This musical is inspired by the true stories of two women, Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner, who were both accused then acquitted of murdering their lovers.
Beulah May Annan was born in November 1899 in Kentucky. While living in Kentucky, she met and married her first husband, Perry Stephens. After some time, the two divorced and Beulah then married a second time in Chicago, to a car mechanic named Albert “Al” Annan. Beulah obtained a job as a bookkeeper at Tennant’s Model Laundry. This is where she met Harry Kalstedt and began her affair with him. On April 3, 1924, Beulah shot Harry in the back as the result of an argument the two were having. At first, Beulah confessed to the murder, and then changed her story to include self-defense, out of fear of being raped. Beulah’s husband used his hard-earned savings to pay for the very best lawyers to defend his wife, and on May 25, 1924, Beulah was acquitted of all murder charges and then divorced her husband.
Belva Eleanora Gaertner was a cabaret singer who had been divorced three times. On March 11, 1924, Belva allegedly shot and killed a man named Walter Lord, who had been her lover. His body was found in Belva’s car with a bottle of gin next to him, as well as a loaded gun. Authorities went to Belva’s apartment and found her there, along with blood-soaked clothes. She had confessed that she had been driving drunk with Law and couldn’t remember what had happened prior to her returning to the apartment. Belva’s defense team argued that Law likely killed himself with the gun, and she was acquitted in June 1924.
Gupton, Nancy. “Chicago: The True Murders That Inspired the Movie.” National Geographic News. 24 March 2003. Web. 21 April 2014.
Loerzel, Robert. “The Girls of Murder City.” Chicago Mag. 25 Aug 2010. Web. 21 April 2014.