Black Dahlia: 6 Reasons Dr. George Hodel Didn’t Kill Elizabeth Short — No. 6 No Connection

Elizabeth Short contrasted with the unidentified woman found in George Hodel’s photo album. Not at all the same.


Here are six reasons Dr. George Hodel did not kill Elizabeth Short that you will need to know before watching the TNT mini-series “I Am the Night” or listening to the eight-part podcast accompanying the production.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Lighting the Way on Santa Claus Lane

Christmas Parade Color

Hollywood Boulevard decorated for Christmas in the 1950s.


Starting in the late 1920s, Hollywood Boulevard’s Christmas decorations dazzled shoppers and tourists with their thousands of twinkling lights, a spectacular backdrop for holiday shopping. While Col. H.M. Baine conceived the concept of presenting a parade to lure tourists and crowds to Hollywood Boulevard for potential holiday shopping, electrical king Otto K. Olesen introduced the spectacular decorations which beautified the street.

Born in Farup, Denmark, September 9, 1891, Olesen arrived at Ellis Island November 22, 1911, with $20 in his possession and a final destination of Los Angeles to join his uncle H.A. Jessen. The twenty-year-old found electrical work, quickly learning and expanding his skills. In 1921 Olesen opened his Studio Lighting Service at 1645 Hudson Avenue, which later evolved into the Otto K. Olesen Illuminating Co. at 6548 Hollywood Blvd. He provided studios with large incandescent lamps employed for filming, and provided klieg lights for grand openings all over Hollywood for such buildings as the Roosevelt Hotel and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, productions at the Hollywood Bowl, as well as for most film premieres after 1923. Newspapers described him as “the light wizard of Hollywood.” Continue reading

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Movieland Mystery Photo

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For Monday, we have a mystery gent in a mask. His companions have been blacked out due to insufficient mysteriousness and will appear later in the week.

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

Cover of Hallie Rubenhold's The Five. Woman seen from the back in Victorian clothing on a cobblestone street.

I generally dislike “true” crime books, but Hallie Rubenhold’s The Five is an exception. Rubenhold explores the lives of five victims of Jack the Ripper, chronicling their lives up to the moments before they are killed. Rubenhold was criticized by “Ripperologists” for her unusual approach, but I found it quite informative. In exploring the victims’ lives, The Five paints an extremely harsh picture of daily life in the Victorian era. The Kirkus Reviews writeup is hereThe New York Times review is here.

The hardback is out of print, but the paperback version is available at Vroman’s in Pasadena, and, of course, Amazon

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

The_Boys_Cover

I generally don’t recommend books I haven’t read, but the Brain Trust has weighed in on two new books that you might consider: The Boys, by Ron Howard and Clint Howard, comes highly recommended, as does Hayley Mills’ Forever Young: A Memoir.

Both books are available at Book Soup and Vroman’s.

Larry Edmunds has Forever Young.

Skylight Books has The Boys, while Forever Young is on backorder.

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

Bunker Hill cover
I’m happy to recommend Bunker Hill Los Angeles: Essence of Sunshine and Noir, by my Crime Buddy Nathan Marsak, published in 2020 by Angel City Press. The book is full of historic photos and vintage ephemera, and the text is a deep dive into L.A. history in Nathan’s freewheeling style. If you’re fortunate and have a local independent bookstore, try it first.

Nathan is also the author of “Los Angeles Neon” (2002) which is out of print, but available from a variety of dealers.

Bunker Hill is in stock at Skylight Books, Book Soup and Vroman’s in PasadenaAlso available online from Angel City Press.

Also available from Amazon.

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

Buster Keaton a Filmmaker's Life

This is an unusual suggestion (especially a “retro” suggestion) for the holidays: Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker’s Life by James Curtis won’t be available until February. But you can pre-order it, which is what I’ve done.

Yes, there is another Keaton book (a “genre-defying work of cultural history”) coming out in January, Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the Twentieth Century by Dana Stevens, film critic at Slate and podcast co-host, in her first book. But I’m looking forward to James Curtis’ take on Keaton.  James has a long list of acclaimed biographies (W.C. Fields, Preston Sturges, Spencer Tracy, William Cameron Menzies and Mort Sahl, for example) and I’m eager to read his life of Keaton.

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Update: A previous version of this post referred to Dana Stevens’ book (“wildly uneven” according to Kirkus Reviews) as a biography. It is apparently not a biography, at least in the usual conception of the term.
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Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker’s Life publishes Feb. 15, 2022, and is available for pre-order in Los Angeles at:

Book Soup
Skylight Books
Vroman’s Bookstore

You might also check with Larry Edmunds Bookshop.

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Coming Events: Hollywood Heritage Afternoon With the Authors

Hollywood_Heritage_Authors_02
On Saturday (Dec. 4), from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Hollywood Heritage will host its annual Afternoon With the Authors. Writers scheduled to attend include Leonard Maltin, James Curtis, Allen Ellenberger, Cari Beauchamp, Marc Wanamaker and Mary Mallory. Hollywood Heritage is at 2100 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, CA 90028

The event is free. More information is available at this link.

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Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights – Charles Ray

Charles Ray
A Witzel photo of Charles Ray, listed on EBay at $9.95.


Note: This is an encore post from 2012.

Boyish actor Charles Ray ranked as one of the most popular juvenile stars of the mid 1910s, playing rural teens, schoolboys, and Civil War soldiers in films for producer Thomas Ince.  Born in Illinois, Ray began studying and acting early age.  He began haunting the Thomas Ince studios in December 1912 after a bad season stage acting. The 20-year-old Ray often gained extra work.  Gradually the size and scope of Ray’s roles increased, until he was starring in Ince productions.  1915’s “The Coward” really introduced him to audiences, as Photoplay magazine proclaimed him “Tom Ince’s New Wonder Boy.”  The actor would continue playing similar roles at Ince for the next several years.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Main Title, Warren William in the Mind Reader, Directed by Roy Del Ruth
This week’s mystery movie was the 1933 Warner Bros. picture The Mind Reader, with Warren William, Constance Cummings, Allen Jenkins, Natalie Moorhead, Mayo Methot, Clarence Muse and Earle Foxe. Continue reading

Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 39 Comments

L.A. Celebrates a Wartime Thanksgiving, 1943

Nv. 26, 1943, Thanksgiving
Note: This is an encore post from 2013.

A wartime Thanksgiving in Los Angeles, with many service personnel welcomed into people’s homes for a holiday meal.

The Times published cooking tips for war workers, advising cooks who were otherwise engaged “for the duration” to use prepared mixes, packaged pie crust and canned pumpkin to cut preparation time.

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An 1890s Thanksgiving in the Kitchen

Everyday Cook-Book

Note: This is an encore post from 2011.

Here’s a traditional roast turkey recipe from the “Every-Day Cook-Book and Family Compendium,” written about 1890 by Miss E. Neill. Be sure your fire is bright and clear and watch out for the gall-bag.
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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Lillian St. Cyr, ‘Indian Princess’ of Early Films

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Lillian St. Cyr, who took the name Princess Red Wing (frequently rendered as Redwing), Moving Picture World, 1912.


Throughout much of her life, Lillian Margaret St. Cyr felt caught between two worlds as she tried to bridge Native American and white cultures, often feeling out of place in both groups. The daughter of a Native American mother and a father of mixed ancestry, she attended Indian schools that attempted to drain Native American beliefs, spirituality, and attitudes from their students rather than honoring and respecting their culture, leaving the young people feeling disrespected, lost, never fully succeeding in either culture.

Though St. Cyr was light-skinned, most whites considered her a Native American, while many indigenous peoples found her too white in her attitudes, dress, and way of talking. Not long after moving into the entertainment field, St. Cyr adopted the new persona and name Princess Red Wing to more easily “pass” and be cast in better, larger roles where she could provide positive role models of Native Americans to general culture. Continue reading

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Main Title Brides Are Like That

This week’s mystery movie was the 1936 Warner Bros. picture Brides Are Like That, with Ross Alexander, Anita Louise, Joseph Cawthorn, Kathleen Lockhart, Gene Lockhart, Richard Purcell, Mary Treen, Joseph Crehan, Frank Darien, Robert Emmett Keane and Kay Hughes. Continue reading

Posted in 1936, Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

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This week’s mystery movie was the 1947 MGM picture The Arnelo Affair, with John Hodiak, George Murphy, Frances Gifford, Dean Stockwell, Eve Arden, Warner Anderson, Lowell Gilmore, Michael Branden, Ruth Brady, Ruby Dandridge and Joan Woodbury.

Screenplay by Arch Oboler, based on a story by Jane Burr.

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Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights – Filming in Studio City

June 26, 1927, Mac Sennett June 26, 1927, Studio City
Photo: Mack Sennett and John A. Waldron with plans for new project. Credit: Los Angeles Times, June 26, 1927


Note: This is an encore post from 2011.

North Hollywood really began growing in the mid-1920s, when farmers and ranchers began subdividing property. Syndicates were formed to buy land and then develop it for residential use. One syndicate made the bold move of acquiring 503 acres from Ventura Boulevard to Tujunga Avenue, running north from Pacoima Avenue (now Laurel Canyon Boulevard) to Chandler Way, to create a film capital, employing the moniker Central Motion Picture District. Their aim was to turn this swath of North Hollywood land into a picture district known as Studio City, the new film capital of the world. The company hoped to lure independent film companies as well as studios to the area, much like in Hollywood. Not only would this neighborhood create steady and lucrative business and jobs, but it would draw new residents to the homes built on the rest of the property.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

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This week’s mystery movie was the 1929 First National picture Weary River, with Richard Barthelmess, Betty Compson, William Holden, Louis Natheaux, George Stone, Raymond Turner and Gladden James.

Story by Courtney Riley Cooper. Screen version by Bradley King. Continue reading

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hollywood Bridge

HollywoodBridge
Note: This is an encore post from 2012.

Though card games had been around for centuries, auction bridge was developed in 1904 as an alternative to whist. In 1925, Harold Stirling Vanderbilt developed rules, particularly for scoring, creating contract bridge. Contract bridge involves four people sitting at the four sides of the table, corresponding to the directions, North, South, East, West, paired into two teams. Each person in a team sees their hand and bids as to what they think they can score with face cards. Each side then plays off with the highest card in a suit taking the hand. The lead team has one member that plays while the other watches. The team with the highest number of points after a certain number of games wins the rubber. Continue reading

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A Reminder From Pier Angeli and Friend

Nov. 3, 2016, Pier Angeli

Pier Angeli and her little friend remind Daily Mirror readers to turn back their clocks this Sunday.

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George Hodel: ‘Wings of Evil’

George Hodel: Wings of Evil, Amelia Earhart Case SOLVED!

I’m told that Steve Hodel has published the last two volumes in his life’s work of accusing his father, George Hodel, of every unsolved killing between 1907 and 1999. The Black Dahlia Avenger has gone through countless revisions and updates in which the Black Dahlia Avenger was meeting Billy the Kid Jr. and battling Mothra. Then there’s the Zodiac book. And even a play in which George Hodel poisons his secretary, Ruth Spaulding. (Reality check: She committed suicide). In hailing Steve’s final efforts, here’s a title that he may have overlooked. Or not, since I haven’t read the books and don’t plan to. You won’t find this on Goodreads anytime soon.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Ferragamo’s Hollywood Days

ferragamo-italy-in-hollywood
Long before becoming synonymous as one of the world’s top designers of haute couture footwear, Salvatore Ferragamo gained fame as shoe designer to Hollywood stars. Creating gorgeous and unique designs that also comfortably fit the wearer’s foot, Ferragamo put Hollywood on the map as a design capital for couture in the 1920s.

Born June 5, 1898, in the tiny town of Bonito, Italy as the eleventh of fourteen children to a poor farming family, young Ferragamo left school at 9 to begin working to help support them. Though he worked for short times for a tailor, barber, and carpenter, the inquisitive, observant youngster found himself drawn to shoemaking, realizing immediately that he “was born to be a shoemaker.” When his sister needed a pair of white shoes for confirmation, the 9-year-old purchased materials, secretly stayed up all night, and created an elegant pair that impressed everyone. Continue reading

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