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.

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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.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jan. 31, 2015, Follow Me Quietly
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1949 RKO thriller “Follow Me Quietly,” with William Lundigan (Friday’s mystery gent), Dorothy Patrick (Thursday’s mystery guest), Jeff Corey (Wednesday’s mystery guest), Edwin Max (Friday’s mystery guest) and Douglas Spencer (Tuesday’s mystery guest). It was written by Lillie Hayward from a story by Francis Rosenwald and Anthony Mann, photographed by Robert de Grasse, with music by Leonid Raab and directed by Richard O. Fleischer.

It was released by Warner Archive in 2011.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: The House of Westmore Beautifies Hollywood

Ann Sheridan promotes the House of Westmore.

Since the 1920s, the Westmore family has served the entertainment industry as some of the greatest practitioners of makeup artistry. From leading studio makeup departments to creating unique makeup effects, the Westmores have excelled at promoting and publicizing the art of beautification, often blazing new trails in the process. In fact, they were the first active entertainment industry professionals to open a successful salon on the side serving both their studio clientele and the general public, known as the House of Westmore.

Patriarch George Westmore introduced the family to the beauty field back in England, getting his start at as an assistant to a barber, lathering and shaving clients, and as apprentice hair-dresser. From an early age, he drummed into his sons the importance of soap and simple things when it came to beautification. Percival “Perc” Westmore claimed in his book, “The How-To Beauty Guide For 1950s Woman,” that their father told them every night, “The beginning of facial loveliness is in a bar of pure mild soap and a jar of cleansing cream.” Makeup artists and hairstylists nicknamed their annual awards, the Georgie Awards, after George Westmore, in honor of his pioneering work.

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywoodland: Tales Lost and Found” is available for the Kindle.
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A Puzzle From 1944

May 13, 1944, Double Crostic

As part of my sabbatical from the blog (yes, this is a working sabbatical) I have been immersing myself in the 1940s and that includes the neglected job of tackling the random assortment of papers on my desk.

Several years ago, I printed out this Double-Crostic from the May 13, 1944, issue of Saturday Review on and this morning I finally had a chance to take it on.

I like Double-Crostics (the New York Times publishes them in the Sunday magazine as Acrostics) and I consider myself a moderately good puzzler, but I quickly discovered this one was extremely difficult.

In case you don’t know, the Double-Crostic consists of two parts. The solution is a brief quote, usually from a book. The solver is given a list of clues, answers them (ideally) and then writes the letters from the answers into the puzzle grid.

Spoilers ahoy!

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Research Update From 1947

For those don’t follow my Twitter feed @latdailymirror: is a fabulous repository of historic magazines and I have been reading a variety of 1947 issues to immerse myself in the year.

Here’s a thought-provoking essay from the Saturday Review, which says that the gains made by American women since the 1920s were under siege in the postwar era. Women who had to work to support their families during the Depression or in factories during World War II were now being pushed back to the kitchen stove.

Saturday Review, Jan. 18, 1947.

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Tech Issue

Some Mac/Safari users say they get a warning on that the security certificate is missing or that it may be a fake site. Anyone else getting those messages? If possible send me a screen shot. Thanks.

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An Update From 1947

I have been immersing myself in 1947 and for those readers who don’t follow my Twitter feed (@LATDailyMirror) or Facebook page, here’s what I have been up to.

From January 1947:

The American Mercury muses on Arthur Vandenberg’s chances in the 1948 presidential race.

Newspaper headline writing as it was in 1947 (“probe” was a necessary evil even then) from the American Mercury.

What’s an “angledog?” Scholars studying American dialects were on the trail in 1947.

Housing and birth control, 1947: Many veterans’ wives are seeking to delay children until they have their own home.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)


This week’s mystery movie has been the 1957 Twentieth Century-Fox film “A Hatful of Rain,” with Eva Marie Saint (Friday’s mystery guest), Don Murray (Thursday’s mystery guest), Anthony Franciosa (not shown), Lloyd Nolan (Wednesday’s mystery guest) and Henry Silva (Tuesday’s mystery guest).  It was written by Michael Vincente Gazzo and Alfred Hayes, based on Gazzo’s play. With music by Bernard Herrmann, photographed by Joe MacDonald and directed by Fred Zinnemann.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 70 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Venice Miniature Railway, Tourist Attraction and Realty Estate Promotion

Venice Mini Railway
A postcard showing Venice’s miniature railway, courtesy of Mary Mallory.

In the early 1900s, Los Angeles and environs were booming. Ballyhoo from groups like the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, railroads, the Automobile Club, realtors, and civic groups promoting Southern California as a promised land to Midwesterners and easterners stuck in cold climates drew thousands to the area. Slogans such as “the Land of Sunshine” and “Sunlit Skies of Glory” described the area as a new Eldorado for more than sixty years.

The expansion of streetcar lines by people like Henry Huntington, Eli P. Clark, and M. H. Sherman opened new areas of Los Angeles and environs to possible subdivision for all the new immigrants to the golden land. Real estate promoters rushed to fill these needs with multitudes of housing developments. One of these, New Jersey transplant Abbot Kinney, envisioned an elaborate recreation of romantic Venice, Italy, south of Ocean Park and Santa Monica as both theme park and community, from the Rancho La Ballona land he and partners had purchased.

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

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On the Radio: 1947

I’m trying to immerse myself in the period (remember we have been doing 1944 and the 1947project was 10 years ago, so I listened to a few radio programs from January 1947.

Jan. 17, 1947: “The Lone Ranger.”

Jan. 18, 1947: “The Hollywood Barn Dance.”  

Jan. 18, 1947: “The Life of Riley.”

Jan. 18, 1947: “For Your Approval: This Is Jazz.”

Jan. 19, 1947: “A Doll’s House,” with Basil Rathbone and Dorothy Maguire.

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Black Dahlia: Wikipedia Fail

Jan. 17, 2015

Here is what’s wrong with Wikipedia:

“The Black Dahlia” was a nickname given to Elizabeth Short … Short acquired the moniker posthumously by newspapers in the habit of nicknaming crimes they found particularly lurid.


Elizabeth Short was nicknamed the Black Dahlia at a corner drugstore in Long Beach as a play on the then-current film “The Blue Dahlia.” After she was killed, the Los Angeles Herald Express, which often nicknamed murders, called her case “the Werewolf Murder” or “Werewolf Killing,” but the nickname was ignored in favor of the Black Dahlia.

Of course, this entry might be changed tomorrow, next week or even later today and then restored in a “revert war.”  I have given up any hope of fixing errors in Wikipedia because I don’t have the proper incantation to repel all the trolls who live there. But trust me, it’s wrong.


Me vs. Wikipedia
Wikipedia: Murder and Myth, Part 19

Posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Cold Cases, LAPD, Wikipedia | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Black Dahlia: Time Magazine and the Death of Research

Jan. 16, 2015, Black Dahlia

Time magazine, more than a bit late to the party, jumps on the Dr. George Hodel bandwagon on the anniversary of Elizabeth Short’s death.

Time was once famous for having an extensive research department. These days, however, writers  – at least Jennifer Latson – believe it is enough to get their facts from a novel (James Ellroy’s “Black Dahlia” is a work of fiction, folks), Internet stories about Buster the three-legged cadaver dog and dubious claims about traces of decomposition found at the Sowden House.

That sound you hear is Henry Luce spinning in his grave.

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Today Is Jan. 15 — The Daily Mirror Sabbatical Begins

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.


Posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Cold Cases, Homicide, LAPD | Tagged , , | 31 Comments

Al Martinez, a Dying Boy and Some Peaches

Jim Romenesko

Jim Romenesko, for those who aren’t in the news business, runs an essential blog that serves as a clearing house for information, gossip, bad headlines and assorted gaffes.

A Jan. 6 post dealt with former Times columnist Al Martinez, who died Monday, and the occasional columns Al wrote over the years about a dying boy who craved peaches.

John Russell of the Indianapolis Star wrote to Romenesko in hopes that some reader would verify Al’s story, saying: “After months of digging, I still can’t find any evidence of the original story, and too many questions to ignore.”

Russell elaborated on his skepticism in “Why I Have Trouble Believing the ‘Get the Kid His Peaches’ Christmas story,” noting that he had written to Al for help in finding the original.

We have some answers — and the story — with a not-so-gentle reminder for reporters: DON’T write from memory or bad things can happen. Use the clips. It’s what they are for.  Memory can compress time and erase crucial details, as we will see with Al’s story.

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Posted in 1949, 1958, Books and Authors, Columnists | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

‘Laura’ — The Making of a Film Noir Classic, Part 48


“Oklahoma!” directed by Rouben Mamoulian, plays for 2,212 performances on Broadway.

Let’s take a brief detour and look at what else was happening in the early 1940s that would affect the production of “Laura.”

In March 1943,  Ring Lardner Jr., the first screenwriter to rework Jay Dratler’s script for “Laura,” won the Academy Award for best original screenplay with “Woman of the Year.”

Written with Michael Kanin, “Woman of the Year” was the first of the Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy films.  Lardner would later become one of the Hollywood 10, but that was several years after “Laura” and we won’t be dealing with that here.

The Making of “Laura” 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 | Part 27 | Part 28 | Part 29 | Part 30 | Part 31 | Part 32 | Part 33 | Part 34 | Part 35 | Part 36 | Part 37 | Part 38 | Part 39 | Part 40 | Part 41 | Part 42 

James Ellroy to script remake of ‘Laura’

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Al Martinez — ‘Jigsaw John’

Al Martinez, Jigsaw John

While people are remembering former Times columnist Al Martinez, it’s good to mention his 1975 book “Jigsaw John,” about LAPD Detective John St. John, who was one of the caretakers of the Black Dahlia case at Robbery-Homicide. Copies are available via

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