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Sunday, NOV 26, 2006
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Heaven help me: I married the Black Dahlia

When you marry a woman, you don’t expect to share her with complete strangers walking up and starting a conversation as if they knew your wife in a previous life.

But then this is L.A., a town where if everyone doesn’t have a past, they apparently have lived past lives.

For years, I was known among friends and too many strangers as the man who had married the Black Dahlia.

Of course, she wasn’t really Elizabeth Short, the aspiring actress whose 1947 murder left her eternally christened as the Black Dahlia. I’m not into grave-robbing. But cradle-robbing, my friends say, is another matter.

And, with the opaque complexion and thick, dark hair, she did have an incredible likeness to photos of Elizabeth Short.

At parties or even on the street, people would approach us, staring at my wife as if she were a longlost friend and invariably the first thing out of their mouths would be:

“Has anyone ever told you that you look like the Black Dahlia?”

My wife had been a model and her brief, aspiring acting career largely amounted to agents and directors drifting off in conversation to saying something like, “You know, you could play the Black Dahlia...”

Once, a neighbor’s grade-school-age daughter approached my wife and matter-of-factly told her:

“My mom named me Dahlia. She’s says you look like the Black Dahlia, and that when I grow you, I’m going to look like you.”

My own unremarkable career as a television writer on the Universal lot will best be remembered by me for being fired by a director who went on to fame in feature films. But one day, while I was working for him, he remarked that he probably could get a deal on a Black Dahlia project by just walking into a pitch meeting with my wife.

Me? I was too dense or too slow to ever think there was much money to be made in obsessing on the Black Dahlia. But then, I’m the guy who said no to a stockbroker friend who in early March of 1986 suggested that I buy as many shares as I could afford of a new company that was about to go public.

I considered it, then said no because I didn’t like the name.


I’m the guy who around the same time turned down Bianca Jagger’s proposal that I ghostwrite her tell-all book about ex-hubby Mick Jagger.

I thought about it. But Mick was already 40. I figured he would stop touring any time and there wouldn’t be a market for a Mick Jagger book.

So now here comes this new film called “The Black Dahlia.” To be honest, I’d never really taken a good look at the publicity photos of the woman who came to be known as “the Black Dahlia” until last week when I got a call from my sister who had gone to an advance screening of the movie where she had received a publicity packet with a lot of photos of Elizabeth Short.

“You know, those photographs reminded me of [your wife],” my sister blurted out. “Everything. The skin color. They eyes. The hair.

“Has anyone ever told you that she looks like the Black Dahlia?”

I suppose it’s better than being told I robbed the cradle with Little Miss Sunshine.

Tony Castro can be reached at tcastro@laindependent.com.


. . . more pages . . .
27.SEP.06 Heaven help me: I married the Black Dahlia
13.SEP.06 Who killed the Black Dahlia?
02.OCT.03 The Man Who Murdered The Black Dahlia

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