The Invented Life and Violent Murder of a Flapper
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
Frieda “Fritizie” Mann had several identities during her brief life, and the mysterious circumstances of her death raise as many questions as they do answers. She was born in 1903 near the present border between Poland and Ukraine. She and her family were Jewish immigrants who traveled to San Diego to find security and prosperity.
In the last year of her life, Mann became locally famous. She had reinvented herself as a flapper and “Oriental” dancer. She claimed to have friends in Hollywood and a movie contract. On the night of her murder, she said she was going to a party to meet her Hollywood friends; instead she traveled to an isolated roadside hotel where she met her death. An autopsy revealed that she was four and a half months pregnant.
Absher guides the reader through the intricacies of this true crime story as it unfolded, from the initial flawed investigation to the sensationalized press coverage and the ultimate failure of the legal system to ensure justice on Mann’s behalf. Like other “new women” of her era, Fritzie Mann adopted roles that promised liberation from the control of men. In the end, her life and early death suggest the opposite: she became the victim of a culture that consumed women even as it purported to celebrate them.
“In this gripping account and analysis, historian Amy Absher skillfully exposes the perilous path of a woman who ventured to claim public space and take control of her destiny in an ostensibly new era. Instead, she faced a tsunami of male domination, and even after her murder, misogyny and journalistic sensationalism enveloped her body, her death, and her public memory. A woeful parable set in 1922, its lessons continue to ripple outward a century later.”—Peter Boag, author of Pioneering Death: The Violence of Boyhood in Turn-of-the-Century Oregon