The Black Dahlia murder has to be one of the most fascinating true crime cases of the last...ever. I mean, there's so much to pick through for fans of unsolved mysteries. It's a classic story about the underbelly of Hollywood: Elizabeth Short moves to LA in hopes of becoming a star, and instead she gets dumped on the side of the road, her body mutilated in the most horrific manner. Mouth sliced to reveal an unsettling grin. Reproductive system violated in unspeakable ways. Perhaps the worst part: her torso is bisected at the waist, each part flung into the weeds off Leimart.
It's the American equivalent of the Jack the Ripper case, and like the spate of murders from 1888 Whitechapel, The Black Dahlia has never been solved.
A new podcast called 'Hollywood and Crime' is tackling the Black Dahlia murder and a few others in a limited series, which began its run on January 6. What separates this podcast from others -- including The Principled Uncertainty Podcast -- is that producers Rebecca Reynolds and John Ponder are positioning the series as an audio documentary. It's an interesting distinction, and it may put the right spin on yet another true crime show discussing particulars of a 70-year-old case.
They hope to stretch the show into multiple seasons, so it appears that we will only see a brief run before 'Hollywood and Crime' goes away again. Sad. However, according to an article on the Record-Eagle, there's enough material surrounding the Elizabeth Short murder (and several other, seemingly related cases around that time) to fill one, maybe two, seasons. SO, there might be plenty of Dahlia discussion ahead for us.
The friends thought of the idea over lunch and chose the Black Dahlia case for obvious reasons. Reynolds said, "Everybody knows about the famous Black Dahlia case. A beautiful 22-year-old girl found severed in half -- it's hard to forget something like that."
She isn't wrong. The Black Dahlia case fills volumes and volumes of pop culture schlock, from experts who think they've cracked the case to novelists looking to recreate the crime in their fictionalized versions, which, in my estimation, never quite live up to the historical case. (However, as a sycophant of James Ellroy's, I will say his book comes close.) You can listen to a band called the Black Dahlia Murder and find 7.1 million other things to read about on Google if you typed in the words "Black Dahlia."
For me, The Black Dahlia is a case that never loses its appeal. There's always something new to discover, something to learn. Recently, I read the book called The Black Dahlia Files, which linked the Black Dahlia murder to the mob, which was playing a heavy role in Hollywood at the time. (I loved that book, but I think Steve Hodel still has the best theory for who murdered Elizabeth Short.)
For that reason, the indefatigable investigation into this case, I plan on listening to the entirety of 'Hollywood and Crime' and providing some written insight here on the blog. Who knows: maybe I could convince one or both of them to come on the show and talk about it.
In the meantime, visit the podcast's homepage or check out the iTunes page.
For a primer on the Black Dahlia case, be sure to listen to my interview with the author of The Black Dahlia Avenger, Steve Hodel. It's a beast of a podcast episode, and I feel lucky and honored to have spoken with him about the case.
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