Monday, January 15, 2007

60 years ago today: The Black Dalhia...

author's note: post was written in 2007
January 15th, 1947, Los Angeles.
Her body was discovered in a vacant lot, right next to the sidewalk..  She'd been cut in two at the waist and was posed with spread legs and her arms raised behind her head  Her mouth was slashed.  There was no blood- apparently the killer had drained it elsewhere.
Here's a then and now pic of the crime scene .

The victim was Elizabeth Short, 22..  .Popular lore depicts her as a would-be actress or model, but it's likely that's a bunch of  "Lure of  Hollywood Stardom Destroys the Innocent" nonsense.   I'm not sure what she wanted to be.  Maybe she didn't either.  She tended to drift from place to place- a few weeks with one friend, a few weeks sharing a room with other girls, a day or two mooching off a kind stranger, etc.  Except one stranger, or perhaps "friend," wasn't so nice.

The press  named her "The Black Dahlia" (her nickname). Rumors spread. One suggested she was a prostitute (she wasn't).
The murder was never solved.
Like the Jack-the-Ripper case, theories pinned the crime on mad doctors, vindictive women and famous people. Every few years a new book roles in about who "really" killed her.

A list of  (paraphrased) titles includes:
  • My Dad Did it!
  • No, my Dad Did it!
  • A Creepy Guy did it but Whoops, the Evidence Burned up.
  • A Famous Celebrity Did it.
  • A Famous Rich guy and a Famous Mobster Did it.
  • A Surrealist Artist did it. Surrealists have People in Pieces, Right?
I think it was some unknown creep with a vicious streak.
Her killer wasn't the only one to exploit her. She's inspired in books, movies, video games, and remarkably bad folk art.  On eBay I saw a snowglobe of the crime scene (no, I didn't buy it). 
Wait a second- I'm blogging about her. I guess I'm guilty too. Whoops.  Sorry.

Notes- photo of Short has been artificially colored.  All three photos have been snagged separately from the internet, so I can't promise they haven't been tampered with.  I included the Wikipedia link for a general overview, but remember this is wikipedia, so its vulnerable to any mistakes (or pranks) from its collaborators...


Anonymous said...

Good piece! I'm really interested in this story did you take this photo? If so whats the address.

Namowal said...

Thanks, Anonymous.
I got the modern photo off the internet. I live about six miles from the spot but have never been there in person. There's some debate as to where the body was discovered- different sources give different addresses.
This is near 3824 S. Norton Ave (the map should switch to a street view in a few seconds), and to me seems the most likely location. The uncropped photo of the crime scene includes a fireplug to the south (still there) and a large oil tank thing a few blocks to the north (which used to be a few blocks north of Norton Ave.)