How Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story’s Characters Compare to Their Real-life Counterparts

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The first season of Dirty John, which centered on a scheming playboy who messed with the incorrect own circle of relatives of women, got here right all the way down to a handful of primary characters, all performed with the aid of using recognizable faces. The brand new generation of the anthology collection, The Betty Broderick Story, traffics in basically acquainted territory — a scandalous home homicide in opposition to an illusory backdrop of excessive society — homing in on spousal duo grew to become divorced nemeses Betty and Dan Broderick. In November 1989, after years of prison and private rancor among them — ostensibly spurred with the aid of using Dan’s infidelity — Betty shot and killed her ex-husband and his new spouse withinside the couple’s bed room, and has been serving out a sentence of 32 years to lifestyles considering that her 1991 conviction.

From there, The Betty Broderick Story casts a huge internet that consists of upward of dozen own circle of relatives members, pals, co-workers, and courtroom docket specialists in a rotation of semi-routine roles, maximum of them portrayed pseudonymously. So as we got down to examine the show’s characters with their authentic-lifestyles counterparts, we’re focusing at the 5 figures who’re maximum instrumental withinside the show’s narrative, the use of them as a lens thru which to parse info at the very actual folks who had been at once impacted with the aid of using a dramatic crime.

Note: Due to Dirty John’s portrayal of actual-lifestyles events, a few spoilers for the collection lie ahead.


Dan Broderick (Played with the aid of using Christian Slater and Chris Mason)

It’s no wonder that Daniel T. Broderick III desired a huge own circle of relatives. He become one in all 9 kids born to dad and mom Daniel Broderick Jr. (who handed away in 2010) and Yolande Broderick (née Gordon) and raised in a tight-knit Irish-Catholic own circle of relatives in Pittsburgh. As depicted in Dirty John, Dan went directly to Notre Dame for undergrad, wherein withinside the fall of 1965 he came about upon a then-17-yr-antique Elizabeth Anne Bisceglia, who become touring a chum from her local Eastchester, New York. Dan could quickly start his doctoral research at a Cornell University campus in Manhattan, permitting their paths to coincide in earnest. They had been married earlier than the last decade become out, with in their 4 surviving kids born over the following years. (The couple did, as characterized, tragically lose one son inside days of his birth.) In interviews performed with the aid of using the San Diego Reader for a tale that become in no way posted due to the fact Dan threatened prison action, however that ran in changed shape after his death, Dan alleges that Betty requested for a divorce nearly at once after their nuptials. He added, “There had been requests, demands, for divorce, masses of times … I’m now no longer exaggerating.”

The fundamental define of Dan’s educational and expert trajectory parallels what Dirty John lays out: restlessness with clinical pursuits, observed with the aid of using enrollment in Harvard Law School (supported with the aid of using each Betty’s income on the time and her elevating their kids even as he studied); ascent up the ranks of San Diego regulation company Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye (which become sooner or later part of more than one mergers and absorbed into worldwide company DLA Piper in 2005); and in the end hanging out on his personal, locating wealth and fame as a no-nonsense malpractice attorney and president of the San Diego Bar Association.

In his interview with the Reader, Dan denied a number of Betty’s claims approximately the wherein and whilst of his courting with 20-some thing receptionist Linda Kolkena, whom he could marry much less than seven months earlier than their deaths in April 1989. But he additionally recognizes that in their marriage — which he defined as one with “actual incompatibility problems” — he become “a ways from the type of good, loving husband I ought to have been.”

Dan Broderick become shot and killed withinside the bed room he shared with Linda with the aid of using his ex-spouse Betty Broderick on November 5. A unmarried bullet fatally pierced his lung.

Betty Broderick (Played with the aid of using Amanda Peet and Tiera Skovbye)

Like Dan, Elizabeth Anne Bisceglia become born right into a huge Catholic own circle of relatives. She become one in all six kids born to Frank Bisceglia, a World War II Air Force veteran who become CEO of the contracting business enterprise began out with the aid of using his father, and Marita Bisceglia (née Curtin). The kids had been raised in relative consolation withinside the tony New York City suburbs of Westchester County. (“We had us of a golf equipment and cars, Broderick instructed the San Diego Reader. My mom’s actual social, so we had plenty of garments and fashion dressmaker things.”) After excessive faculty, she attended the non-public Catholic College of Mount St. Vincent withinside the Bronx. Merely months after receiving an multiplied diploma in December 1968, she become engaged to then-budding doctoral candidate Daniel Broderick, whom she’d met even as touring a chum in Notre Dame, wherein he become a premed pupil, numerous years prior.

While a few nuances of the couple’s accounting in their early years differ — in his 1988 interview with the Reader, Dan insisted his med-faculty coats had been now no longer in particular tailor-made or initialed as Betty said, aleven though Dirty John stored that element withinside the show — they ordinarily agree that Betty minded the children and supported them financially even as he become in faculty.

From Dan’s perspective, their marriage become pressurized and rife with discord nearly from the outset, aleven though Betty has lengthy maintained that they had been glad till Dan — enamored together along with his popularity amongst California’s prison elite and eliminated from the realities of elevating their kids — commenced having an affair together along with his building’s receptionist grew to become private assistant, Linda Kolkena.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times much less than a month after the murders, Betty instructed reporter Amy Wallace, “I actually have in no way had emotional disturbance or intellectual illness — besides whilst [Dan] provoked a ‘disturbance.’” Over the following three-plus decades, she has reiterated that Dan’s leverage over her in countless courtroom docket lawsuits amounted to a type of abuse even as additionally conceding to nearly all her illicit behavior. In that identical Times interview, she confirms having pushed her automobile thru Dan’s the front door even as the children had been domestic and, years earlier, lighting fixtures hearthplace to his garments of their yard. (Eldest daughter Kim, performed as “Tracy” with the aid of using Lily Donoghue in Dirty John, testified approximately those incidents and others, consisting of Betty smearing a pie throughout Dan’s bed room, in next trial lawsuits.) And the proof of her profanity-laced tirades in opposition to Dan and Linda — frequently at once withinside the ear of her kids — had been certainly recorded and performed again in courtroom docket.

Betty, who become convicted of counts of second-diploma homicide and sentenced to 32 years to lifestyles, has again and again been denied parole for being “unrepentant.” In the interim, she become portrayed in a couple of TV films with the aid of using Family Ties’s Meredith Baxter and has been the difficulty of severa books, which include one with the aid of using Kim (extra on her in a bit). She is subsequent eligible for parole in January 2032, at which era she may be eighty four years antique.

Linda Kolkena Broderick (Played with the aid of using Rachel Keller)

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It’s more difficult to piece collectively the historical past info of Linda Kolkena’s lifestyles than the ones of her slain husband Dan and the lady who took each their lives, Betty Broderick. That in itself is of a chunk with the tragic truth that she is, and become then, the incredibly disregarded casualty of the spousal strugglefare among Dan and Betty. Some studies does discover that her father, Arnold, become married more than one times, as Linda had as a minimum stepmothers. It additionally seems glaring that she and her brothers Raymond and Roger and sister Maggie grew up withinside the Salt Lake City place earlier than she made her manner similarly west to California.

Prior to encountering Dan Broderick as a 21-yr-antique receptionist, Linda had labored as a flight attendant, and severa bills from pals and own circle of relatives concur that she become a performative, humorous extrovert, whether or not appearing out flight-protection commands as dwelling-room theater or reenacting scenes from Peters Sellers films with Dan over dinner. Dirty John places into alleviation that Linda become no pushover, either. A scene wherein Linda trespasses in Betty’s domestic to get better a marriage visitor list, however leaves with extra, become taken at once from the housekeeper’s testimony.

It is likewise authentic that Betty could communicate of Linda in wildly profane phrases to actually anyone in her, which include her kids. Kim even claimed that, now no longer lengthy earlier than Linda and Dan had been married, Betty asserted she become “going to kill them. I’m going to shoot them.”

On November 5, 1989, Betty Broderick shot and killed Linda Kolkena Broderick, then 28, with a deadly bullet to the head.

Kim Broderick (Played with the aid of using Lily Donoghue)

None of the 4 surviving Broderick kids had an clean time in the course of their dad and mom’ lengthy separation and sour divorce. There become 11-yr-antique Danny, who pleaded with Betty at the telecellsmartphone even as getting an earful of venom approximately his quickly-to-be stepmom (the tape may be heard at kind of 42:30 into this clip), now no longer to say more youthful daughter Lee, who struggled with drug use and testified on her mom’s behalf, pronouncing Dan could use phrases like fat, disgusting, and monster to explain her whilst she wasn’t around. But Kim, the oldest child, had the maximum complex courting with Betty. She become 19 whilst the murders took place and 21 by the point her testimony for the prosecution in each trials become whole in 1991. She in the end agreed to a 2014 memoir approximately her lifestyles tale and her bothered records together along with her mom as instructed with the aid of using writer Nanette Elkins.

While dwelling withinside the Coral Reef House in La Jolla that Dirty John depicts as a centerpiece of the divorce dispute, Kim attended the non-public, preparatory Francis Parker School. “They fought a lot, so I didn’t suppose it become a glad marriage,” Kim remarked in testimony on the very last homicide trial in 1991.

Both Kim’s courtroom docket testimony and the revelations in her memoir are steadfast approximately Betty’s unstable outbursts, be it hurling gadgets at Dan on the dinner desk or lighting fixtures his garments on hearthplace, in addition to Betty being unrepentant. She even alleges withinside the ee-e book that Betty holds out desire her children will purchase her a rental close to La Jolla if she receives released. Kim and Lee — who become 18 whilst Betty become arrested — each endured to live in San Diego withinside the aftermath of the trial, even as Danny and their youngest brother Rhett moved to Colorado withinside the custody in their aunt Kathy, Daniel’s sister. Both Kim and Lee (who is going with the aid of using her given first name, Kathy) now stay in primary Idaho.

Brian Forbes (Played as Richard Crowley with the aid of using Cliff Chamberlain)

When Brian Forbes and his spouse, Gail (performed as Evelyn with the aid of using Holley Fain in Dirty John), first met Betty and Dan Broderick, Brian become a second-yr grad pupil on the UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. The Brodericks took them out to dinner, and shortly after, Brian joined Dan at San Diego company Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye. Like Dan, Brian specialised in malpractice. Even after Dan struck out together along with his personal practice, Brian and Dan remained near for the following 15 years. (In a extraordinary irony, Brian could later remarry, to a finance and actual-property lawyer named Elisabeth.)

Brain did input the Brodericks’ domestic quickly after the murders and find out the bodies. However, incredibly specific from Dirty John’s account, he wasn’t conscious that something had came about till the subsequent morning. Betty’s boyfriend on the time, a person named Brad Wright, contacted Brian to supply the information that he had gotten a name from Betty’s buddy Dian that Betty had possibly shot Dan and Linda. Forbes and Wright went to the residence collectively earlier than any regulation enforcement or ambulances had arrived, and got here throughout the awful scene of Linda and Dan’s bodies. He checked each their pulses, and as he testified in courtroom docket, that they’d each obviously already died. Brian then referred to as his spouse from Brad’s automobile telecellsmartphone and instructed Gail to “move and get” Danny and Rhett “and get them in a secure place.” Brian and Gail quickly instructed the children that their father were killed.

Brian handed away in 2018 from Alzheimer’s disease. He had 5 kids and stepchildren, and become stated in an obituary for his capacity to “loosen up even the maximum tough circumstances.”