‘American Horror Story’ Sparks New Interest in Black Dahlia Murder

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Mena Suvari brought the Black Dahlia back to life on last night's "American Horror Story" (FX)
Mena Suvari brought the Black Dahlia back to life on last night's "American Horror Story" (FX)

The gruesome 1947 murder of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short (better known as the Black Dahlia) has long stood as one of the most infamous unsolved cases in the history of Los Angeles. Last night, her death received some renewed interest thanks to FX's "American Horror Story."

If you haven't watched last night's episode and find spoilers to be the devil's spawn, turn away. Still here? OK, if you're a fan of the show, you know that it centers around a (very) haunted house. In last night's episode, a young actress (played by "American Beauty" star Mena Suvari) meets her demise in the house's basement. The audience later learns that she was the famed Black Dahlia.

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Viewers immediately turned to the Web to search for the few facts out there about Elizabeth Short's all-too-short life. Over the past 24 hours, lookups for "black dahlia," "black dahlia killer," and "elizabeth short photos" all skyrocketed. Additionally, there were big bumps for the poorly received 2006 "Black Dahlia" film starring Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, and Mia Kirshner as the doomed Elizabeth Short.

Some of the biggest search spikes came on "black dahlia name" and "what does black dahlia mean." How did the nickname come to be? Most people give credit to Los Angeles Herald-Express journalist Bevo Means. The nickname was a play on a then-popular noir flick, "The Blue Dahlia." It was given to Short after she died and stuck.

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Finally, there were an impressive amount of lookups for "black dahlia suspects." Indeed, while nobody was ever convicted of the terrible crime, the list of rumored suspects is quite substantial.

Wikipedia offers a rundown of some of the most popular theories, as well as some out-there ideas on who committed the crime. Some people believed folk singer Woody Guthrie may have had something to do with the murder (he was cleared as a suspect). A speculative 1999 book on the death of Elizabeth Short proposes that iconic actor Orson Welles may have been involved. He was never considered a suspect. Some who follow the case believe a man named Ed Burns was responsible.

More than 60 years later, the case remains unsolved but unforgotten.

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