Betty Broderick and husband Daniel were married for 16 years before he filed for divorce in 1985. Their fatal story is being featured on Season 2 of Dirty John, where Amanda Peet is playing Betty Broderick and Christian Slater has assumed the role of the slain lawyer.
Betty Broderick worked various jobs to support the family after Dan Broderick graduated from Cornell Medical School and decided to change professions. He then went to Harvard Law School, where he ultimately became a successful medical malpractice attorney in San Diego. According to the Los Angeles Times, he was making $1 million per year.
But after 16 years together, Dan Broderick filed for divorce, sparking one of the most bitter splits San Diego had ever seen. It was even covered by Oprah Winfrey–and that was before Betty Broderick killed her ex-husband and his new wife.
As noted by the LA Times, Betty Broderick had spray-painted the inside of their $325,000 home, slammed her car into the front door of Daniel Broderick’s home and left various lewd messages on his answering machine. She continually violated the restraining orders Dan Broderick took out against her, leading to two arrests and a three-day stay in a mental facility.
Betty Broderick Said Her Ex Left Her ‘Emotionally Battered’
Betty claimed she was “emotionally battered” by her ex. “He traded me in for a younger model and stole my kids,” Broderick told People magazine from the Las Colinas Women’s Detention Facility after the fatal shooting. “He sued me to death…. My story is relevant to millions of women.”
Broderick’s story has resonated with some, who view Betty as the victim. The double-murder has been the subject of multiple TV movies and shows, including USA Network’s most recent interpretation on Season 2 of Dirty John.
Dan Broderick expected Betty to take care of the home. Growing up, she told the Los Angeles Times that her mother “ruled the roost” and she was accustomed to having a maid growing up. Things changed for her when she married Broderick.
“He had the idea that (the wedding) changed everything,” she told the publication. “He let the maids go at the honeymoon house. I was supposed to . . . cook and clean.”
She described her life as going “from bliss to disaster,” and threatened to leave, but she had discovered she was pregnant with her first child, Kim. They weren’t trying to have a baby.
“With all my Catholic upbringing and education to be a ‘wife,’ never was sex or birth control one of the topics,” she told the outlet. “Dan being an MDA, I thought he knew what he was doing.”
Mason Called Dan Broderick a ‘Genius’
Chris Mason plays young Dan Broderick, where he tried to imitate Slater’s voice for the role. The British actor studied Slater’s voice, watching some of his films. “I would watch him and then I would go away and make sure it’s grounded in what I was doing,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
Mason called Dan Broderick a “genius.” “There are not many people who get their medical degree and then go on to become an attorney,” he told the LA Times. “There are definitely parts of him that knew he was that smart guy. And I think he started off with the right intentions, in terms of his relationship with Betty. But I also think he had an antiquated view of the role of a wife.”
Mason talked about Betty Broderick’s early life, where she doted on her husband and was the “fantastic” wife. “She lays it all down for them and does everything just to support him and his career,” Mason said.
He enjoyed playing Dan Broderick when he was falling in love, but he hinted there was always some foreshadowing in their relationship. “I got little bits where we can kind of foreshadow what we’re going to see more of in the future — the addicted side, the controlling side,” he told the LA Times. “I feel like that was a good bridge between mine and Christian’s [performance].”
In 2017, after her parole was denied again, she referred to herself as a political prisoner. Her story was featured in Murder Made Me Famous. Though she wasn’t allowed to appear on-camera for the series, she wrote a four-page handwritten letter to producer Katie Dunn.
“I have no one to speak for me,” she wrote, as reported by People magazine. “This was a case of domestic abuse: a pattern of coercive control that lasted throughout our marriage until the day I killed them.”
“I have met all criteria for parole and my release date was 2010,” she added. “Now I am only a political prisoner. They have no reason to deny my parole.”
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