Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: ‘The Road Is Open Again’ Promotes Optimism


“The Road Is Open Again,” via YouTube.

In times of adversity and challenge, catchy songs or phrases have captured Americans’ imaginations, rallying spirits and action. Though written in 1929, the tune, “Happy Days Are Here Again,” was first employed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the 1932 Democratic National Convention, becoming his campaign theme song and celebratory salute after the end of Prohibition, suggesting better days ahead. Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler’s song, “Get Happy,” composed in 1930, revived spirits with ecstatic gospel lyrics. The unofficial National Recovery Act theme song, “The Road Is Open Again,” written in 1933, promises golden times, more employment, and better financial conditions thanks to Roosevelt’s New Deal policies. Its spirited, can-do lyrics cheered the NRA, appealing to movie fans and uptempo swingers alike.

The Black Tuesday Stock Market Crash of October 29, 1929 wiped out fortunes, destroyed lives, and decimated the American economy. Businesses failed, jobs disappeared, and families struggled over the next several years, with unemployment as high as 25%. Each round of industry or factory shutdowns caused more financial calamities. President Herbert Hoover took a laissez-faire approach to the situation, assuming business policies would eventually turn the situation around.

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

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The Mystery of Jocko the Monkey

Leatrice Gilbert

Eve Golden recently shared this photo of Leatrice Gilbert, the daughter of John Gilbert and Leatrice Joy. The question was the identity of the gentleman with the monkey.

Thanks to Mary Mallory, we have a partial answer. The monkey was named Jocko and he was apparently popular entertainment for children in the movie colony in the 1920s. A monkey named Jocko even has an entry on imdb about the same time. The trainer, however, has yet to be identified.

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Posted in Animals, Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie was “The Big Combo,” a 1955 movie released by Allied Artists, starring Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte (Friday’s mystery gent), Brian Donlevy (Thursday’s mystery fellow), Jean Wallace (Friday’s mystery woman), with a young Lee Van Cleef (Thursday’s mystery gent), Earl Holliman (Thursday’s mystery gent), Helen Walker (Wednesday’s mystery woman), Jay Adler (Monday’s mystery chap) and Helene Stanton (Tuesday’s mystery woman). It was written by Philip Yordan, photographed by John Alton, with a great score by David Raksin and directed by Joseph Lewis,

“The Big Combo” is in public domain and is available at


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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 52 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Alex Kahle Shoots the Angles

Virginia Bruce

Virginia Bruce, courtesy of Mary Mallory.

When most people think of motion picture stills photographers, they think of such renowned portraitists as George Hurrell, Ruth Harriet Louise, Clarence Sinclair Bull, and Eugene Richee, who created the glamour and iconography of the classic film stars of the 1930s and 1940s. Often forgotten are the lensers who concentrated on scene stills, establishing a film’s mood or theme as they also developed character. German Alex Kahle brought dynamism and verve to his work as a scenes and off-camera stills photographer by shooting for the angles, making his images often “pop” off the page.

Born October 11, 1886 in Berlin Germany, Alexander Paul Kahle achieved a modest education, attending school through the eighth grade before going to work. International Photographer reported in its April 1934 issue that he found his first film industry job in 1902, going on to work for Nestor, Decla, Maxine, and UFA as a stills photographer over the years.

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, Photography | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Vintage Slides of the Black Dahlia? Probably Not

Mystery film slide via EBay
A scan of one of the transparencies being offered on EBay. This is from an unidentified Western.

A vendor has listed a lot of about 500 transparencies that were owned by a “Hollywood filmmaker.” A bit of research indicates that these probably belonged to Jack Greenhalgh, a prolific cinematographer who worked on such low-budget pictures as “Hollywood Barndance” and the immortal “Robot Monster.”

Of particular interest is two images  — not shown in the EBay listing — that the vendor says show Elizabeth Short as an extra in a film that is in all probability “Adventure Island”  with Rory Calhoun and Rhonda Fleming, which was filmed on Santa Catalina Island in September 1946 and released in 1947. In all my years of research, I have never heard anything about Elizabeth Short ever setting foot in front of a movie camera, although she was in Los Angeles at the time.

Adventure Island” via

Bidding starts at $9,999.99. As with anything on EBay, an item and vendor should be evaluated thoroughly before submitting a bid.

Posted in 1946, 1947, Black Dahlia, Film, Found on EBay, Hollywood | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Book Review: ‘Dead to Me’ by Mary McCoy

Dead to Me cover

Last week’s mail brought us an advance copy of “Dead to Me” by our longtime friend Mary McCoy of the Los Angeles Public Library, one of the leading lights among those of us who research L.A. history and a past contributor to the 1947project and On Bunker Hill.

Set in Los Angeles in 1948, “Dead” is narrated by 16-year-old Alice Gates and the book is intended for young adults, meaning that – as far as Amazon is concerned, anyway  – “Dead” is for ages 12 through 18. But that’s somewhat misleading. Despite Alice’s age, “Dead” is in many ways an adult story. Alice certainly faces adult problems and she shows a surprising precocity in reasoning far beyond her years – except for her knack of getting into trouble with various unsavory Hollywood types, of which there are many.

Spoilers ahead.

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Posted in 1948, 2015, Books and Authors, Hollywood, LAPD | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Minus the Black Dahlia and George Hodel: ‘Man Ray and Human Equations’

Man Ray

The Washington Post has published an interesting review by Philip Kennicott of an exhibit at the Phillips Collection of Man Ray’s works. And yes, there isn’t a single mention of the ridiculous allegations about Ray, Dr. George Hodel and the Black Dahlia.

All of this was happening in Hollywood, at a time when many of the greatest artists and intellectuals of Europe were languishing there in spectacularly productive pools of ennui. The opening party for Man Ray’s first Shakespearean Equations exhibition included among its guests Igor Stravinsky, Aldous Huxley, Luis Bunuel and Jean Renoir, plus assorted Americans of significant stature.

Posted in 1946, 1947, Art & Artists, Black Dahlia, Hollywood, LAPD | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)


This week’s mystery replacement movie was the 1951 Twentieth Century-Fox picture “Elopement,” starring Clifton Webb (Friday’s mystery feet),  Anne Francis (not shown) Charles Bickford, William Lundigan (Wednesday’s mystery chaps), Reginald Gardiner (Thursday’s mystery gent), Evelyn Varden (Tuesday’s mystery woman) and Margalo Gillmore (Monday’s mystery woman). It was written by Bess Taffel (whom imdb identifies as Bess Boyle), with music by Cyril Mockridge, conducted by Lionel Newman, photographed by Joseph La Shelle and directed by Henry Koster.

Bess Taffel , Sept. 19, 1951

On Sept. 18, 1951, Taffel, above, appeared before a House Un-American Activities Committee in the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles during hearings on Communists in Hollywood. She refused to state whether she was a member of the Communist Party and she was subsequently blacklisted.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 48 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Studio City Nightclubs Jazz Up San Fernando Valley

Zomba Cafe, 'The Loved One'
The Zomba Cafe in “The Loved One,” about the 1:38 mark.

Thanks to its geographic location and its proximity to entertainment industry businesses, Studio City has served as the home for eclectic restaurants and nightclubs providing a variety of amusement and atmosphere. Several film industry professionals operated their own niteries, such as screen villain Jack La Rue and Academy Award winning cinematographer James Wong Howe. Others featured eclectic decoration or strong celebrity clientele. Some venues hosted variety performers entertaining guests, such as clubs at 11502 Ventura Blvd. and 12449 Ventura Blvd.

11502 Ventura Blvd. has hosted a revolving clientele of clubs since at least 1936, when Rex’s White Cabin operated at the location. The Everglades premiered at the location in December 1939, featuring singing star Beth Williams, accompanied by Harry Powell and his Gladesmen, per the December 7, 1939 Van Nuys Valley News. The club offered dinner and dancing, and such special cuisine as Chicken a la Maryland.

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, Nightclubs, San Fernando Valley | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stewart Stern on ‘Rebel Without a Cause’


Eve Golden forwards this interview conducted with the late Stewart Stern, in which he commented on his screenplay for “Rebel Without a Cause”:

As he has noted elsewhere, “Rebel Without a Cause” is inspired by [the play “Peter Pan”] — “my whole life has revolved around that play, which I felt was the story of my own life — I never stopped wanting to be Peter Pan. The character played by James Dean is Peter, Sal Mineo is all of the Lost Boys, and Natalie Wood is Wendy.”

Thanks, Eve!

Posted in 1955, Eve Golden, Film, Hollywood | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

What I’m Reading

Feb. 6, 2015, Books

Yesterday’s mail brought two long-anticipated books. The recently published “Missing Reels” by Farran Smith Nehme and an advance copy of Mary McCoy’s “Dead to Me.” I may do nothing but read this weekend.

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Black Dahlia: From the Archives, 1998


Feb. 5, 2015, Talk Soup
One of my projects while on sabbatical is digitizing my old videotapes. And look what I found!

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Posted in 1998, Black Dahlia, Cold Cases, Hollywood, LAPD, Television | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Last Remaining Seats 2015

Last Remaining Seats

The Los Angeles Conservancy has announced the films for its 2015 Last Remaining Seats series. I wish I could be more enthusiastic about this year’s LSR, because the conservancy does terrific work, but the programming is about as adventuresome as TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar or the old Classic Film section at Blockbuster:

“City Lights.”
“How to Marry a Millionaire.”
“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
“Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Meh. I used to be a big fan of Last Remaining Seats, but the selections haven’t been that interesting in recent years.

One film does sound worthwhile and that’s the Argentine picture “Dios se lo pague” (“God Bless You”), the traditional Spanish-language feature of the series. There’s a funky copy on YouTube in case you are curious about it.

Posted in 2015, Coming Attractions, Downtown, Film, Hollywood | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Movieland Mystery Photo Bonus Edition

Leatrice Gilbert

Here’s a true mystery photo, sent along by a member of the Brain Trust. The young girl in this photo is Leatrice Gilbert, the daughter of Leatrice Joy and John Gilbert. The question is whether anyone can identify the man in the photo.

Note: Leatrice Gilbert was born in 1924 and I would guess she is no more than 4 years old in this picture, which would make it about 1928.

Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s movie was the 1926 MGM silent picture “Exit Smiling” with Beatrice Lillie (one of Friday’s mystery guests) and Jack Pickford (Thursday’s mystery guest). The story was by Marc Connelly, screenplay by Sam Taylor and Tim Whelan with titles by Joe Farnham. It was directed by Sam Taylor.


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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , , , | 28 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Marc McDermott, Man of Dignity

Marc “MacDermott” on the cover of Motion Picture News.

Cultured and dignified whether playing lecherous aristocrats or burdened family men, Marc McDermott and his subtle acting drew accolades from critics and the public throughout his almost twenty year film career. Inhabiting a character from within, he brought realism and thoughtfulness to his performances. His natural vulnerability added a touching empathy to the many disabled and hurting characters he portrayed onscreen. While physically embodying these parts, however, he remained guarded in his personal life.

Born July 21, 1881 in Gouldbourne, New South Wales, Australia to Irish-born parents, Marcus Patrick McDermott dreamed of acting from a young age. He was educated at Jesuit College before hitting the boards at as a teenager in order to support his family. In a May 1912 interview with “Motion Picture Story Magazine,” McDermott recounted his early experience in the theatre. Actor George Rignold spotted the young man in a performance, adding him to his stock company for a production of “Henry V.” For the next seven years, McDermott toured the Australian continent with Rignold before joining Mrs. Patrick Campbell’s company, spending five seasons touring the United States and the United Kingdom with her in many productions, particularly “The Joy of Living.” He spent a season in London at Windham’s Theatre in “Peggy Machree,” before returning to the US to act with Richard Mansfield, Charles Frohman, and Klaw and Erlanger.

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

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Julian Eltinge and Trixie Friganza!


Look what we found on YouTube! It’s a brief clip that shows two of our favorites: Julian Eltinge, above, with Gloria Jean, and Trixie Friganza in “If I Had My Way.”

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What We’re Reading: The Taft Building by Roger Vincent

Jan. 30, 2015, Taft Building

In case you don’t follow the Daily Mirror’s Twitter feed, here’s a story we like, by Roger Vincent, who covers commercial real estate for The Times. With great photos by the one and only Gary Friedman.

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Holocaust Remembrance Day

This is an especially appropriate day to recall the editorial stand of the Los Angeles Times in the 1930s toward European refugees. In a March 30, 1938, editorial,  The Times opposed wholesale admission of European refugees, saying that they would either go on welfare or take jobs away from Americans.

No, really, that’s what The Times said.

Posted in 1938, World War II | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

A Question for the L.A. Daily Mirror Brain Trust

May 17, 1962, Deadline

“Deadline” was a television show that premiered in Los Angeles on May 17, 1962, hosted by Paul Stewart, whom you may recall as Raymond in “Citizen Kane.” Drop me a line if you have any copies of the show. Thanks.

Posted in 1962, Television | Tagged , | 1 Comment