Black Dahlia: The Formosa Cafe and Another Good Story Ruined

L.A. Times Formosa Cafe

My inbox exploded this morning with alerts about the Black Dahlia and links leading to an essay in the Los Angeles Times by David Ulin, writing about the Formosa Cafe (which he calls “the Formosa” – a gaffe nobody bothered to fix) saying that Elizabeth Short was one of its patrons.

In a word: “no.”

One of the inconvenient truths for Black Dahlia buffs is that Elizabeth Short didn’t drink. Despite the 3,000 Google results linking her to the Formosa Cafe, the claims are suspect. If you know your Black Dahlia source material, you’ll recognize that this sounds very much like ….

John Gilmore 'Severed'

Yes, indeed. Here we have the vector from which the urban folklore has spread all over the Internet: “Severed,” which is 25% mistakes and 50% fiction, written by pathological liar and small-time con man John Gilmore, who died in 2016.

Contemporary accounts show that  Franchot Tone finished filming “Phantom Lady” in late 1943, when 19-year-old Elizabeth Short was in Florida. In all the records I have examined on the murder of Elizabeth Short, the Formosa Cafe is never mentioned.

Another good story ruined.

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About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1943, 1947, Another Good Story Ruined, Black Dahlia, Cold Cases, Food and Drink, LAPD and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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