Black Dahlia — L.A. Magazine Gets It Wrong

2013_july_la_magazine_dahlia

The Black Dahlia crime scene in Leimert Park gets a visit from Denise Hamilton for Los Angeles magazine.


Los Angeles magazine does its “first-ever” crime issue. I’m curious about several statements (Did Harold Lloyd really cling to the “Italianate columns” of the Hall of Justice “for his one-reel comedies?” I don’t think so.)  and fortunately they didn’t do much on the Black Dahlia case except mention it.

I had worked with one of the magazine’s editors, who emailed me in an attempt to determine who owns an image showing the Black Dahlia crime scene on South Norton Avenue. I replied that it was a Daily News photograph and was probably at UCLA Special Collections, which has whatever remains of the Daily News photos.

(Note to people looking for old newspaper photos: The Los Angeles Examiner photos are at USC. The Daily News and many Los Angeles Times photos are at UCLA Special Collections. The Herald Examiner photos are at the Los Angeles Public Library, with the exception of the majority of the Black Dahlia photos, which are in the John Gilmore material at UCLA. Welcome to research in Los Angeles).

2013_july_la_magazine_dahlia_detail

In my response, I emailed a rather grungy scan of the front page taken from the microfilm at the Los Angeles Public Library. The editor asked if the magazine could use it and I said sure, apologizing for the poor quality.

Instead, the magazine published a much sharper, but Photoshopped version of the front page, apparently from one of the stranger websites on the case, which has altered numerous photos – some of them in quite bizarre ways.

The fake front page is a crisper image (Photoshop does that) and is more like what we would do today.  But for the record, here’s the authentic front page.

Jan. 15, 1947, Daily News

It’s easy to tell the front page in Los Angeles magazine is a fake because it’s cropped down from the original and in the actual front page, an artist has painted a big white arrow on the photograph pointing to the body.

I mention this whenever the bogus front page shows up, as it frequently does, but everyone seems to prefer the fake over the original. One should never underestimate just how much this case has been fictionalized over the years.

Which reminds, me: We are still waiting for test results on soil samples taken from Dr. George “Evil Genius” Hodel’s purported Murder HQ.

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Cold Cases, LAPD and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Black Dahlia — L.A. Magazine Gets It Wrong

  1. I’m kind of surprised that they used a photo that shows the actual body right on the front page–did any other papers show that? Was it unusual for the time? (I realize it’s a small image, but there’s still something bothersome about it.)

  2. Eve says:

    That whole issue kinda sucked. Very disappointing.

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