The movie about the Boston Strangler is now available on Hulu, but the true tale is about the intrepid reporters Loretta McLaughlin (portrayed by Keira Knightley) and Jean Cole (played by Carrie Coon). It was Loretta who first suggested that the series of murders were the work of a single killer and gave him the infamous name. She then enlisted Jean to investigate and report the facts.
Boston Strangler is not only a gripping crime drama, but also a celebration of two female journalists who worked to uncover the truth of the case. Loretta McLaughlin and Jean Cole, played by Keira Knightley and Carrie Coon respectively, were the ones to coin the term “Boston Strangler” and began to investigate the series of murders. The movie explores the struggles of being a woman in a field that was previously dominated by men, set during the 1960s when the Strangler was active. It also raises the question of what happened to Jean Cole after the events of the film.
#1. Who is Jean Cole Boston Strangler?
Source: Daily Mail
In around 1963, McLaughlin enlisted the help of Cole as both were working at the real-life newspaper. McLaughlin is the first reporter to put together that the murders happening were connected, and created the name “The Boston Strangler” as she referenced him in her publications.
Cole was also a real investigative journalist who covered multiple stories and reports about the murderer with McLaughlin. According to The Cinemaholic, the two faced prejudice with both their superiors and law enforcement who didn’t think this kind of reporting should be done by women. Nonetheless, they proved themselves to be more than capable and talented enough to do it!
The news outlet shares that Cole started at the paper in 1944 as a “copy boy” and worked her way up. She stayed at the job through the years until she retired in 1981. The reporter died of natural causes in August 2015 at 89 years old, The Cinemaholic reports.
#2. Jean Cole was one of the reporters who investigated and broke the Boston Strangler story.
There’s always something compelling about watching the stories of the journalists who bring true-crime stories to life. For those who don’t remember, Spotlight, which followed the journalists at The Boston Globe who investigated sexual abuse in the church, won the Academy Award for best picture in 2015. Perhaps Boston-led journalism is just extra compelling because now, the story of the journalists behind the Boston Strangler is even more exciting to watch. Jean worked alongside her brother Kevin Cole at the Record-American, which was later succeeded by the Boston Herald.
Kevin recently told the Boston Herald of his sister, “She was very tough. She did the stories women didn’t do — murders included.” When Jean and Loretta worked on the Boston Strangler case, Kevin witnessed inequality in the workplace. Albert DeSalvo, who purportedly confessed to being the Boston Strangler
Even after Loretta stepped off the Strangler case, Jean continued to work on it with her investigative 1967 piece, “Girls: Keep Doors Shut ’til DeSalvo Again in Custody,” when Albert DeSalvo (the supposed killer) briefly escaped from prison. Jean and Kevin would also team up to find the city’s latest killers. “The whole city was in total fear. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Kevin said of the Boston Strangler era. “Everybody was worried about their own safety. Women were especially fearful.” Since then, Jean rose up as a crime reporter. She and Kevin also worked together during Boston’s famous Blizzard of ‘78.
“She helped expose criminal elements operating in Boston’s theater, restaurant, and entertainment district, which she dubbed the Combat Zone,” the Boston Herald reported. She wrote for the Herald until 1981 when she retired.
#3. What happened to Jean Cole? She died in 2015.
Source: USA Today
On Aug. 8, 2015, Jean passed away from natural causes at the age of 89 years old. Her obituary noted not only her work in crime investigation but also her revolutionary exposé of Massachusetts’ nursing homes. Born in 1926, she began working in journalism at just 18 years old as a “copy boy” in 1944 for the Boston Daily Record.
Eventually, she rose up in the ranks to become a highly lauded journalist, but it took some time. Originally from Scituate, Mass., she moved to Anna Maria, Fla., in 1999, where she spent her final days. In 2001, her husband, Frank P. Harris, a Boston Globe reporter, passed away. She was survived by two daughters, Julie Harris Donovan and Jane Harris Coleman, both of Anna Maria, Fla.; 10 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
Jean is buried in the Greenlawn Cemetery in Housatonic, Mass., where we can pay homage to her today.
#4. Who plays Jean Cole in Boston Strangler?
The actress who plays the impressive writer is Carrie Coon! The talent started her career in theatre, gaining attention in 2010 with her role in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? on stage. Then in that same year, the movie Gone Girl served as her film debut.
In 2014, she got a lead role in television as Nora Durst in HBO series The Leftovers. Over the years, she’s also known for her roles in other shows like Gloria Burgle in Fargo, Vera Walker in The Sinner, and Bertha Russell in The Gilded Age on HBO. When it comes to movies, you’ll recognize her as Meg Greenfield in The Post, Proxima Midnight in Avengers: Infinity War, and Callie Spengler in Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
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