The last confirmed sighting by a relative of Jean was at 5.30 p. m. on Friday October 7, when she left the house on 6216 Colgate Avenue that she shared with her mother, Florence, and her five-year-old daughter, Christine. While her mother had gone on a short trip to see relatives in Kentucky, Jean's sister-in-law Sophie was visiting from St. Louis. (Edward Spangler, Jean's brother, had been killed in action overseas in 1945)
Jean, dressed in a long white coat and slacks, kissed her daughter and told Sophie she was going to see her ex-husband, Dexter Benner, regarding unpaid child support. After that, she said, she had some late-night work in a movie, but she wouldn't be too long.

The last positive sighting of Jean Spangler was about thirty minutes later, when a sales clerk at the Farmers Market a few blocks from Jean's house saw her browsing, and appeared to be waiting for someone. According to the clerk, Jean was there for approximately two hours.

At 7.00 p. m., Jean called home to ask how Christine was, and told Sophie she would be home later.

When Jean had still not come home the following day, Sophie went to LAPD to report her sister-in-law missing. The police at first didn't take it too seriously; this was Hollywood, and people disappeared for a few days all the time.
Jean had been gone for less than twenty-four hours, and as she was a beautiful show girl and movie extra, they felt certain she'd gone off on a weekend party or a date, and would come back home soon.

They quickly changed their mind the next day, when Griffith Park attendant Henry Anger called to inform them about a purse he had found near the park's Fern Dell entrance, belonging to Jean Spangler.
A note found in the purse said: "Kirk: Can't wait any longer. Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while mother is away."
There was no money in the purse except a silver dollar, but she did not seem to have been robbed: Jean was flat broke, her relatives informed police, and the coin was a lucky silver dollar she always carried.

At first, the police feared she may have been another victim of the Black Dahlia-killer; almost three years had passed since Elizabeth Short, another dark-haired movie extra, had been murdered and severed and left on a vacant lot in Los Angeles' Leimert Park. But as Jean's body was not found, that theory soon fizzled out.
Police were also looking to see if there was a connection to missing Los Angeles-woman Mimi Boomhower, 48, who had vanished in August. Her purse had been found in a telephone booth.
They found none.

"She was very careful about her friends," Mrs. Spangler told police. "She could only have gone with someone she knew very well. She would never strike up a friendship with a stranger."

While investigating the names in the note, police discovered that Jean had once worked as an extra in a movie starring Kirk Douglas, called  "Young Man with a Horn." (She can be seen briefly on stage with Kirk Douglas, as a hula dancer.) According to Florence Spangler, her daughter had been out on dates with a Kirk, at least twice, but it's unclear if her date was the movie star or not. She also said Jean would never have gone out with a total stranger, and Detective Chief Thad Brown stated to the press: "That means we're looking for someone named Kirk that Miss Spangler knew fairly well." The only Kirk police ever found with any connection to Jean at all, was the film star.
They were stunned when Douglas himself called them early in the investigation to let them know he was NOT the Kirk mentioned in the note
-- he had not been asked.
Though puzzled, they accepted his story, that was relayed in newspaper articles:




There were several alleged sightings of Jean on the night of 7-8 October, after she had called home.

The salesperson at Farmers Market, remembered seeing her browsing for a while that night around 6 p. m., and said that she appeared to be "waiting for someone."

Acquaintances of Jean said they saw her eating hot dogs with a "clean-cut, young man" in front of a Vine St. market at about 10-10.30 p. m. "She didn't appear distraught or upset," they informed the police, but after questioning, they decided they saw her there on Thursday night.

At about 1.30 a. m. she was seen at a restaurant called "The Cheesebox," located at 8033 Sunset Blvd. According to the witness, Jean was sitting with a "neat appearing" male, 35, tall, clean-cut and with dark hair.

Al "The Sheik" Lazaar, turbaned disc jockey who did tableside radio interviews at a Sunset strip restaurant (possibly The Cheesebox mentioned above,) said Jean was in his place about 2:30 a.m. Saturday. She appeared to be arguing with two men, and Lazaar said they motioned him away from their table, indicating they did not want to appear on his show. Terry Taylor, proprietor of the same place, said she was at a front table earlier that night with a "clean-cut fellow about 30 or 35." A newsboy said he saw her outside the restaurant around the same time. These were the first reports police had of anyone seeing the actress since she left her home Friday night.

None of the sightings lead anywhere.

Jean, as she walked out of her house, had told her sister-in-law she was going to see her ex-husband, Dexter Benner, to discuss child support, and then later go to a studio for late night work.
A check with the studios around town showed there were no movie shoots that night, and Benner denied knowledge of any such planned meeting with Jean, stating he had been home all evening and had not seen his ex-wife for weeks. His new wife, Lynn, backed him up: "He was with me all night!"

At the time of her disappearance, Jean had a small part in a Robert Cummings movie, and when questioned, he told police she had walked by his dressing room whistling earlier that same week
"You sound happy," Cummings had said.
"I'm really happy," she replied. "I have a new romance."
When Cummings asked her if it was "serious," she had answered:
"Not exactly, but I'm having the time of my life!"
Could her new romance be "Kirk" mentioned in the note?
But police soon found Jean's new romance was Peter Brooks, a writer, who knew nothing about Jean's last days, and another lead went nowhere.

After the search of Griffith Park yielded no clues, police announced they believed she was still alive, suffering from a "slight illness but would return shortly, as soon as she felt better." It was obvious they thought she had gone to have an abortion, as the note implied.
But Jean did not return, and "Dr. Scott" was never found.

Digging into Jean's very active social life, it emerged she had possibly been seen with Dave Ogul in Palm Springs, not long before she vanished: Ogul was an associate of L. A. gangster Mickey Cohen, and had disappeared himself on October 10 -- another Cohen associate, Frank Niccoli, vanished September 2.

"She must have been taken away," Jean's mother Florence sobbed after returning from Kentucky. "Something horrible must have happened to her. If she were alive, she would have telephoned me."

In the following weeks and months after Jean's disappearance, police got tips from the public who thought they had spotted her in various locations across the country -- even in Mexico.
In March 1950, it was reported that Jean had been seen with Ogul and Niccoli in El Paso, Texas. Her mother dismissed the sighting: I just dont feel that she is alive anymore. Somehow I have lost the feeling that she is alive.

One month after her youngest daughter disappeared, Florence Spangler had written President Truman, begging him to request the F.B.I. get involved in the case, saying: "Our local authorities have turned this city up side down in their search for her, but every way they turned led them into a blind alley." She asked him to let "more experienced men" investigate the case, but the request was never filled. She ended her letter: "PS. I have the conviction she has been taken far away."

The Los Angeles Times ran stories about Jean on the anniversary of her disappearance for several years. Her mother Florence, and Hollywood columnist Louella Parsons, each offered a $1.000 reward for information leading to Jean being found. More than 60 years later, Jean Spangler is still missing.





the note




news reports