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.
(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:
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.)
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.
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
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.