“Tree of Life-Shangri-LA 1948”- Dorothy Bowman 75-Years Later Past and Present Reunited Through Internationally Recognized Artist’s Vintage Serigraph

April 28, 2023
Birch Bay, Washington
The below photograph was taken “inside the palace walls” at our Sowden/Franklin House in 1948.  (Unknown photographer possibly tenant and later star/DA informant, Joe Barrett.)
It was sent to me by artist/tenant Chris Dawn (“C.D.” in the photo, lower left) who was a friend/roommate of Barret’s at the home both of whom were living/renting the large studio room at the far end of the home. I received it in 2004 about a year after my book, Black Dahlia Avenger was published.
Sowden/Franklin House tenants 1948 (top-down)
1) Suzanne D’Albert, 2) Gladys Krenek, 3) Dorothy Bowman
4) Fuji Walker, 5) Tony Walker, 6) Chris Dawn, 7) George Hodel,
8) Ellen Taylor  (Tenants artist Joe Barrett and Actress Carol Forman
not shown in the photograph.)

Dorothy Bowman enlarged



Past (1948) Meets Present (2023) Through Artist’s Serigraph
A few days ago, I was fortunate to find and purchase the below serigraph made by Dorothy Bowman Bradford in 1960, some twelve years after she resided with us at the Franklin House where the “Tree of Life” photo was taken.

Signed serigraph “Summer Colt” by Dorothy Bowman Bradford (1960)
I would have been 7 or 8 years old when the Shangri-LA photo was taken at our home in Hollywood. I recall the two budding artists, Chris Dawn and Joe Barrett, but not the other tenants. (Several, Suzanne Dalbert and Carol Forman (not in photo) went on to become successful film actresses. Ellen Taylor was our maid and would figure prominently in the 1950 DA/Hodel Black Dahlia Files Bugging Tapes as sexually servicing George Hodel, or as the late-night stakeout detective candidly put it, in the transcripts, “Ellen just gave George another blowjob.”
1949 Life Magazine article/photo of “future Hollywood stars”
which includes Franklin House tenant, Suzanne D’Albert and a then relatively unknown,
Marilyn Monroe

Excerpt from Black Dahlia Avenger II (Thoughtprint Press 2014)
Chapter 10 – Hollywood Roomers pages 165-166:

At the time Dorothy Bowman was renting a room at the Franklin house, she was twenty-one and was already a recognized Los Angeles artist. Her works had been shown at galleries throughout the Southland and she most certainly would have been a friend and acquaintance of fellow artist and regular houseguest Fred Sexton and his wife Gwain.
Dorothy attended L.A.’s Chouinard Art Institute, where she met fellow painter Howard Bradford. The two also studied together at the Jepson Art School in Los Angeles. This is the same school where Fred Sexton was an art instructor and was fired, because according to Joe Barrett, who also attended the school, “He (Sexton) was hitting on all the young girls and half the class left, so Herb Jepson fired him.”
Dorothy Bowman and Howard Bradford relocated to the California coast of Big Sur around 1950, where they became part of that community and befriended writer Henry Miller, another famous Franklin house visitor. The two artists eventually married. Both Dorothy and Howard became internationally respected and their paintings and serigraphs can be found in museums throughout the world. End of excerpt Chapter 10.
SKH Note-
To put Dorothy Bowman’s 1948 tenancy at the Hodel Franklin House in historical perspective:
Just a year earlier (Jan 1947) her landlord, Dr. George Hodel had slain and surgically bisected victim Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short in the courtyard perhaps 75′ south of where the “Tree of Life” ladder is placed. In the same year Dorothy is residing at our home, George Hodel commits the brutal bludgeoning/stabbing murder of real estate agent, Gladys Kern, just two miles away from the residence. And in the following year, 1949, George will commit the kidnap/murder of Louise Springer, followed a month later by the incest and child molestation crimes with his fourteen-year-old daughter, my half-sister, Tamar.
For those desiring a more detailed backgrounding I have included the full Chapter 10 ‘Hollywood Roomers” as a PDF HERE: BDA II Chap 10
Here is an updated biography of Dorothy Bowman courtesy of The Annex Galleries
My purchase of  Dorothy’s “Summer Colt” was on Ebay sold to me by her son, Tal Bradford. Tal kindly included an interesting article on the Bradford family with the serigraph which I reproduce below:

In closing below is a link to a family-made YouTube interview with Dorothy Bowman Bradford made by her daughter, Heather.



UPDATE- April 29, 2023- Barry Guerrero Contribution
(Barry is a regular reader and contributor through the years)
  • “Two things. First, that photo of Dorothy Bowman reminds me a lot of Cyd Charisse is 1949’s “Tension”, which also starred Richard Basehart and Audrey Totter. The movie was set in Los Angeles, and is a terrific example of ‘film noir’. Perhaps they had the same hair stylist (L.O.L.). Second, as a amateur musician, I’m very interested in Gladys Nordenstrom Krenek. As best as I can surmise, she must have married Ernst Krenek briefly before coming out to L.A. I think Krenek was finishing out his obligation as a music teacher (professor) some place, as Gladys came out west before him – the period in which Gladys would have been living at the Sowden house. She remained devoted to Krenek after his death, helping to get all of his music published under one house: Universal Music. Krenek is, at best, an afterthought these days. However, Krenek made a huge splash in his early years in Europe with his jazz-laden opera – the first of its kind – titled “Johnny Spielt Auf” (Johnny Plays On). It was certainly influenced by the Expressionist and Dadaist movements. In his later years, Krenek got involved with Donald Buchla, who invented the world’s first functional and portable (sort of) synthesizer. Buchla synthesizers are still produced today, but are much more streamlined and user-friendly than the original. Another ‘claim to fame’ was that Ernst Krenek had been briefly married to Anna Mahler – the surviving daughter of famed composer Gustav Mahler. Anna was a busy sculptress, and taught at both U.C.L.A. and U.S.C. Her mother, Alma Mahler, was on her third marriage – this time to playwright and author Franz Werfel (“Song of Bernadette”). Alma used her own money and connections to get Werfel – who was Jewish – safely out of Austria and into California. Anna Mahler’s huge “Tower of Masks” still sits in the middle of a road that bisects the U.C.L.A. campus. Gladys Nordenstrom had some success as a composer herself but didn’t seem to be terribly active in her L.A. period.”
    Interview with Gladys Krenek
    Gladys Krenek
    Gladys Krenek

    Gladys Krenek Oral History

    Wikipedia Bio on Gladys HERE
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  1. Patricia ONeill on April 28, 2023 at 7:06 pm

    Steve: Serigraphy…….mentioned that recently to youngest granddaughter Riley telling her two of my favorite artists, LeRoy Neiman & Andy Warhol, greatly expanded their art marketing through their serigraph reproductions👌. Such a dual history marking Sowden House & your Hodel young lives. Surrounded by tremendous talents, intelligence on one side but unfortunately some evil activities on the other side! Not unusual for life in CA in those “heyday” decades😔! Howard Bradford and wife Dorothy Bowman were the “lucky ones”…….as you & I are too! Approaching a milestone here as oldest granddaughter marries next
    weekend🥰……..still alive & kickin’!! You stay well, lots more to come, Steve!

    • Steve Hodel on April 30, 2023 at 10:11 am

      Patricia O:
      Yes, remarkable how successful and talented so many on the “Tree of Life” became.
      As you say, we are incredibly lucky to have been and remain “witness” so many hidden truths unfold. And, as you say, more to come.

  2. Steve Hodel on April 30, 2023 at 10:20 am

    George A:
    The Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short murder occurred in January 1947, at least one year prior to
    the tenants moving into the residence. On that occasion, we learn from the DA files that our mother, Dorothy, and we three sons were staying temporarily (several weeks) with her brother, our “Uncle Gene’ some four miles from the home. So our father was alone at the residence on the night of the murder, Jan 15, 1947. The tenants rented rooms in 1948 and possibly part of 1949 until the shi* hit the fan with GHH’s arrest for incest in October 1949. By Feb 1950, the bugging tapes would seem to indicate most of the tenants were gone except Chris Dawn and Joe Barrett. And as we know, George was apparently “looking for a tenant” per the tapes.

    • Luigi Warren on April 30, 2023 at 11:23 am


      A series of classified ads in the LA Times featuring GHH’s phone number (OL-3476, cited in the bugging transcripts) suggest that he started looking for roomers less than two months after the Dahlia murder. Protective coloration, perhaps?



      • Steve Hodel on April 30, 2023 at 1:46 pm

        Thanks. Always nice to have you as a “ride-along partner”. Nice find on the GHH phone number. As I’ve mentioned throughout my writings, GHH never really had huge wealth. The best I could tell he spent it as fast as he earned it. So the “$50 a month” rental rooms X six or so tenants amounted to say an extra $300 which in today’s dollars would have a purchasing power of about $3,750. Certainly help pay for his drinks, dancing and dinners in DTLA etc.

        • George A on May 1, 2023 at 9:42 am

          Detective Hodel
          Your father was a famous surgeon, he ran an abortion ring, he was embezzling money. He had a mansion in Hollywood. But he was not rich?
          George A

          • Steve Hodel on May 1, 2023 at 9:55 am

            George A:
            Sir: Your ongoing tone and continual negative questioning clearly indicate you are unable to believe that Dr. George Hill Hodel killed Elizabeth Short or was an active serial killer in LA in the Forties. That’s fine, you certainly have a right to your own opinion. I will answer this latest query and it will be my final with you. Clearly, you have not read the follow-up books, which contain many more answers and linkage.
            As to your latest questions: He was not “a famous surgeon”; he was skilled in the practice of surgery in his early doctoring in the mid-Thirties, but that is as far as it went. He was not “running an abortion ring” but evidence indicates he knew of its existence, and finally he had the “mansion” in Hollywood for five years, but obviously owed a large mortgage on it and was forced to sell it to pay his attorney, top LA lawyer, Jerry Giesler his $10,000 (equivalent to $127,000 in today’s dollars) to represent him.

  3. Bill Schmidt on May 6, 2023 at 5:47 pm

    Hello Steve
    As always excellent work! Did you or your father know Marilyn Monroe?
    I read somewhere that she either knew someone or was tutored at the Catholic Girls School on Western and Franklin near the Sowden House

    • Steve Hodel on July 29, 2023 at 10:48 pm

      Bill S.
      Thanks. No, as far as I know my father did not know MM, but wouldn’t rule it out with his good bud, Huston making Asphalt Jungle with her in 1949-50 just down the street from our home. Joe Barrett did claim he knew her and used to talk with her at a Hollywood restaurant where he said, “she alway had a book in her lap.” Don’t know if he was telling true or ??

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