Surrealist Artist William Copley’s New “Hat Trick” – A Third Drawing and Clue to Black Dahlia Whodunit?

October 10, 2019
Los Angeles, California
Today would be Dr. George Hill Hodel’s 112th Birthday

“There are no coincidences.”

                                                           Detective III Harry Bosch
LAPD Hollywood Homicide Division

Another William Copley Alphabet For Adults Clue?

Here we see a photograph of artist William Copley (undated). He is supine hands above his head in what surrealist recognize to be “The Minotaur” position.  He is laying in front of two of his paintings, both created in 1971.  On the right is a Glove, and on the left is a Hat. (Original acrylic paintings below.)

Is this another Copley “Alphabet for Adults” Letter Clue?
G for Glove and H for Hat? G.H. George Hodel?

And WHY does Copley assume the Minotaur position? Is he reminding us of his 1961 painting “It is Midnight Dr. ___” with his surgeon’s tools spelling out HODEL M.D.? His acknowledgment that he knew that George Hodel as the Minotaur slew Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short and posed her body on the vacant lot in Liemert Park, just as he has here posed his own?
Is this photograph another Copley SURREALIST MIND FU#K?
Another WORD GAME?
A ten year reminder that, “I know a secret”?
Copley’s “It is Midnight Dr. _____.” (1961)

Man Ray and William Copley’s “Alphabet For Adults” (1948)
Q for Quarrel showing interior of Hodel/Sowden House with couple quarreling. The L’Oculiste Man Ray Sculpture witness to the courtyard quarrel. (Man Ray gifted sculpture to George Hodel in 1948.)

Man Ray/Copley Alphabet for Adult Letters in original 1948 publication.

Left to Right: Man Ray, Juliet Man Ray, William Copley and Marcel Duchamp preparing to depart for France on ship in 1951. (Duchamp did not sail with them, just aboard to say “Goodbye.”)


  1. Lucas Pickford on October 10, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    Wow. They just don’t stop do they Steve? The George Hill Hodel Mutual Admiration Society’s most unabashedly agregious member, Mr. William Copley. That POS got the biggest god damn kick out of his dirty little “secret knowledge” didn’t he? And he just couldn’t stop flaunting it in front of everyone’s face either.. Talk about a smug, arrogant lowlife. I’d really like to know just how and when Copley met GHH because those two obviously really hit it off. Unbelievable.

    • Steve Hodel on October 10, 2019 at 10:24 pm

      Lucas P: I’m sure they met and Copley was a regular at the Franklin House all through the Forties. Man Ray and Copley were the closest of friends from the early Forties forward during Man Ray’s “Hollywood Years” and Copley exhibited Man Ray’s works at his Beverly Hills Gallery, then hit the seas with Man Ray and Juliet in 1951 and went to France with them and were neighbors there. So, I’m sure he knew GHH well just by being in association with Man Ray.

  2. Maria Gutierrez on October 14, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    I just read an article recounting interviews with Tamar and Fauna, and Tamar’s second daughter, FuanaElizabeth. Dear lord, your father was sick. Tamar credits your mother with saving her, from your father, only to return to him herself later, and deliver her daughter to him for abuse.

    I worked with abused girls, and women, so I understand the pathology, but it’s still horrible.

    I was at a fundraiser in Sowden House a couple days ago. Guests asked the current owners about “the murder,” but the owners both, understandably, choose to believe it didn’t happen there. They are, however, inspired to take the interest in the case and using it to advocate for “women like her.” I’m not sure what sort of woman they believe ES was, but it’s nice that they want to have some good come from the continuing fascination in her death.

    As for the HG, I saw H in the two blue stripes down, connected by the blue stripe in the hatband across, and G starting with the loop in the lace on the right.

  3. Kitty on October 16, 2019 at 2:36 am

    Wow. I slapped my hand over my mouth to keep from yelling aloud when I saw the initials.

    I’m currently plowing my way through your BDA books, and as someone who studied journalism and criminology at university, I have to say… you write like such a cop. (I mean that as a compliment; my godfather was a cop. I have friends who are cops.)

    You have such a matter-of-fact, evidence-based style of writing that makes the pages fly by. I was looking for a hefty book to keep me company while I’m laid up with a broken knee, and I’m so glad my (initially) passing interest in the Short case drew my eye to your books. I now have them all.

    I’m going to shut up now, but thank you for the work you do. I wish you all the best.

    • Steve Hodel on October 16, 2019 at 8:54 am

      Kitty: Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. I hope the knee heals quickly. All Best, Steve

  4. Lowell Phillips on October 18, 2019 at 7:40 am


    I am somewhat new to the developments of recent years, but like most have been aware of the Dahlia case all my adult life. I am curious if you believe the Dahlia murder was a tribute to Man Ray, or do you think it is possible that Man Ray was actively involved in your father’s act? Considering the close relationship and recurring imagery, I believe it is absolutely possible.

    • Steve Hodel on October 18, 2019 at 10:17 am

      Lowell P: Difficult question based on what we now know. Initially, in the early stages of my investigation, I believed it was my father’s crime by himself and alone and that Man Ray and others quickly became aware of the crime AFTER THE FACT. Now, with so many more links to Man Ray and others, I am not so sure? As documented in my later books, I have come to believe it was as you say, “a tribute” to Man Ray certainly, also combined with some “oneupmanship” as his own “masterpiece” and a statement to his fellow surrealists, “OK boy’s top that.” I now believe it is more likely that others were involved in the extended torture. Fred Sexton? Baron Ernst Harringa? (Who we know was involved in the electronic stakeout beating and likely murder of the unknown woman.) Others like Man Ray? Possible, but I still tend to lean toward thinking he was not present during the actual crime. Guess we will never know for sure? The fact that Sexton, Man Ray, Copley, and Duchamp would each separately create an artwork(s) acknowledging their independent knowledge of the crime is obviously of great concern adding to the question of culpability. A post Dahlia “wink and a nod” or more?

  5. Pablo on September 28, 2020 at 9:19 am

    This is another interesting painting of a womans top half and bottom half in seperate paintings by Copley

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