Apparently, Ryan Jenkins wasn’t the first alleged killer to finagle his way onto a dating show. In 1978, Rodney Alcala appeared on “The Dating Game.” A good looking dude with long, curly hair, he was Bachelor #1. Host Jim Lange introduced him as, “a successful photographer who got his start when his father found him in the dark room at the age of 13, fully developed. Between takes you might find him skydiving or motor-cycling.” Contestant Cheryl Bradshaw liked that. “What’s your best time?” she asked him. Alcala answered back, “The best time is at night.” Alcala was charming, and Cheryl picked him out of the three guys. Later, though, she refused to go out on an actual date with him.
Good call, Cheryl. At the time of his appearance on the show, Alcala had been convicted of raping an 8-year-old girl 10 years earlier. And a few months after the show, he graduated to killing. He abducted and murdered a 12-year-old girl, and killed four more women in total. He was only found guilty of these crimes last month. He’s currently representing himself to try to avoid the death penalty. Jed Mills, one of the other bachelors on that episode of “The Dating Game,” clearly remembers that Alcala was a different person onstage and in the green room. “He was quiet, but at the same time he would interrupt and impose when he felt like it,” Mills said. “And he was very obnoxious and creepy — he became very unlikable and rude and imposing as though he was trying to intimidate. I wound up not only not liking this guy, not wanting to be near him. He got creepier and more negative. He was a standout creepy guy in my life.”
A crime profiler who screened the clip for an episode of “Anderson Cooper 360,” airing tonight, says Alcala probably went on the show to charm the girl and feed his ego. It’s possible that being rejected in the end might have inspired serious rage.
All the more reason that casting directors need to do background checks on reality TV contestants and seriously screen them before putting them on air to stir up drama.