Violence against 1940s starlets still titillates, 60 years later

I love it when a mainstream news source reports on the gruesome murder of one starlet adult human, female variety and the probably-criminal disappearance of another, using the language of noir.  Ah noir, there are so many undergraduate college courses deconstructing you, and examining your relationship to masculinity, and changing masculine roles.  And taking all that highly stylized, angsty gender-roley tripe and all its attendant sexxxay-sexxxay energy and focusing it on the news, using it to inject something interesting into the reporting on the real violence real men do to real women….now that’s good male-supremacist journalism.

For some reason, msnbc.com reported just yesterday on a case that’s some 60-years cold: a woman, Jean Spangler, likely pregnant — possibly by actor Kirk Douglas — and seeking an illegal abortion, disappeared in 1949 and was not seen or heard from since.  And they decided to mention the still-unsolved murder case of the so-called Black Dalia Elizabeth Short too, because titillation.

From the article:

It was one of those cases that seemed straight out of pulp fiction, a noir mystery written by one of those hard-boiled scribes who liked to surround damsels in distress with mobsters and movie stars.

Yet it was real life. And it defied solution.

Not because there were no clues. Perhaps because there were too many–all pointing in different directions.

The damsel was aspiring actress Jean Spangler, 26, whose mysterious 1949 disappearance is still considered an “open case” by LAPD’s cold case unit.

“It’s absolutely a classic noir mystery,” said Denise Hamilton, a  former LA Times reporter turned novelist. She reveals that her mystery, “The Last Embrace,” was inspired by the Spangler case.

“You have a beautiful, young starlet. Brunette. She’s sultry. She’s tall. She’s leggy. And she’s trying to make it in Hollywood,” Hamilton said.

Black and white images from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection reinforce Hamilton’s description of Spangler, who appeared in half a dozen movies, just bit parts.

The late 1940s was a time when the studios still reigned over Hollywood, the mob ruled the Sunset Strip, and crooked politicians and police brass ran Los Angeles.

It goes on and on like that.  Writer Patrick Healey, msnbc.com and NBC Los Angeles should be absolutely ashamed.

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