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,
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.
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