Question of the Week
February 14, 2014

Unlike Los Angeles , which has many celebrity murder cases, San Francisco’s cases seem to involve only the relatives of celebrities.  Two of the most famous dancers of the early 20th century came from San Francisco. They both had close relatives who committed major crimes in the late 19th Century.
Question 1.  Who were these dancers

Question 2. Who were their relatives, and what crimes did they commit?

May 6, 2014
The dancers were Isadora Duncan and Maud Allan.  


Isadora Duncan, considered by many to be the mother of modern dance,  was an innovative modern dancer, choreographer, and avant grade icon. She was openly bisexual, a communist and the focus of conventional outrage. Even her death was original.  As she rode in a convertible her long silk scarf became entangled in the car’s open spoked rear wheel and her neck was broken

Isadora Duncan's banker father, Joseph Duncan embezzled over $100,000 from the Pioneer Land and Loan Bank and other financial institutions.  He then went into hiding, hoping to sneak onto a ship bound for Nicaragua.  He was captured by legendary detective Isaiah Lees and indicted.  After four trials the jury could not agree on a verdict and Duncan was freed.  He disappeared later at sea

Born Buleah Maude Durrant in San Francisco, Maud moved to Germany in 1895 to study piano.  She changed her name to Maud Allan after her brother Theodore was convicted of murder.   She became both famous and notorious for her  Dance of the Seven Veils in Salome.  She appeared  in over 30 films, including San Francisco and Showboat

She was once involved in a famous and bizarre British libel suit in which she was accused of having lesbian affairs with German spies and the wife of former Prime Minister Aquith.

Maud Allan's brother was Theodore Durrant , also known as  "The Demon in the Belfry." Durrant, a medical student  murdered two young women and hid their bodies in the Emanual Baptist Church on Bartlett Street, where he was a Sunday School supervisor.  
This sensational case made headlines worldwide was often called the "Crime of the Century" .

  Baby Face Frisco
I  was excited to discover another famous criminal who can be added to our San Francisco lineup, Baby  Face Nelson. Nelson, whose real name was Lester Gilllis, was a famous bank robber and cop killer in  the 1930s. He became a member of John Dillinger's gang and  became  Public Enemy  #1 upon Dillenger's death . Nelson died in Barrington, Illinois on November 27, 1934, from wounds suffered in a shoot out in  which he killed two FBI agents.

 Baby Face and wife lived in San Francisco during the early 1930s.  Nelson was a part of Joe Parente’s    bootlegging gang in San Francisco where he met his last partner, John Paul Chase (also  part of the  Barrington shoot out.) While in San Francisco Nelson hung out at the Andrometer, a bar at 155  Columbus Ave (now the Comstock Saloon).

#1 on the FBI Hit LIst!
Micky Rooney as Baby Face Nelson
Baby Face Nelson as a Baby
At least he was good to his mother

crime, murder, San Francisco, history, tours, Barbary Coast, Chinatown, Tong Wars, Shanghaiing, Bordello,