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Who Is Serial Killer Rodney Alcala And How Did He Win 'The Dating Game' On ABC?
Rodney Alcala styled himself as a photographer and won the interest of a bachelorette on the show after describing himself as a "banana."
Rodney Alcala was a “lady killer” in the sense that he may have murdered up to 100 women, authorities estimate, and was convicted of murdering seven, but he also won a dating game show on ABC in the late '70s where the prize was a date with the bachelorette.
This was well after he had started murdering woman and children, and he was already a sex offender, according to “Mark of a Killer,” which airs on Oxygen on Sundays at 7/6c.
A Texas-born arts student who fashioned himself into a photographer, Alcala had kidnapped and raped an eight-year-old about ten years before his television appearance, fleeing immediate punishment by running off to the East Coast. He was located by camp teens who found wanted photos of their counselor plastered in their local post office, according to “48 Hours.” He was subsequently convicted of a lesser charge of child molestation in 1972.
Alcala, who became known as The Dating Game Killer, served less than three years in prison for that crime, reported Rolling Stone.
While Alcala's record wasn’t great, he managed to become Bachelor Number One on a revival of “The Dating Game” in September 1978, after he had killed at least four women. Bachelorette Cheryl Bradshaw had to pick her date by asking three men seated on the other side of a wall questions “blindly.”
Introduced as a successful photographer who enjoys skydiving and motorcycles, Alcala’s smiling visage and billowy Farrah Fawcett hair seemed nothing out of the ordinary.
When the bachelorette asked him what the “best time” is — a question that perhaps made more sense forty years ago — he said “the only time… night time,” which is when, as he put it, it “gets really good.” The bachelorette, who said she was a drama teacher, asked the bachelors to respond to her prompts. For Alcala, she had prepared a somewhat unsettling “dirty old man” prompt.
“Come on over here,” growled the man who raped and strangled beautiful women and underage girls across the country.
The bachelorette asked the three men, if she were to “serve” them for dinner, what would they be.
“I’m called the banana and I look really good,” said Alcala. When asked to be more descriptive, he simply said, “peel me.”
The bachelorette chose him for this answer, saying, she “liked” bananas.
Alcala was sentenced to death for the murder of Robin Samsoe in 1980, but appealed the conviction twice, in 1984 and 2001, according to The Los Angeles Times. He spent the majority of his 2010 murder trial, where he was also being tried for the murders of Jill Barcomb, Charlotte Lamb, Jill Parenteau, and Georgia Wixted, attempting to relitigate his Samsoe conviction.
Authorities claimed they found earrings belonging to the ballerina Samsoe in a storage locker belonging to Alcala, but he contended that the earrings belonged to him. He claimed to wear earrings often—even on “The Dating Game.”
According to LA Weekly, Bachelor Number 2, Jed Mills, didn’t recall seeing him wear any earrings. Mills fancied himself “as being the person who started the tradition of wearing an earring,” and felt like he would have commented on that. Mills also told LA Weekly he was surprised that Alcala won, calling him “quiet,” and “kind of good-looking but kind of creepy.”
Mills said that Alcala didn’t make much eye contact but “once in a while he would spit out things then go back to his aloofness.”
“He was kind of a creepy guy,” said Mills, who would go on to play the yogurt shop owner on “Seinfeld,” to LA Weekly.
The bachelorette apparently was in agreement, and never went on the date with him. They won tickets to Magic Mountain and free tennis lessons.
“I started to feel ill. He was acting really creepy,” said Bradshaw to the Sunday Telegraph, on turning down the date. “I didn’t want to see him again.”
Authorities hypothesized that’s why Alcala’s murder count went up after due to rejection.
After finding hundreds of photos of young women and girls in Alcala’s storage unit, police, who did launch a nationwide attempt to identify the women, cannot be sure of his total victim count.