John Huston’s 1930 Play “Frankie and Johnny” Dedicated to Dorothy Huston Hodel and A Surreal Synchronicity at the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair

January 29, 2020
Los Angeles, California

John Huston’s 1930 “Frankie and Johnny” Play
Illustrations by Covarrubias Published by Albert and Boni – More Synchronicities at the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair

Huston dedicated this 1930 play to his wife Dorothy (my future mother.)
After seven years of marriage (1926-1933) John and Dorothy divorced in 1933 and seven years after that in 1940, Dorothy married John’s high-school friend, Dr. George Hill Hodel.
My older brother Michael was born in 1939, I and my twin John followed and were born in 1941 and younger brother and my “Irish Twin” Kelvin would arrive eleven months later, in October 1942.


(Below) Newlyweds John and Dorothy greet John’s father famed actor Walter Huston and train station in
Los Angeles, California in 1926- three years prior to publication of “Frankie and Johnny.”

Dr. George Hill Hodel-  1939-1940 Hired as on-duty physician assigned to treat patients for medical needs at Terminal Island World Fair


Miguel Covarrubias – The Illustrator


Illustrations by Covarrubias in John Huston’s “Frankie and Johnny”  (1930)

Covarrubias Mural at 1939-40 San Francisco Exposition

Covarrubias Mural “Fauna and Flora” at 1939-40 San Francisco Golden Gate World Fair


Franz Bergmann- The Illustrator/Surrealist Artist/Muralist at 1939-40 SF Golden Gate Exposition

“This Way to the Circus” pub. The Junior Literary Guild Corp (1930)
by Emilia Hodel, Illustrations by Franz Bergmann

Artist Franz Bergmann circa 1955 

(Married to Emilia Hodel, George Hodel’s former wife)

Franz Bergmann painted a mural of Christ at 1939-40 San Francisco Golden Gate World’s Fair


“Mr. Bergmann your mural’s conception of Christ is too stern and foreboding. It lacks spirituality and compassion. Please fix it.” (See above article)
                                                         Dr. Julian McPheeters, Pastor
Head of Glide Memorial Church Committee


By Franz Bergmann

Originally exhibited at Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco May 25-September 29, 1940
“Exhibition of Works by California Artists”

Fred Sexton  – Artist/ WPA Muralist

(Probable artist/exhibitor at 1939-40 Golden Gate “California Artist’s Exhibit”)

Below artwork (painting of his wife, Gwain) one of several on display at San Francisco Courvoisier Gallery in 1940

Diego Rivera – The Muralist   Created below Mural at the 1930-40 San Francisco Golden Gate World Fair


SKH Note- My half-sister, Tamar Hodel (the victim of the 1949 incest/child molestation with our father, Dr. George Hodel ) provided a  list of names of individuals she was planning to include in a book she was planning to write on her own biography. (See Black Dahlia Avenger III pages 139-142) Included in the long list of names of prominent individuals that she met was the artist/muralist Diego Rivera and his wife, Frida Kahlo whom she met and interacted with in Mexico in 1950 post incest trial. Unfortunately for us, she was never able to write that book. I quote from a portion of Tamar’s email to me in January 2004.

Tamar writes:

…”In Mexico City in 1951…I met a dazzling array of Artists including Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo…had bit parts in two films with Jorge Mistral “La Bestia Magnifica” and “La Mujer Que Tu Quieres”…met and married (divorcing two years later) a handsome Negro-Art Student when I was 16…During that time I traveled to New York City and met and fell in love with the man I would love allllll the days of my life…(to this very day even though sadly he left the body in 1969) the beautiful and noble Josh White…Folk Singer and Story Teller and Civil Rights spokesman par Excellence. I returned to Mexico City…divorced my first husband and moved back to San Francisco at age 18.”

Synchronistically speaking, I find it fascinating that, Dr. George Hill Hodel, Fred Sexton, Covarrubias, Franz Bergmann, and Diego Rivera would all find themselves working/involved in and at the San Francisco World’s Fair in 1939-1940.



  1. Luigi Warren on January 29, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    Steve: Did you get a sense of whether GHH had contact with Emilia and Bergmann in later life? Seems like a possible North Bay connection. -LW

    • Steve Hodel on January 29, 2020 at 9:10 pm

      LW: No I didn’t get a sense of it in his last decade of life after he relocated back. Never really spoke at all re. Emilia or Franz Bergmann. Both died before his return to the U.S. (Franz in ’77 and Emilia in 87) He, of course, returned in 1990.

      • Luigi Warren on January 29, 2020 at 10:05 pm

        Steve: You mentioned in BDA how, when GHH’s father died, it appeared from his funeral that he had many more friends than your mother ever would have suspected, as if he were a Hollywood celebrity rather than an insurance salesman. You have described GHH’s MO when visiting the US during his “exile” — strict op-sec observed, family members summoned without notice for brief reunions at 5-star hotels, and so forth. And that approach worked inasmuch as you and other family in effect gave him a pass over the incest scandal and were suitably impressed by his apparent success as a sophisticated, globe-trotting entrepreneur. In general, I wonder if his social network in the US during his exile could have been larger than you realized at the time. -LW

        • Steve Hodel on January 29, 2020 at 10:24 pm

          LW: Possible, but I seriously doubt it. I think after he “reinvented himself as a psychiatrist/Public Opinion Expert and Market Researcher” based in Manila as of 1953, he likely closed off most of his U.S. connections and I expect that most of his “past life friends” wanted nothing to do with GHH in any way. Expect most were aware of the “rumors” that he was suspected in the Dahlia killing and likely “beat the case” on the incest charges. I seriously suspect that most of his old acquaintances wanted to stay as far away from GHH as possible. I think that his U.S. friends/associates post 1951 were mostly “new” and focused on his new profession in Market Research. The New York associates would have been related to his job as INRA-Asia President and centered on his many Asia related surveys for Coca Cola and other large companies. His in and out of the U.S. trips always seemed to occur with stealth and secrecy. In the years of my adulthood (1960-1990) I was NEVER aware of anyone that he contacted/communicated with in the U.S. All were overseas. He could have secretly made contact with Fred Sexton in Mexico, but never heard of any?

  2. Jess Waid on January 29, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    Fascinating history.

  3. Robert J. Sadler on January 30, 2020 at 10:17 am

    Sometimes, Steve, it seems to me like there is this big double-sided painting of GHH’s life that has been segmented into puzzle pieces. And everyday we look at the ‘A’ side, as the painting/puzzle now exists, fully exposed, fully explained… Filled with these millions of clues, where a single puzzle piece “on its ‘A’ side” that we think of as benign, mundane or terrifying (and has been already exposed and explained), gets turned over onto its ‘B’ side and whole new connections and meanings appear and are revealed when viewed with the rest of the ‘A’ side pieces.

    I commend your on-going investigation, expansion and exploration of this ‘painting/puzzle’ called George Hill Hodel, M.D.

    I shudder to image what the entire ‘B’ side might reveal.

    • Steve Hodel on January 30, 2020 at 11:49 am

      Robert “Dr. Watson” Sadler:

      Well said, Robert. Takes me back to my father’s “Parable of the Sparrows” Letter he wrote to me back in 1980 where he said:

      …”But are there only three of us? The birds, the glass, and we? Or is there a fourth? Who is standing behind our glass, invisible to us, incommunicable to us, gravely watching our brave attacks against the walls we cannot see? Is there a fifth presence, watching all the others? And a sixth, and others, hidden in mysteries beyond our dreams?”

      This was all part and parcel to his LIFE HIS CRIMES – HIS GAME.

  4. Jarvis jones on April 21, 2022 at 9:50 am

    Mr Steve hodel I have a question regarding Fred sexton. First question is do u know how Fred sexton died in Sept of 1995? And my second question is. Do he have any living relatives left on earth? And have it been any new info in regards To your father concerning the dahlia case?I am just curious to know.

    • Steve Hodel on April 21, 2022 at 3:26 pm

      No, he died in Mexico, and death record from Guadalajara which I haven’t seen.
      Yes, I have several living relatives. Sons, nieces, nephews, brother, etc.
      There are constantly “new revelations and evidence” re. my Black Dahlia investigation.
      Read BDA II, III, and “The Early Years” Parts I and II. Miniseries documentary in

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