Kiyo Hodel, “The most unforgettable person I have ever met.” By “Anonymous”

February 14, 2022
Birch Bay, Washington
Valentine’s Day
                    Kiyo with Neil Young Time Magazine 1969
(Left) Author’s ex-wife, Kiyo circa 1942
the photo was taken by my father, Dr. George Hill Hodel
Below is an email I received from “Anonymous” back in September 2021.
In rereading it, I thought it would be appropriate to publish it today, Valentines Day 2022, as in many ways it reads like a Valentine Card to my ex-wife, KIYO.
Judge for yourself.  (SKH Note- “Anonymous'” email is offered as received without edits or changes of any kind.)


to steve

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It appears I entered Kiyo’s life just after you left it.  I met her in either 1965 or 1966 and we soon became engaged.  I also was a young man of 20 or 21 at the time and of course knew she was older, although until reading an excerpt from your book did not know how much older.
Kiyo and I took several major automobile trips up through Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Western Canada.  On one trip her mother traveled with us along the Canadian Rockies up to Jasper and walked out on the Athabasca Glacier.  We also took two Caribbean cruises on one of which her mother also joined us – one a seven-day cruise and the other a ten-day cruise, in each case stopping on many beautiful islands.  One of the most special days was in Victoria, BC at the Butchart Gardens where Kiyo said it was like heaven, a place where she could spend eternity.
I was transferred to our NY headquarters and lived for two years in mid-Manhattan.  Kiyo flew back and we took an extended automobile trip up through northeastern US and Canada, sending several amazing days at Expo 67 – one of the most memorable experiences of my life.  Kiyo loved the Kaleidoscope exhibit and accordingly, we visited it several times before continuing our long journey.  Although we eventually broke up we remained close friends for several years taking other long trips together.
I remember one time we went to Las Vegas where she wore a beautiful black fur coat and black Russian fur hat, with long black hair flowing behind.  As we walked through the casino to the floor show all the men were gazing at her.  What a presence, what a talent, what a beautiful woman, what a brilliant woman, and what a wounded child in an adult body.
For our long western automobile trips, we traveled in my big Cadillac car with an amazing suspension that made it almost like flying over the ground.  In Los Angeles, we went to amazing stage plays, unique movies, fantastic museums, musical events, and the like.  Her mother and mine bonded and remained friends for many years.  She later introduced me to Rolf Aurness, son of Jim Aurness and a world surfing champion, whom she finally married about the time I met and married my own wife.
She and Rolf visited two of the places we had planned to visit but never did:  Easter Island and Macchu Picchu.  You may know that Jess Stearns, a bestselling author of the day, included two chapters about Kiyo the astrologer in one of his books.  She was also featured in a Time magazine article that was published while I was residing in Manhattan.
We both congratulated each other when we married.  In fact, it was shortly after I got married that she tragically died.  I met Neal Young when he occupied one of her cottages and took him out for dinner one night when he was breaking up with his singing group.  They remained close friends until she died.  Through a friend of hers, she introduced me to a group of black women singers known as The Mirettes that had already recorded a few records.  I would say they were as good as The Supremes but unfortunately never made it to the top.  However, a friend of mine, an Artists & Manager in Beverly Hils, signed them up and arranged many performance dates for
them including an extended period in Las Vegas at the Desert Inn.
We used to go over there every weekend to visit and support them.  It was on one of those visits that I saw a fantastic go-go dancer perform in an affiliated act and arranged to meet her in the DI lounge for coffee.  Her name was Goldie Hawn and I told her she was an amazing talent, she stood out from everyone else on the stage.  She became very emotional, thanked me for my sincere regard for her talent, and told me she had an audition the following week that could launch her career.  The audition was with Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In which indeed launched an amazing career.
There are so many stories I could tell that either directly or indirectly involved Kiyo.
During two of our trips, her mother told amazing stories of how she met her Japanese husband, lived as a white woman in Japan, and worked with the MacArthur administration in the field of education after the war ended.  As a child Kiyo was severely bullied by her brothers and by many others because she was half-caste, undoubtedly accounting for some of the strange behavior she exhibited during your relationship.
She had a profound impact on my life, I’ll never regret the years we spent both engaged and as the closest of friends, and I’ll never forget her – certainly the most unforgettable person I’ve ever met.
Here’s my email response to “anonymous” on September 7, 2021
Dear Anonymous:
That’s one hell of a “backgrounding” on most of which I never knew.
Thanks for sending it to me. Much appreciated.
Don’t know if you’ve seen my “Squad Room Blogs” which date back some fifteen years?  I assume you gleaned my Kiyo relationship from reading the “KIYO” chapter in Black Dahlia Avenger.
Here are links to the KIYO-related blogs through the years. You can also “search” any subject by using “keywords” in the Search Box at
Don’t know if you have read my series of books or not? We are currently adapting them to a miniseries documentary with T Bone Burnett and author, Nic Pizzolatto (think the creator of True Detective I, II, and III) and documentarian Robb Bindler will be directing. Right now looks like 5 episodes, but that may change.
I am also just completing “The Early Years” which deals with my father’s crimes pre-Dahlia going back to the 20s and 30s. So, lot more to come.
If you ever are in town (or you may be now?) and want to meet for lunch just drop me an email at  See links below.
All Best, and thanks again for the picture of Kiyo’s life both before and after our marriage.
Steve Hodel
Los Angeles, California

Earlier posts on Kiyo:



  1. Dennis Effle on February 14, 2022 at 2:12 pm

    Steve: Wow. Life sure throws you some incredible twists every now and then. I’m looking forward to an up-date if you ever meet up with “anonymous.” I hope the video project kicks into high gear for you soon. All the Best.

    • Steve Hodel on February 14, 2022 at 2:31 pm

      Dennis E:
      Hi Dennis. Thanks. Yes, hope to resume production in a few weeks.
      Best, steve

      • Marina Borawick on February 15, 2022 at 2:57 am

        Steve, you didn’t mention before who was doing the television docu-series.
        I couldn’t think of a more perfect creative than Nic Pizzolatto to render it. Plus T.Bone Burnett for music!
        I was at HBO when I heard this great music coming from the guy in the next office. I went over and he told me all about the upcoming True Detective.
        & of course, season 2 was in several ways reminiscent of bad men from my childhood…
        So very pleased for you!

  2. Steven Uanna on February 14, 2022 at 2:57 pm

    Steve, I commented about KIYO before. This information convinces me that she may have played a part in Elizabeth’s murder, or she was in the deep underground/behind the scenes world of LA and Hollywood your father was in, and she knew. She was older than you, apparently much older. Her parents met in the 1920’s or 30’s? Where were they during WW II? Japan? Her mother worked for MacArthur during the American Occupation of Japan after the war! KIYO was really something. The more I learn about her…I think she may well be the proverbial ROSETTA STONE of your investigation. She had to be involved with something behind the scenes. Something your father probably knew about but separate from him too, if that makes sense. I think some kind of…I’m guessing…the OCCULT or espionage? Nothing about her makes sense really. What did her Japanese father do for a living? Was he involved with Japanese crime families, Japanese business families, Japanese Military, Education, Science, Diplomacy, Intelligence?
    Did KIYO suspect your father in Elizabeth’s murder? Why did she meet and marry you! To keep tabs on him? We need more information on her.

    • Steve Hodel on February 14, 2022 at 3:45 pm

      Steven U:
      No question in my mind that Kiyo KNEW and very likely met Elizabeth Short at the Sowden/Franklin House in the mid Forties. Actual involvement in torture/murder, doubtful to my mind. Her initial meeting with my father as described by my mother was “at a bus bench shortly after the war started.” (1941-2?) “George went up to her gave her his business card and said, he was a physician and a photographer and would love to photograph her.” Both mom and dad “took Kiyo in and passed her off as Native American Indian to try and keep her out of the internment camps.” So, she would have seen me as an infant and later during the Franklin House years. I recall her father was a dentist in Boston, MA. I don’t see any mafia or crime family connections. As mentioned in BDA I see her marrying me as revenge against my father who “dumped her” after a few years.

      • Marina Borawick on February 15, 2022 at 4:05 am

        For a fascinating read on MacArthur’s “Little Fascist”– his chief of intelligence, Charles Willoughby–see Cheri Seymour’s book, “The Last Circle. ” (link below). Cheri was the first person gutsy enough to publish detailed info on the FAR reaches behind the Promis software scandal (involves felony IP theft, international spying). Involves Cabazon &CI A and several murders. Involves a tight group who worked for McArthur during WWII, & it will blow your mind what they did post war.
        I first heard of the goings on at Cabazon et AL from author & friend Teri Jentz (NYTBS “A Strange Piece of Paradise”). Her friends’ daughter in SF was murdered by a man who, though frequently arrested, always walked free for decades–until one day he didnt. He was a “company” subcontractor involved with the affairs at Cabazon & more.
        Willoughby, responsible for failures in the Korean War, was said to have a connection with mk ultra programs. He was a native German.

        • Steven Uanna on February 15, 2022 at 8:39 am

          Yes, thank you. MacArthur started out in Occupied Japan destroying the control the wealthy families and military had on Japan. He made many reforms that the people welcomed. Labor unions, women’s rights… then in 1947 he made a reversal. Communism was too dangerous to allow this. Slowly those who promoted and profited from Japan’s war making made their way back into power and influence. By 1959, when Eisenhower was making his worldwide farewell tour he could not go to Japan because of protests by the Japanese people. Ike did visit Spain, and was pictured in a love embrace with Franco. Dali admired Hitler and Franco.

  3. Jess Waid on February 14, 2022 at 3:37 pm

    Fascinating read, Steve. Thanks.

    • Steve Hodel on February 14, 2022 at 3:46 pm

      Jess W:
      Your welcome Jess. Happy belated New Year.

  4. Patricia ONeill on February 15, 2022 at 12:01 pm

    Steve, War and its aftermath definitely make “strange bedfellows”! I saw and heard so many similar pairings & tales of broken lives & dreams during my childhood during the ‘40’s! Best to remember the good times & realize that life is really learning to live with both the afterglow and the afterflow! Kiyo was beautiful, Steve…..I’m sure her association w/GHH profoundly affected her mental health & actions far more than you could imagine..…..and if I may add the same could apply to your mother! Dorero & Kiyo were in deep and treacherous waters as were Dorero’s
    children😓! Sounds like the miniseries well on its way…..looking forward to it! Stay well! 👍😎🌵

    • Steve Hodel on February 15, 2022 at 12:15 pm

      Patricia O:
      So true Patricia.
      I find the below line in his letter haunting and most telling:

      “What a presence, what a talent, what a beautiful woman, what a brilliant woman, and what a wounded child in an adult body.”

      Neither “Anonymous” nor I could have seen or known it at the time, in our youth, but in reflection as mature adults her pain and suffering become most apparent. (“A wounded child in an adult body.”) Kiyo’s moment of victory (and defeat) came with my introduction to her to my father at the Biltmore as my “new wife” and with her, “Hello George.”

  5. YC on February 26, 2022 at 10:04 am

    Steve are you all right?

    • Steve Hodel on February 26, 2022 at 10:12 am

      YC: Yes, I’m fine thanks.

  6. Rolf Aurness on March 15, 2023 at 12:01 pm

    Dear Steve,
    I met Kiyo in Laurel Canyon in the summer of 1970. I thought she was some kind of psychadelic
    queen with all her neighbors being rock stars. We dated a few times but I think she noticed I had an
    attraction to LSD which she knew something about through her astrology. I was subsequently
    institutionalized and I never tried LSD again. I asked Kiyo to get married out of respect for someone
    who had changed my life. She took care of me for about 5 years and I was shocked when her cancer
    returned. I don’t know too much about the rest of her life. I’ll always remember her as someone with
    an intellect greater than mine. Sincerely, Rolf A.

  7. Steve Hodel on March 15, 2023 at 12:47 pm

    Rolf A:
    Hi Rolf.
    Thanks for sharing that.
    Kiyo was very much the “Witchy Woman with raven hair and ruby lips and sparks fly from her fingertips with the moon in her eyes, a restless spirit on an endless flight.” that The Eagles introduced us to back in 1973.
    Her beauty coupled with her powerful intellect made for a heartbreaker for any man that came within her sphere (and unbeknownst to all of us, yes “she’d been sleeping in the Devil’s bed.” Think Dr. George Hill Hodel).
    Glad she was a positive influence in your life and helped you become addiction free. As you can see, as a former husband, you’re in a rather exclusive club of young men who were totally bewitched by her many charms. Wishing you Health and Happiness. Steve

  8. Wayne Stone on August 9, 2023 at 6:08 am

    Hi Steve, I lived in the garage apartment on Utica Drive, from 1967-69, and met Neil Young and John Densmore, who were living on the property at the same time. I kept my distance from Kiyo, perhaps a little intimidated, but we did do a session with her ouija board in the ground floor den of the main house. She also later introduced me to Barney’s Beanery, and filled my in on the rich Hollywood history of the venue.

    • Steve Hodel on August 9, 2023 at 9:10 am

      Wayne S:
      Hi Wayne. Well, the lady could certainly be an excellent tour-guide to Old Hollywood for sure!
      My time with Kiyo and husband and wife was about the same. (1962-1965). We bought that property from the old western actor, Lash Larue and his wife for a whopping $34,000. As a rookie cop I worried about how we were going to meet the $194 a month payment. (About half my paycheck.) Wild years.
      The house and garage apartment was built by famed film producer/director, Tay “The Postman Always Rings Twice” Garnett. Best, Steve

      • Wayne on August 10, 2023 at 12:54 am

        Thanks Steve for informing about the grand history of the house. My monthly rental payment to Kiyo amounted to $125, so I imagine that helped offset the mortgage obligation. My rental agreement with Kiyo was verbal and I handed her the cash at the beginning of each month. We all shared a common mail box at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the main house. While sifting through the daily mail, I saw your name a lot, affixed to the utility bills. All the best, Wayne

        • Steve Hodel on August 10, 2023 at 12:58 am

          Thanks. All best to you too.

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