The idea of Chicago began as a play in 1924, in 1927 this developed into a silent film, then a 1975 musical, and finally the 2002 Oscar film we all know and love. But did you know the two merry murderesses were based on two real women that were accused of two very real murders? Today we’re talking specifically about Beulah Annan, the inspiration behind Miss Roxie Hart.
Everyone got their best glass of bathtub gin? Let’s get started.
Beulah May Annan, born Beulah May Sheriff, was born in Owensboro, Kentucky in 1899. While still living in Kentucky, Beulah married her first husband Perry Stephens. They got divorced soon after, and not long after their divorce Beulah met, moved to Chicago with, and married Albert Annan. Not long after the move, Beulah got a job working as a bookkeeper at a launder where she met Harry Kalstedt and the two began having an affair.
Let’s fast-forward to the night of the alleged murder. The date was April 3rd, the year 1924. According to Annan’s initial story, Kalstedt had brought wine over and the two were enjoying their time together until they got into an argument. As the argument escalated both reached for the gun that was reported to have been laying on the bed. Beulah claimed to have snagged it first, then proceeded to shoot Kalstedt while he desperately tried to put his coat and hat on and leave. After shooting him, Beulah then put on a foxtrot record and drank cocktails for an hour, just watching Kalstedt die. After about an hour, Beulah then called her husband to tell him she had killed a man that broke in and tried to “make love” to her.
Now over time and many interviews, Annan’s story changed and another reported version is the Beulah had shot Kalstedt after he threatened to leave her and she grew angry; then her final story was that she was pregnant, and after telling Kalstedt he grew angry, and they well, you know, both reached for the gun. Beulah was certainly no stranger to giving authorities the old razzle-dazzle if you know what we mean.
And much like the Mr. Cellophane number in the movie, during all of this Albert Annan stood by her side, hiring the best legal help he could afford, and stuck around for the trial. Just one day after Beulah was acquitted she made the announcement that she was leaving her husband. Three months later she married boxer Edward Harlib, then the two divorced three months later. After this divorce, Beulah was involved with a fourth man but little to nothing was ever reported about him.
After having lived a fast and eventful life, Beulah died of tuberculosis at the young age of 28.