Off-Ramp

Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

The Black Dahlia at 67: Archival photos from an unsolved mystery

75988 full

Wednesday marks the 67th anniversary of the day in 1947 when police found the gruesomely mutilated body of Elizabeth Short, a young woman who would become known as "The Black Dahlia" and whose unsolved murder would fuel noir L.A. tales for decades to come.

To commemorate the day, KPCC contributor Patt Morrison writes in the Los Angeles Times:

What combination of circumstances makes us remember an otherwise forgettable event? Here’s the recipe, from 67 years ago Wednesday — the Black Dahlia murder. She was a young nobody, a pretty-ish drifter of a type that filled L.A. just after the Second World War. How she lived was unremarkable, hardly admirable; it was how she died, and what the newspapers said about her, that makes us remember the Black Dahlia. Elizabeth Short’s body was found, naked and cut in half, in a weedy winter bean field that, 10 years later, in the manner of Los Angeles, would be a tidy Crenshaw neighborhood.

The case is still unsolved, and it still tantalizes.

We've assembled a small selection of Black Dahlia photos from the L.A. Public Library's Herald-Examiner collection, just one of the papers that didn't hesitate to play the story as big as it could. The captions come from the collection; note the grease pencil edit marks on the photos and the extensive retouching.

To read more about the Black Dahlia case, you can read the Times'  piece on the 50th anniversary in 1992. You can also get full details from the Black Dahlia website, on which an amateur historian has collected as many of the original documents and photos available (it's not for the faint of heart).

What do you know about the Black Dahlia? Let us know on our Facebook page, on Twitter ("@" mention @KPCC) or in the comments below.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Enjoy reading Off-Ramp? You might like KPCC’s other blogs.

What's popular now on KPCC