Visiting Some Black Dahlia Sites

Photo of Elizabeth Short – via prairieghosts.com

Yesterday I bicycled out to check out some sites mentioned in “My Fair Dahlia,” Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s musical recap of the Black Dahlia murder in the Cinema Purgatorio #11 comic. This post is similar to my earlier post on visiting Thelma Todd sites, but frankly there is even less to see at the present day Dahlia sites.

The most important location associated with the Black Dahlia (one where several people have visited and posted accounts online – there are even tours that visit it) is the site where Elizabeth Short’s body was discovered. In January 1947, Betty Bersinger discovered Short’s mutilated corpse in a vacant lot. Today that lot is a neighborhood of modest single-family homes. The neighborhood is called Leimert Park, historically and still today a community where many African-Americans live.

The site is often described, including by Moore, as “39th and Norton.” (That’s even the title of a chilling Dahlia comics story published in Taboo #5 in 1991 – alongside Moore’s From Hell and Lost Girls.) That’s the closest intersection, but the site is actually mid-block on Norton Avenue between 39th Street and Coliseum Street. Today the address is 3825 Norton Avenue.  Continue reading

Visiting the Place Where Thelma Todd Died

Thelma Todd at her cafe. Photo via Indywire

I confess that I hadn’t really been aware of early film star Thelma Todd until I read Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s take on her in “Revelations of the Bat” in Cinema Purgatorio #9.

I live in central Los Angeles, not far from Hollywood. By this I mean the neighborhood Hollywood, which, down from the tony Hollywood Hills, is mostly not so glamorous. A few people I know are involved in “the industry” – the Hollywood film industry – though I can’t claim any ties to it.

It has been interesting reading Moore and O’Neill’s stories in Purgatorio, in part because they take place in the city where I live. A lot of Moore’s work – especially Jerusalem, Voice of the Fire, “Coal Memory“, Providence, and From Hell – is thematically rooted in a sense of place. He melds people, physical places, stories, histories, etc. to get at what makes a place tick. In doing so he explores universal truths, expressed in smaller microcosms.

More than any other Moore work, Purgatorio is Moore telling stories about my place.

In this spirit, last weekend, I set out to check out some of the places Moore introduced me to in his Thelma Todd tale: Thelma Todd’s Sidewalk Cafe and the nearby home of director Roland West, where Todd was found dead.  Continue reading

Basic Purgatorio 11 Annotations Up

Though we’re sure they’re incomplete,
We think they’re awfully neat.
We hope they’ll meet your expectations,
You’ll find our latest annotations
For your experience to leaven
reading Cinema Purgatorio 11.
If there’s something you disagree or don’t get
Remember we’re a blog from the internet.
For stuff that’s missing or makes no sense,
kindly let us know, below in the comments.

 

Get Hollywood Purgatorio Background On Various Podcasts

ThelmaTodd1933
Four different podcasts tell the story of Thelma Todd’s mysterious death – photo via Wikipedia

Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill are probably not getting their Cinema Purgatorio references from 21st Century souces like podcasts, but one of the contributors here (me, Joe Linton) has been listening to podcasts to get background on various Purgatorio stories. There’s plenty of text in books and on websites, but if you want to listen to learn more about Thelma Todd, Fatty Arbuckle, Willis O’Brien and others, check out these podcast episodes:

Cinema Purgatorio #1 – Fatty Arbuckle: Hollywood Scandals of Yesteryear #3
Cinema Purgatorio #4 – Willis O’Brien: The Optical #8
Cinema Purgatorio #6 – cameo feature Marie Prevost: Hollywood Scandals of Yesteryear #31
Cinema Purgatorio #7 – Actual OK Corral history: Wartime: A History Series S05E08, New Books in Historical FictionMy Darling Clementine (1946): The Recommendation Game #8, Totally Awesome Films. Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957): Classic Movie Reviews #86.
Cinema Purgatorio #9 – Thelma Todd: Mysterious Circumstances #26, You Must Remember This #94, Hollywoodland: Unsolved #3, Hollywood Scandals of Yesteryear #13
Cinema Purgatorio #11 – Black Dahlia: Movie Geeks United – Tinseltown Tragedies #3, True Crime Garage #44-46

Continue reading