Evelyn McHale: The Most Beautiful Suicide

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Not in Los Angeles, but still amazing. The Woman in the photo, Evelyn Francis McHale was 23-year-old original from Berkeley, California. One of nine children to Helen and Vincent McHale. Vincent was a bank examiner and relocated to Washington D.C. in 1930. Her parents divorced. Vincent gained custody of all children and moved to Tuckahoe, New York.

After graduating from high school Evelyn joined the Women’s Army Corps, and was stationed in Jefferson City, Missouri.

She later moved to Baldwin, New York and was employed as a bookkeeper at the Kitab Engraving Company on Pearl Street. She met her fiance Barry Rhodes, a college student discharged from the United States Army Air Force.

Evelyn McHale is “The Most Beautiful Suicide”

Evelyn McHale The Most Beautiful Suicide

Not much is known of her life, or of her final hours, although countless people have put enormous effort into uncovering as much about the troubled, attractive California native as they possibly could.

Evelyn Francis McHale was an American bookkeeper who killed herself by jumping from the 86th floor Observation Deck of the Empire State Building on May 1, 1947.

A photograph taken four minutes after her death by photography student Robert Wiles has become an iconic suicide photograph, referred to as “the most beautiful suicide”

the most beautiful suicide
The body of 23-year-old Evelyn McHale rests atop a crumpled limousine minutes after she jumped to her death from the Empire State Building, May 1, 1947.


On April 30, 1947, McHale took a train from New York to Easton, Pennsylvania to visit Rhodes. The next day, after leaving Rhodes’ residence, she returned to New York City and went to the Empire State Building where she jumped from the 86th floor observatory.

Rhodes did not notice any indication of suicide before McHale left. Detective Frank Murray found her suicide note in a black pocketbook next to her neatly folded cloth coat over the observation deck wall which read:

I don’t want anyone in or out of my family to see any part of me. Could you destroy my body by cremation? I beg of you and my family – don’t have any service for me or remembrance for me. My fiance asked me to marry him in June. I don’t think I would make a good wife for anybody. He is much better off without me. Tell my father, I have too many of my mother’s tendencies.

Her body was identified by her sister, Helen Brenner.

According to her wishes, she was cremated with no memorial, service or grave.

Photo Credit: Robert Wiles

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