Black Dahlia: 6 Reasons Dr. George Hodel Didn’t Kill Elizabeth Short — No. 3 Not Pals With Man Ray

The “minotaur love/death cult of Hollywood” is apparently getting a big play in “I Am the Night.” Oh dear.

Here are six reasons Dr. George Hodel did not kill Elizabeth Short that you will need to know before watching the TNT mini-series “I Am the Night” or listening to the eight-part podcast accompanying the production.

Reason No. 3: George Hodel had nothing more than a minor business transaction with Man Ray for a photo session. Dr. Hodel also had a book of photos.
Correction: A previous version of this post said Dr. Hodel bought a book of photos. It’s unclear how he obtained the book.


Reason No 1: George Hodel was never “a prime suspect” in the Black Dahlia case.

Reason No. 2: George Hodel was found not guilty of morals charges.

A book of photos inscribed from Man Ray to George Hodel, 1949.


Steve Hodel perpetually claims that his father was an intimate friend of Man Ray. This supposedly close friendship is at the heart of Steve Hodel’s contention that Dr. Hodel’s admiration for Man Ray’s surrealistic artwork inspired the grotesque mutilation of the Black Dahlia. Steve Hodel says that Elizabeth Short’s body was Dr. Hodel’s “canvas” and that the extensive cutting and slashing of her body were “an homage” to Man Ray.

Steve Hodel’s claim arises from randomly flipping through a book of Man Ray’s photos, finding a 1934 picture of a man’s upper torso titled “The Minotaur,” done for the cover of a French magazine “The Minotaur” with virtually no circulation in the United States. Man Ray left the print in Paris when he fled to America during the war. There is virtually no way Dr. Hodel could have seen this photo (did I mention it was from 1934?), but Steve Hodel claims that “The Minotaur” somehow mimics the position of Elizabeth Short’s upper body as found at the crime scene.

From there, Steve Hodel has spun out an elaborate narrative of a close friendship between the two.

But it is impossible to independently confirm Steve Hodel’s claim.


In truth, there is nothing in Man Ray’s archives to confirm any connection to George Hodel whatsoever. And I could say the same about the papers of another supposed Dr. Hodel intimate friend, Ben Hecht.


George Hodel: Not appearing in the Naomi Savage Papers on Man Ray.


Nor does George Hodel appear in Man Ray’s autobiography “Self-Portrait.”

In other words, there is nothing in the fairly well-documented life of Man Ray to indicate any sort of relationship with Dr. Hodel.

Ben Hecht finding aid
George Hodel: Not appearing in the archives of supposed intimate friend Ben Hecht.

Also note that although “I Am the Night” has six episodes to explore George Hodel’s relationship with Man Ray, the cast list doesn’t show anyone in that role. Could it be that the Man Ray Trust refused to grant clearance to the production?

Was Dr. George Hodel a close friend of surrealist artist Man Ray? No.

To be continued.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1947, Art & Artists, Black Dahlia, Cold Cases, Homicide, LAPD, Libraries, Television and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Black Dahlia: 6 Reasons Dr. George Hodel Didn’t Kill Elizabeth Short — No. 3 Not Pals With Man Ray

  1. William Desmond Taylor says:

    Always love your posts and clean, factual approach, standing up to muddled, negligent and incompetent ‘history.’ Thanks so much!

    PS. When do us faithful readers get some update on the big project and read some juicy excerpts?


    • lmharnisch says:

      Thanks very much! The book remains a tremendous undertaking because there is still pick and shovel work to be done (contrasted with the armchair sleuths of Reddit who skim Wikipedia and “solve” the case in 20 minutes) and because I have had to devote far too much time shooting down the nonsense of the “Black Dahlia Avenger” franchise and, more recently, the “Leslie Dillon Did It!” crowd.

      The narrative of “retired cop discovers dad is serial killer” is too irresistible for many media outlets. It’s way wrong, but people sure fall for it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jeanne Marie Spicuzza says:

      Excerpts, yes please!


  2. Kris says:

    Thank you again for your research! Looking forward to the book. Its such a shame that you need to continue to debunk the same worn out arguments. My initial impression was that Steve Hodel at least began his quest in an honest attempt to find the truth. At this point, I think he is just a conscious charlatan. Good Luck with the book.


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  4. Sarah Sawyer says:

    Steve Hodel found a cash cow to milk and a way to pass that money and rights to his family so they can continue making money off the poor tragedy of a slain women years and years ago. What about her family?


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