Black Dahlia: Photo of Not Elizabeth Short Listed on EBay


Apparently nobody fell for this photo the first time around, so a vendor on EBay has listed it again. For $499.99. Seriously.

The vendor (ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE ON EBAY WHO HAS NO IDEA HOW TO TURN OFF THE CAPS LOCK) claims to have gotten this “rare” photo of Elizabeth Short at an estate sale of “A WWII VETERAN.”


Well that is certainly conclusive evidence — that some people can’t see what is in front of them.

This isn’t Elizabeth Short, it’s just some random woman from the 1940s. Really.

The price has gone up. The last time it was listed, bidding started at $99.99.

Posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Found on EBay | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Today is Jan. 15 — Trim Your Roses

Today is Jan. 15, and the Daily Mirror marks the anniversary of Elizabeth Short’s death by pruning back the roses.

Posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Cold Cases | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Brain Trust Mourns a Loss

We were saddened to learn from B.J. Merholz that his wife, Julie, has died.

B.J. writes: “Julie was a long-time fan of the Mystery Photo and determined contributor who followed it as long as her health permitted. After a recent steep decline, she died yesterday.”

We will miss Julie’s contributions to the Daily Mirror. We were lucky enough to meet her and B.J. during a gathering of the Brain Trust at the pre-renovation Clifton’s Cafeteria. We mourn her loss and extend the Daily Mirror’s condolences to B.J. and the Merholz family.

B.J. has more on his blog.

Posted in Mystery Photo, Obituaries | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Movieland Mystery Photo (Update + + + +)


This week’s mystery movie has been the 1952 MGM picture “Above and Beyond,” starring Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker, with James Whitmore, Larry Keating, Larry Gates, Marilyn Erskine, Stephen Dunne, Robert Burton and Hayden Rorke. The screenplay was by Melvin Frank, Norman Panama and Beirne Lay Jr. from a story by Beirne Lay Jr. The music was by Hugo Friedhofer and conducted by Andre Previn. “Above and Beyond” was produced and directed by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama.

“Above and Beyond” is available from Warner Archive for $12.49.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 43 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Stand-Ins Honor Themselves With the Elmers

William Hoover, left, doubled for Edward Arnold, Silver Screen, August 1939.

Since 1927, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has recognized best acting performances in motion pictures by male and female stars. They began recognizing best supporting performances in 1936. Directors, writers, cinematographers, costume designers, and production designers are also honored, not only by the Academy but by each of their individual guilds, and now by critics’ groups, festivals, and even by the people.

Long forgotten by the industry and even audiences, stand-ins fought to be recognized for their own contributions to the creation of motion pictures. For a short time in the 1940s, this little acknowledged group handed out their own awards. Instead of being able to say, “I’d like to thank the Academy,” they could thank the stars for whom they tolled under hot lights and conditions.

“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is now available at Amazon and at local bookstores.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Ambassador Theatre Entertains Hotel’s Guests

The Ambassador Theater, as shown in the Exhibitors Herald, 1921.

On February 9, 1919, the Los Angeles Times reported that the California Hotel Company would soon begin construction on a luxurious hotel on twenty one acres adjoining Wilshire Boulevard between Catalina and Eighth Streets. This resort-like property would cater to the upper classes, with bungalows, ballroom, billiards, card rooms, swimming pool, and an arcade of shops catering to every whim of the wealthy clientele. Often overlooked in the hostelry’s many high-end amenities was the plush Ambassador Theatre, intended both as rental facility, host to conventions, and movie theatre.

D. M. Linnard, owner of the California Hotel Company, announced on April 4 that architect Myron Hunt had been employed to design something along classic Italian lines for the $5 million project. The proposed design showed buildings in a giant H shape with a combined 1000 rooms between the main building and annexes. The proposed project also included tea house, casino, and a convention hall with pipe organ and stage. Construction began in June 1919 for the massive project after demolishing the former Ruben Schmidt farmhouse on the property. The hotel’s name changed from California to Ambassador in March 1920 as well.

“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is now available at Amazon and at local bookstores.

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Posted in Architecture, Film, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory, Theaters | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jan. 9, 2016, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1931 RKO picture “Way Back Home,” which was based on a popular radio program starring Phillips H. Lord, who later created the radio shows “Gang Busters” and “Mr. District Attorney.” It was directed by William Seiter, written by Jane Murfin and photographed by J. Roy Hunt.  It featured Phillips H. Lord, Effie L. Palmer, Frank Albertson, Bette Davis, Frankie Darro, Dorothy Peterson, Stanley Fields, Oscar Apfel, Sophia M. Lord, Bennett Kilpack and Raymond Hunter.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 47 Comments

L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Drinking Guide — Pisco Punch

New York Sun, April 23, 1934

Note: This is a repost from 2013.

Just in time for New Year’s, we’ll take a look at a “lost drink,” making a brief inquiry into San Francisco’s Pisco Punch, made famous by Bank Exchange saloon owner Duncan Nicol (often spelled Nichol or Nicoll), who  died in 1926 without revealing the recipe.

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Posted in 1915, 1934, 1939, Food and Drink, San Francisco | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Drinking Guide — The Bronx Cocktail

Dec. 20, 1934, Holiday Cocktails

Dec. 20 1934, Holiday Drinks

Note: This is a repost from 2013.

Dec. 20, 1934: In case you doubted me (but you wouldn’t, would you?), here’s a recipe for the Bronx Cocktail, from the Amsterdam Evening Recorder, courtesy of

In case you plan to mix one up, a Bronx Cocktail is one part Italian vermouth, three parts brandy and a dash of orange bitters. Shake well!

Notice that there are also three variations of the Manhattan.

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Posted in 1934, Food and Drink, Suicide | Tagged , | 1 Comment

L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Drinking Guide — The Brooklyn Cocktail

March 5, 1937, Brooklyn Cocktail

March 7, 1937, Brooklyn Cocktail

Note: This is a repost from 2013.

Yes, the Manhattan cocktail once had competition from drinks named for the other boroughs. Here’s a recipe for the Brooklyn Cocktail, from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 7, 1937. The Brooklyn Cocktail as made by Brad Dewey consisted of

Two parts Jamaica rum
One part lime juice
Dash of grenadine

We won’t be toasting the new year with the Brooklyn Cocktail (we’re working) but if someone is brave enough to try one, let us know how it is.

And in case you are wondering, research shows that there was also a Bronx Cocktail. Evidently it, too, has fallen out of favor.

Posted in 1937, Food and Drink | Tagged , | Leave a comment

L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Drinking Guide: The Harvey Wallbanger

Harvey Wallbagner

A vintage 1972 iron-on transfer of Harvey Wallbanger himself, on EBay for $12.

Note: This is a repost from 2013.

We have been looking at some historic drinks for this holiday season. To the millennials in the audience: This is what mom and dad used to drink (along with the Tequila Sunrise) when they went out in the 1970s.

Return with us now to the thrilling days of yesteryear:

1 ounce of vodka
4 ounces of orange juice
half an ounce of Galliano.

Poured over ice in a highball glass.

Cue Grand Funk Railroad’s “Gimme Shelter” or Carole King’s “It’s Too Late.”

Posted in 1971, Food and Drink, Music | Tagged , | Leave a comment

L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Drinking Guide: A Brief History of the Tom and Jerry


A recipe for the Tom and Jerry from the San Francisco Call, June 30, 1912.

Note: This is a repost from 2013.

Over on Facebook, Christopher McPherson asked whether the Tom and Jerry was named for the MGM cartoon characters. I said I suspected the opposite was true, rather like Disney’s Chip ‘n’ Dale being named for Chippendale furniture.

All the old newspaper stories give credit for the drink to bartender Jerry Thomas, who according to one account was born in New Haven, Conn., in 1825 (or Watertown, N.Y., in 1830).

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Posted in 1862, Books and Authors, Food and Drink | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

'I Accuse!'
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1957 MGM picture “I Accuse!” The film stars Jose Ferrer (who also directed), Anton Walbrook, Viveca Lindfors, Leo Genn, Emlyn Williams, David Farrar, Donald Wolfit and Herbert Lom.  The screenplay was by Gore Vidal, from a book by Nicholas Halasz.

“I Accuse!” It has never been commercially released on VHS or DVD.

'I Accuse'
The film was photographed by F.A. “Freddie” Young, who won Academy Awards for “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Dr. Zhivago” and “Ryan’s Daughter.”  It was released in CinemaScope with “process lenses by Panavision.”

'I Accuse'

According to the IMDB entry, “I Accuse!” was filmed in standard Academy aspect ratio and then printed in CinemaScope with the images cropped as the “process lenses by Panavision” would tend to indicate. I’m not an expert on the matter and will leave it to others to investigate this matter further.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 50 Comments

Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights – Mary Pickford Day

Dec. 4, 1923, Mary Pickford Day

Note: Mary Mallory is taking this week off, so I’m running a post from several years ago.

Los Angeles in 1923 was a bustling, growing, optimistic place.  The town recognized all sorts of interesting people and topics, saluting them with their own days.  There were Raisin Day, Prune Day, Father-and-Son Day, Fireless Cooker Day, and many others that year.  Dec. 3, 1923 was Mary Pickford Day, which unfortunately coincided with Golden Rule Day.  Per the Dec. 4, 1923,  Los Angeles Times, only a few Golden Rule observations occurred.

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‘Valley of Gwangi’ on TCM Dec. 29!

Set your DVRs! TCM is airing “The Valley of Gwangi” on Dec. 29 at 9:45 a.m. (ET). Like “King Kong,” only it’s a dinosaur. With cowboys!

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

Samuel Steward and Rudolph Valentino: Another Good Story Ruined


I may have retired, but I haven’t lost any of my annoyance over b.s. when it comes to historical figures. The case in point is today’s review in the New York Times by Jennifer Senior of “Philip Sparrow Tells All,” edited by Jeremy Mulderig.

The moment I read the review I thought “Oh, Scotty Bowers rides again!”

Fact-Checking “Full Service”: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21 | Part 22 | Part 23 | Part 24 | Part 25 | Part 26

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Posted in 1926, Another Good Story Ruined, Film, Hollywood | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

One Door Closes, Another One Opens

The Great Escape

Dear friends,

I left the Los Angeles Times on Friday as one of the people taking the buyout. It was a generous offer and I plan to use the next year as a sort of paid leave to work on the Dahlia book. This means I won’t be writing daily items other than the mystery photos and an occasional post as the spirit moves me. Although the “Laura” project remains unfinished, I have a few more posts “on the clock” for January and I plan to let them go live, although I won’t be writing any more of them. Mary Mallory will be continuing her popular Hollywood Heights features as usual.

Note: Yes, I know Steve McQueen was ultimately unsuccessful in “The Great Escape,” but this is still one of my favorite scenes.

Posted in 2015, Black Dahlia | Tagged , | 20 Comments

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1933 RKO picture “Christopher Strong,” Katharine Hepburn’s second film and her first in a leading role. It starred Colin Clive and Billie Burke (also in Hepburn’s film debut, “Bill of Divorcement”), with a screenplay by Zoe Akins from a novel by Gilbert Frankau. The photography was by Bert Glennon, settings by Van Nest Polglase and Charles Kirk, music by Max Steiner and transitions by Slavko Vorkapich.

I picked “Christopher Strong” to feature the director, Dorothy Arzner, often described as the only woman director of Hollywood’s golden age.

Ann Harding was originally cast as Lady Cynthia Darrington (New York Times Nov. 20, 1932), the role that eventually went to Hepburn. According to the New York Times (Dec. 11, 1932), “Miss Harding felt that she was miscast in her part and the studio felt that a better part should be given its newest star than was possible in ‘Three Came Unarmed,” which, they believed would be merely ‘another motion picture.’ So Miss Hepburn was switched to Miss Harding’s story… and negotiations were started for ‘Virgie Winters’ (‘The Life of Vergie Winters’) for Miss Harding, Gregory La Cava to direct.”

Philip K. Scheuer of the Los Angeles Times wrote of Hepburn (May 15, 1933): “A slim, gaunt-featured nymph, this actress, with her sharp, pleasantly unpleasant voice and a penchant for the bizarre in outfits. True star material, she dominates each scene in which she figures.”

…. “Dorothy Arzner directed understandingly — a qualification which women will be quick to note and appreciate — from the script by Zoe Akins.”

Mordaunt Hall of the New York Times said (March 19, 1933): “Magnificently produced, with a splendid cast headed by the talented Katharine Hepburn and the efficient Colin Clive, the film transcription of Gilbert Frankau’s novel ‘Christopher Strong,’ which was at the Radio City Music Hall last week, is another gratifying example of the forward strides made in motion pictures since the linking of the microphone with the camera.”

Hall said: “It is a film that can be seen several times without becoming tedious, for Miss Hepburn and other performers are enormously interesting in their respective roles.”

“Christopher Strong” is available on DVD from Warner Archive for $12.50.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 44 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: ‘White Christmas’ Soothes the Home Front in 1942

Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds and Virginia Dale in “Holiday Inn.”

ecognized today as one of the top selling singles and pieces of sheet music of all time, Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” was just one of eleven songs in the 1942 holiday classic, “Holiday Inn.” First put to paper by Berlin in 1940, the tune evolved over time before becoming the beloved hit sung by the dulcet tones of baritone Bing Crosby.

Jody Rosen, in his book, “White Christmas: The Story of an American Song,” reveals that on Monday, January 8, 1940, Berlin composed forty-eight bars which his secretary Helmy Kresa transcribed to manuscript paper, after the composer flew into the office claiming he had written his greatest song. Nearly fully formed as the song we know today, the most famous sixty-seven notes never changed from the first time they hit the page. These emotion-filled lyrics touched hearts during America’s first year in World War II, nostalgic for better and happier times.“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is now available at Amazon and at local bookstores.

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Posted in 1942, Film, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory, Music | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s unusual mystery movie is “Once Too Often” and I chose it to promote film preservation. “Once Too Often” is otherwise known as …

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 37 Comments