Mady Comfort, Duke Ellington’s original “Satin Doll”, Former Lover of Dr. George Hill Hodel and her status as Prime Witness in 1947 Black Dahlia Investigation

Los Angeles
July 12, 2020
(Happy Birthday Brother Mike! Many of you knew him from his KPFK “Hour 25” radio show in the Seventies/Eighties. He would have been 81 years old today, but sadly he died at age 47 in 1986.)
Below FAQ was originally published ten years ago, but I am updating and republishing it due to the important role Mattie (Mady) Comfort played in the original Black Dahlia investigation and the new confirmations she provided posthumously in her secret manuscripts.
FAQ 4.3
(Originally published in 2010)
Q:  I read in the 1950 DA reports prepared by Captain Jemison that he interviewed a model by the name of Mattie Comfort and they had a nude photo of her with your father. Did she say that she also knew Elizabeth Short?
A: Frank Jemison was a lieutenant, not a captain, but since he did such a remarkable job, let’s give him the posthumous promotion to Captain.
Excellent question! As more and more pieces of the puzzle fall into place, Mattie Comfort, aka, Mady Comfort, has become an increasingly important witness and it appears she could well have been the femme fatale that was the cause of George Hodel’s sudden departure from L.A. (We know he was about to leave, but the Mattie Comfort factor could well have caused him to make an even faster start out of the gate. As we shall see, she became Mattie DISCOMFORT.
Based on DA investigator Jemison’s interviews and written reports, along with separate supporting facts, here is how I believe it played out:
  1. We know that sometime in January or early February 1950, Joe Barrett (a roomer/tenant at the Franklin House) was picked up at his workplace by lieutenants Sullivan and Jemison and taken to the DA’s office for interrogation. They informed him of their suspicions that George Hodel was the Black Dahlia killer and got Barrett to agree to help them. He was to be their “mole”, their eyes and ears at the Franklin House. They told Barrett to bring them some photos of Dr. Hodel from the house, which he agreed to do, and in fact, did do. Below is an actual scan of the relevant portion of Lt. Jemison’s report dated, 2/29/51:
    Note that the original 1951 typewritten note by Lt. Jemison reads, “She (Mattie Comfort) said that she was with Doctor Hodel sometime prior to the murder and that she knew about his being associated with the victim (Elizabeth Short).”
    It appears obvious that some unknown writer, on an unknown date and time (possibly even decades later) inserted the word “nothing” (written in pencil) into this report, in what looks like an attempt to try and reverse the meaning of what Mattie Comfort told the original investigators.
    Her statement that Elizabeth knew George Hodel is too important and too damning not to have been originally and immediately corrected in the typed version by Lt. Jemison, before submitting it to his bureau captain. Since it was in the file and not changed, it appears that Jemison’s statement was altered by another, possibly at a much later period in time. (We have Jemison’s unrelated statement in another document (below) confirming that there were multiple witnesses (not just Lillian Lenorak) connecting Hodel and Short and placing her at the Franklin House before the murder.)
  2. On March 22, 1950, Lt. Jemison, accompanied by a stenographer, goes to Dorothy Hodel’s residence on  Santa Monica pier and conducts an interview. Dorothy stonewalls him, basically denying she made statements to Tamar, connecting George Hodel to Elizabeth Short, and a statement where George, intoxicated and coming home several days after the Black Dahlia murder, said to Dorothy, “They will never be able to prove I committed that murder.” Dorothy tells Jemison she never said that to Tamar.
    Below is the actual scanned section of the transcript which relates to Jemison’s attempts to identify the black nude model with George Hodel. (Apparently, in March 1950, they had not yet identified her as Mattie Comfort, and again, Dorothy stonewalls and frustrates their efforts. (SKH Note- I know for a fact my mother was lying to investigators as to not knowing Mattie Comfort, as circa 1972, she had me drive her to Mattie’s apartment on Sunset Boulevard, and then introduced her to me as, “my old friend Mattie.” That was the first and last time I met Mattie Comfort, who some twenty years later, remained an exceptionally beautiful woman. A face you don’t forget!)
    Lt. Jemison’s interview of Dorothy Hodel on 3/22/50, excerpt page 5:
    3.  Obviously, sometime after this interview with Dorothy Hodel, and before the report was written a year later, the DA investigators identified  Mattie Comfort and interviewed her regarding the intimate nude photographs of her with Dr. Hodel, along with, what appears to be her identification of Elizabeth Short “being acquainted with George Hodel prior to the murder.” (Investigators already had the identification of Elizabeth Short as being a girlfriend of Hodel from “informant” Lillian Lenorak. On the bottom of page 5 of the Dorothy Hodel interview Lt. Jemison tells my mother, …”Let me advise you that we do have information that he (George Hodel) did associate with Beth Short…”
    4. From the DA bugging transcriptions timeline, we know that Dorothy Hodel met with George Hodel that very day, and obviously informed him of Lt. Jemison’s questions and the fact that he (Jemison) had the photos of Mattie Comfort and if they didn’t already have the connection, they were likely to soon make it. George Hodel, just three days later is recorded talking to “Baron Herringer” (LAPD had his name wrong and I would later identify his real name as “Baron Harringa”) at the Franklin House. The conversation is jumbled and investigators record only parts, but it is enough. Hodel says:
                         “They are probably watching me. Do you think we should hire some girls to find out what they are doing?” …I’m in trouble.” …”Black Dahlia”…”passport”…”F.B.I.” …”police have a picture of me and…I thought I had destroyed all of them.”…
    The following day George Hodel is gone, in the wind, and the DA investigators stakeout comes to an unexpected and abrupt halt. All they can do is collect their equipment and close down the surveillance, now in its sixth week.
    Whatever happened to Mattie (Mady) Comfort?
    She went on to become a singer and actress and I recently discovered her playing a bit-part as a nightclub singer in the 1955 film-noir classic- KISS ME DEADLY. She must have done a lot more work than the one film, as I also found the below publicity photographs of her with some very well-known actors of her day.

    Mattie Comfort was “The Satin Doll” for whom Duke Ellington wrote his 1956 hit song. (Lyrics below)


    by Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and Johnny Mercer
    I found the following Obit with her picture, posted on the Web. Ironically, she died in June 2003, just eight weeks after the publishing of my first book, Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder revealing my father as the killer of Elizabeth Short.
    As I indicated earlier, the above FAQ was written in 2010, and with the death of pretty Mady Comfort, I assumed any further secrets that might have known were buried with her. I WAS WRONG.
    I never dreamt that sweet Mady would leave behind a manuscript detailing her intimate relationship with both my father, Dr. George Hill Hodel, and my mother, Dorothy “Dorero” Hodel.
    For those of you that want the full story of Ms. Mady Comfort, I am attaching the complete Chapter 3 from Black Dahlia Avenger II which originally published in 2012 and was updated with new material in 2014.
    “We all knew that he (Dr. George Hill Hodel) had done it. (Killed Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia). There was no doubt.”

    Mady Comfort, June 2003

  3. Click below to read full Mattie Comfort updated chapter

    Chapter 1
    BDA II (2014) Chap 1 Mattie Comfort BDA II

  4. Related 2011 Article, “Black Dahlia” Murder Examined in The Chanteuse and the Devil’s Muse”  on David J’s staged production and Mady Comfort full article HERE.


  1. Lyndsay S. on August 12, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    Hi Steve. After listening to the podcast twice, I don’t recall any mention of what your life was like after your father fled the country. Did your mother, Dorothy, continue to raise you and your brothers? How was your home life after he left, normal? At what age did you reconnect with him and what was that (really) like? What type of man was he after he left and remarried?

    • Steve Hodel on August 12, 2020 at 8:50 pm

      Hi Lyndsay:
      I go into all that in my first publication, Black Dahlia Avenger (Skyhorse 2015 update ver.) Takes several chapters to cover it all. I write about,our But, we stayed together despite her heavy drinking and in and out of juvenile detention for “child neglect”. I joined the Navy at 17 and was stationed by Fate in the Philippines, so saw my dad on liberty in Manila for a year. He never really changed his marriage there with his Filipina wife Hortensia bore them four children, two boys, two girls, my half brothers/sisters. He broke up with her after about four years and became The largest Marketing Research firm in Asia and on and on… Suggest reading the book.

  2. David on November 9, 2020 at 11:19 pm

    Hi Steve,

    We chatted a year ago before you came to Whittier to do your book reading/signing at the library. My Nana was friends with Mattie, and she lived down the street from us in Whittier, My Nana used to take me to Mattie’s little red house where she had her paintings on the wall, and they’d gossip and laugh all day long. Mattie was very stunning even in her 70s with her golden blonde hair. My Mom even said Mattie used to take her to bars with her in Hollywood when she was a kid, and would buy her a Shirley Temple, and she had no idea Mattie was somewhat famous or the people she met were famous. I told my Mom about your book and Mattie’ s connection to the Black Dahlia, and she was shocked, but she did say Mattie lived an interesting life and was always very glamourous and dolled up. Have you read Mattie’s manuscript? And will that ever be released in book format?

    • Steve Hodel on November 10, 2020 at 10:50 am

      Hi David:
      Yes, I wish I had had a chance to meet and talk with Mattie before her death. Would have been an amazing conversation. As far as her manuscript, I only read the sections that related to her contact and intimacy with my parents as provided in my books. Not the whole manuscript on her life. Her good friend, George retained the complete manuscript and I haven’t had contact with him for many years now. Wishing you and yours all the best, Steve.

  3. Carla Hernandez on June 15, 2021 at 7:40 am

    Steve I hope retirement is going well. I have notice on the internet they spell Madi’s name Maddie Mady ,Mattie etc. If you look at her painting’s she spell’s her name Madi, Duke Ellington told her that’s the way you should spell your name as she was the { Mad }+ { One }= Madi.
    Take care

    • Steve Hodel on June 15, 2021 at 10:38 am

      Thanks for the well wishes.
      Exactly so on her name. I mention this in her chapter in BDA II.
      Best wishes to you and yours.

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