Named by Life magazine as the “The Most Beautiful Suicide” - Evelyn McHale leapt to her death from the Empire State Building, 1947


This powerful photograph taken by Robert C. Wills was published as a full-page image in the May 12, 1947 issue of Life magazine. It went with the caption: "Evelyn McHale's body rests peacefully in strange beer at the bottom of the Empire State Building, her fallen body hitting the top of a car".

Evelyn McHale is probably the most famous Empire State Building suicide victim. The young and beautiful Evelyn jumped from the 86th-floor observatory in 1947 and landed on the roof of a United Nations limousine parked across the street below.

Her calm elegant demeanor, her legs crossed at the ankles, the way the metal of the car folded like sheets and covered her head and arms - were probably the reasons that earned McHale's death the title of "The Most Beautiful Suicide". went. When he died, he was still wearing his pearl and white gloves.

She made her way to New York City where she worked as a bookkeeper and lived quietly with her brother and sister-in-law in Baldwin, Long Island.

She met her fiancée, Barry Rhodes, a Pennsylvania college student who had just discharged from the Air Force and was a bridesmaid at the wedding of Rhodes' younger brother.

On April 30, 1947, Evelyn boarded a train from New York to Easton to meet Barry on his 24th birthday. Everything seemed fine between the couple, and the next day, Barry said goodbye to his fiancé as she was on her way to Penn Station by the 7:00 a.m. train.

"When I said goodbye to her, she was happy and as normal as any girl who was about to get married". They were to be married that June at Barry's brother's house in Troy, New York.

At about 10:40 a.m. Patrolman John Morrissey, directing traffic at Thirty-Fourth Street and Fifth Avenue, saw a white scarf floating down the upper floors of the building.

Moments later he heard an accident and saw a crowd on 34th street. Evelyn had jumped, overcome setbacks, and landed on the roof of a United Nations Assembly Cadillac limousine parked at 34th Street, about 200 feet west of Fifth Avenue.

Across the street, a photography student, Robert C. Wills, heard a loud bang of his body hitting the metal, and he too fled. Luckily, he had her camera and took a picture of her while she was lying on the roof of the dismantled car. It was dismembered only four minutes after his death and, despite falling 1050 feet (320 m), his body appeared intact.

According to reports she essentially "separated" when they took her body. Its interiors were basically liquefied. Later, on the observation deck, Detective Frank Murray folds his tan (or perhaps gray, reports differ) cloth coat neatly on the observation deck wall, a brown makeup kit filled with family pictures, and notes Found a black pocketbook. Reading:

"I don't want anyone in my family or outside to see any part of me. Can you destroy my body with cremation? I beg you and my family - don't miss any service for me or for me . My fiancé asked me to marry her in June. I don't think I would be able to make a good wife for anyone. She is much better off without me. Tell my father, my mother's tendencies are too much".

About 36 people have jumped off the building since the Empire State Building was built in 1931, 17 of them from the 86th-floor observation deck. Evelyn was the 12th suicide from the building and the sixth to overcome all setbacks.

She was one of five who attempted suicide from the observation deck over a three-week period. In response, a 10-foot wire mesh fence was put up and guards were trained to spot potential jumpers. After the barrier was installed, people jumped from other parts of the building, usually from office windows.

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