WILLIAM H. DOOR: MURDER OF A SUNSET STRIP SMUT KING

By Jim Linderman 

Smut Peddler Slain

William H. DoorWilliam H. Door was found November 20, 1963 shot and clubbed to death with his hands tied behind his back. With him, also murdered, was his girlfriend Ellen Criss. Door was “a known associate of many underworld figures” and “robbery did not appear to be the motive” so it was the kind of murder which just happens, you know? Maybe he was thinking of sharing what he knew to avoid some time? Maybe he owed someone more money than he could pay? Who knows. Who does, shouldn’t tell. He was bludgeoned fifty years ago, but then some grudges last a long time. There is no statute of limitations on double murders in California.

At age 46 Door had a house at 7671 Fountain Avenue, not far from the Sunset Strip. He owned more than one and was a millionaire in theory. What he reported to the IRS was his change. It is speculated the girlfriend took a bullet in her mouth first, then the murderers got Door. Accounts differ, but because everyone loves a good story, this one went all the way to Tuscaloosa by way of the Associated Press.

Exotic Figure ModelsWhen found by the maid a day or two later, William Door was known as owner of Fax Records, the company which created and marketed “party records” released under the umbrella “Adam.” and others. He also had a long career of pushing soft porn which went far beyond goofy vinyl vixens and hackneyed dirty jokes. Door may have looked like a surfer, but he was a creep with fat, greasy fingers known to manhandle the models. They were big hands which once played football semi-professionally.

Door was one of the first people to sell small 3-D viewers which gave eye-popping views of color slide beauties. One-handed viewers with stereographic breasts. Door was convicted of income-tax evasion in 1957 when they probably couldn’t pin on another porn rap. He had three years before been convicted for the sale and exhibition of obscene pictures out of his home on Jovenita Canyon Road in the Hollywood Hills… officials had tracked him down because his mail-order ads had found their way into kids hands. He was also in dutch with the feds for distributing obscene material though the mails.

Ten months before his murder, police had hauled 5,000 “pornographic” records out of his North Hollywood office. Records like Erotica, which featured orgasmic moans and groans mixed with bongo drums. Fax record releases generally featured topless models on the jacket.

Adam Stag Party     FAX  Records 1961-2

In April 1957 a series of photographs document a raid at what appears to be Door’s mail drop and warehouse. Press photos taken for the Los Angeles Examiner, but certainly by a shooter tipped off by the Vice squad to document their efforts to stamp out smut. Police Departments are as much public relations firms. The crisp photos show Vice squad detectives Carl Hallgren and Jerry Holland displaying their haul and their perp… not to mention a pile of money orders waiting for deposit. Carl and Jerry were real life Joe Friday and Bill Gannon. “Just the facts, Door… we sweep dirt like you OUT the door.”

Mug Shot

Detectives One     Detectives Two

FingerprintsOne of Door’s dirty slides is shown here. Some were stamped with Door’s name and address.  Not smart at a time when such images were illegal. As far back as 1950, Door was promoting his cheap slides as “Exotic Figure Models from Around the World” but all were cornfed domestic wannabes who took the train to Tinseltown. He claimed the slides he mailed out were “tickets” to exotic places where come-ons for stag films available. The models were set among props like palm trees. Hollywood.

Smut King RuboutDoor’s murder was still unsolved but a lead was developed. Fingerprints found in the apartment of murdered actress Karyn Kupcinet were to be matched against fingerprints found in Door’s home. Kupcinet was the daughter of prominent Chicago newspaper columnist Irv Kupcinet. She had recently ended a relationship with actor Andrew Prine, but more importantly, some claimed she should join the list of bit players following the assassination of JFK. Her murder, which took place 6 days after JFK was shot, was never solved. Door was murdered a few days before Kennedy was hit. No link and no luck. (Except maybe for the speculation in the clip here? Not anything suspicious in THIS article, right?)

It appears Door was willing to sing, and maybe he knew something was up. The fingerprint story went away. ANY mob involvement related to Bobby Kennedy went away after the assignation. Crime Novelist James Ellroy investigated Kupicinet’s murder decades later, but concluded she fell and hit her head while nude dancing in her apartment hopped up on drugs. Did she know Door? Did she know anything? NO conspiracy. Door’s murder has never been solved either.

NOTES: Read the story of Karyn “Cookie” Kupcinet HERE. Writer Penn Jones speculated she had phoned her father telling him Kennedy was going to be hit, and that her father Irv had been in contact with Jack Ruby. Maybe or maybe not. Her questionable connection to JFK is HERE. Clipping Billboard Magazine November 30, 1963. Some Brochure scans Collection the author, others shared by my own crack team of investigators. Mug shot Los Angeles Police Department May 16, 1954. Black and White Photo Credits: 22 April 1952. William H. Door—33 years 1952 Record ID: examiner-m10612 Names & Dates Created: 1952-04-22 Publisher: University of Southern California Libraries Subject Coverage: 1952-04-22 collection Los Angeles Examiner Negatives Collection, 1950-1961 negatives (photographic) 9 photographs: negatives, b&w 10 x 13 cm. Photographs Rights: University of Southern California USC Libraries Special Collections Doheny Memorial Library, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0189

Jim Linderman is a Grammy-nominated collector, popular culture historian and author. His network of blogs is approaching 4 million page views, and his VINTAGE SLEAZE BLOG which tells a true story from the golden age of smut every day has over 500,000 Facebook followers. For several years he has been working on TIMES SQUARE SMUT which will tell the story of several long forgotten writers, illustrators and mob-connected publishers from the 1950s who ultimately influenced contemporary culture. 

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