‘Full Service’: Fun With Fact-Checking, Part 8

Full Service

In case you just tuned in, I’m doing a little fact-checking as I go through Scotty Bowers’ “Full Service.” This will be fairly tedious except to a research drudge.

Good grief, Harnisch, eight posts and you’re still on Page 1?

Yes, it’s true. Although I did warn everybody that this is tedious work.

Russ Swanson, an ex-Marine Corps buddy of mine, worked at a Union Oil gas station on Wilshire Boulevard. He occasionally asked me to help out at the pumps from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., just before I went to work at my own evening gas station job on Hollywood Boulevard.

Fact-Checking “Full Service”: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

In our last post, we had a sort of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” beginning:  “Once upon a time there was a Union Oil gas station on Wilshire Boulevard.” I’ve identified five Union Oil stations and because Wilshire runs from downtown to the ocean there could be even more – for example, in Santa Monica —  that weren’t listed in the Los Angeles-area phone book.

Now it’s time to wonder about Scotty Bowers’ “ex-Marine Corps buddy” Russ Swanson.

1946 Phone Book, Russell Swanson

The 1946 Los Angeles telephone directory at the Daily Mirror HQ (thank you, EBay), lists a Russell P. Swanson at 5444 W. 115th. Of course it could be some other Russell Swanson, but it’s a start.

Although the 1946 listing says “LA,” it appears that 5444 W. 115th St. is actually in Hawthorne – or it was until being wiped out by the Century Freeway.

The 1942 Los Angeles city directory (online courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library) lists a Russell A. Swanson, who was a carpenter for the Southern Pacific.

1942 City Directory Russell Swanson

Unfortunately, the next online directory is for 1956, presenting a 10-year gap. Instead, let’s check the California Death Index.

Of the 13 people listed in death records from 1940 to 1997, these men appear to have been eligible for service in World War II.

Alfred Russell Swanson (born 1915)
Lawrence Russell Swanson (born 1922)
Russell F. Swanson (born 1916)
Russell J. Swanson (born 1917)
Russell M. Swanson (born 1924)
Russell W. Swanson (born 1919)

The Social Security Death Index lists 31 men named Russell Swanson born within a 10-year range centered at 1923, the year Bowers was born:

1. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 5 Jul 1918  State Where Number was Issued: Minnesota  Death: 12 Aug 1996

2. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 3 Apr 1919  State Where Number was Issued: Pennsylvania  Death: 10 Jul 1999

3. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 27 Apr 1919  State Where Number was Issued: South Dakota  Death: Feb 1985

4. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 2 Nov 1919  State Where Number was Issued: California  Death: 10 Apr 1994

5. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 19 Jan 1919  State Where Number was Issued: Washington  Death: 24 Dec 2010

6. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 31 Mar 1920  State Where Number was Issued: Illinois  Death: 30 Oct 1987

7. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 30 Jun 1920  State Where Number was Issued: Michigan  Death: 6 Aug 2001

8. Russ SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 26 Sep 1920  State Where Number was Issued: Minnesota  Death: 15 Nov 2005

9. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 7 Jun 1920  State Where Number was Issued: Illinois  Death: 7 Nov 2007

10. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 24 Oct 1921  State Where Number was Issued: Rhode Island  Death: Sep 1976

11. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 7 Jan 1921  State Where Number was Issued: Wisconsin  Death: 15 Jul 1995

12. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 9 Feb 1921  State Where Number was Issued: Pennsylvania  Death: 11 May 2008

13. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 16 Jan 1922  State Where Number was Issued: Illinois  Death: 24 May 1996

14. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 15 Sep 1922  State Where Number was Issued: Washington  Death: 2 Aug 2003

15. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 12 Feb 1922  State Where Number was Issued: Illinois  Death: 27 Oct 2005

16. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 17 May 1923  State Where Number was Issued: Illinois  Death: 7 Sep 1990

17. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 10 Nov 1923  State Where Number was Issued: Illinois  Death: 18 Dec 1998

18. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 28 Oct 1923  State Where Number was Issued: Kansas  Death: Feb 1983

19. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 19 Oct 1924  State Where Number was Issued: Illinois  Death: 8 Feb 2002

20. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 14 Jun 1924  State Where Number was Issued: Minnesota  Death: Jan 1973

21. Russel SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 17 Oct 1924  State Where Number was Issued: Iowa  Death: Jun 1976

22. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 25 Feb 1925  State Where Number was Issued: Illinois  Death: Sep 1981

23. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 10 Jun 1925  State Where Number was Issued: California  Death: 30 May 2005

24. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 13 Feb 1925  State Where Number was Issued: Massachusetts  Death: 26 Mar 2007

25. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 8 Jan 1925  State Where Number was Issued: Illinois  Death: 27 Jul 2007

26. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 21 Jan 1925  State Where Number was Issued: Iowa  Death: 15 Jan 2008

27. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 16 Mar 1926  State Where Number was Issued: Massachusetts  Death: 29 May 2000

28. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 22 Feb 1926  State Where Number was Issued: New York  Death: 15 Oct 1996

29. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 24 Oct 1927  State Where Number was Issued: Connecticut  Death: Nov 1967

30. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 2 Jun 1927  State Where Number was Issued: Minnesota  Death: 28 May 2003

31. Russell SWANSON – U.S. Social Security Death Index
Birth: 22 Mar 1927  State Where Number was Issued: Michigan  Death: 27 Feb 2004

That’s too many to check for the purposes of this exercise… So I’ll leave it to someone else who has the time and interest.

Unfortunately, The Times clips are no help on this question and without further information on Swanson’s service record, it’s difficult to do further tracking.

Time to move on. Tune in next time, when I will finally get to Bowers’ first (alleged) Hollywood encounter.

About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Another Good Story Ruined, Brain Trust, Film, Hollywood, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Libraries, World War II and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to ‘Full Service’: Fun With Fact-Checking, Part 8

  1. Barry OB says:

    I’m sure the research is important to you but I have to ask what purpose does it serve? We know the book has many factual errors but the overall story is about movie stars who were gay or bi. For those of us who grew up in LA during that era none of this is a surprise. I had heard Scotty being discussed at many gatherings in West Hollywood–mainly for his dexterity in mixing drinks. As far as denying the sexual preferences of the like of Hepburn and Tracy, this only shows how powerful and long-lasting was/is the influence of MGM publicity machine. The only surprise for me was that Clifton Webb didn’t want to be seen with Scotty as people might think he (Webb) was gay!

    • lmharnisch says:

      @Barry: The purpose is that I find it entertaining. All history is welcome at the Daily Mirror — particularly the history of people who have been marginalized and ignored by the mainstream press. But it has to be accurate history.

  2. “Oh, Kate, Spence, Judy, Tyrone, George, Cary, Rita, Charles, Randolph, Edith, Vivien….”

    So finally he’s a star–or, at least he’s in one on the cover of a cheesy book. As soon as I read about it a few months ago, I dashed over to the Strand to pick up a copy… but I decided after a few minutes’ of flipping through it that I’d rather spend the money on something–anything–else.

    “…but, to be honest, what really drove me was a desire to keep people happy….” This moved me so much. I’m not sure which is funnier…the old hooker’s absurd starlet-just-arrived-in-Hollywood tone or your examination, Larry. Please continue.

  3. Dick Morris says:

    Archive.org has the 1951 L.A. directory for “Beverly Hills and all other communities in the western section of the Los Angeles extended area” but there are no Russel Swansons and no Swansons with “R” for a middle initial.

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