1947 – Evelyn McHale: The Most Beautiful Suicide

While perusing back issues of Life Magazine, (May 12th, 1947 to be exact) PAGE 42!, I came across an amazing photo. An iconic photo that has somehow slipped by me.

See a larger version HERE.

Included with the photo in Life is the following paragraph:

“On May Day, just after leaving her fiancé, 23-year-old Evelyn McHale wrote a note. ‘He is much better off without me … I wouldn’t make a good wife for anybody,’ … Then she crossed it out. She went to the observation platform of the Empire State Building. Through the mist she gazed at the street, 86 floors below. Then she jumped. In her desperate determination she leaped clear of the setbacks and hit a United Nations limousine parked at the curb. Across the street photography student Robert Wiles heard an explosive crash. Just four minutes after Evelyn McHale’s death, Wiles got this picture of death’s violence and its composure”.

The photo caption: “At the bottom of Empire State Building, the body of Evelyn McHale reposes calmly in grotesque bier, her falliing body punched into the top of a car”.

It would be difficult to say anything that’s not already been said, but I’m moved greatly by the juxtaposition of such carnage.. with the disturbingly composed way in which she lies.

Haunting.

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A determined contributor to the memory and preservation of a decade.

1 Comment

  1. September 5, 2011, 11:55 am   /  Reply

    Poor soul. Only 23 years old but it's true that the image while tragic and grotesque also presents a certain …dare I say …peace and beauty to it.

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