Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + +)

April 13, 2015, Mystery Photo

For Monday, we have this mystery chap.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 29 Comments

Today Is Jan. 15 — The Daily Mirror Sabbatical Begins (Updated)

As I wrote in 2014, this year I’m taking a sabbatical from blogging. The mystery photos will continue and Mary Mallory will be writing Hollywood Heights as usual. But the anniversary of Elizabeth Short’s death seemed to be an appropriate date to begin my year off from daily blogging.

As a reminder, I always prune my roses on Jan. 15 in memory of Elizabeth Short.

See you in a year.


April 15: Three months into the sabbatical, I can say that I’m making progress. I’m not terribly superstitious, but I don’t want to jinx myself so I won’t say too much more. I’m pleased with what I have, although it’s much different than what I expected. I’m tempted to post a sample. But not yet.

Posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Cold Cases, Homicide, LAPD | Tagged , , | 33 Comments

Black Dahlia: Re-Creating Elizabeth Short’s Final Meal Puts the Ghoul in Goulash

Dahlia Dinner
An image of the Black Dahlia crime scene sets the mood for dinner. How about some pinot extra noir? 

It takes a special sort of person to think it’s a swell idea to have a pricey meal ($65 per) while looking at photos of the Black Dahlia crime scene. Although I can’t imagine many things more distasteful, I suppose that in a city the size of Los Angeles, there are enough ghoulish people with too much money who will make this a profitable enterprise. The event was part of something called “Los Angeles Eats Itself” and no, we won’t go there.

The premise of this meal, by chef Jonathan Moulton of City Tavern, according Paul Teetor in L.A. Weekly, is that because Elizabeth Short had bad teeth, the meal would consist of dishes that she wouldn’t have trouble eating. Ignoring the fact that she carried a supply of candles with her and plugged the cavities in her teeth with melted wax. Had those who planned the meal been aware of this fact, possibly the table decorations would have included matchbooks and large, plain white candles so that patrons could apply wax to their teeth for the true Black Dahlia experience.

Teetor (whom you may recall from a gushing, unskeptical article about Steve Hodel in the now-defunct Times magazine) falls into the old lie that Elizabeth Short had “deformed genitalia.” Sorry, no. This popular story was concocted by the late Will Fowler, for whom lying was as natural as breathing.

Specifically, Moulton wanted to re-create what Elizabeth Short might have eaten on the last day of her life, quite overlooking the autopsy report on the contents of her stomach, which included feces. There apparently was no interest in going overboard with this accuracy nonsense.

I would suggest that for the next gathering of the grim eaters, the last meal of Bugsy Siegel, who dined at Jack’s on the Beach in Santa Monica shortly before being shot in the head with an M-1 carbine while he was reading the newspaper. And my, wouldn’t all those cartridges and bloody copies of the Los Angeles Times make festive table decorations?  And maybe bits of eyelash stuck to the wall.

Bone appetit, folks.

Posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Food and Drink | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Woman’s Club of Hollywood Celebrates 110 Years


Woman's Club Postcard

Community beautifier, social service agent, educator, historian, and protector, the Woman’s Club of Hollywood has served its community for 110 years, working to make Hollywood a better place. Following the dictums of the City Beautiful movement, the organization worked to beautify and uplift the small town, hoping to increase civic, moral, and personal virtue through educational and civic events.

At the turn of the twentieth century, the little town of Hollywood was slowly becoming more urban: immigrants arrived, mass transit was introduced, churches multiplied, and merchants opened businesses to serve the many farmers and ranchers surrounding the community. Population boomed, dwarfing city services. Organizations sprang up to serve the social, educational, and entertainment needs of the population.

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywood land: Tales Lost and Found” is available for the Kindle.

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Posted in Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Black Dahlia: Don’t Waste Your Money on Her FBI File (Updated)


Some enterprising EBay vendor has listed Elizabeth Short’s FBI file for $20.

Don’t waste your money.

First of all, the FBI had no jurisdiction in the Black Dahlia case, so it’s mostly newspaper clippings and other assorted documents.

Second, the documents are heavily censored.

And third, the FBI has it online for free.

FBI page

Well this is interesting. It seems that the FBI doesn’t want anyone linking directly to Elizabeth Short’s page, because the URL goes to a redirect “This page does not seem to exist.”

Let’s try this.

IMPORTANT: Notice that the FBI refers to her incorrectly as Elizabeth ANN Short. In reality, she had no middle name. A 1971 article in the Los Angeles Times titled “Farewell My Black Dahlia” incorrectly referred to her as Elizabeth Ann Short and the false middle name has been picked up everywhere.


The FBI thins its files.

Posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Found on EBay | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie was the 1947 Twentieth Century-Fox picture “Boomerang!” starring Dana Andrews (not shown), Jane Wyatt (not shown), Lee J. Cobb (not shown), Cara Williams (Wednesday’s mystery woman), Arthur Kennedy (Friday’s mystery man), Sam Levene (not shown), Taylor Holmes (not shown), Robert Keith (not shown) and Ed Begley (Thursday’s mystery man). It was written by Richard Murphy, based on a story by Anthony Abbott published in Reader’s Digest in 1945. It was directed by Elia Kazan, who had quite a year with “Sea of Grass” and “Gentleman’s Agreement.” My copy was aired by TCM on Feb. 27, 2012, during TCM’s “31 Days of Oscar” (Murphy was nominated for an Academy Award). The disc is available on DVD.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 65 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Fred Archer, Master of Artistic Photography


Joan Bennett photographed by Fred Archer, Modern Screen Magazine.

As stillsmen Elmer Fryer and Fred Archer wrote in the 1928 article for “Transactions of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers,” “In the advertising field, the still picture is used to illustrate and help plant the articles broadcast by the publicity department throughout the periodical world and it is used for lobby displays…A good “still” will attract and hold attention where many poor ones will receive but a passing glance.”

Photographic stills sold films both to exhibitors and to the public long before the advent of television and broadcast media. Movie studios sent out publicity stills en masse to magazines and newspapers looking for free copy in which to sell their product. Photographers in the 1920s-1940s devised glamorous, artistic images deifying motion picture stars, defining the glamorous iconography idolized and worshipped by decades of movie lovers.

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywood land: Tales Lost and Found” is available for the Kindle.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: TCM Film Festival Screens the Classics


For the sixth straight year, the TCM Classic Film Festival has delighted fans of Golden Age cinema from around the world. Based in the film lovers’ paradise of Hollywood, California, the 2015 Festival, based on the theme, “History According to Hollywood,” offered newly restored, difficult to see, and classic movies on the big screen as they were meant to be seen, highlighted by interviews and appearances by the motion pictures’ stars. Films spanning the silent era to the 1990s presented historic events or eras, with Club TCM events giving detailed histories of creative aspects of cinema. The Festival offers opportunities to see film masterpieces on the big screen augmented by celebrity appearances, a treat for those across the country who lack these opportunities.

A diverse range of stars such as Spike Lee, Dustin Hoffman, Ann-Margret, Shirley MacLaine, and the incomparable Sophia Loren appeared before screenings to talk about the making of these films. Peter Fonda appeared at Club TCM to discuss his legendary father’s career, with MacLaine also being interviewed. Special conversations with legendary performers like Norman Lloyd and Loren occurred at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre. More intimate presentations held in the Roosevelt Hotel’s former Blossom Room called Club TCM included Peter Fonda and Rory Flynn discussing their legendary fathers’ careers, MacLaine describing hers, editor Anne Coates and stuntman Terry Leonard discussing their work, a look at Hollywood Home Movies, Bonham’s Memorabilia Appraisals, and 100 Years of Title Design.

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywood land: Tales Lost and Found” is available for the Kindle.

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Posted in 2015, Film, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory, Preservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

April 4, 2015, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie has been “Always a Bride,” a 1940 Warner Bros. movie. I picked it because I had never seen George Reeves as a leading man.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 39 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Norvell, Astrologer to the Stars



Novell and Hedy Lamarr in Screenland.

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines astrology as “the divination of the supposed influences of the stars and planets on human affairs and terrestrial events by their positions and aspects.” For thousands of years, practitioners of this pseudo-science have attracted legions of followers hoping to divine their futures. Those that more accurately predicted events rose to positions of great power and influence, like the renowned Nostradamus.

Astrologers have always been popular in the film and entertainment industries, fields where luck and timing often influences who will become big stars or successes. Many are superstitious, because their careers depend so much upon chance and their futures can be problematical. Many insecure or questioning performers often turned to these fortune tellers hoping to make the right decisions in shaping their careers or finding love and romance.

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywood land: Tales Lost and Found” is available for the Kindle.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

March 28, 2015, Champagne Charlie

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1936 Twentieth Century-Fox film “Champagne Charlie,” with Paul Cavanagh (not shown), Helen Wood (Monday’s mystery woman), Thomas Beck and Minna Gombell (Friday’s mystery couple) and Herbert Mundin (Thursday’s mystery chap). It was directed by James Tinling and written by Allen Rivkin.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 41 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Houdini’s ‘The Grim Game’ Scares Up Thrills

Harry Houdini in “The Grim Game.”


Long considered mostly lost, Harry Houdini’s second film, “The Grim Game,” re-premieres in its entirety Sunday, March 29, 2015, at the TCM Classic Film Festival, 96 years after it was released. A suspense thriller packed chock-a-block with hair-raising stunts, “The Grim Game” smartly capitalized on an accident during filming to pack in audiences, obscuring some facts along the way.

Self-liberator and escapologist Harry Houdini ranked as the world’s top illusionist in the 1910s. Hungarian-born Houdini “magically” escaped from handcuffs, chains, strait jackets, and locked cases in performances around the world, thanks to careful planning and special keys. He masterfully employed newsreels, magazine, and newspaper coverage to exploit his fame and derring-do.

TCM Classic Film Festival 

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywood land: Tales Lost and Found” is available for the Kindle.

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Posted in 1919, Film, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Black Dahlia: There Are Some Very Sick People in This World

March 22, 2015, EBay

This purported “tribute” to the Black Dahlia has been listed on EBay. Who makes this junk? Apparently it’s an outfit appropriately called Dreadful Dolls. Who buys it? For $325? There are some very sick people out there.

Oh. It’s from a smoke-free home. I’m sure that will make a difference.

Posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Found on EBay | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

March 21, 2015, I Like Your Nerve
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1931 First National picture “I Like Your Nerve” with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (Thursday’s mystery guest), Loretta Young (Friday’s mystery guest), Henry Kolker (Wednesday’s mystery guest), Claude Allister (Tuesday’s mystery guest), Edmund Breon (Monday’s mystery guest) and Boris Karloff (Wednesday’s mystery guest). It was directed by William McGann, written by Roland Pertwee and adapted by Huston Branch. The movie does not appear to be generally available, but aired in January 2013, when Loretta Young was star of the month on TCM.


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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 57 Comments

‘Singin in the Rain’: The Mystery of the Aspect Ratio


Singin in the Rain 2012

Here is the opening of “Singing’ in the Rain” as it was broadcast on TCM in 2012.

For Pi Day, I pulled my copy of “Singin’ in the Rain” for a screen grab of Debbie Reynolds hitting Jean Hagen with a pie (Reynolds corrected us via Twitter that she actually used a cake). In running the opening credits, I noticed that the frame had obviously been cropped.
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Posted in Film, Hollywood | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Second Universal City Celebrates Its Centennial

Feb. 10, 1915, Universal City
Universal City in the Washington Times, Feb. 10, 1915.

In an age where businesses come and go, bought up by larger competitors or going under due to bad financial decisions, finding one in business for decades and at the same location is very rare. Film conglomerate NBC-Universal has operated for over a century at its current Universal City location, the thriving second Universal City for the company, celebrating its Centennial, March 15, 2015.

Founder Carl Laemmle jumped into the film business as a Chicago exhibitor in 1906, quickly turning his Laemmle Film Service into one of the largest film exchanges in the country in 1909. After threats and questions by the Motion Picture Patents Company, Laemmle established his own production company, IMP Corporation (Independent Motion Picture Corporation).

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywood land: Tales Lost and Found” is available for the Kindle.

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Posted in 1915, Film, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory, San Fernando Valley | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy Pi (Cake) Day From Debbie Reynolds

March 14, 2015, Pi Day

“Here’s one thing I’ve learned from the movies.”

Update: Debbie Reynolds tells us (via Twitter) that it was actually a cake, adding “I like them both!”

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Happy Pi Day From the Daily Mirror


Happy Pi Day from the L.A. Daily Mirror. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

Posted in Film, Hollywood | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Fox Retro Never Got the Memo on Colorizing Films

March 10, 2015, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

Dear Fox Retro:

I thought we had straightened out this whole question of colorizing movies long, long ago and decided it was a very bad idea. So imagine how terribly cross it made us to find that you aired “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” is ersatz color. Please stop or the ghost of Franklin Pangborn will start haunting you – in hideous pseudo flesh tones.

Email Fox Retro here and let them know what you think.


March 10, 2015, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

This not done by anyone who cares about film. Ever. It is an abomination.

Posted in Film, Hollywood | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Documentary: Glen Creason and the ‘Map House’

March 9, 2015, Glen Creason

Alec Ernest has made a short documentary for the Los Angeles Review of Books about our friend Glen Creason, the map specialist at the Los Angeles Public Library, and the incredible “map house” of John Feathers.

I played a very small role in the “map house” story because I had written a column about Glen for The Times, which was seen by the real estate agent who was selling the “map house” and thought Glen might be interested in the maps. At that point, I’m happy to say, the story took on a life of its own.

My column on Glen | Bob Pool’s story on the “map house.”


Posted in Libraries, Television | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1939 MGM picture “The Ice Follies of 1939,” starring Joan Crawford (Friday’s mystery woman), James Stewart (not shown), Lew Ayres (not shown) and Lewis Stone (not shown), directed by Reinhold Schunzel, with a screenplay by Leonard Praskins, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf from a story by Leonard Praskins.

March 9, 2015, Mystery Photo

I spent a long while digging through the archives for this week’s mystery movie. I thought I had a good one and in fact I did – so good that we had already done it. So I rummaged around some more and found this week’s movie. Here is our mystery lady for Monday.

This is Marie Blake, who played Grandmama in “The Addams Family.”

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 40 Comments