Suicide of Evelyn McHale
This powerful photo taken by Robert C. Wiles was published as a full-page image in the 12 May 1947 issue of Life Magazine. It ran with the caption: “At the bottom of the Empire State Building the body of Evelyn McHale reposes calmly in grotesque bier, her falling body punched into the top of a car”. Evelyn McHale is probably the most famous Empire State Building suicide victim. The young and pretty Evelyn leaped from the 86th-floor observatory in 1947 and landed on the roof of a United Nations limousine parked on the street below. Her calmly elegant demeanor, her legs crossed at the ankles, the way the car’s metal folded like sheets and framed her head and arms—perhaps these were the reasons that McHale’s death was given its title as “the most beautiful suicide.” When she died, she was still wearing her pearls and white gloves.
According to reports she essentially “fell apart” when they moved her body. Her insides were basically liquefied. Later, on the observation deck, Detective Frank Murray found her tan (or maybe gray, reports differ) cloth coat neatly folded over the observation deck wall, a brown make-up kit filled with family pictures and a black pocketbook with the note 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.”