I'm premiering Dead in Hollywood: Stalked (Issue 7) at L.A. Zine Fest this weekend (May 27) at the Pasadena Convention Center. Stalked focuses on the tragic deaths of actresses Rebecca Schaeffer and Dominique Dunne, and "body model" Linda Sobek.
Linda Sobek hits her stride as a “body model,” specializing in swimwear layouts, calendars, beer posters, and car magazines. She poses for Playboy and the Fredrick’s of Hollywood catalogue. “Linda was making it really big, staying really busy,” says L.A. calendar producer Roy Morales - theres such a thing as a calendar producer? Sobek lands a small part on the TV show “Married with Children.” She's hoping it’ll be her big break. Aside from her looks, Sobek's success is owed in big part to her dedication and professionalism. It is precisely because of Sobek’s reputation for being responsible and level-headed that her family begins to suspect that she might be in danger when she misses her costume fitting for "Married with Children.” Linda's story will be chronicled in the upcoming issue of Dead in Hollywood: Stalked.
"I'm a very happy person. I love life, I love my family, I love the beach and I want the world to be happy!”
I walk home from work past the street where Dominique Dunne lived - Rangely Ave. in West Hollywood. Dunne was strangled to death in the driveway of this home by her ex-boyfriend John Thomas Sweeney who served less than 4 years for her murder. I think about Dunne every time I pass by and since I started working on the next issue of Dead in Hollywood it has become a particularly poignant part of my walk. “Stalked" follows the lives of Dunne, actress Rebecca Schaeffer, and cheerleader/model Linda Sobek. All three women are stalked to their death by deranged men with criminal records. In death, these women are responsible for new laws that are put in place to protect stalking and domestic violence victims.
John Bardo’s family has a history of mental illness, and Bardo himself is diagnosed with manic depression. At 15, Bardo is institutionalized for “emotional problems.” He drops out of high school in the 9th grade and begins work as a janitor at a Jack in Box. On the cusp of manhood and going nowhere, Bardo writes letter after letter to actress Rebecca Schaeffer - “beneath a corona of curls, Schaeffer projects a kid sister's helplessness.” What stalker can resist that shit?!?! In these letters, Bardo details his chaste devotion to the fresh-faced Schaeffer. He quotes John Lennon lyrics, telling her that he is "a sensitive guy." In one passage, he explains: "I'm harmless. You could hurt me.” Bardo kills Schaeffer on her doorstep with a single gunshot to the chest.
Bardo is found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. As of 2018, Bardo is serving his life sentence at the Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, California where he spends his days drawing pictures of Schaeffer along with a who's who of pop and movie stars. They sell for $25 to $100.
On October 30, 1982, actress Dominique Dunne - daughter to crime writer Dominick Dunne, sister to actor Griffin Dunne, and niece to writer/God Joan Didion - is strangled by her ex-boyfriend, John Thomas Sweeney, in the driveway of her West Hollywood home and goes into a coma. She never regains consciousness and dies five days later. In a controversial court case, Sweeney is convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Dunne's death and serves three and a half years in prison. Dunne is 22 years old when she dies. Her killer roams free to this day under an alias.
Check out Dunne's story in Dead in Hollywood: Stalked (Issue #7).