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He Had It Coming: Four Murderous Women and the Reporter Who Immortalized Their Stories

He Had It Coming: Four Murderous Women and the Reporter Who Immortalized Their Stories


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Beulah Annan. Belva Gaertner. Kitty Malm. Sabella Nitti. These are the real women of Chicago.

You probably know Roxie and Velma, the good-time gals of the 1926 satirical play Chicago and its wildly successful musical and movie adaptations. You might not know that Roxie, Velma, and the rest of the colorful characters of the play were inspired by real prisoners held in “Murderess Row” in 1920s Chicago—or that the reporter who covered their trials for the Chicago Tribune went on to write the play Chicago.

Now, more than 90 years later, the Chicago Tribune has uncovered photographs and newspaper clippings telling the story of the four women who inspired the timeless characters of Chicago. But these photos tell a different story—and itʼs not all about glamour, fashion, and celebrity. They show a young mother in jail hugging her two-year-old daughter. They show an immigrant woman who doesnʼt speak the language of her judge, jury, and attorney. And they show women who used their images to sway public opinion—and their juries.

He Had It Coming collects recently discovered photos, original newspaper clippings, and stories from Tribune reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins as well as new analysis written by Tribune film critic Michael Phillips, theater critic Chris Jones, and columnists Heidi Stevens and Rick Kogan to build a fascinating history of women in crime in Jazz Age Chicago, a history that takes on new meaning in today’s #MeToo moment.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781572842779
Publisher: Agate
Publication date: 02/11/2020
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 497,336
Product dimensions: 7.60(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

The Chicago Tribune, founded in 1847, is the flagship newspaper of the Chicago Tribune Media Group. Its staff comprises dedicated, award-winning journalists who have authored many bestselling books.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Heidi Stevens

Introduction by Rick Kogan

Chapter 1: Maurine Watkins

Chapter 2: Beulah Annan, inspiration for Chicago’s Roxie Hart

Chapter 3: Belva Gaertner, inspiration for Chicago’s Velma Kelly

Chapter 4: Kitty Walters (Malm), inspiration for Go-to-Hell Kitty

Chapter 5: Sabella Nitti, inspiration for Chicago’s Hunyak

Chapter 6: Chicago—Making art from life by Michael Phillips and Chris Jones

Chapter 7: How we pulled this together


Bibliographical Notes

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