Death of a Jewish American Princess

Murder Of A Jewish American Princess: this new series is based on a sensational real life murder trial

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Based on the shocking 1981 murder of Elana Steinberg, upcoming series Murder Of A Jewish American Princess looks set to be your new true crime obsession.

At a time when it’s never been more tricky to decide upon what TV show, film or documentary to watch on an evening, there’s one entertainment genre that never fails to capture our attention: true crime. Recently, the release of shows such as Bad Vegan, The Tinder Swindler and The Puppet Master have become worldwide hits with their almost unbelievable tales – and with new series such as The Staircase, The Thief, His Wife And The Canoe and Under The Banner Of Heaven coming to our screens this spring, our fascination with stories of real-life criminality that are twistier than fiction shows no sign of abating. 

To that list we can now add Murder Of A Jewish American Princess, an upcoming true crime series based on a shocking murder lifted straight from newspaper headlines.

Based on Shirley Frondorf’s non-fiction book, Death Of A Jewish American Princess: The True Story Of A Victim On Trial, the new series will explore the true story of the 1981 killing of Elana Steinberg at the hands of her husband in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the sensational murder trial that followed.

The project has been developed by journalist and author Cari Lynn, who penned the pilot, and Tom Mazza’s Everywhere Studios. According to the official description from the duo, the new series will recount the brutal murder of Elana Steinberg, who was “labelled in the courtroom and the media as the quintessential ‘Jewish American Princess’”.

“Defence lawyers used the moniker to paint a picture of a beleaguered husband, Steven Steinberg, at his wits end, with no recourse other than to murder his wife,” the synopsis continues. “Despite the preponderance of evidence against him, the defence worked: Steven Steinberg walked out of the courtroom a free man.”

Death of a Jewish American Princess
New true crime series Murder Of A Jewish American Princess is based on Shirley Frondorf’s non-fiction book
Although Steinberg was charged with killing his wife by stabbing her 26 times, he claimed he was not responsible for her death in a legal sense as he committed the crime while sleepwalking, which was bolstered by the defence and psychiatrists as an abnormality allegedly brought on by the intemperate spending of his wife. Villainising Elana Steinberg as an overpowering “Jewish American Princess” whose excesses may have provoked her violent end, Steinberg’s defense team successfully secured his acquittal.

Intriguingly, Lynn learned of the story after being introduced to Steven Steinberg at her brother’s wedding. When looking deeper into the case, she then discovered Frondorf’s book – and became horrified at the obvious role misogyny had played in the trial. 

“I was outraged by this story and how much this still resonates today,” Lynn said in a statement. “It’s about what happens when facts cease to matter, and about the ease of words to indoctrinate. The simple but lurid catchphrase of ‘JAP’ condemned a victim and freed a murderer.”

“It’s an unbelievable yet true story with a fascinating cast of characters, and we are thrilled to be bringing this to the marketplace,” added CEO of EveryWhere Studios Tom Mazza. 

“It’s set in a sunny world of pool parties, golf games and young, seemingly happy couples – the last place one would expect such a brutal murder. Shining a light on victim shaming, the devaluation of truth, the perilous drive to win at all costs, and the pervasiveness of prejudice, this is an important story to tell today.”

While there’s no word on a streaming platform or release date yet, Deadline reports that the project is being shopped imminently, so we’ll keep you updated with any news as we hear it.

Images: Penguin Random House

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is Stylist's Entertainment Editor whose specialist interests include pop culture, LGBTQ+ identity and lore.