Girl 27: The Brutal Assault of Patricia Douglas

An MGM Extra Makes Rape a Federal Case

Lori Johnston

--

Patricia Douglas (photo source)

I wasn’t trying to get anything. I just wanted someone to believe me. — Patricia Douglas

Hollywood and MGM

Located at 8439 Sunset Boulevard, on the Sunset Strip in trendy West Hollywood, the Hacienda Park Apartments was home to many Hollywood notables of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Built in 1927 as luxury apartments, the 54,000 square foot space was relatively close to the studios, as well as next door to the famed nightclub Ciro’s, making it a prime location for, at times, Marie Dressler, Loretta Young, Grant Withers, Jeanette MacDonald, and others. In 1935, dress designer Paul Ivar Wharton not only lived and worked at the Hacienda Park but was also murdered there.

During the 1930s, a woman by the name of Lee Francis also moved in.

April 22, 1927 rendering of The Hacienda Park Apartments (photo source)

Francis had worked out of brothels in San Francisco and Reno before arriving in Los Angeles in 1920 at the age of 25. Soon after she arrived in town, she caught crime kingpin Charlie Crawford’s eye. Crawford not only gifted her with a small house on Norton Avenue in West Hollywood but set her up to run the high-class brothels she became infamous for. By 1936, she was running brothels from a house on Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills, a location on Kings Road in West Hollywood, and an apartment building on the Westside. Her clientele included leaders in the downtown establishment, studio executives, and movie stars. Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, John Gilbert, and Spencer Tracy were reported to regulars, enjoying the swimming, billiards, drinks, fine food, and a variety of women at Francis’ establishments. MGM was said to keep a standing business charge account with Francis, albeit under an assumed name.

Although flush with business, Francis did not — could not — own the properties she ran her businesses out of. Once neighbors realized that a brothel was operating out of their neighborhood and notified law enforcement, she would often have to move overnight.

--

--

Lori Johnston

Writer, reader, margarita drinker. Currently looking for a “dare to be great” situation.