“Jack Smith writes like your father would write
if he could, like your brother would write if he
could, like your neighbor would write if he
could. He is wise, he is witty, he is heartwarming.
We need him, because he is us.”
Let’s set the record straight in another of the dozens of myths and false statements surrounding the investigation of one of LA’s most infamous murders; that of Elizabeth Short, known to the world as “The Black Dahlia.”
Legend has it that newspaper reporter, Bevo Means discovered the name. FALSE.
In truth, it was a young Jack Smith, in 1947, then, a rewrite reporter for the MIRROR newspaper, one of LA’s four major newspapers. Smith would in 1953 join the Los Angeles Times, and in the following decades, become much beloved and our city’s leading humorist/journalist/ with a daily column that reported on all things LA.
But, let’s let Jack tell it in his own words as he wrote it in his book, Jack Smith’s L.A., Chapter 15, The Black Dahlia, published back in 1980.
Jack Smith’s L.A. (McGraw-Hill 1980)
The Truth on the naming of the “Black Dahlia”
excerpted as told by Jack Smith in his book “JACK SMITH’S L.A.” (McGraw-Hill 1980)
And below is the full three page Chapter for your enjoyment:
Steve: “The Case of the Black Dahlia” (Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram, 12/28/58) goes into more detail on the Long Beach drugstore story, based on an interview with Police Sgt. Edward Boynton. Boynton recalls a long conversation with Elizabeth Short there during which she discussed sensationalistic press coverage of murders. Boynton says he had the impression that ES was “trying to put on an act” and “kept interjecting big words” which she did not understand. This would have been soon after ES relocated to Long Beach after her brief stay in Chicago and seems consistent with the multiple witness accounts of her expressed interest in the Lipstick murders in Chicago. According to Boynton’s account, the “Black Dahlia” name came from a real estate lady who was present at that drugstore encounter. -LW
LW: Read the Long Beach article that was printed eleven years after the fact. I have seriously problems with those “ex post facto” articles who reference “somebody said” and attribute and in Sgt. Boynton’s case, connect themselves with taking credit for indirectly discovering the name. I believe Jack Smith’s version where he made the phone call on the day of, or after the murder in January 1947 and was given the name from the Long Beach pharmacist. As you know, better than most, some people love to attach themselves to fame or infamy especially long after the fact. Best, Steve.
Think we’re missing the point here. It wasn’t her moniker that made the case, it was her sexy mugshot. When the press printed that, that was when circulation took off. One early reporters states this explicitly.
I think it was a combo plate. Beautiful woman, the absolute horrors of the torture/murder and the name, “Black Dahlia.” All three came together with six major newspapers vying for the next scoop.
I have enjoyed reading your books. Truth is so much crazier than fiction. I walked on the street, Short, that your father’s little house was near. He lived in it as a teenager. The big house where his folks lived is beautiful. I also walk outside the Sowden House—so mysterious. I think your research rings dead on. Keep going!
Thanks for the kind words. Yes, truth is far far stranger than fiction.
Fictional mind would never go where this investigation has taken us.
Stay tuned. Lot more to come this year.
Some believe that certain truths may be just as strange as odd phenomena. They think that if Mr. Shadow likes somebody, “Styx coins” may appear on his veranda. And If some get coins, maybe others got other kinds of gifts, they wonder.
Have you considered submitting your DNA to CeCe Moore and working backwards to see if your father can be connected to other victims?
Hope the miniseries will assist us in moving forward on potential DNA linkage.