Child Piano Prodigy George Hodel In 1913 Had Competition From A “Girl Genius of 8”: File In Twilight Zone

May 4, 2021
Los Angeles
I received the following email yesterday from one of my readers, Isla Brown.
Isla references one of my earlier blogs in which I posted an article written in the Los Angeles Evening  Herald of July 14, 1917, entitled, “Boy Of Nine Chief Soloist At Shrine Holiday Exercises” (See link to that article here.)
(SKH Note: I have  taken the liberty to insert minor edits to Isla’s email as well as the below original article that appeared in the 1913 San Francisco Call newspaper.)
Hi Steve,
There is a similar article to the one about your father that was printed in the San Fransisco Call on September 27th, 1913, with the title: “GIRL GENIUS OF 8 IS PLAYER, COMPOSER, MUSIC PUBLISHER” about a little girl from Oakland —. She was thought to ” claim the distinction of being the youngest musical publisher on the Pacific coast.” The Sacramento Daily Union also printed an article two years later on September 24th, 1916, with the title: “YOUNG PIANIST TO APPEAR HERE—, Ten Year Old, Will Be Presented at Tuesday Clubhouse October 13.” This article describes her as “the youngest pianist on the Pacific coast.” How ironic!
Isla Brown
I quote the 1913 article in full:
“__, the diminutive daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James __of Sycamore street, Oakland, may claim the distinction of being the youngest musical publisher on the Pacific Coast. This tiny lass of eight summers has sent a collection of compositions to an eastern publishing house and in the next few months the interesting group of piano numbers which local authorities assert are of exceptional merit will be given to the public. At the present time, several of her musical writings are being used in the classes of one of the music schools of the city.
When other children were conning their A B C’s ___ was dreaming fairy songs in sound and learning to put them in concrete form. Her ear was perfect for tone values and she could lisp the names of each more easily than she could read them. She has grown up with the piano as her plaything and in her small arms is a wonderful power which is unafraid of the most trying of the old masters.
Two years ago ____ played before the Damrosch school in New York and was accorded the honor of being perched on the great stool before the magnificent organ which was the gift of the late John Jacob Astor to the Episcopal church in Rhineback-on-the-Hudson, a signal recognition to the gifts of the 6-year-old girl. When Josef Hoffmann visits the coast this winter she will be given an audience before the world-famous pianist.
But with all her natural talent and the splendid gifts which set her apart from her playmates, the little pianist and composer is a charming, merry-hearted child, devoted to dolls and baseball. She is taught at home with her mother for teacher and companion and Miss Cora Jenkins as her musical supervisor.”


Play below Twilight Zone theme
The 8-year-old child prodigy’s name?

ELIZABETH SHORT, from Oakland, California*

San Francisco Call September 27, 1913
* Eleven years after this article appeared in the newspaper, Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short would be born in the East Coast and in 1947, at age twenty-two, would become the torture/murder victim of George Hodel and her body buried near her sister’s home in OAKLAND, California.
SKH Note:
And least we forget in 1923, George Hodel Sr. hired famed architect Zelenko to design and built a separate “Tea House” for his young son’s, fifteenth birthday. Though on the same property the young genius private residence had its own separate address: 6511 Short Way. 

Elizabeth and Josef married for thirty years.


  1. Joakim on May 4, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    I have heard about strange events such as spirits recreating a brief movie scene the psychic person had watched many times IRL (on the street, real people did the scene) as some type of “nod” to him. He claims it can arrange reality & is rather playful. He has a weird theory that people the netherworld, for some reason, is interested in can be given that type of unbelievable attention.

    • Patricia ONeill on May 4, 2021 at 3:44 pm

      Very scary!! They say there is a fine line between genius & insanity. The name Elizabeth Short may have been enough of a “trigger” for GHH to brutally target Elizabeth some 34 years later! 😞

  2. Luigi Warren on May 4, 2021 at 12:40 pm


    Remarks of Nathan Leopold’s nurse-companion, Pauline Van den Bosch, quoted in “LEOPOLD CHEATED OF CHILDHOOD,” Los Angeles Record, June 9, 1924:

    “He never sought the spectacular, but his suppressed egoism must find an outlet — he must prove to himself that he was above average. Doubtless he sought the proof in this murder, attempting to be author of the most insoluble mystery of the century, paying self-tribute to his own mental power.

    “It was Nathan’s destiny not to be average, to be great as a good man or a bad man. He has fulfilled his destiny.”

    From the Zodiac Killer’s “Red Phantom” Letter:

    “Put Marco back in the hell-hole from whence it came — he has a serious psychological disorder — always needs to feel superior. I suggest you refer him to a shrink.”



  3. Fauna Elizabeth H.W.S. on May 4, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    His competition’s another child genius, 8, yr old named Elizabeth Short…. Grandfather carried his anger since he was a child!
    This hurt enough for to lash out many times in different harmful ways, Tamar’s Doll, my middle name Elizabeth, the poor murdered 8 yr old ( if I’m remembering correctly) all now seem so clearly connected. I look back now and understand much more about his visits, calls, were not for us but for him,. Thank you, Uncle Steve for always seeking truth❤❤ Love your Neice FaunaEliz H. W. S.

    • Elaine on May 4, 2021 at 9:57 pm

      Fauna Elizabeth, I listened to the podcast where your family all chatted together and I was sincerely touched by your sweetness and light and beautiful heart. I feel you don’t know how beautiful you truly are. May God bless you, and everyone else. You’re all wonderful, brave and beloved children of the Most High God. He did see what happened and I am certain your grandfather paid for his destruction of this family. I trust your mom received some forgiveness because she was damaged so young. Our Father understands. Remain beautiful. The bible says if you ask, the Lord will give you a new heart. May it be so for you all. Much love.

  4. Luigi Warren on May 4, 2021 at 4:59 pm


    I wonder if GHH ever met this Betty Short. It looks like the “charming, titian-haired musician” became a pupil of and in 1927 married Josef Hofmann, thirty years her senior and hailed as the world’s greatest living pianist by Sergei Rachmaninoff. They lived in Philly for a number of years, but relocated to Los Angeles in the early 1940s, where they remained until Hofmann’s death in 1957.



    • Steve Hodel on May 4, 2021 at 7:13 pm

      LW Yes, and of course we are reminded that Rachmaninoff sat for a personal piano recital by Georgie at the Hodel residence. Well, clearly the answer is simple. Why don’t I just go over, open the TALES OF HOFFMAN and thumb through the three “fantastique” tales? The answer has to be hidden right there in plain sight.

      • Luigi Warren on May 4, 2021 at 9:00 pm


        BTW, Powell & Pressburger’s TALES OF HOFFMAN is just about the most GHH thing I have ever seen — more even than THE RED SHOES, BLACK NARCISSUS and STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN (A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH.)



      • Luigi Warren on May 5, 2021 at 1:06 am


        Betty Short Hofmann lived on Franklin Avenue about two miles west of GHH in 1944. News stories report her being badly injured in a collision while being driven to hospital in an ambulance. Reportedly she was under physician’s care at the time, while Josef was on tour in the East. Evidently she recovered because there’s a 1945 piece about her writing pop tunes in the LA Times’ “Farmers Market” column (the same one that occasionally touted GHH as a tea fancier.) Betty had a son at Caltech around this time. Wouldn’t be too surprising if their circles intersected — recall from the Sowden transcripts how GHH was very chummy with Theodore Kolline, another Polish-borne classical musician who married his much younger student.


        • Steve Hodel on May 5, 2021 at 9:16 am

          Good sleuthing as usual. Questionable if her maiden name of “Short” ever came up, but definitely in the same hood and from your description she would have been living quite close to Louise Springer who was also on Franklin several miles west of GHH.

  5. Miles on May 4, 2021 at 11:14 pm

    Incidentally, the date of the article, September 27th, was also the date of the Zodiac’s Lake Berryessa murders, and also the date that Jack the Ripper’s Dear Boss letter was received by the Central News. The Dear Boss letter was the revelation of the killer’s “trade name.” The Lake Berryessa attack marks the revelation of Zodiac’s symbol. Scratching my head here…

    • Steve Hodel on May 5, 2021 at 12:28 am

      Yes, I have noted the “anniversary” dates of Lake Berryessa and the “Dear Boss” which GHH could well have chosen being a Ripperologist, along with all the other links as noted his “Bleeding crude Knife” drawings as Black Dahlia Avenger and as Zodiac. Pretty obvious that the Elizabeth Short child prodigy had to have been random. (At least on any conscious level we are currently aware of. As to the laws of synchronicity, beyond my paygrade.)

      • Amy on May 10, 2021 at 2:09 pm

        Hello Steve!

        Could the musical prodigy of the same name as Elizabeth Short be a thought print instead of a coincidence? I am curious if when he met Elizabeth Short that one of the reasons he fixated on her is that he shared the same name as this musical prodigy that rivaled him. Forgive me if that is what is being implied here if I missed it.

        Thank you so much for your work. I finally finished your first book and plan to finish the rest within the next week or so. You’re brilliant.

        • Steve Hodel on May 10, 2021 at 2:45 pm


          Well, yes actually I would consider her name and the early connection a single point within a potential thoughtprint, just as one loop or one whorl or one ridge in a fingerprint is meaningless by itself, yet when COMBINED with other points has the potential to positively identify an individual. (Most LE agencies require 12 points within a single fingerprint to call it a “positive ID.) Thanks again. Steve

  6. Doug on May 5, 2021 at 3:22 am

    Where was the childhood home of GHH in Pasadena? I recall reading in one your books that it may have been in Walnut street?

    • Steve Hodel on May 5, 2021 at 9:26 am

      It was in South Pasadena at 6512 Monterey Road. (Formerly 6440 Walnut Hill Avenue)

  7. Marilyn Fuss on May 9, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    From so many clues and evidence beyond circumstantial everywhere one looks, including Rachmaninoff being a fan of both prodigals Master Hodel and Miss Short, surely Dr. Hodel followed the whereabouts of his little rival, including that she later lived westward of him on Franklin. Even without the Internet, he had time as a student in the Berkeley-Oakland area to follow her trajectory. He was a genius, after all. Q: How old was GHH when he left his parents’ property? How convenient for him and unfortunate for humanity, for him to have isolated space from his parents during his formative years! There is a great film that must be made here, about all of it.
    What precious and brave children, including the above-commenting Fauna, Tamar had. Their strength
    and survival tales on the fine Podcast they created were encouraging and touching to me.
    Q #2, and less related: Steve, did you write about any link with Fritz Lang’s film M in THE BLACK DAHLIA AVENGER? (I gave my dog-eared, annotated copy to my son-in-law, and watched the incredible movie only 6 months ago.) Your fan and Carole’s friend, Marilyn Fuss

    • Steve Hodel on May 9, 2021 at 6:19 pm

      Hi Marilyn: Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. Yes, I’ve seen and am very much aware of the Fritz Lang “M” movie.
      Stay tuned, more to come on that specific subject. I haven’t written it up yet, but it will be presented “down the road.” A lot of classic films taken and used
      by GHH in his crime signatures, that being one of them. Best, Steve

  8. Marilyn Fuss on May 9, 2021 at 5:01 pm

    Something I forgot to mention in comment I just left–it was about Fauna’s admiring words in her comment about your search for truth. That search, whether if is regarding a crime, simply dispensing justice, attributing responsibility where it needs to be, or just labeling things correctly, that is the focus of what our society and others are up against today. If we don’t have truth and a free press to record it, we get fascism, and we have been brushing up too closely to that lately. Thanks for reading these comments.
    Marilyn Fuss

  9. Jenny on May 16, 2021 at 3:15 am

    The question is—- was he aware of this little girl?? Either as a young prodigy, or later, as a medical student?? And did he replace unsuspecting Naive Beth Short for the Prodigy? Wow, twilight zone for sure

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