Local History: Bondi’s ‘Angel Of Death’
Last week we introduced you to Bondi crook Abe Saffron. Interestingly, it wasn’t just the boys that flaunted the law around our beautiful beaches back in the halcyon days. One of the area’s most famous criminals was, in fact, of the fairer sex. Her name was Dulcie Markham, Bondi’s ‘Angel of death’.
In the 1930s and 1940s Dulcie Markham (1913-1976) was the femme fatale of the Sydney and Melbourne underworld.
The media were fascinated with her beauty and her gangster boyfriends, calling her ‘pretty Dulcie the blonde bombshell’. When these boyfriends frequently met a violent end, she was given the more sinister title of the ‘angel of death’.
She had a long criminal record and was frequently described as Sydney’s most beautiful, and most expensive, prostitute.
Dulcie moved to Bondi in the 1950s and loved the area, but like much of her life violence soon followed. In 1955 she had an argument with a male visitor and he threw her from the top of a Bondi block of flats.
Despite suffering from fractured ribs, internal injuries and a punctured lung, Dulcie maintained the underworld code of silence, telling police she had simply fallen down a flight of stairs.
Although her boyfriends and husbands often met a sudden violent death, or inflicted violence upon her, it was third time lucky for Dulcie. In 1972 she married her third husband, Martin Rooney, a sailor, and lived quietly and happily with him in Moore Street, Bondi.
Unfortunately tragedy struck four years later. Dulcie died of asphyxiation when her bedroom caught on fire; it appeared she had fallen asleep while smoking. Her husband told the media: “I loved the woman. She was a wonderful housewife and we both wanted to forget the past. She was Mrs Rooney, not pretty Dulcie Markham, and that’s how she’ll be buried.”
To learn more about the colourful history of the Eastern Beaches area you can contact Waverley Council Local Studies Librarian Kimberly O’Sullivan Steward on 9386 7744 or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.