Fauna Hodel On 'I Am The Night' Is Based On A Real Person

The thing that probably stands out in the trailer for TNT’s upcoming limited series I Am the Night is its connection to the 1947 Black Dahlia murder. Before the true crime buff in you starts getting excited, though, you should know that the miniseries is loosely based on Fauna Hodel, whose grandfather, George Hodel, was a suspect in the murder case. But besides a potential connection to the still unsolved case, who is Fauna Hodel on I Am the Night?

In real life, Hodel wrote about her life in her 2008 memoir, One Day She’ll Darken. In the book, she explained that her mother, Tamar, gave her up for adoption when she was an infant and chose a black nurse because she believed a black family would be more accepting of an adopted daughter. In the memoir, Hodel said that after finding it difficult to find a place in the world among white and black people during and after the Civil Rights movement, she sought out her birth mother. That’s when she found out about her maternal grandfather and what some believed to be his role in the murder of Elizabeth Short, otherwise known as the Black Dahlia.

The book focuses more on Hodel’s life than the murder case itself, but her link to the murder suspect will likely be where she falls in the I Am the Night miniseries.

The Black Dahlia murder case was one that stunned detectives at the time as their investigations kept hitting walls. To this day, there hasn't been a clear resolution to the grisly crime that left a young actress dismembered in a vacant lot in Los Angeles. Because of the mystery that still surrounds the story and the shortage of information on any concrete leads, it would have likely been difficult to make the miniseries without another important story to tell. This is why Hodel’s own connection to the murder, however small or unfounded it may be, is important to the series.

While Hodel is listed as a writer for the six-episode miniseries, she died in 2017 after battling cancer for more than a year. Her uncle, Steve Hodel, wrote on his website that Fauna found her birth mother, his half-sister, in the ‘70s and that they were able to reconnect in Hawaii. From the looks of I Am the Night, the TV version of a young Fauna will likely reunite with her mother in the same way, though it’s the fictional addition of Chris Pine’s character which will add a little something more to her story.

In 2016, Steve told The Guardian that he still believed his father, George, to be the one who was responsible for the Black Dahlia murder. He’d been a detective for more than 10 years and spent his free time looking into his father’s personal records and photo albums, collecting any and all evidence that would link him to Short’s brutal murder.

One of the pieces of evidence he believed he found, he told The Guardian, was a photo that looked strikingly similar to the woman newspapers had talked about for weeks following the crime. Another was the way Short had died. In order to cut her body in half, whoever killed Short performed a hemicorporectomy, which is a procedure that amputates the lower half of the body without breaking the spine. Steve reasoned that the procedure itself was taught to students in medical school in the ‘30s, around the same time George was in medical school himself.

George was never formally arrested or charged with the murder, but he might be one of the more curious suspects to date. Fauna’s connection to him and, in turn, the Black Dahlia murder, will definitely make I Am the Night an interesting take on the case. The miniseries premieres on TNT on Jan. 28 at 10 p.m. ET.