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Tom Bosley and the Black Dahlia

October 19, 2010 |  2:08 pm

  Bevo Means

  Beverly Lafayette “Bevo” Means, 1971.

Most people associate the late Tom Bosley with his role as Howard Cunningham in “Happy Days.” But not at the Daily Mirror HQ, where we think of him in his cameo role as Herald-Express reporter Bevo Means in “Who Is the Black Dahlia?” the 1975 TV movie based – very loosely – on the 1947 killing of Elizabeth Short.

The script by the late Robert Lenski, whom I interviewed years ago, took quite a few liberties with the actual story because, as Lenski explained, many of the significant people in the case were still alive and refused to give permission to be portrayed in the film. Short’s mother, for example, was omitted from the script, as was Red Manley. In Lenski’s treatment, Bevo  is a stand-in for all the reporters who covered the case and his occasional walk-ons are nothing like the actual role played by the press, which conducted a parallel investigation of the killing.

Beverly Lafayette Means (d. 1977) was nicknamed “Bevo” after a brand of near-beer that was popular during Prohibition because as a hard drinker, he was always “near beer.” Bevo also appears in James Ellroy’s novel “The Black Dahlia.”

“Who Is the Black Dahlia?” was never released commercially, although bootleg VHS cassettes used to turn up once in a while on EBay. A Google search shows that a DVD of the movie is available from Loving the Classics, for $14.99. I have never heard of these people, so investigate them thoroughly before you buy anything from them.