The Black Dahlia murder has been a baffler. It is
the most infamous unresolved homicide in LAPD history.
Elizabeth Short, a 22-year-old
wannabe actress, spent several years moving around L.A., gaining odd jobs. Her
passion for servicemen and aspiration to be famous made her a
"different" woman of her time. Like all of the other pretty girls
before and since, Elizabeth (who preferred the name Beth) came to Hollywood
hoping to make it big in the movie business.
Her name evolved from her black hair
and black attire. Some say she was named the Black Dahlia before her murder, others say the name was applied by journalists to
sensationalize the crime.
On January 15, 1947, a passerby
spotted her nude body in a vacant lot near Hollywood. Her body, cut in half, was
bruised and beaten. It was clear that she had been killed somewhere else and
then dumped in the vacant lot overnight.
To date, according to the LAPD, the
case goes unsolved.
about the murder case that might have influenced the 'Mulholland Dr.' pilot
corpse found at 39th & Norton Streets in South L.A.
Short was a small town girl who wanted to make it in movies.
She bears a
certain resemblance to Camilla, often dressed completely in black. Her hair was jet
black, her skin was very pale and her nail polish and lipstick very red. Men
couldn't keep their eyes off her. She was a natural vamp.
She called herself
"Beth," while she was known as "Betty" to her
family and friends.
Her body was found
by Betty Bersinger.
whom she dated shortly before, was (among others) suspected to be her murderer.
When Elizabeth went
to Hollywood, she roomed with Lucille, a girl who was trying to make a
career as a dancer. Through Lucille, she met Barbara Lee, a young actress at
Paramount. Barbara was well connected and took the Black Dahlia to the
"right" places to be seen.
During the LAPD's
initial investigation of the Black Dahlia murder, the following occurred:
Just a few days after the finding, two homicide officers sat in a
restaurant, discussing the case. After returning to headquarters, they got a
call from a man, stating he just spotted the killers. The gentleman was a
waiter in the restaurant, and his named suspects were the two officers.
The disposed corpse
looked like a broken department store mannequin. The dummy had been
shattered and the two halves lay separated from one another. For the
shooting after the car accident Lynch's
instructed to Harring "to walk like a broken doll".
Soon after the
funeral, the police received a package that contained Beth's belongings. One
of the item was an address book that belonged to local nightclub owner Mark
Hansen. It had several pages torn out. The
removed names (pages) were those of high-profile people. According to Ann Toth, an
actress, Beth had stolen the address book.
Lynch is reported to be intrigued with the Black Dahlia.
from "Lost Highway"
The case was an
influence on the Renee Madison murder scene in 'Lost Highway', and he also discussed his fascination
in an interview.
Lynch once owned
the rights of a major book about the case. It seems that at one time he
had planned to make a film about it, but gave/sold the rights to De Palma.
He's even had the
lead detective in that case over to his house for dinner.
Lynch was giving a
front cover review on "Severed The True Story of the Black Dahlia
Murder", a book dedicated to the mysterious murder.
satisfying and disturbing conclusion to the black Dahlia case.
After reading SEVERED, I feel like I truly know Elizabeth Short and her
- David Lynch -