Dahlia Horror Story Update- FX Show Perpetuates the Myth

December 1, 2011
Los Angeles

In a blog earlier this week I announced that Elizabeth Short would make a ghostly appearance on the FX Channel.

I am correcting that here and now to say, “She made a ghastly appearance.”

Unfortunately, I had not previously seen the series and in viewing it last night, found the show to be UNWATCHABLE.  (Was able to view only about half the program, before having to turn  it OFF.)

Sadly, the shows writers followed in James Ellroy’s footsteps, and perpetuated THE MYTH making Elizabeth a bisexual prostitute trading sexual favors with men and women for her dental needs and psychiatric counseling.  


Most Sincerely,

Steve Hodel




  1. Lynelle on December 1, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I agree! I was excited to see that she would be mentioned on the show, but it only took a couple of minutes into the show to know that this was not going to be a good accurate account of Elizabeth Short. It is unfortunate the myths and lies that still follow her name even today, especially in the name of making a show more “entertaining”

  2. Cari on December 2, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Totally agree Steve. They went the cheap route instead of paying attention to any of the real facts concerning the case. They had her die from an overdose of laughing gas, which I actually did find laughable. Then her dead body was mutilated and bisected. Did they even bother to do any research at all? No matter though, their feeble effort has sparked a lot of interest in the case. I read an article this morning on Yahoo about how people immediately googled Elizabeth Short, or Black Dahlia after watching. I commented under the article for people to read your book, or google George Hodel. If people are interested, they need to read the truth about the case, not believe all the other nonsense out there.

  3. Danielle on December 2, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Let me just say that if you’ve watched the whole season of this show you would know that the writers do all they can to mess with viewers minds.That being said, the fact that they altered the true story of Elizabeth Short’s death is not surprising. Also, lets be honest famous victims are used as “characters” in shows and movies all the time. Most of the time true accounts of the crimes are manipulated to work with the plot of said shows,movies,etc. Last Night’s episode was no different.Should they have also made the doctors name George Hodel to pacify your idea of the truth? Maybe you should apologize for making such a dramatic judgment of a show you have never watched. Let alone an episode that you feel so personally connected to.

  4. Steve Hodel on December 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    To clarify my point. My objection has nothing to do with the show in general. While “Horror” does not happen to be my cup of coffee, that has nothing to do with my criticism. Neither do I care about how they fictionally decide to present who killed her. My criticism and objection totally has to do with TRASHING THE VICTIM. What offended me was the perpetuation of the myth that she was a prostitute and loose woman who would happily jump in bed with any man or woman who would smile at her or offer to fix her teeth. If they had done the slightest research they would have discovered that both LAPD and the DA’s Office put those rumors to rest. As did the primary detectives assigned the case- Finis Brown and Harry Hansen.
    In BDA I devoted an entire chapter attempting to rehabilitate Elizabeth Short’s fifty-five years of character assassinations. The tabloids and hack writers for decades portrayed her as a back-alley whore, and alcoholic. Worse, a junkie who was destined to fall victim to one of her “tricks” or maybe her lesbian lover. NONE OF IT WAS TRUE!
    My objection/criticism of the show was based solely on the fact that it perpetuates the lies. Everything is free game in FICTION, but when you use a real name and real murder victim, then I believe you have a responsibility to show some respect.
    Elizabeth Short was a twenty-two-year old, rather naive woman who suffered extended torture and a terrible death at the hands of a madman. After her death there have been continued assaults on her character and memory.
    Thursday night’s American Horror Show program chose to continue that assault and that is why I found it “ghastly.” Crime victims have rights, even long after they are dead.

  5. Heather on December 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I wish people would stop writing fictional accounts of Elizabeth and her life. What’s the point?

  6. Margo on December 4, 2011 at 2:59 am

    Steve, as always your perspective and attitude is tough and uncompromising, yet humane. I was likewise appalled at Beth Short’s portrayal and was sorry I watched this spectacularly unpleasant TV show.
    It seemed that this victim was finally getting some respect from the media but I guess the old, ugly rumors will linger for a while around the name of Elizabeth Short.

  7. Steve Hodel on December 4, 2011 at 9:44 am

    They don’t have a point. They have a motive. To obtain high-ratings and make $$$$$.

  8. Steve Hodel on December 4, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Margo. Thanks. Yes,As relates to the Dahlia myth and legend, I am continually finding myself thrown back on the famous quote from the 1962 Western, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” After Senator Stoddard (James Stewart) finishes telling the newspaper editor, Maxwell Scott the real story of who and how Valance was killed, he say’s to him, “You’re not going to use the story Mr. Scott? The old time journalist turns to him and replies, “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” And so it goes. Steve

  9. Anna on December 17, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    I can agree. From reading here and there about the woman’s life, I don’t the Elizabeth was a terrible person. I think being labeled the Black Dhalia put a strain on her image. Truth be told, I’m not sure if anyone can tell what type of person she was unless they knew her directly and from what I read, some of the accounts were OVERLY sensationalized by the press at that time. I hate the press of that time because real answers could have been found had it not been for them. Her life was made into a joke.
    The television show’s portrayal of her is what brought me back to read up on her. I didn’t see the show but after the show aired, her name had become a popular search featured on the right side of Yahoo’s home page. There were details I never looked into. I even saw the movie and only looked it up to see if it was based on a true story.
    I just hope that it all can be brought to justice. I hate when actual pictures of crime scenes show up, which is what came up when I did the initial search, but I was saddened by it all. No one should ever die that way. And I wish the press could be sued for making such a joke of her life, just to entice and entertain readers.

  10. M.Simmons on January 20, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    The media is using her name to make money. For long time, they made myth about her. She was just 22 years old when she died. She died of a broken dream. She was trying to become an actress, trying to get a break in a big screen. This whole thing hurt her family as well. Jan 21, is the day she died in 1947. This is a coldest time of the year in California. Imagine how it is like for her out there in the cold. She was just 22 years old. Tomorrow night, I will put out the candle and light it to remember Beth Short.

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