Nineteen-sixty-eight was one of the must tumultuous years of the 20th Century. Globally, it began with the Tet Offensive. Tet is the beginning of the lunar new year and the most important date on the Vietnamese calendar. It was then that the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong launched surprise attacks on cities throughout South Vietnam. It was a turning point in the Vietnam War, which dragged on for another several years. Student and labor protests during May in Paris and throughout France during the month of May tore the country apart.
In the U.S. hopes for the future died on the second-floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel on April 4th in Memphis and in the Ambassador Hotel pantry in Los Angeles on June 6th with the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.
New Year’s Eve 1968 began the countdown to a better year, at least that is what everyone hoped.
Mulholland Drive, the 21-mile long, mostly two-lane road that follows the ridgeline of the eastern Santa Monica Mountains and the Hollywood Hills, is a scenic route that offers breathtaking views of the San Fernando Valley to the north and Hollywood and beyond to the south. There is scant foot traffic along the road, too many blind curves and a narrow footpath make it tricky to navigate. But the views are spectacular, so on New Year’s Day a couple from Playa del Rey decided it was too nice to stay in their car.
It was 2 pm, and the couple walked along a fire road off Mulholland where they discovered a woman’s handbag. The bag contained a small amount of cash. The couple turned the purse over to the police.
Police tentatively identified the bag as belonging to Marina Elizabeth Habe. Seventeen-year-old Marina had disappeared from the driveway of her mother’s West Hollywood home at 8962 Cynthia Street about 3:00 am on Monday, December 30, 1968. The young woman was home for Christmas vacation from the University of Hawaii where she was a freshman studying to be an artist.
Marina’s father and mother were divorced when she was a child. Her father, the author Hans Habe, was living in Zurich, Switzerland. As soon as he got word of Marina’s disappearance he hopped a plane for Los Angeles.
Eloise Hardt, Marina’s mother, was an actress whose most recent film GAMES, starred Simone Signoret, James Caan and Katharine Ross.
Marina was last seen by John Hornburg, 22, her date on Sunday night. John was a longtime friend of the Habe’s. John and Marina joined two other couples, Dennie Boses, 25, Wendy Kleiner, 18, Norman Elder, 22, and Laurie Kramer, 18, for an evening at the Troubadour where comedian Larry Hankin was performing.
According to John, he and Marina, and the other two couples, left the Troubadour at 11:30 pm. John drove Marina to his home at 13326 Sunset Blvd, Brentwood, where she parked her car. Marina changed out of her date outfit into brown capris and a white turtleneck sweater. The two hung out for a few hours and Marina left for her mother’s home at 3:15 am.
Eloise heard loud exhaust blasts in her driveway and got out of bed to see what was going on. She saw a black car and a man running toward it yelling “Go.” The man jumped into the car and it sped away. Marina’s car was parked in the driveway, but the girl was gone.
NEXT TIME: What happened to Marina?