Overview of Jean Spangler
An up-and-coming "bit" actress vanishes without a trace.
Jean Spangler's disappearance has been a longtime subject of fascination and entertainment in old Hollywood spheres. Her case is a perfect storm of juicy details and shocking twists that remind you of old dramas and the big screen. However, that doesn't detract from the stark reality: Jean is still missing, and her body has never been recovered.
Jean was working as a "bit" actor in Hollywood, which meant that she was working small parts with few lines, or as an extra for whichever film was currently shooting. She had starred in some B movies, such as "When My Baby Smiles at Me" (1948), comedy "Chicken Every Sunday" (1949), and the drama with Kirk Douglas "Young Man with a Horn" (1950). Her parts were largely uncredited and small. Before she worked in movies, she was a club dancer in both Los Angeles and Las Vegas. She had married plastics manufacturer Dexter Brenner in 1942 and had a child, Christine. The two divorced in 1946, leading to a difficult custody battle.
On the day of her disappearance, Jean claimed she was going to meet Dexter, then work as an extra until late.
On October 7th, 1949, Jean left her apartment and entrusted Christine in the care of her sister-in-law Sophie. She told Sophie she'd be meeting Dexter over a missed child support payment, and then heading to the set for about eight hours. The next morning, when Jean failed to return home, Sophie called the LAPD to report her missing. Investigation revealed that she had never turned up to work on set. Actually, she had been shopping at the farmer's market a few streets away from her apartment, where it looked like she was "waiting for someone".
Her purse was found at an entrance to Griffith Park two days later.
It contained her personal effects, such as cigarettes and a comb, and looked like it had been torn off of her shoulder. Most importantly, police found a note addressed to someone named "Kirk", claiming that she needed to see "Dr. Scott" soon. LAPD searched for a Kirk who knew Jean, and was led to Kirk Douglas, someone she had met on the set of "A Man with a Horn". Kirk claimed he had an alibi for the day she was missing and was quickly ruled out as a suspect.
Leads quickly dissipated over the next few weeks.
There was a rash of sightings in town, eating lunch with random men, and in a black sedan. None of the leads were ever substantiated. Interestingly enough, a known mafia associate named "Little Davey Ogul" was reported missing a day after Jean. Jean had loose ties with the mafia after she had danced in a Los Angeles club, Florentine Gardens, and was frequently seen with mafia collaborators.
LAPD officers tried to connect Jean to the infamous Black Dahlia case that was opened years prior, but connections vaporized just as quickly as Jean seemed to have gone missing.
Current theories guess that Jean ran away with the mafia.
Some sleuths think that Jean ran away with the mob after her acting career was faltering. Some think that she was three months pregnant (as her friends claimed), and went to see "Doctor Scott" to have an illegal abortion. Every guess leads to more puzzling questions. But who would have broken and discarded her purse? Why didn't she take any money when she left her apartment? Who was she waiting for at the Farmer's Market?
Do you know what happened to Jean?