The Black Dahlia
September 15, 2020 9:57 AM   Subscribe

ISAFISAIMMS, can I suggest that you make the tag "blackdahlia"? That would pick up this previously on James Ellroy.

As for this story itself, it's pretty good; I'm not at all surprised to read that someone has been obsessed with the case for quite some time--a lot of people are and were, including Ellroy, of course--but his research seems exemplary (the "sundial" thing was inspired), and it's startling to find out the number and type of people, including Jack Webb, who embellished (to put it politely) the story and Short's biography. It's also striking that Harnisch's book was derailed by someone who seemed to want to punish his own father not only by pinning Short's murder on him but also the Zodiac killings and a bunch of others as well.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:38 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]

I believe that the death of Elizabeth Short has been exploited enough. She is dead, her killer is dead. Yeah, this was Los Angeles in the 1940's, and she was the "dame" that made headlines. I have read so many theories about her death that I feel apologetic. Rest in peace, Elizabeth.
posted by SPrintF at 11:53 AM on September 15 [13 favorites]

It's also striking that Harnisch's book was derailed by someone who seemed to want to punish his own father
yeah, the publicity machine just crushed his shot. Ellroy seems like a snake.

A+, best of the web. Very nice find - a look into the killing through the lense of Harnisch's multi-decade research adventure. A sober reminder that all our lives will "fade to conjecture" - even those that end in drama, tragedy, and mystery.

A poor lost soul, that one.
posted by j_curiouser at 11:55 AM on September 15 [3 favorites]

Echoing SPrintF. That was a whole person who was extinguished. Rest in power, Elizabeth.

posted by Silvery Fish at 12:08 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]

I've met Larry before when I did a tour with him. I think of all the people I've heard talk the Dahlia case, he gives an actual damn about Elizabeth Short
posted by drewbage1847 at 12:36 PM on September 15 [4 favorites]

Halloween Jack - tag change made, thank you for suggesting.

I agree with the exploitation as mentioned above.
posted by I shot a fox in Skyrim and it made me sad at 12:53 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

That was a whole person who was extinguished.
I felt the story was humanizing. It showed that Short had a family, a life, a romantic partner. She suffered great tragedy before her life was taken. Anyway, I normally despise true crime and do everything I can to stay away from TV and film because it does seem cheap and exploitative.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:58 PM on September 15 [13 favorites]

I used to live in Medford, Massachusetts - Elizabeth Short's hometown - and would pass this memorial plaque every day on my way to work.
posted by cheshyre at 2:08 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]

j_curiouser, thanks for your comment. I am opting not to read the article, but appreciate your feelings about it.
posted by Silvery Fish at 3:04 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

James Ellroy's benzedrine and grief-by-proxy fueled obsession with this made for interesting reading in My Dark Places and his Black Dahlia book.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:21 PM on September 15

Beautifully written article, and contains more actual facts than any other account I can remember reading or watching. I agree with others above that Harnisch seems to genuinely care about the victim, and that his telling of her story goes further than others in showing her as a real person.
She claimed to be a war widow, yet she never married her fiancée... What Harnisch does know is that after her fiancé was killed, her life careened out of control...
That part really got to me. My mother was engaged to a man who died before they had a chance to marry or even make plans, and it really is its own special kind of trauma. I’m not trying to say it’s worse than losing a spouse, but one of the things that makes it painful is that many people don’t seem to understand, and think you should be able to throw off your grief more easily, or that you’re being overly dramatic for grieving as much as an official widow.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:53 PM on September 15 [10 favorites]

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