A copy of Jim Richardson’s flawed autobiography “For the Life of Me” has been listed on EBay. Richardson was the notorious city editor of the Examiner who orchestrated its coverage of the Black Dahlia case. He was legendary for his demeaning abuse of reporters and was a reformed alcoholic who lectured everyone about drinking. His attitude in “For the Life of Me” can be summed up as: “I was a better reporter drunk than you are sober and don’t ever forget it.”
Even worse, Richardson relied on his liquor-clouded memory for many aspects of the book rather than checking his facts, so details of numerous famous incidents are scrambled.
Richardson’s problems with alcohol eventually became so bad that no paper would have him, and he briefly embarked on a career as a movie publicist, so there is a Hollywood aspect to the book as well. I have read that Richardson also had a small role as a newspaper editor in “Elmer Gantry,” but I have never had the patience to track it down.
I don’t recommend this as the first book to read about Los Angeles in the 1940s, but it’s worth a look if only for the attitude it reflects. Bidding on this copy starts at $7.99.