December 5, 2017
Los Angeles, California
Steve Hodel, age 9, In the desert
In my sequel, Black Dahlia Avenger II (2014) Chapter 8, I included fourteen separate typewritten letters written by my mother, Dorothy Hodel to her former husband, famed film director, John Huston. These letters spanned the years from 1948-1957.
Author Note: My discovery of these letters was pure happenstance. I came across them while browsing through the John Huston Files at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills, California. There, I found an index labeled, “Dorothy Huston.” It contained these original letters written by my mother to John.
Let’s take a look at Letter No. 6 which my mother wrote on August 27, 1950. Clearly, it is Desperation City again. I’ll let the letter speak for itself.
From Black Dahlia Avenger II, page 133: (click below link to read)
We now know that John came through with the money, and as I had written in BDA back in 2003, a friend and sometime lover of my mother’s, film director Rowland Brown, packed our belongings into a truck and moved us out near his home and family in Rancho Mirage, which was then just a tumbleweed town eight miles outside of Palm Springs.
Rancho Mirage 8 miles east of Palm Springs
Mother’s plea to John for help and money to get us out and away from dad’s “growing threat of no control and physical violence” was answered.
Thanks to several newspaper articles mentioning both Rowland and mother’s move to Rancho Mirage I can now pinpoint our walkabout to the desert. Mother wrote John in late August and we moved within a month. (Likely, sooner).
Two separate articles in the local newspaper, The Desert Sun on October 31st and November 3, 1950, announced our arrival and later participation in the local Halloween School Parade help document our arrival.
Desert Sun, November 3, 1950
“A lighter, but no less important subject is the Halloween doin’s of the small fry of Rancho Mirage. Michael, Kelvin and Steven Hodel, sons of screewriter, Dorothy Hodel, packed their Halloween costumes with their lunches Tuesday in honor of the big school parade at Cathedral City. They were disguised as bat, the Indian chief Cochise, and Gorgeous George, the wrestler. Steven Brown, son of motion picture director and writer, Rowland Brown was a Schmoo. …”
Desert Sun, October 31, 1950
… “Rowland Brown and his beautiful ballet-dancer wife Karen moved in carrying their two babies Steven, 7, and Daphne, 2., papoose fashion on their backs. Rowland is a brilliant director and writer who has made motion picture history–too long to go into his successes. He is coming down, he told us, to roll up his sleeves, take off long pants and dash off two new one for Paramount: an original for Ann Sheridan, and the Wayward Bus of Steinbeck’s.
Dorothy Harvey Hodel, script and radio writer, and her three sons are established opposite the Desert Air Hotel and swimming pool on Del Sol Road.”