Why “Black Dahlia”?

It was common practice for newspapers to give interesting names to female murder victims and their killers during the 1940s. Elizabeth Short was no exception. The Los Angeles Times reported that customers at a drug store in Long Beach dubbed Elizabeth Short the “Black Dahlia” as a joke in reference to the film noir murder mystery, The Blue Dahlia, which was released nine months prior to her murder. Elizabeth Short had frequented the drug store when she first lived in Long Beach, and the customers remembered Elizabeth for her black hair, black garments, and fair complexion.

Before “Black Dahlia” caught on, Elizabeth Short’s killing was dubbed the “Werewolf Murder.” However, a reporter (likely either Bevo Means, Agness Underwood, or Jack Smith) found out about the nickname “Black Dahlia.” The newspapers adopted the nickname shortly after, and the case of the “Black Dahlia” was born. Even after “Black Dahlia” became more prominent, some sources still referred to her killer as the “Werewolf.”


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