1924 California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) Annual Shows Freshman Student George Hodel as Member of College Debate Team

February 17, 2020
Los Angeles, California

Thanks to J. Anon for the “heads up” on two separate pieces of information sent to me in his email from yesterday. Excerpt from it reads:

Dear Mr. Hodel
I would like to draw your attention to, and ask if you are aware of, two things:

First is a listing on eBay of a June 1924 Caltech yearbook which lists George H. Hodel as part of a Freshman Debating Squad:
Second is a 1969 artwork by Man Ray titled “Tirelire” (French for piggy bank). It is a drawing of a female figure with arms raised with the body cut off at the waist by an Italian “Biglietto di Stato- Vale Dieci (10) Lire” bill from 1944. One leg emerges from the center of the bill and the other from bottom. Not sure if you have seen it before but I noticed it when clicking about this Man Ray website after reading your books:
Best regards, J

In checking out his links, we find the first to be the 1924 Cal Tech Year Book on eBay (Seller asking $160.00).

The annual lists the twelve Freshman members of the Debating Team showing GHH as one of them, but only 10 student photos are depicted. Appears that my father and a second member were omitted from the photoshoot.


SKH Note- While there is some resemblance to the student 2nd row/2nd from the right, I do not believe that is GHH.  See the known photos of GHH from that time period below:

        GHH HS photo 1923                        GHH young father photo circa 1929

 His second link is to a Man Ray photo which I had never seen before as he describes it “Tirelire” which as he points out does indeed translate as “Piggybank” and we see the woman arms upheld in the “Minotaur” position.

Thanks again to J. Anon for providing the links and information.

UPDATE  March 9, 2020:

Many thanks to contributor/reader Cameron Hunter for sending me scanned copies of GHH from the 1924 CalTech Yearbook that show young George Hodel mentioned and included in its pages. (Pages 93-94)  See photos below as originally included in that yearbook.

1924 CalTech Yearbook

GHH highschool photo compared to CalTech photo following year.



  1. Tami on February 17, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    “Piggy bank” — implying this is where you make deposits? Where your money goes? Were GHH and Man Ray in any way interested in Jack the Ripper, preying on prostitutes? Did Black Dahlia turn tricks, and that’s why they killed her?

  2. Luigi Warren on February 17, 2020 at 11:32 pm

    Steve: The entire 1924 “T” annual is available at caltechcampuspubs.library.caltech.edu/2197/1/1924.pdf. GHH is identified as “Editorial Assistant” for the yearbook at p. 94. On p. 92, it says he was a reporter for the “California Tech” weekly. Big story that school year was the award of the Nobel Prize to Robert Millikan, Chairman of the Institute, for his work on the charge of the electron and Einstein’s photoelectric effect. That came in November 1923, a couple of months after GHH matriculated (see p. 12). There is some interesting paste-up imagery on p. 214 which recalls the Armand Robles postcard in the Dahlia case. -LW

    • Steve Hodel on February 21, 2020 at 1:22 am

      Cool, thanks I’ll have to check it out. So his journalistic talents started much earlier that “The LA Record”. First at SoPas HS then continuing at Cal Tech, then into the public with The Record. Will make a trip to their library on of these days. I would love to find a link to “The Scandal” with the professor’s wife, but I’m sure that’s long gone or buried under some Strontium-90.

    • Cameron Hunter on March 4, 2020 at 3:03 am

      Hey Luigi,
      I am happy to say that I am the new owner of the “1924 CAL-TECH Yearbook Annual”, that was for sale on eBay. I was already in the act of purchasing it, when I stumbled upon this thread, so thanks for getting it started, sir. And I have found out just what Dan said down below… that there is a picture of GHH on page 93, bottom row… second from Right. And as I carefully turned and reviewed each page, I also noticed some interesting cut-and-paste methods used on p. 214. What I did want to emphasize, is that on that same page, in the very middle… there is clearly a cut-out head of a “BULL”… (next to a “?”… Question mark. Could this be (photography-editorial assistant), GHH integrating his love for the “MINOTAUR” ? Steve Hodel has done such a great and thorough job on his research; I wonder if he has seen this pic of the Bull on p. 214. Best Regards, ~Cameron

      • Steve Hodel on March 4, 2020 at 10:18 am

        Hi Cameron: Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated.
        No, I haven’t had a chance to get over to Cal Tech Library to see it.
        Any chance you can send me a relatively high scan of both pages?
        If possible a 300 dpi scan of each would be great. If not possible, I will get over to Cal Tech hopefully in near future.
        Thanks, Steve Best email for me is: steve@stevehodel.com

        • Cameron HUnter on March 5, 2020 at 6:42 pm

          Sure Steve. I’d be glad to do that. I’ll have it to you by this weekend. Keep up the good work! ~C

          • Steve Hodel on March 5, 2020 at 6:53 pm

            Cameron H.
            Thanks. Much appreciated. The photos in the PDF are not all that great and would like to have better res as may want to include in BDA IV new inclusions. (groan) When does this train ever stop?

      • Luigi Warren on March 4, 2020 at 10:09 pm

        Steve: The hooded eyelids caricatured in the 1950 “LOOK THIS MAN UP” note are particularly evident in the Tech staff picture. I think GHH loved dangling this type of clue in his communications with the police and press. -LW

        • Steve Hodel on March 5, 2020 at 6:55 pm

          LW: I agree and I’m not always sure he was conscious of it, all the time, but most taunts were definitely deliberate. sh

  3. Luigi Warren on February 20, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    Steve: An Italian would pronounce “tirelire” like “Tirra Lirra,” the song which lures the Lady of Shalott to her doom: “From the bank and from the river / He flashed into the crystal mirror /
    ‘Tirra lirra,’ by the river / Sang Sir Lancelot..” GHH references Tennyson’s poem in “Merlin Gazes at Cracked Mirrors.” Possible this is one of Man Ray’s arch puns. There’s a strong thematic link between the poem and the “L’Inconnue de la Seine” legend. -LW

  4. Luigi Warren on February 21, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    Steve: Not many 1944 10 Lire notes floating around by 1969, I would imagine, so one has to wonder about a hidden meaning. According to the Fondazione Marconi (which ended up with the 1943 painting “L’Equivoque”), Man Ray’s close friend and “witness” in late life was an Italian critic named Janus, who published extensively on the artist. The first Man Ray show curated by Janus was in Turin in 1969, so maybe this sketch was done for that show. Man Ray left Janus the manuscript for his unpublished novel, “1944,” which I take to have been written during the Hollywood years. Fondazione Marconi’s notes on the opening they gave when the book was finally published in Italy in 2012 state: “The novel is unfinished both in the beginning and in the ending: the first pages were misteriously torn after the death of the artist and the story is suddenly cut off without a conclusion.” See: http://www.fondazionemarconi.org/pdf/cs%201944%20ENG.pdf -LW

  5. Flint Liddon on February 28, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    Even the positioning of the legs seems similar to those of Elizabeth Short at the crime scene. This find seems important .

  6. Dan Lackey on February 29, 2020 at 10:53 pm

    Hi Steve,
    Check out pg. 93 if you haven’t already. A group picture with GHH front row 2nd from right. This is in connection with being an assistant editor with the paper. Too bad he wasn’t pictured in the freshman debate team group photo. I haven’t been able to pin him down in the class of 1927 group photo. ( I have a possible, but not certain. ) I also saw what Luigi was referring to on pg, 214. Reminded me of the Net over head picture & the Armand photo paste on postcard as well. Especially the one labeled “Bob” in the bottom left corner of page.
    Another interesting note. There’s many mentions of an Donald Morrell. Obviously an very active student. A name GHH heard often and likely knew the guy. Many thanks to L. Warren for pointing us to this pdf.

    • Steve Hodel on March 5, 2020 at 1:41 am

      Hi Dan:

      Yes, that photo 2nd from the right first row on page 93 is definitely a young George Hodel probably age 15 as likely taken after October 10th. The photo on 214 appears to be a goat, so don’t really see any connection? To be a “reporter” and the “Assistant Editor” right out of the gate boded well for his soon to be job as a reporter for the Los Angeles Record newspaper a few years later. Also, he was only there that one year and was asked to leave due to the scandal with the professor’s wife, so you won’t find his name in later years. Best, Steve

  7. Dan Lackey on March 5, 2020 at 9:25 pm

    Hi. Steve,
    I noticed in the 1924 book that there was a page called “class of 1924 casualties” highlighting students who left before graduating. Curious, I looked at the class of 1927, and George Hodel was described as “working as a reporter for Los Angeles newspaper”. I’m glad Luigi found that pdf. It was interesting to look through an yearbook from that long ago.
    Best, Dan

    • Steve Hodel on March 5, 2020 at 10:06 pm

      Dan L: I missed that. Good catch. Yes, in 1925-6 he would have been working for the Los Angeles Record as a “crime reporter/drama critic”. I’m surprised that he would get some “honorable mention” after the scandal. You would think that they would rather just “go quietly into the good night.” I suspect that it was his mates at the Tech paper that included that info out of a sense of pride that their Freshman reporter went on in just a year to work for a “Big City Newspaper.” s.

  8. Constance Isbell on March 9, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    I just noticed this posting. There are 13, not 12, names listed (there is a name at the bottom centered) and only 10 students pictured. And, looking closely at the photo, I thought that the student on the second row far left looked most like George Hodel. Just my humble opinion. And, in another note, I saw that “The Most Dangerous Game ” is airing on TCM this morning, so I am taping it to watch later–never seen it before and feel that I should watch it carefully after reading Most Evil. Thanks, Steve, for your dedicated work on these crimes.

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