Too much time has passed and too many witnesses are gone to accurately reconstruct a typical day in the life of Elizabeth Short in Hollywood in 1946, but we can imagine what might have been:
Before she returned to her apartment that evening, Beth walked through the front door of Musso and Frank’s on Hollywood Boulevard and made her way to the back of the restaurant and stepped into a telephone booth. She closed the door, dropped her nickel in the slot and dialed GR-9953. When the salesgirl at the other end of the line answered, she asked if they had the medicine she needed. When the girl said yes, Beth said she would be in for it the next day.
Back in her apartment, Beth dyed her hair again while her roommates prepared to turn in for the night. She was staying with the other girls at the Chancellor on Cherokee Avenue in Hollywood. It was early December and Hollywood was starting to get ready for Christmas.
The next day, she woke up late, dressed, put on her make-up and fixed her hair, said goodbye to her roommate Marion and then walked down the hall from room 501 to the elevator. She pulled the metal safety gate aside, entered and waited for the door and the gate to close, then pushed the button for the lobby. The elevator descended without a stop, and she entered the lobby and walked outside to the street. Beth had dressed well, as usual, wearing a new pair of Nylons and a favorite pair of shoes. She walked south on Cherokee to Yucca Street. She looked both ways and then crossed the street and turned left. It was a pleasant fall day and she glanced at the old houses along the street until she reached Whitley Avenue. She crossed Whitley and turned south towards the Boulevard. On the corner, Beth stopped for a moment and looked at the new magazines at the Whitley newsstand. She stared at the sinister cover of Inside Detective without picking it up. “Jealous Enough to Kill,” the headline said. After a bit, she turned left onto Hollywood Boulevard and glanced at the fresh produce facing the sidewalk at the Hollywood Market. She was hungry, but she didn’t have much money, so she headed on towards Vine to her favorite drugstore.
As she walked along, she saw the theater marquees of the Hollywood Music Hall at Hudson and the Warner at Wilcox. She wanted to see the new Alan Ladd movie, but it wasn’t showing on the Boulevard. She passed Ben’s Smoke Shop on the way to Cahuenga Boulevard and she heard a car horn honk for her, but she didn’t look over. She was used to the sound of car horns, but she wasn’t interested today. She passed an acquaintance, Paul Burke, a young actor who tended bar at the Florentine Gardens in the Zanzibar Room. He stopped her briefly and asked if she’d seen the new John Payne movie, “Wake Up and Dream.” “It just opened last week. I had a small part in it,” he told her. She congratulated him, smiled and then continued her walk. A newsboy was yelling out headlines to automobiles on the corners, but paused to watch her pass by.
When she reached the corner at Cahuenga, Beth crossed the street and walked east on the south side. The sun was not as bright and she window-shopped at Macy’s jewelry on the corner and later at Lucy’s and Chandler Shoes. When she got to Vine she walked through the main floor of the Broadway Hollywood and looked at ladies gloves and handbags. They were too expensive for her, but she enjoyed looking. She walked out the Vine Street door and passed Mike Lyman’s restaurant to see if she knew anyone there. She was hungry by now, and if she ran into someone she knew, she might be invited for lunch. She didn’t recognize anyone and continued to walk down Vine, past the Lux Radio Playhouse and Mom’s Hot Dogs, towards Selma. She crossed Selma and headed towards one of her favorite places, Tom Breneman’s, where most of the staff knew her. When she got to the Thrifty drugstore, she noticed a few Christmas advertisements in the window and then went in. Inside, the sales clerk, Jean Knudsen, remembered her telephone call from the night before and knew what she wanted. Beth had asked for something to “help me stop biting my finger nails.” She paid Mrs. Knudsen and thanked her.
Beth checked the seams on her Nylons and went back outside and walked across Vine near the NBC Radio City studios and up towards Hollywood Boulevard. She passed the Brown Derby and Owl Drugstore and waited for the signal to change and a streetcar to pass. Then, she crossed to the north side of the street. She noticed that Ken Murray’s Blackouts was still playing at the El Capitan up on Vine. On the opposite corner, she saw people were bustling in and out of Melody Lane.
The light changed, and as she made her way across Vine, another driver honked at her and she heard a wolf whistle. She ignored the car and stepped up on the curb and continued on down the Boulevard towards home. She had a few postcards and letters to mail at the post office on Wilcox, but otherwise, she had no plans for the day. Several ideas crossed her mind as she walked along. She might stop at Bradley’s five and ten for a Coke and run into some friends. Or, she might stop at the Cherokee Building first and see if Dr. Faught was in. She was still hungry, so she considered stopping by Steve Boardner’s. She had met some servicemen there before, and if she saw them again, they might offer to treat her to lunch.
It was a pleasant fall day in December in Hollywood and Beth had no plans.