Every night and most every day in the technicolor life of a man named Jack Hanson it rains dream girls. They pour down from the heaven of Beverly Hills with those exquisite faces, luscious figures and that long, serious hair the color of ravens or oranges or sunlight. They are actresses and starlets, dancers and models, heiresses and conveniences, and Jack Hanson relishes them all—every slinking, shiny, unimpoverished one. He sees them in the evenings, either Twiggy-eyed or smoldering, at his brutally private club, The Daisy. He sees them in the afternoons in his sportswear shop, Jax, buying the hip-slim pants that have made him wealthy. He sees them at the tennis matches and softball games he organizes to round out what he considers to be the perfect existence. And he studiously, sincerely and ever so southern-Californialy asks, "Can you imagine a world without beautiful women—or tennis?"
Well, a lot of guys operating drill presses in factories probably can, but Jack Hanson is not of their world. He is not, really, of any world except the one he keeps creating for himself and the beautiful people. It is an amazing world of leisure, recreation, elegance, pleasure and status. And Hanson has become so vital to it that a young lady named Nancy Sinatra Jr. said recently, "The most important men in America are my father, Hugh Hefner and Jack Hanson."
That is pretty tough company for Hanson, who is not that well known yet in the New Morality Belt, but as of two or three lawn parties ago—one of them for Super Squirt, or Twiggy—he was holding his own. He was still drawing envious stares in his 1934 Rolls-Royce with its coachwork by J. Whitney Gurney ("They say that's very impressive," he says), wearing sneakers, a sweat shirt and a baseball cap, and honking along in five different, genteel tones toward his massive white home in Beverly Hills where Pola Negri used to live.
Every rich man has his freak-out. There are golf nuts, boat, ski and car addicts, spa fiends, travel buffs, social squirrels and those who simply do nothing more than plop gin cards down on country club tables and talk about settin' pipe on a drill site. Jack Hanson is amused at them all because they are wrong. He is a beauty freak. And he is convinced beyond a shadow of Jill St. John that he is more turned-on with the times than the rest of the world, and therefore more alive. He seems to know and feel secure in the thought that southern California will ultimately nip Red China at the finish line of the World Conquest Derby. And thus he will still be a force, allowing only the fun people into The Daisy, from which they will rule.
He may be right. He hasn't been wrong yet. Years ago, when he was playing shortstop for the Los Angeles Angels in the Pacific Coast League on a team that included Lou Novikoff, Eddie Waitkus and Eddie Mayo—"The best team in baseball at the time," he says—he used to wonder why women weren't more attractive. They didn't dress right, he decided. This was in the early 1940s, when women looked either like Joan Crawford with broad shoulders out to here, or like Charlie Chaplin with baggy slacks. So as the trains and buses carried the Angels around the league, to Sacramento, Oakland and San Diego, Hanson sat and sketched what they ought to look like. "I got a few suspicious glances from some of the players," he says. But he sketched on in those presplendor days, convinced that he would one day make a lasting contribution to the world: glorification of the female bottom.
Hanson's simple idea was that women should display their figures better, if for no other reason than to please him. "Jax clothes are actually the result of the fact that I like to look at cute broads," he says. "Most everybody likes that, don't they? I just thought if I could make some snug-fitting pants, the women would love it."
Women love it, all right. So much so that Hanson's empire of exclusive shops reaches far out from his flagship of fannies in Beverly Hills to New York, Palm Beach, Southampton, San Francisco and Chicago, each one vibrating with a group of groovy salesgirls who can look haughty or hip, mini or mod, depending on the clientele.
The clientele of Hanson's shops is varied, of course, although it would seem to be weighted slightly in the direction of the two-yacht housewife. At the top there is a sort of Murderers' Row of purchasing power that includes Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlene Dietrich. One of his best customers in the early days was Marilyn Monroe, who was also a close friend of Jack and his wife, Sally, now the chief designer of Jax.
"If any one person made us, it was Marilyn," says Hanson. "She wore our things constantly, everywhere, and was always in the shop. We designed a lot of things especially with her in mind, like those low-cut knit dresses."
If Hanson showed Marilyn Monroe how to dress, she showed him the in-most way to have dinner in Beverly Hills—in the kitchen at La Scala. Near his shop and his home, La Scala is the Arc de Triomphe of Hollywood restaurants. On almost any balmy night one may glance around in La Scala at the intimate booths and see the likes of Paul Newman, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Natalie Wood and an awful lot of young ladies who look like the Dodge Rebellion girl—and most likely are. But back in the kitchen, ah ha, getting special attention from the manager, Manuel Tortoza, will be Jack and Sally.