ranch.

What’s it all about, Madgey? The lady recently made noise about suing her former manager for substituting a grant deed for a mortgage paper on the house at 8444 Magnolia Drive where until recently she and her family lived, and where the two hostages now reside, though after some initial testimony, the matter was dropped. Gianaclis identified one of his attackers as William Klinkenburg, 32-year-old cook, 6439 Agnes Street. When arrested, Klinkenburg was holding a gun belonging to Barclay Leon Thomas, 33, of 6936 Woody Trail. Barclay’s three-year marriage to Gianaclis’ daughter was annulled last week. Thomas denies any knowledge of the kidnapping and assault.

Madge Meredith’s mother, Mrs. Laura Massow, reached at her home at 8942 West 24th Street, said she had no idea where her daughter, who came home only occasionally, might be.

Police are still looking for the actress, and two mysterious men named “Jim” and “Bill,” and trying to determine motive for the strange incident.

[usually at 1947project we leave our cases frozen in time, but this one is just too juicy not to share further reference material. Miss Meredith turned herself in and served more than two years in prison at Tehachapi before her sentence was commuted by Governor Warren in 1951; Gianaclis had his citizenship denied for reasons of poor character; and in the end the lady got her house back, married a doctor (though it didn't last) and apparently made some films in Europe.]

1 comment:

Larry said...

Death Suspect Booked
Oscar L. Hallgren, 40, of 341
Poplar St., Compton, was jailed
yesterday on suspicion of mur-
dering Mrs. Mary Tate, 37, Ne-
gro, Jan. 18. Mrs. Tate was
strangled in her quar-
ters at 107 Weller St. Hallgren
denied guilt.

+ + +

This is, of course, a murder frequently tossed into the Black Dahlia file by crime books such as “The Cases That Haunt Us” and “Black Dahlia Avenger.” But no one (except a reference I recall from “True Confessions” and can’t locate at the moment) mentions that Tate was African American. Nor does anyone ever add that a suspect was arrested in the case.

It’s been a long time since I researched this killing and my files seem to be incomplete, but I recall that she was strangled with a rope rather than a “silk stocking,” as reported in “The Cases That Haunt Us” (a book that, unfortunately, borrows heavily from “Severed,” which is 25% mistakes and 50% fiction). The Weller Hotel at 107 E. Weller St. (now Onizuka) in Little Tokyo wasn’t exactly a silk stocking establishment.

Unfortunately, The Times didn’t follow up on this case and I’d have to make a trip to the microfilm to see how it was handled by the Examiner, Herald and Daily News.

Tate was born in Texas, Sept. 15, 1909. Hallgren was born March 24, 1907, and received a Social Security card (470-01-8027) in Minnesota. He apparently died July 17, 1976, in Long Beach.

In a few days, however, Rosenda Mondragon will be killed with a silk stocking…… stay tuned.