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The Real People And Events That Inspired "American Horror Story"

A lot of characters, places and plot lines in American Horror Story (AHS) are based on real life. Below is a collection of the truth behind certain story lines in the much loved TV show, in order of seasons.

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1. Season 1: Murder House - The Black Dahlia / Via

Here we see actress, Mena Suvari portraying the Black Dahlia, where she tries to seduce the dentist, Dr Curran, in exchange for free dentistry. The Black Dahlia is a real life unsolved murder case and probably one of the biggest unsolved crimes in the USA to date. Elizabeth Short was a young girl, who worked as a waitress in L.A, trying to fund her dreams of becoming an actress. She was nicknamed the Black Dahlia after she was found brutally murdered. She was nicknamed the Black Dahlia, because of the film noir The Blue Dahlia, which was huge at the time of her death.

2. Season 1: Murder House - Richard Speck / Via

The AHS character, R.Franklin is based on Richard Speck and his horrible crimes. Richard Speck murdered 8 trainee nurses in Chicago, in 1966. All 8 nurses lived together and were all tortured and murdered by Richard Speck in the space of a night.

3. Season 1: Murder House - The Rosenheim Mansion / Via

The Murder House itself, is not a set, but an actual mansion that is supposed to be haunted, in LA. It was built in 1908 by Alfred Rosenheim. The house has featured in several other tv shows, including Buffy and Hitchcock Presents.

4. Season 2: Asylum - Barney and Betty Hill


Kit and Alma were based on Betty and Barney Hill, and the UFO abduction is apparently what really happened (if you are a believer). Betty and Barney Hill were an interracial couple and their abduction case, in 1961, was the first of its kind. Both Betty and Barney claimed to have been abducted and shown around a spacecraft, before medical examinations were performed on them.

5. Season 2: Asylum - Willowbrook / Via

"Briarcliff Exposed" the documentary created by Lana a Winters in AHS, is virtually an exact replica of the documentary "Willowbrook Exposed" by Geraldo Rivera. Geraldo exposed Willowbrook, an institution for disabled children and adults, by showing the truly horrible way it was treating its patients, abusing them and giving them revolting living conditions. Willowbrook was located in Staten Island and thankfully was shut down in the 1970's due to the scandal.

6. Season 3: Coven - Madame Delphine LaLaurie / Via

Madam Delphine LaLaurie was a very real serial killer, from way back in the 1800s. She is known as the most evil woman in New Orleans, savagingly torturing and murdering her household slaves. Her actual torture chamber was discovered after a fire broke out in her mansion and the neighbours rushed to help people get out, she then went on to runaway and spend the rest of her life in Paris.

7. Season 3: Coven - Marie Laveau / Via

Marie Laveau was more commonly known as the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans and you can actually visit her tomb in Louisiana! Marie was a free woman of colour in a time where most of her kind were slaves. AHS really delves into her history and the influence she had over the community.

8. Season 3: Coven - The Axe Man / Via

As you can tell, the third season of AHS contained several characters based on real people from New Orleans. The Axe Man of New Orleans was a real serial killer and the only way to avoid slaughter was to play jazz out of your window. The Axe Man mainly targeted women from 1918-1919, 12 people were attacked and 7 of those killed during this time, however it is unconfirmed how many of these were victims of The Axe Man.

9. Season 4: Freakshow - The "Freaks" Themselves

The Daily Mail / Via

Several of the "freaks" featured in AHS were based on real life sideshow performers. Pepper was based on a man named Schlitze "The Pinhead", Jimmy Darling was based on Grady Stiles Jr "Lobster Boy", and Dot and Bette were based on Siamese twins Violet and Daisy. The above were all performers around the 1920's era. It is also believed that the character Mordrake, was based on a real person, however it has come to light that Mordrake is an urban legend.

10. Season 4: Freakshow - Twisty the Clown / Via

Twisty the Clown was based on serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who actually dressed up as a clown to lure children, mainly young boys, in, to murder and abuse them. Real life clowns have since complained about this character, saying it is making them seem scary when they are meant to be entertaining.

11. Season 5: Hotel - The Cecil Hotel / Via

Whilst the hotel in AHS is somewhat inspired by the hotel in "The Shining" , it is actually based on The Cecil Hotel in L.A. Also known as the Murder hotel, The Cecil hotel is arguable one of the most haunted hotels around. Famous serial killers, including Richard Ramirez (also featured in this series), have stayed in the hotel around the time of their crimes. There has also been a famous disappearance case linked to this hotel. Other famous serial killers featured in this series include Aileen Wuornos and Jeffrey Dahmer

12. Season 6: Roanoke - The Roanoke Colony / Via

The Roanoke Colony, also known as "The Lost Colony" were a Colony of people who disappeared in 1587. There were 115 people and they all disappeared, leaving nothing but a strange word carved into a tree and a single skeleton. The word was of course "Croatoan", though there are several theories it is still not confirmed what the word actually means and it remains one of America's biggest unsolved mysteries.

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