Crime History: How Lizzie Borden Lives On In Popular Culture

Lizzie Borden Lifetime movie 'poster'On August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother were found murdered in their Fall River, Massachusetts, home, and Lizzie would later be tried and eventually acquitted of their murders. To commemorate this crime anniversary, here are a few examples of how the infamous story of Lizzie Borden lives on in pop culture.

One of the most recent appearances by Lizzie was in the Lifetime TV movie Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, starring Christina Ricci, and the limited followup series, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. Whereas the movie covered the time period around the murders of her parents, the limited series is a more fictionalized account of what happened to Lizzie after her acquittal.

Hugo Nominated author Cherie Priest has two novels entitled Maplecroft and Chapelwood in her Borden Dispatches series, which takes the legend of Lizzie Borden and mixes it with Lovecraftian horror.

Cherie Priest MAPLECROFT book coverThe heavy metal music scene has embraced Lizzie with a passion, with at least two known metal songs about the alleged axe murderer. There is also even a band named Lizzy Borden, whose lead vocalist is also named, well, Lizzy Borden.

Not unexpectedly, most of Lizzie’s pop culture appearances are in forms of the horror genre. She even was part of an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents in 1956, in an episode entitled “The Older Sister.” In that story, Hitchcock presented a different take on the murders. This time, it was Lizzie’s older sister Emma who was the real killer. That episode is available on Hulu.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents title card from THE OLDER SISTEROne of the earliest known examples of Lizzie making her mark on popular culture was “The Fall River Tragedy” radio drama, which was an episode of the Suspense radio series and was broadcast on January 14, 1952. Starring as Lizzie was actress Agnes Moorehead, who would go on to play Endora on Bewitched.

Speaking of Bewitched, the show’s lead actress, Elizabeth Montgomery, starred in a 1975 TV movie called The Legend of Lizzie Borden, and then later found out that they were long lost relatives — Lizzie is apparently Montgomery’s sixth cousin, once removed. Creepy!

No matter how you look at it, Lizzie has become a permanent part of our culture. We doubt she will be going away any time soon.