David Bacon (actor)
|Born||David Gaspar Griswold Bacon
March 24, 1914
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA
|Died||September 13, 1943
Hollywood, California, USA
He was born Gaspar Griswold Bacon, Jr. in Barnstable, Massachusetts, and his family was one of the prominent, politically active Boston Brahmin families. His father, Gaspar G. Bacon, was on the board of Harvard University, and later, in the 1930s, served as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts.
Born to a life of privilege and wealth, David Bacon graduated from Harvard. He summered with his family at Woods Hole on Cape Cod, where he became involved during the early 1930s with the "University Players," at West Falmouth. There he met then unknown performers James Stewart and Henry Fonda, with whom he later shared accommodations while he struggled to establish himself.
His acting career failed to progress, and he drifted for several years. He moved to New York City, where he was sponsored by a wealthy British patron, and although he once again failed to secure employment, he began to wear expensive clothes and jewelry, leading to speculation that he was acting as a gigolo.
He moved to Los Angeles, California where he met and married an Austrian singer, Greta Keller. In her later years, Keller disclosed that Bacon was homosexual, and that she was lesbian, and that their lavender marriage partly served as what she referred to as a "beard", allowing both of them to maintain a respectable facade in Hollywood, where they were both attempting to establish film careers.
In 1942, Howard Hughes met Bacon, and signed him to an exclusive contract, with the intention of casting him in The Outlaw (1943) as Billy the Kid. Bacon was screen-tested for the role and found unsuitable. Though Hughes later decided not to use Bacon in The Outlaw, replacing him with actor Jack Beutel, he kept Bacon to the terms of his contract, casting him in several smaller roles, usually as college boys. Keller alleged that there was a homosexual relationship between Hughes and Bacon, and she blamed the alleged relationship for Bacon's being replaced. Hughes, however, was widely known as a womanizer and was often the target of unscrupulous claims to cash in on his money. Later, Hughes did lend out Bacon for a role in the Republic serial The Masked Marvel (1943). The serial was produced with a low budget, and marked a low point in Bacon's career, with Keller recalling that he was completely humiliated. Today it remains his best-remembered work.
On September 13, 1943, Bacon was seen driving a car erratically in Santa Monica, California, before running off the road and into the curb. Several witnesses saw him climb out of the car and stagger briefly before collapsing. As they approached he asked them to help him, but he died before he could say anything more. A small knife wound was found in his back – the blade had punctured his lung and caused his death. Keller, in an advanced stage of pregnancy, collapsed when she heard of her husband's death, and later her baby was stillborn.
When he died, Bacon was wearing only a swimsuit, and a wallet and camera were found in his car. The film from the camera was developed and found to contain only one image, that of Bacon, nude and smiling on a beach. Police theorized that the photograph had been taken shortly before his death by his killer. The case attracted publicity for a time and remains unsolved.
- "'Masked Marvel' Believed to Have Had Premonition of Tragedy". United Press in the New York Times. September 17, 1943. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
David Gaspar G. Bacon, "Masked Marvel" of the movies, wrote a penciled will three months before he was stabbed to death, his attorney said today
- "D.G. Bacon Is Slain As In Movie Roles. Identity Of The Killer, Reported With Him In Car, And Motive Mystify Los Angeles Police". New York Times. September 14, 1943.
- "Howard Hughes, The Untold Story;" pg. 100, Brown and Broske, DaCapo Press 1996