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Mail Bag! Errol Flynn, Shirley Hassau & The Black Dahlia?

04 Feb

Tony Mostrom a writer of LA History for the LA Times and other publications writes us with a question: Having seen the pics on your Errol Flynn pages, I wanted to ask about the possibility, which is quite credible based on what I’ve dug into myself, that Shirley Hassau – through her husband Henry Hassau – knew Elizabeth Short “the Black Dahlia. Shirley’s husband Henry (they divorced in ’44) had some connection to Short’s small circle of friends in Hollywood. Has anyone, I wonder, (Lynn McCormick, for example?) asked her mother if she’s heard anything about this?

There is a book on the Dahlia case which claims that Elizabeth Short knew “Hassau’s wife” (first name not mentioned. The book is Severed by John Gilmore, see pp 181-86. I am a columnist, as mentioned, and I’m working on a new edition coming out. You can see my writings at tonymostrom.com….

Many thanks!

 

Severed: The True Story of the Black Dahlia

New Edition for 75th Anniversary of Slaying

Seventy-five years ago, on January 15, 1947, the Black Dahlia murder hit post-World War II Los Angeles like a bombshell. In the seventy-five years since her murder, the Black Dahlia has become a magnetic icon in American pop culture, a mythical symbol of noir Hollywood.

 

The question of who killed the Black Dahlia stands today as one of the most intractable mysteries in all of true crime. The Black Dahlia murder—unlike such earlier headline-grabbing cases as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and the Lindbergh kidnapping—was the first case to command the attention of post-war America with its stark carnality. Author John Gilmore plumbs to the dark core of this terrifying story that he argues can never be truly solved. Here is the real Elizabeth Short—the enigmatic Black Dahlia.

 

In Severeds hard-boiled yet haunting prose, Gilmore evokes some of the spookiest corridors of old-time Los Angeles, the wartime world of Hollywood bars, dance halls and rooming houses where, as the author says, no one remembers the names,a place of substance and shadowwhere people left no trace. Severed also unfolds the tangled inside story of the police investigation and the remorseless Hearst-stoked press hoopla that paralleled it.

 

Severed remains the first and only non-fiction book to offer a documented exploration of the Black Dahlia case as endorsed by law enforcement and forensic science experts. Gilmore reveals the twisted psychology and down-and-out life story of the murder suspect including transcripts of his taped indirect confession.In his book The Cases That Haunt Us, legendary FBI profiler John E. Douglas (author of Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit) states that Gilmore has done extensive research into the Short case. . . Had Detective St. John had the opportunity to interview Arnold Smith, the outcome might have been different.

 

Through Gilmores relentless spade work, the spectral luster of this most spectacular unsolvedmurder in American crime history seems not diminished but enhanced. The updated third edition of Severed includes Black Dahlia-inspired poetry by the author, new foreword and afterword, expanded photo section, index and never-before-published corroborating evidence and forensic material from the Los Angeles County Coroners Office. Ultimately, John Gilmore boils down its undying allure to this haiku-like equation: The pale white body severed in two and left for the world to view, and her name: Black Dahlia.”  

John Gilmore

-30-

Praise for Severed: The True Story of the Black Dahlia

   

The most satisfying and disturbing conclusion to the Black Dahlia case. After reading Severed, I feel like I truly know Elizabeth Short and her killer.” —David Lynch

 

The best book on the Black Dahlia in fact, the only reliable book.Colin Wilson

 

Delves deeply into one of Hollywood’s most celebrated murder cases.Publishers Weekly

 

The most uncanny evocation of L.A. during and after the war; Ive read it seven times. When I was in L.A., I went to the locations he cites in the book—all the fleapit hotels, the place where the Dahlia was murdered . . . The ghosts are still around. His portrait of Elizabeth Short as a strange, unknowable somnambulist sleepwalking through that unique junction of time and space is permanently haunting.—Gary Indiana

 

My god this is a frightening tale . . . The most famous murder in L.A., and we suddenly see that we knew nothing before, only the glitter and red of blood. This is now a Pandora’s Box.Kenneth Anger

 

About John Gilmore

It is truly fitting that author John Gilmore should be the one to penetrate the multi-layered mystery of this archetypal Los Angeles murder. Described by the Sydney Morning Herald as “the quintessential L.A. noir writer,” John Gilmore has been internationally acclaimed for his hard-boiled true crime books, literary fiction and Hollywood memoirs and biographies. Gilmores father was an LAPD officer at the time of the Dahlias murder and was involved in the citywide dragnet that immediately followed the discovery of her corpse. His mother was once a would-be starlet under contract with MGM Studios; and Gilmore himself was a rebel-type young actor in the 50s, carousing with the likes of James Dean, Dennis Hopper and Vampira. His works include The Garbage People, Laid Bare, Cold-Blooded, Live Fast, Die Young, Fetish Blonde, Inside Marilyn Monroe, L.A. Despair and have been translated into numerous languages. John Gilmore died in Los Angeles in 2016.

www.barnesandnoble.com…

Contact:

Stuart Swezey

Publisher, Amok Books

ssamok@yahoo.com…

www.amokbooks.com…

 

— David DeWitt

 

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  1. Ralph Schiller

    February 5, 2022 at 4:11 pm

    I read ‘Severed’ by John Gilmore who points the finger at one male killer. Then I read ‘Childhood Shadows: The Hidden Story of the Black Dahlia Murder’ by Mary Pacios who writes with no real evidence that film star/film director Orson Welles was the true murderer of Elizabeth Short, AKA The Black Dahlia! It turns out Ms. Pacios and Mr. Gilmore were dear friends. Try reading ‘Black Dahlia Avenger’ by former Los Angeles Police Department Homicide Captain Steve Hodel who names his own father Dr. George Hodel as a serial killer.

     
    • shangheinz

      February 5, 2022 at 6:49 pm

      This topic is right down my Nightmare Alley. The myriad of people who claim to have known Elizabeth Short are rivaled only by the number of celebrities, who said they turned down an invitation from Sharon Tate on the night she was murdered. Beth was not part of the Hollywood crowd. She was a drifter. She borrowed money from Petra to give to Paula. She wanted to become another Deanna Durbin alright, but her asthmatic limitations were greater than her artistic aspirations. Henry Hassau (a former seebee, for whatever that means) was a credited conductor and musician. His wife gave birth to a doll of a daughter, Marilyn, who probably never met her father. The beyond beautiful girl grew up with her grandmother.
      Janice Knowlton, a former Disney singer, penned the original my-father-was-the-black-dahlia-murder account and attached Errol`s name to the BD legacy via the Objective Burma actor Paul McWilliams. All Errol did was renting his yacht to Orson Welles for “The Lady from Shanghai” right up to the day, when severed Short was found. So was it Welles whodunnit? He left the studio early that day, at midday, and he left the country soon thereafter. He didn`t bother to finish the movie he was making at that time. He came to Europe, started filming Macbeth and started giving interviews about the paganism of Hollywood. He simply was the man who knew too much…The same applies to the Gilmore given killer. That gigantic guy would have stuck out in any crowd and be remembered by witnesses any time. Henchman, you say? Yes, with a criminal record right back to “Little shoes”.

       
      • Ralph Schiller

        February 5, 2022 at 7:22 pm

        Holmes Heinz; I have not read the Black Dahlia book by Janice Knowlton but I intend to. Orson Welles is definitely guilty of being an over-indulgent film director with an eye for beautiful ladies, fine wine and opulent dining, but if he’s ‘Black Dahlia Killer’ then Woody Allen is ‘Jack The Ripper’ and Jayne Mansfield killed JFK! By the way, ‘Macbeth’ (1948) was filmed entirely on the soundstages at Republic Pictures studios in Hollywood and not in Europe. Did you mean ‘Othello”?

         
        • shangheinz

          February 6, 2022 at 3:13 pm

          Ralph Watson, I stand corrected. Of course, Othello was the first movie he did in Europe. It took him five years to finish, so in the immediate aftermath to the BD Murder he managed to do Mac-Beth (name rings a bell?) as a farewell film to Hollywood. O. would be shown at the Venice film festival in 1952 and got him two things. A new/Italian wife (one of Lollo`s ladies in waiting from Errol`s “Crossed swords!) and the role of Austrian oppressor Gessler in Errol`s “The Story of William Tell”, substituted subsequently by Massimo Serrato. On a side note, The story of O. partly was filmed in Morocco. The international police investigating the dubious death of Flynn`s best man Freddie McEvoy were looking at the rushes in search of the cook, the only man who didn`t resurface after the shipwreck. RR, was it the chef, who did it?

           
          • Ralph Schiller

            February 6, 2022 at 11:29 pm

            Heinz, I have no idea, Please tell us more. I hope you are saving this great material for a blockbuster book! Orson Welles died in a small house off of Hollywood Boulevard near poverty. The TV commercials he paid utility bills and taxes.

             
            • shangheinz

              February 7, 2022 at 9:40 am

              Ralph, working on it! Freddie Mac’s demise precedes Willie Tell‘s disaster. As far as Pacios and Gilmore are concerned, they sort of fed off each other. Both claimed to have known Elizabeth Short when they were kids. Strange coincidence. So I asked flynnmate Jack Marino if Mary had a bona fide Boston accent or if she merely stalked in Short‘s shadow. His mother knew the Short Family, but not Pacios. Flynntimo Steve Hayes mentioned Gilmore in his Googies books, but since he arrived in LA only in 1949 couldn’t contribute to the BD murder mystery. He wrote me though he avoided Laimert Park since it was a known Mexican lover‘s lane. Errol Flynn as always is an excellent reference point for that 40s Hollywood Noir era.

               
              • Ralph Schiller

                February 7, 2022 at 2:42 pm

                Heinz, You are in the middle of a project and I certainly look forward to the finished work. Pacios strongly implies in her book that she was almost a member of the Short family back East! The book is 400 pages long. When I was less than 30 pages from the end, Pacios still hadn’t laid out a shred of evidence on Orson Welles. I thought the next 29 pages would have to be the most riveting pages ever written. Mary Pacios had no evidence what soever and one cannot help wondering why she would trash the memory of the long deceased Orson Welles.

                 
              • shangheinz

                February 7, 2022 at 8:20 pm

                The implication is, Orson Welles sawed people (lovely Rita too) in half at his Mercury Theatre and did the same to Short.
                More incriminating is that he was close to Chinatown John Huston, who was palsy with Doc Hodel. Welles furthermore made „Lady from Shanghai“ for Columbia, who had to provide an airtight alibi for one of their lot, when questioned as main BD murder suspect. He even held the funeral eulogy for foxy Zanuck (stating their friendship would have even have covered murder). I assume he overheard something. Remember Ralph, there was an official court hearing about the Dahlia case, where one could be subpoenaed, so that might have triggered OW‘s leaving the country. The book of Janice Knowlton is straight forward and her father was a killer, but not the killer. This abused soul died of a broken heart. The names she names as co culprits are the biggest in the business. She mentions Betty Short meeting Flynn at a club one night. Errol as we know liked his girls young, beautiful and blond. Most likely this was a certain Donald Roberts, a lookalike and another man of interest questioned by police.

                 
                • Ralph Schiller

                  February 9, 2022 at 7:13 pm

                  Heinz Chan! Orson Welles sawed Rita Hayworth in half as part of a USO magic act, and also Marlene Dietrich in the flag-waving film “Follow The Boys” (1944). Both Hayworth and Dietrich still had their gorgeous legs after the applause for the illusion and both lived long lives. In fact Hayworth enjoyed the magic act so much that she dumped her fiancee Victor Mature, who was serving in the U.S. Coast Guard doing dangerous convoy duty in the North Atlantic, to elope with Orson Welles! Mature said “I learned that the way to a lady’s heart is to saw her in half!” Serial killers do not horribly murder one person in a gruesome manner, taunt the police, and then never do it again for the rest of their lives. Then who killed Elizabeth Short?

                   
                  • shangheinz

                    February 9, 2022 at 8:13 pm

                    44F3FFBD-5CBA-4224-9CC6-34FC1ABCFB90.png

                    Ralph Chandler, maybe we should have a closer look at Mac-Beth for clues. In his two newest books Hodel Jr. now pins Thelma Todd‘s death to his old man‘s killer resume. He was a clipper, not a ripper. Hod-El Senior relocated to Hawaii and resided near Doris Duke‘s Shangri-La resort. He left the country same as Welles, but was not beyond the long arm of US law. Not a smart move, if you really are the one…

                     
                • Selene Hutchison-Zuffi

                  February 9, 2022 at 8:16 pm

                  Errol liked dark hair girls not blonde

                   
                  • shangheinz

                    February 9, 2022 at 8:56 pm

                    Not after Tiger Lil. LOL!

                     
                    • Selene Hutchison-Zuffi

                      February 9, 2022 at 11:40 pm

                      Bea, tamara, gillian lynne, mary ann hyde, linda christian, gita hall, irene gicka…i could go on. He liked skinny, flat, brunette or red. Bev was one of the only few blondes.

                       
                    • Selene Hutchison-Zuffi

                      February 9, 2022 at 11:41 pm

                      Screenshot_20220209-153146_Chrome.jpg

                      Screenshot_20220209-153119_Chrome.jpg
                      Screenshot_20220209-153304_Chrome.jpg
                      Screenshot_20220209-153312_Chrome.jpg

                       
                  • shangheinz

                    February 10, 2022 at 9:50 am

                    Dark as the ink of those black and white newspaper articles.

                     
                    • Selene Hutchison-Zuffi

                      February 10, 2022 at 2:17 pm

                      Orson in January 1947 was filming in California.

                      Errol was in jamaica.

                      Whoever killed BD i am sure did it to others. A serial killer doesnt stop at one. Accusing Orson is absolutely reckless. Just cause of a movie? So all the actors that killed in movies are killers?
                      Where did you get that idea?

                       
      • Selene Hutchison-Zuffi

        February 9, 2022 at 8:15 pm

        Wrong. Errol and Zaca were already in jamaica. He arrived in Jamaica way before the murder.
        Errol left Orson early november and nora returned to Hollywood ebd of October.
        Jamaica newspapers have Errol in Jamaica at her death and zaca too.

         
  2. shangheinz

    February 5, 2022 at 6:23 pm

    This topic is right down my Nightmare Alley. The myriad of people who claim to have known Elizabeth Short are rivaled  only by the number of celebrities, who said they turned down an invitation from Sharon Tate on the night she was murdered. Beth was not part of the Hollywood crowd. She was a drifter. She borrowed money from Petra to give to Paula.  She wanted to become another Deanna Durbin alright, but her asthmatic limitations were greater than her artistic aspirations. Henry Hassau (a former seebee, for whatever that means) was a credited conductor and musician. His wife gave birth to a doll of a daughter, Marilyn, who probably never met her father. The beyond beautiful girl grew up with her grandmother. Janice Knowlton, a former Disney singer, penned the original  my-father-was-the-black-dahlia-murder account and attached Errol`s name to the BD legacy via the Objective Burma actor Paul McWilliams. All Errol did was renting his yacht to Orson Welles for “The Lady from Shanghai” right up to the date, when severed Short was found. So was it Welles that did it? He left the studio early that day, at midday, and he left the country soon thereafter. He didn`t bother to finish the movie he was making at that time. He came to Europe, started filming Mac-Beth and started giving interviews about paganism in Hollywood. He simply was the man who knew too much…The same applies to the Gilmore given killer. That gigantic guy would have stuck out in any crowd and be remembered by witnesses any time. Henchman, you say? Yes, with a criminal track record right back to “Little shoes”.

     
 
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