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.”
Description: Female, American, 22 years, 5 ft. 6 in., 118 lbs., black hair, green eyes, very attractive, bad lower teeth, finger nails chewed to quick. This sibject found brutally murdered, body severed and mutilated January 15, 1947, at 39th and Norton. Subject on whom information wanted last seen January 9, 1947 when she got out of car at Biltmore Hotel. At that time she was wearing black suit, no collar on coat, probably Cardigan style, white fluffy blouse, black suede high-heeled shoes, nylon stockings, white gloves full-length beige coat, carried black plastic handbag (2 handles) 12 x 8, in which she had black address book. Subject readily makes friends with both sexes and frequented cocktail bars and night spots. On leaving car she went into lobby of the Biltmore, and was last seen there. Inquiry should be made at all hotels, motels, apartment houses, cocktail bars and lounges, night clubs to ascertain whereabouts of victim between dates mentioned. In conversations subject readily identified herself as Elizabeth or “Beth” Short.