Chicago the musical
The musical “Chicago” won 6 Oscars in March 2003. It is based on the true story of Belva Gaertner and Beulah Annan, two ravishing and witty women murderers who became celebrities in the 1920s.
When asked what kind of jury she needed, Gaertner responded: “I want worldly men, broad-minded men, men who know what it is to get a bit.” She had a gig in a cabaret when she married William Gaertner, her second husband, in 1917. William was convinced from the start that Belva was being unfaithful to him. They both hired gumshoes, who spent their time mostly spying on each other.
In 1923, Walter Law was found dead in his Nash sedan. Belva was involved with him. Her statement to the police read thus: “gin and guns-either one is bad enough but together they get you in a dickens of a mess, don’t they?” She promised to reunite with William if exonerated and the jury rendered a verdict of “not guilty”. Later, William divorced her, accusing her of homicidal tendencies.
In 1924, Annan was asked out on a date by Harry Kolstedt, a co-worker. They had a fight and he was killed. In her latest version of the events – she proffered a few – Annan insisted that Harry tried to rape her and that she took his life in self-defense. She was found not guilty and promptly divorced her husband.
Annan died of tuberculosis in a hospital bed in 1928, aged 28. Gaertner passed away in 1965 at age 80.
Article by Sam Vaknin