AGNESS UNDERWOOD

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Agness “Aggie” Underwood was one of the first women in the United States to hold the position of city editor on a major metropolitan newspaper, in her case, Los Angeles’s Evening Harold and Express. An anomaly in her time, when most female journalists were stuck writing advice columns, Underwood was the original “tough-as-nails” female crime reporter long before film and television made it a well-known cliche. 

She took her work extremely seriously, once hiding suspected (and later, convicted) murderess Hazel Glab in her home to guarantee that she got an exclusive interview. Underwood was also allegedly first on the scene at the famous Black Dahlia murder in Los Angeles, and claimed to know who the killer was, though she took his name to her grave. 

She was notorious for keeping a baseball bat handy in case Hollywood’s press agents got too rowdy and for her tenth anniversary as city editor of the Herald, her colleagues gave her a giant commemorative bat inscribed with the words “To Aggie, Keep Swinging.” Her career highlights included interviewing Amelia Earhart, befriending gangster Mickey Cohen, and helping a woman convicted of the murder of her husband avoid death row when she discovered it was an act of self-defense in an abusive marriage. She was recently honored in a photography exhibition at the Los Angeles Public Library called “The First with The Latest! Aggie Underwood, the Los Angeles Herald and the Sordid Crimes of City.”

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