Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

The Verdict

Several members of the Brain Trust identified this week’s mystery movie as the 1946 film “The Verdict,” and with four good reasons: Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Joan Lorring and Rosalind Ivan. (And I could have thrown in Arthur Shields and Colin Kelly, who also appeared in both films).

But as producer David Lewis once said, Warner Bros. ran a tight ship unlike MGM, and it got a lot of work out of its players. So we will put away our trickster hat and say that this week’s mystery movie ….

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L.A. Times Recants 1942 Editorials on Internment of Japanese Americans

Feb. 21, 1942: The Times reports President Roosevelt’s executive order on the evacuation of Japanese Americans. Note the byline: Future Nixon booster Kyle Palmer.


Feb. 19, 2017: The Los Angeles Times recants its 1942 editorials on the internment of Japanese Americans.

Although long overdue, this is a rare admission for a newspaper. Of course, The Times wasn’t the only newspaper that took embarrassing editorial positions during the war. Here’s an editorial in the Los Angeles Examiner (d. 1962) against allowing Japanese Americans to return to California.

Oct. 16, 1944, Los Angeles Examiner

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Black Dahlia: Remembering ‘Severed’ Con Man John Gilmore

John Gilmore 'Bonanza'

I promised I would tell a few tales about the late John Gilmore, author of “Severed.” It’s on L.A. Review of Books. (Though prone to exaggeration, Gilmore actually had a few small roles as an actor, including this 1960 appearance in “Bonanza” in an episode titled “The Gunmen.”)

Posted in 1947, 2016, Another Good Story Ruined, Black Dahlia, Hollywood, Obituaries, Television | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Theresa Harris


Theresa Harris
An image of Theresa Harris from PM magazine, Oct. 29, 1949, listed on EBay for $60.

Lena Horne was an angry, angry woman—she felt that if she’d been white she’d have had the career of Rita Hayworth or Doris Day. Anna May Wong was an angry, angry woman, as she saw Katharine Hepburn, Luise Rainer, Loretta Young and Sylvia Sidney cast as “Asian” in unintentionally hilarious makeup, while Anna’s career languished. Today, Peter Dinklage is an angry, angry man, as he knows damn well that if he were six feet tall, he’d be another George Clooney. Life is not fair, and show business even less so.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights — AMPAS Awards Stills Photographers


“A close second as the Best Production Still Out-of-Doors, is this beautifully composed and lighted scene from “Song of Bernadette,” 20th-Century-Fox production, by Stax Graves,” Courtesy of Mary Mallory.

Note: This is an encore of a post from 2014.

ver its 87-year-old history, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has recognized outstanding work by individuals involved in the filmmaking process. Above-the line-talent like actors and directors have been recognized, along with behind-the-scenes contributors like editors, composers, and production and costume designers. Science and technology experts are also receive awards for their contributions in improving equipment and technology for the filmmaking process.

For four years during the 1940s, AMPAS also presented awards to motion picture studio stills photographers, recognizing their work in producing creative and beautiful visual representations selling motion pictures to consumers. Although the winning stillsmen did not receive Oscar statuettes or gain wide publicity for their awards, this competition was the very first important public acknowledgment of the importance still photographers played in promoting films to the movie-going public.

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

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Blossom Seeley — The Other Sophie Tucker


Blossom Seeley and Bennie Fields in a Vitaphone short.


TCM recently showed the fascinating pre-Code Broadway Thru a Keyhole, with an amazing cast including poor Russ Columbo Texas Guinan, and Blossom Seeley. Bizarrely, Blossom was not given a musical number (one of Frances Williams’ could and should easily have been handed over to her).

Blossom (1891-1974) was a hard-boiled belter of the Sophie Tucker school. She made a splash on Broadway in Lew Fields’ The Hen-Pecks (1911), costarring a pre-Irene Vernon Castle—her ragtime number Toddling the Todalo became her first big hit. Blossom—with her third husband and onstage partner Benny Fields—went on to appear in Broadway revues and in vaudeville through the 1930s, topping the bill at the Palace time and again.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Feb. 11, 2017, Mystery Photo

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1973 film “Bad Charleston Charlie,” released by International Cinema Corporation, presented by Reno Carell, in association with Bad Charleston Charlie Associates. It was produced by Ross Hagen, directed by Ivan Nagy, with Ross Hagen, Kelly Thordsen, Hoke Howell, Dal Jenkins,  Carmen Zapata, Mel Berger,  John Carradine, Ken Lynch, Jon Dalk, Tony Lorea, Claire Hagen and Paul Gregory White. It was photographed by Michael Neyman, written by Ross Hagen, Ivan Nagy and Stan Kamber from an original story by Ross Hagen and Ivan Nagy.

“Bad Charleston Charlie” is not available on DVD or Blu-ray. The VHS copies are quite rare and usually go for a lot of money on EBay.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Edward A.D. Christopher Home Witnesses History


11015 Front Facade Windows - Columns
The Edward A.D. Christopher home, photograph by Mary Mallory.

ith the speed of change in technology, transportation, and society, it’s often amazing that something historic survives. The Edward A. D. Christopher home at 11015 Aqua Vista Street in Studio City is such a specimen, a simple farmhouse which is a survivor and witness to the evolution of San Fernando Valley history for over 109 years. Time perhaps could be catching up to the home, and it needs your help to prevent demolition at the Thursday, February 9, 2017, Planning Commission meeting.

The Christopher home remains as one of the last vestiges of an original ranch home constructed when the Lankershim Ranch Land and Water Company began colonizing the former Rancho de San Fernando with white farmers in the late 1800s. On July 2, 1869, the San Fernando Farm Homestead Association purchased all interest in the ex Mission de San Fernando Rancho from Pio Pico. They also brought a suit for partition against the heirs of Eulogio de Celix and received full title to the southerly portion of the Valley.

Hollywood at Play, by Donovan Brandt, Mary Mallory and Stephen X. Sylvester is now on sale.

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Mephisto


Igo Sym
A postcard of Igo Sym listed on EBay as Buy It Now for $6.

So I’m watching this 1927 German silent film, Café Elektric, starring Marlene Dietrich as a ne’er-do-well spoiled rich girl. And I am charmed by the young blond actor playing the male lead. Igo Sym; never heard of him, but he is handsome and charming and such a good actor. I’ll look him up online and see whatever became of hi—OMIGAWD!

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Coming Events: Book Signing for ‘Hollywood at Play’

Hollywood at Play

A book signing for “Hollywood at Play,” by Donovan Brandt, Mary Mallory and Stephen X. Sylvester, will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at Larry Edmunds Bookshop at 6644 Hollywood Blvd.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)


This week’s mystery movie has been the 1931 Paramount film “The Smiling Lieutenant,” with Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, Charlie Ruggles, Miriam Hopkins, George Barbier and Hugh O’Connell. The film was directed by Ernst Lubitsch, written by Ernest Vajda and Samson Raphaelson, based on “The Waltz Dream” by Leopold Jacobson and Felix Dormann, and the novel “Nux Der Prinzgemahl” by Hans Muller, with music by Oscar Straus, lyrics by Clifford Grey and photography by George Folsey. It was preserved by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

It is available on DVD for $47.96 in the four-disc box set from the Criterion Collection: “Lubitsch Musicals” with “The Love Parade,” “Monte Carlo” and “One Hour With You.”


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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Cecil B. DeMille – Big Man on Campus


Sept. 8, 1956, Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil B. DeMille meets students who will attend DeMille Junior High School, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Sept. 9, 1956.

chools are often named after historic or famous figures that offer inspiration, hope, and good examples to students of that neighborhood or district. While many buildings are named after Presidents, authors, inventors, and the like, sometimes world famous film folk like Cecil B. DeMille are honored as well. In the 1950s, two Southern California schools were named after the legendary director at the peak of his popularity.

In 1955 Long Beach, California required a new junior high for its expanding district. After much consideration, school Supt. Douglas Newcomb announced on January 3, 1955, that they would honor both the motion picture industry, the largest Southern California industry, and the great director by naming their new school the Cecil B. DeMille Junior High School. It would be located on land they hoped to acquire from the city of Long Beach.

Hollywood at Play, by Donovan Brandt, Mary Mallory and Stephen X. Sylvester goes on sale Feb. 1.

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Castles on the Air


Vernon and Irene Castle
Eve Golden’s biography of Vernon and Irene Castle.

I am operating on the assumption that none of you have read my 2007 biography of Vernon and Irene Castle—that book laid an ostrich-sized egg. Three dogs and a cat bought it, and I think the cat returned it.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jan. 28, 2017, Mystery Movie
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1951 Twentieth Century-Fox film “Fixed Bayonets!” with Richard Basehart, Gene Evans, Michael O’Shea, Richard Hylton, Craig Hill and Skip Homeier.

The film was written and directed by Samuel Fuller  from a novel by John Brophy. It was photographed by Lucien Ballard, with music by Roy Webb, art direction by Lyle Wheeler and George Patrick, set decoration by Thomas Little and Fred J. Rode, wardrobe by Charles LeMaire, musical direction by Lionel Newman, makeup by Ben Nye, special photographic effects by Ray Kellogg and sound by Eugene Grossman and Harry M. Leonard. The technical advisor was Capt. Raymond Harvey a Medal of Honor recipient. It was produced by Jules Buck.

“Fixed Bayonets!” is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: S.H. Woodruff and the Electrical Adobe House

An artist's concept of the electrical adobe house
A drawing of the electrical adobe home, Journal of Electricity, Jan. 15, 1921.

eal estate brokers often look for a unique hook or gimmick on which to sell their developments. Any special amenity or feature which can grab headlines and attract the attention of serious buyers, such as a giant electric advertising sign or exclusive, high-end features, is dreamed up.

S.H. (Sidney H.) Woodruff reigns as one of the early Los Angeles masters of ballyhoo, perhaps most well known for his involvement with, and perhaps conception of, the creation of one of the world’s largest electrified advertising signs spelling out the name of the Hollywoodland development in 1923. Woodruff dreamed up fanciful gimmicks promoting his real estate schemes, some of them leading to legal troubles.

Hollywood at Play, by Donovan Brandt, Mary Mallory and Stephen X. Sylvester goes on sale Feb. 1.

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Musical-Political Theater by the Tucson Symphony in the Time of Trump

Markus Huber

Tucson Symphony Orchestra guest conductor Markus Huber. Photo by René Achenbach.

Note: This has nothing to do with Los Angeles or with history – except perhaps my own history as onetime classical music critic of the Arizona Daily Star. Feel free to ignore it.

No one involved in selecting the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s 2016-17 season could have realized that Johannes Brahms’ “A German Requiem” and Arnold Schoenberg’s “A Survivor From Warsaw” would be performed on the inauguration day of President Donald J. Trump and certainly no one anticipated its underlying political commentary. It’s quite likely that even Friday night’s audience at the Tucson Community Center Music Hall (and evidently the local press) did not fully appreciate the concert’s political overtones. Continue reading

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Meine damen und herren, Viktor und Viktoria!


Renate Müller in Viktor und Viktoria.

I have never been a big Blake Edwards fan. The one time I encountered him he was very unpleasant, and even before that I’d never cared for most of his films—I feel his idea of “sophisticated” was less “Ritz-Carlton” and more “Ritz Brothers.” So his Victor/Victoria failed to impress me. For one thing, Mrs. Edwards—Julie Andrews—was 25 years too old for the part, and would have been miscast in it even when she was young. (I am going to be stoned to death for this, but you know who I think would have made a fabulous Victor/Victoria in 1982? Madonna! Go ahead, come at me with your stones.)

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jan. 21, 2017, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1965 film “Chimes at Midnight.” It is available from the Criterion collection on DVD and Blu-ray, and also released in bargain versions sold at Wal-Mart.

By all means read E. Yarber’s insightful daily comments on Orson Welles’ “Chimes,” which I have been reading all week and are now public. Yarber also offered extended commentary on Roger Corman’s “A Bucket of Blood” last August and I salute anyone who is equally at home discussing Welles and Corman.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hollywood Sign Built and Illuminated November-December 1923


The Hollywoodland Sign, in a photo published in the Los Angeles Evening Herald, Dec. 8, 1923.

riginally constructed as a publicity gimmick and branding symbol to help generate sales for a real estate development, the Hollywood Sign is now a worldwide icon just as powerful as Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, and the Statue of Liberty, signifying a land of glamour and opportunity. Myths have always existed about it, from the date of its construction to how the city of Hollywood obtained it. After in-depth research by both historian Bruce Torrence and myself, we can conclusively say the sign was constructed in late November and early December 1923, and illuminated in that first week of December.

Like me, a California transplant involved in history, research, and writing since I was child, Torrence has always been fascinated by Hollywood history, perhaps because his two famous grandfathers contributed much to it. His paternal grandfather, Ernest Torrence, starred in many classic silent films such as “Steamboat Bill Jr.” and “Peter Pan” after a successful career as an opera singer. His maternal grandfather C. E. Toberman could be called the builder of Hollywood for his construction of so many iconic structures around Hollywood Boulevard. Bruce began a photo collection of Hollywood in 1972 with thirty photographs, which has blossomed into thousands. He employed these photos in writing one of Hollywood’s first detailed history books in 1979 called “Hollywood: The First 100 Years.”
Hollywood at Play: The Lives of the Stars Between Takes, by Stephen X. Sylvester, Mary Mallory and Donovan Brandt, goes on sale Feb. 1, 2017.

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Black Dahlia: 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.

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