Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + +)

April 12, 2021, Mystery Photo

I hardly ever get to do mystery guests from animation. But for Monday, we have a treat: a mysterious animated bird, also an incredibly human utility pole.

You say you would like another hint? OK.

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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 – A Perfect Villain

Gustav von Seyffertitz
Photo: “Rasputin and the Empress,” with Gustav von Seyffertitz, center, with Ethel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, John Barrymore, Tad Alexander and Lionel Barrymore. Photo listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $9.99.

Note: This is an encore post from 2011.

One of the best villains of the silent screen also possessed one of the most unusual and incredible names of the period. Gustav von Seyffertitz, hissable villain extraordinaire, lived up to his unbelievable name. Born in Bavaria, Germany on August 4, 1863, von Seyffertitz immigrated to America sometime in the late 1890s and soon became an actor at the Irving Place Theatre, the top German theatre in New York City.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Halifax Apartments at Crossroads of Boxing and Film

Halifax Apartments, 6376 Yucca Ave.
6376 Yucca Ave., via Google Street View.

More than 98 years old, the Halifax Apartments at 6376 Yucca Ave. exists due to boxing and the movies. Built by Leach Cross, known as the “boxing dentist,” the apartment house served as a solid investment in a city booming from the movies. Classy and elegant, the structure possesses a story as fancy as any movie.

The motion picture industry was exploding in the early 1920s as film production in the United States moved west from Fort Lee, N.J., to sunny, warm California. Blessed with abundant sunshine and varied landscapes within short drives, Hollywood grew exponentially as new production companies opened every day and men and women moved to the city looking for new opportunities.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

April 10, 2021, Mystery Photo

This week’s mystery movie was the 1951 MGM movie “Grounds for Marriage” with Van Johnson, Kathryn Grayson, Paula Raymond, Barry Sullivan, Lewis Stone, Reginald Owen, Richard Hageman and the Firehouse Five Plus Two.

Screenplay by Allen Rivkin and Laura Kerr. Story by Samuel Marx.

Musical direction by Johnny Green, background musical score by Bronislau Kaper.

Photography by John Alton, art direction by Cedric Gibbons and Paul Groesse. Edited by Fredrick Y. Smith. Excerpts from “La Boheme” and “Carmen” staged by Vladimir Rosing. Recording by Douglas Shearer.

Set decoration by Edwin B. Willis, associate Arthur Krams. Montage sequences by Peter Ballbusch. Women’s costumes by Helen Rose. Hairstyles by Sydney Guilaroff. Makeup by William J. Tuttle. Technical advisor, Harold O. Cooperman, M.D.

Produced by Samuel Marx. Directed by Robert Z. Leonard.

“Grounds for Marriage” was apparently never commercially released, but can be found on DVD on the gray market. It has aired 29 times on TCM in the last 20 years, most recently in 2019.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)


This week’s mystery movie was the 1931 MGM film “Five and Ten,” with Marion Davies, Leslie Howard, Richard Bennett, Irene Rich, Kent Douglass and Mary Duncan.

From the book by Fannie Hurst. Dialogue continuity by Edith Fitzgerald. Adaptation by A.P. Younger.

Recording by Douglas Shearer, art direction by Cedric Gibbons, gowns by Adrian. Photographed by George Barnes. Edited by Margaret Booth.

“Five and Ten” is available on DVD from TCM.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hugo Ballin, L.A. Muralist

June 24, 2011, Globe Lobby
Photographs by Larry Harnisch /

Mural in the Los Angeles Times Globe Lobby, dated July 19, 1934, by Hugo Ballin

Note: This is an encore post from 2011.

Hugo Ballin is one of the greatest muralists in Los Angeles history, creating monumental murals in the 1920s and 1930s celebrating the city, California, and the arts that still bring awe today. His talents extended to other creative areas as well, such as filmmaking and novel writing.

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Posted in 1934, Art & Artists, Books and Authors, Brain Trust, Downtown, Film, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Libraries, Mary Mallory, Parks, Photography, Preservation, Religion | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Harry Houdini: An Interview by Marcet Haldeman-Julius, October 1925

October 1925, Interview with Houdini

Note: In honor of Harry Houdini’s birthday, we are reposting this interview from 1925.

We have been collecting issues of Haldeman-Julius Monthly for several years, but one issue was particularly elusive: The October 1925 number featuring an interview with Harry Houdini, written by Marcet Haldeman-Julius, which was published a year before his death and is apparently keenly desired by collectors.

A copy of this issue was recently added to the archives and we are pleased to present the interview, which appears nowhere else online, refuting the argument that “everything is on the Internet.”

The paper is old and brittle and would not stand up to a scanner, so I photographed the article (Pages 387-397) instead. The images are watermarked because of prevalent practice of swiping pictures on the Internet without attribution or acknowledgement of a source. Pinterest and, this means you.

Haldeman-Julius Monthly was published by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius with the motto “Make the World Unsafe for Hypocrisy.” It changed names to “The Debunker” in 1928 and apparently ceased publication about 1931.

Emanuel Haldeman-Julius loved to debunk charismatic religious figures of the  day and Louis Adamic wrote a series of articles for the magazine about Los Angeles evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson’s mysterious disappearance and miraculous return in 1926. In this vein, the bulk of the Houdini interview is devoted to the charlatans of the day posing as mediums who could communicate with the dead and frequently duped grieving and gullible survivors.  There is also a detailed of description Houdini’s New York brownstone, which was crammed with books and memorabilia, and a cameo appearance by Mrs. Houdini.

Previously in the L.A. Daily Mirror
Aimee Semple McPherson’s Fight With Satan
C.B. DeMille: Movie Evangelist


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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

March 27, 2021, Mystery Photo title for Three Little Girls in Blue

This week’s mystery movie was the 1946 Twentieth Century-Fox film “Three Little Girls in Blue,” with June Haver, George Montgomery, Vivian Blaine, Celeste Holm, Vera-Ellen and Frank Latimore.

Screenplay by Valentine Davies, adapted by Brown Holmes, Lynn Starling and Robert Ellis and Helen Logan from a play by Stephen Powys.

Lyrics by Mack Gordon, music by Josef Myrow. “This Is Always” music by Harry Warren.

Photographed in Technicolor. Photography by Ernest Palmer, Technicolor director Natalie Kalmus. Associate Richard Mueller.

Musical direction by Alfred Newman. Vocal arrangements by Charles Henderson. Orchestral arrangements by Maurice de Packh and Edward Powell.

Art direction by Lyle Wheeler and Joseph C. Wright. Set decorations by Thomas Little, associate Walter M. Scott. Edited by Barbara McLean. Dances staged by Seymour Felix. Ballets by Babe Pearce. Costumes by Bonnie Cashin. Makeup by Ben Nye. Photographic effects by Fred Sersen. Sound by E. Clayton Ward and Roger Heman.

Produced by Mack Gordon. Directed by Bruce Humberstone.

“Three Little Girls in Blue” is available on DVD from Amazon. It aired a year ago on TCM, introduced by Dave Karger and Michael Feinstein.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Tsuru Aoki, Lotus Flower of the Cinema

Tsuru Aoki
Tsuru Aoki, in Sunset magazine.

Note: This is an encore post from 2017.

Though long in the shadow of her more well known husband, Tsuru Aoki achieved just as great a fame as Sessue Hayakawa, with a life story as fascinating as any novel. Born in Japan though raised in the United States, the beautiful Aoki functioned as a crossroads of the East and West, blending together the best attributes of both nations into a wonderful hybrid, though never fully embraced by either. Brought to this country as a child, she was never able to apply for American citizenship thanks to Anti-Asian laws and sentiments, and was often forced to depend on the kindness of others as she was shunted to and fro. Aoki’s life story also reveals America’s changing viewpoints and knee-jerk reactions about and to the Japanese, often during times of trouble in which the “other” became the villain to make up for other groups’ sins.

The vast majority of books and articles mentioning Aoki then and now blend together fact and fiction into her biography, not digging for the true facts. She was not born with Aoki as her name. In fact, she was probably born December 24, 1891 or 1892 in Hakata, the daughter of a poor Japanese fisherman Kahara Isekichi and his wife, Taka Kawakami, which she discovered when her father sent her a letter years after she became a star.

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

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Clare West, Early Hollywood Costume Queen

With a background as mystifying as any Hollywood whodunit, modiste Clare West exploded on the scene as a film costume designer in the mid-1910s, the first person credited as a movie costume designer. Working with film greats for just over 10 years, West and her lavish designs established Hollywood as a fashion leader, trendsetting looks appealing to American women, before she disappeared from the design scene…

Little is known of the early life of West until she magically appears in Hollywood. IMDB claims she was born January 30, 1879 in Missouri, but 1930 census records list her birth date as 1889, with other records appearing to show May 10, 1889 in Kansas as her actual birth date. under the name Clara Belle Smith. One newspaper listing reveals a Clare West opening a millinery/dressmaking shop in what is now the Quad Cities area of Illinois in 1899, while a few New York papers report on a Maison Clare couture shop in New York City around 1911. Film historian Allie Acker claims she attended college before studying fashion design in Paris.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

March 20, 2021, Main Title for Tampico

This week’s mystery movie was the 1944 Twentieth Century-Fox film “Tampico,” with Edward G. Robinson, Lynn Bari, Victor McLaglen, Robert Bailey, Marc Lawrence, E.J. Ballantine, Mona Maris and Tonio Selwart.

Screenplay by Kenneth Gamet, Fred Niblo Jr. and Richard Macaulay. Original story and adaptation by Ladislas Fodor.

Photography by Charles Clarke, art direction by James Basevi and Albert Hogsett. Set decorations by Thomas Little and Al Orenbach. Edited by Robert Fritch. Costumes by Yvonne Wood. Makeup by Guy Pearce. Photographic effects by Fred Sersen. Dances staged by Geneva Sawyer. Sound by W.D. Flick and Roger Heman. Music by David Raksin. Musical direction by Emil Newman.

Produced by Robert Bassler. Directed by Lothar Mendes.

“Tampico” is available on DVD from Amazon. TCM lists it as “backorder.”

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

March 13, 2021, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie was the 1915 film “Hypocrites,” written and produced by Lois Weber, photography by Dal Clawson and George W. Hill. With Courtenay Foote as Gabriel, the Ascetic; Myrtle Stedman as the Woman; Herbert Standing as the Abbot; and Adele Farrington as the Queen.

“Hypocrites” is available on DVD from TCM.

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Posted in 1915, Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , , , , | 39 Comments

Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights – Ruth Harriet Louise

Aileen Pringle
Photo: Aileen Pringle, photographed by Ruth Harriet Louise, listed on EBay at $49.99.

Note: This is an encore post from 2012.

Motion picture production jobs both on and off the set have mostly been held by men throughout history, and those for still photography are no different.  Early stills men were mostly cameramen who also acted as photographers of scene stills, like Alvin Wyckoff for Selig Studios.  D. W. Griffith hired James Woodbury to assist and take stills for “Intolerance,”  and others started following suit.  Studios created key books for each film, with photographs organized by scene number, and with each film assigned its own code.  These images could be then be referenced and duplicated, to be sent out as publicity for the picture.

The studios soon realized that portraits of the stars could more easily sell films to consumers.  These photographs were sent en masse to hundreds of magazines and newspapers, which required a never ending stream of material for publication.  Portraits also were numbered in each studio’s own code system, and organized in key books as reference for approved shots of each star.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

March 6, 2021, Title for The Ghost Goes West

This week’s mystery movie was the 1935 film “The Ghost Goes West” with Robert Donat, Jean Parker, Eugene Pallette, Elsa Lanchester, Ralph Bunker, Patricia Hilliard, Everley Gregg, Morton Selten, Chili Bouchier, Mark Daly, Herbert Lomas, Elliot Mason, Hay Petrie and Quintin MacPherson.

Based on a story by Eric Keown by permission of “Punch.” Screenplay by Robert Sherwood.

Photographed by Harold Rosson, sets by Vincent Korda, production manager David B. Cunynghame.

Musical direction by Muir Mathieson, scenario by Geoffrey Kerr, musical compositions by Michael Spolianski, costumes by Rene Hubert, Robert Donat’s costumes by John Armstrong.

Special effects by Ned Mann, recording by A.W. Watkins, assistant directors Imlay Watts and Albert Valentin, edited by Harold Earle-Fischbacher, supervising editor William Hornbeck.

Directed by Rene Clair.

“The Ghost Goes West” is available on DVD from TCM.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights — Constantin Bakaleinikoff

Note: This is an encore post from 2011. Most people today probably haven’t heard of motion picture musical conductor Constantin Bakaleinikoff, but he was instrumental in setting up theatre orchestras around Los Angeles in the 1920s, before he became music … Continue reading

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: ‘Native Son’ Indicts Society

Richard Wright as Bigger Thomas in 'Native Son'
Richard Wright as Bigger Thomas in “Native Son.”

Black writer Richard Wright chronicled racial and class prejudice in his intense, best-selling novel “Native Son” in 1940. The work remains a lightning rod, still timely and confrontational as well as profane, graphic and violent to many who seek to ban it from libraries. “Native Son’s” powerful theme boldly covers America’s race divide, making it fertile material for stage and screen. Adapting it for both mediums challenged many, offended by the overt condemnation of racism or what they considered obscenity, but these visceral productions provided potent food for thought to audiences.

Born 1906 on a plantation near Natchez, Miss., Wright experienced hardship similar to his Bigger Thomas character, living with his illiterate father, teacher-trained mother, and strict grandmother, a former slave. After his father abandoned the family, Wright’s mother struggled with poverty. When his mother was stricken by paralysis, he was raised by an uncaring uncle and then shipped around between family members. Wright felt ignored and rebuffed by whites, while blacks warned him to conform and not rock the boat, leading him to accept whatever crumbs he was offered. Once he began reading at the age of 15, a rebel was born.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Feb. 27, 2021, Title Card for Confidentially Connie

This week’s mystery movie was the 1953 MGM picture “Confidentially Connie,” with Van Johnson, Janet Leigh, Louis Calhern, Walter Slezak, Gene Lockhart, Hayden Rorke, Robert Burton, Barbara Ruick and Marilyn Erskine.

Screenplay by Max Shulman, from a story by Max Shulman and Herman Wouk.

Photography by Harold Lipstein, art direction by Cedric Gibbons and Leonid Vasian. Edited by Fredrick Y. Smith. Assistant director Dolph Zimmer.

Music by David Rose. Recording by Douglas Shearer. Set decorations by Edwin B. Willis and Ralph Hurst. Montage by Peter Ballbusch.

Produced by Stephen Ames. Directed by Edward Buzzell.

“Confidentially Connie” is available on DVD from Warner Archive. It last aired on TCM in 2016. It’s also available for streaming on Amazon.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Feb. 20, 2021, The Matin Season, a Mitchell Leisen production, 1950 Paramount

This week’s mystery movie was the 1951 Paramount picture “The Mating Season,” a Mitchell Leisen production, with Gene Tierney, John Lund, Miriam Hopkins, Thelma Ritter, Jan Sterling, Larry Keating, James Lorimer, Gladys Hurlbut, Cora Witherspoon, Malcolm Keen, Ellen Corby, Billie Bird and Mary Young.

Screenplay by Charles Brackett, Walter Reisch and Richard Breen, suggested by a play by Caesar Dunn.

Photography by Charles B. Lang Jr. Art direction by Hal Pereira and Ronald Anderson. Process photography by Farciot Edouart. Set decoration by Sam Comer and Ray Moyer.

Edited by Frank Bracht. Costumes for Miss Tierney executed by Oleg Cassini. Makeup by Wally Westmore. Sound by Don McKay and John Cope. Music score by Joseph J. Lilley.

Produced by Charles Brackett. Directed by Mitchell Leisen.

“The Mating Season” is not generally available on DVD or streaming. There is a funky low-resolution version on YouTube.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Noble Johnson Emancipates African Americans With Lincoln Film Co.

Noble Johnson
Note: This is an encore post from 2019.

Recognized for playing Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and Latinos in “King Kong,” “The Mummy,” “The Ten Commandments” and many others throughout his long film career, African American Noble Johnson achieved greater renown for establishing Lincoln Motion Picture Company in 1916, the first company making and releasing films strictly for African American audiences. Almost forgotten today, Johnson strove to make what were called “race” films emphasizing the intelligence, talents and success of black Americans as a counterpoint to the often racist and off-putting portrayals of African Americans in contemporary films.

Born 1881 in Missouri, Johnson moved with his family to Colorado Springs, Colo., where he worked with animals before he began appearing in silent films in 1914, including Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Squaw Man.” His athletic, tall frame and dramatic features helped land him many acting jobs at major studios, and his talent for performing gained him good notices in almost everything he portrayed, even in small roles. Not only did he act, but he also wrote scripts.

Mary Mallory’s latest book, Living With Grace: Life Lessons from America’s Princess,”  is now on sale.

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Black Dahlia: Elizabeth Short and the Hotel Cecil — No Connection

Arty, 634 S. Main St., site of the Dugout Cafe, where a bartender thought he might have seen Elizabeth Short -- and no, he didn't. Via Google Street View

Sorry, Netflix. But once again. There is no connection between Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia and the Hotel Cecil. This is Arty, 634 S. Main St., former location of the Dugout Cafe, where bartender C.G. Williams said thought he might have seen Elizabeth Short – and no, he didn’t.

A news story from the 1947 Daily News giving the address of the Dugout Cafe, 634 S. Main St. next to the Hotel Cecil. It's now an art gallery.
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