On January 15, 1947, a passerby in a residential area in Los Angeles discovered a woman's nude body, bruised, beaten, and sawed in half, lying in a vacant lot. The victim, Elizabeth Short, was a down-on-her-luck aspiring actress, just 22 years old, who had worked a variety of odd jobs around Hollywood.

The murder caused a big ruckus in L.A., gaining heavy (and sensational) press coverage, lots of attention from the LAPD, and a number of false confessions from publicity-seekers. Short was attractive, with dark black hair, and she was also known for wearing all-black clothing, so when the reporters covering the story noticed that a nearby movie theater was showing a film called "The Blue Dahlia", they nicknamed Short "the Black Dahlia".

All the police investigations and media coverage did no good. Many leads were followed, but none of them panned out. Many theories were considered, but none of them led to an arrest. To this date, the crime remains unsolved.