Movieland Mystery Photo

May 22, 2017, Mystery Photo

For Monday, we have a mystery gent

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Equitable Building Double Art Deco Pleasure on Hollywood Boulevard

Equitable Building

Superimposed photograph showing the Bank of Hollywood building as it will appear with the completion of the 12-story annex, photo courtesy of Mary Mallory.


 

One of Hollywood’s first height limit buildings, the lovely Equitable Building, has proudly stood at the northeast corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street for over 88 years. Built in two parts over two years at the start of the Great Depression, architect Aleck Curlett’s gorgeous building stands as one of Hollywood’s architectural treasures.

Various small businesses operated at the address 6253 Hollywood Blvd. and on the block long before the Equitable arose, showing the evolution of Hollywood and its world famous Boulevard, which began life as Prospect Avenue, from small town street to major business hub and center. J.F. Kent built a residence at 6251 Hollywood Blvd. per an October 25, 1912 building permit. On June 5, 1913, Clara Holt obtained a permit to construct a one-story brick building on the lot to hold several stores, with the permit estimating a cost of $6,000. From 1917-1923 at least, Ida Fortwengler operated a hairdressing business in the building. In 1924, new owners Foster and Kleiser obtained a permit to erect a metal sign atop the building after reinforcing it.

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

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hats Off to Black-Foxe Military Institute

Oct. 24, 1950, DiMaggio at Black-Foxe

Note: This is an encore post from 2013.

 
Long before there were Tiger Moms, many parents stressed discipline and hard work to their school-age children. Boys were often enrolled in military prep schools to learn discipline, rigor and fortitude through both schoolroom work and athletic pursuits.

Several Los Angeles military academies existed in the 1920s, and chief among them was Black-Foxe Military Institute.

Founded in 1929 by Hollywood real estate tycoon C. E. Toberman and headed by former actor Earle Foxe as president and Harry Black as commandant, the school educated day pupils and boarding students at the former Urban Military Academy, established in 1902. Many celebrity children either attended and/or graduated from the institute. The institution itself appeared in a few films.

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

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

 

May 20, 2017, Mystery Photo

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1931 RKO picture “Consolation Marriage,” with Irene Dunne, Pat O’Brien, John Halliday, Myrna Loy, Lester Vail and Matt Moore.  It was produced by William LeBaron, directed by Paul Sloane, with scenery and costumes by Max Ree,  photography by J. Roy Hunt, written by Bill Cunningham and screenplay and dialogue by Humphrey Pearson. Musical direction was by Max Steiner,

It’s available on DVD from Warner Archive for $21.99.

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Black Dahlia: Black Dahlia Voodoo Doll Listed on EBay

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One of the strangest Black Dahlia items I have ever seen – a “Black Dahlia Voodoo Doll” — has been listed on EBay, complete with a box and a set of spells.

The vendor says:

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Posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Cold Cases, Found on EBay, LAPD | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

RIP: Dave Pell, Jazz Musician 1925 – 2017

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Veteran jazz musician and record producer Dave Pell has died at the age of 92, according to his Facebook page.

Here are excerpts of an interview I did in 2007. (The full interview is at latimes.com.)

Dave Pell on Lenny Bruce:

Well I was lucky, very lucky. I was there for five years and Lenny was there for almost the same amount of time. It was one of greatest moments of my life. He was quite a man. Incredibly funny, loving, kind, sweet… all the things that nobody ever knew about him. Nobody took the time to know about him. He was really a lovely guy, a lovely man, a funny man. We had a guy named Jack Sheldon in the band. Sheldon was the phenom of our time. A very funny cat. He and Lenny were dear friends. They used to do crazy things together.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Character Actor Spec O’Donnell Lights up the Screen

 

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Spec O’Donnell and Maxine Tadacome, Exhibitors Herald, 1923.


 

Long a favorite of classic film fans for his infectious grin and mischievous onscreen personality, Walter Davis “Spec” O’Donnell gained fame for the explosion of freckles which covered his face. Making a career of portraying playful characters like country boys, shop attendants, worker bees, and the like, O’Donnell earned over 230 credits in film and TV starting in 1923 and ending in 1978 with “Convoy.” A happy-go-lucky kid made a living entertaining others and making people happy, something he enjoyed.

Born April 9, 1911 at White’s Bridge in Fresno County, California to Irish parents John William and Maude O’Donnell, Walter was the third of three children. The family moved to Madera, California and struggled, as the 1920 census shows that 54 year old O’Donnell did not work, while his 37 year-old wife supported the family as a laborer at a lumber mill. The couple separated not long after, and Maude continued working to support the family.

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

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

May 13, 2017, Mystery Photo

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1951 RKO picture “The Whip Hand,” with Carla Balenda, Elliott Reid, Edgar Barrier, Raymond Burr, Otto Waldis, Michael Steele, Lurene Tuttle, Peter Brocco, Lewis Martin, Frank Darien and Olive Carey. The screenplay was by George Bricker and Frank L. Moss from a story by Roy Hamilton. The photography was by Nicholas Musuraca, art direction by Albert S. D’Agostino and Carroll Clark, music by Paul Sawtell, and set decoration by Darrell Silvera and James Altwies. The producer was Lewis J. Rachmil. The movie was designed and directed by William Cameron Menzies.

The movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive for $21.99.

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‘Mort Sahl: Last Man Standing’ by James Curtis

Last Man Standing

Folks, please give a little love to the publication today of “Last Man Standing,” James Curtis’ new biography of Mort Sahl, who transformed standup comedy from mother-in-law gags to cutting political commentary. James, known for his biographies of W.C. Fields, William Cameron Menzies, Preston Sturges, Spencer Tracy and James Whale,  began this project as a labor of love when no publisher was interested in it. The book finally found a home at the University Press of Mississippi and has been praised by Woody Allen and Kirkus Reviews.

The book is available from Amazon, and can be ordered from Book Soup, Skylight Books and Vroman’s.

Posted in 2017, Books and Authors, Stage | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

May 6, 2017, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1939 Warner Bros. picture “Women in the Wind,” with Kay Francis, William Gargan, Victor Jory, Maxie Rosenbloom, Eddie Foy Jr., Sheila Bromley, directed by John Farrow, from a screenplay by Lee Katz and Albert DeMond, from a novel by Francis Walton. Photography was by Sid Hickox and art direction by Carl Jules Weyl.

“Women in the Wind” has apparently never been commercially released on VHS or DVD.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: California Sunshine Lures Filmmakers in 1910

 

Downtown Los Angeles, 1906
Downtown Los Angeles in 1906, contrasting it with the destruction in the San Francisco earthquake.




While romantic stories proliferate of how early independent filmmakers in the 1910s traveled to Los Angeles to escape the patents men of the Motion Picture Trust, reading early newspapers and trade journals in 1910 make it obvious that companies immigrated west looking for sunshine, climate, and abundant filmmaking locations. Be they members of the trust, or independent enterprises, staff of multiple companies freely talked to the press of their admiration for the City of the Angels.

Perhaps many of these moving picture immigrants were already familiar with the growing city. From the 1880s on, the city of Los Angeles promoted itself as “the land of sunshine,” plugging its great weather and climate to lure tourists and eventually new citizens of the growing metropolis in a variety of publications and exhibits. The Chamber of Commerce created striking color lithographic brochures, booklets, and ads distributed across the country promoting the greatness of Southern California.

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

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Black Dahlia: Random Old Crap Listed as ‘Black Dahlia Clone’

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I’m continually surprised by the ingenuity of some EBay vendors in stretching to impossible lengths to find a link to the Black Dahlia case

The vendor in question has listed some random old flea market find as “Beautiful raven haired beauty, with an uncanny resemblance to Elizabeth Short–Black Dahlia.” And it can be yours for only $14.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Ravished Armenia and the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide

 

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A still from “Auction of Souls,” in the Washington Times.


Note: This is a post from 2015.

For more than 120 years, Armenians have seen slaughter and death at the hands of the Ottoman Empire and the Turks. In 1894, Sultan Abdul-Hamid II ordered the first massacre and harassment of the Armenian population, with more than 300,000 people killed over three years. 30,000 Armenians were killed in 1909 when Turks in Cilicila revolted against Armenian democratization efforts. In 1915, the wholesale slaughter of Armenians began as a result of World War I, when Armenia became separated from the Allied Forces which supported it when Turkey sided with Germany. As Tony Slide reveals in his book, “Ravished Armenia and the Story of Aurora Mardiganian,” Russia invaded Turkey and British and French forces attacked Constantinople, precipitating disaster. On April 23-24, 1915, Turkish police began rounding up 800 leading Armenians in Constantinople, exiling them, and began widespread extermination of the Armenian population on April 24. This year marks the Centennial of the Twentieth Century’s first massive genocide, in which more than one million Armenians were slaughtered, half of the population at the time.

One young Christian girl, Arshalouys Mardigian “Aurora Mardiganian,” suffered horrific experiences during the genocide but survived and escaped to America. Her story of a young girl suffering abuses and ravages came to stand for that of Armenia itself when her book, “Ravished Armenia,” was released in 1918. Mardiganian herself starred later that year in a movie adaptation called “Ravished Armenia,” later changed to “Auction of Souls.” In many ways, Mardiganian represents her ravished homeland, as she was exploited and abused by the very individuals who were supposed to provide help, becoming a bit player in her own story. Her story helped publicize the widespread genocide and diaspora of her people, vividly personified in what little remains of the powerful film.

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

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‘Smart Girls Don’t Talk’ Special Mystery Photo

 

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Our mystery guest from last Monday is identified in IMDB as Mike Lally. But is he? B.J. Merholz says no.

B.J. writes:

Monday’s Croupier is not Mike Lally. I knew Big Mike during his last thirty years and Little Mike agrees with me that this is not his father. We both know who this Croupier is, but can’t recall his name. He was an actor, Mike was an extra, When next I see him I’ll shoot you his name. Sundberg was a strained stab. Mike Lally was a special extra with elevated status in the guild, and at all studios, and drew more paychecks than he could keep track of.

Mike Lally in Columbo

For comparison, this is Mike Lally in “Columbo” from the Columbophile.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: K.O. Rahmn, Mary Pickford’s Photographer

 

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Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks in “The Taming of the Shrew,” photo by K.O. Rahmn, from Close Up.


Probably the only actor/stills photographer in early Hollywood, K. O. (Knute Olaf) Rahmn worked for Kalem Co. at its Glendale studio for several years before becoming Mary Pickford’s personal photographer in 1918. A jack-of-all-trades for Pickford, Rahmn shot portraits, candids, scene stills, and even special events, perhaps serving as much to document Pickford’s life and career as to promote it, and serving to capture her vision of her career. In fact, he serves as one of the first stills photographers signed to exclusively lens one of Hollywood’s major superstars.

Born March 20, 1876 outside Schoenberg, Sweden, Rahmn immigrated to America on March 28, 1891, and set up his own photographic studio in Greenwich, Connecticut, per his 1919 Motion Picture Studio biographical listing. Rahmn served in the New York Infantry from June 27 to November 1, 1898 during the Spanish American war, but appears never to have left the United States.

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

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

April 29, 2017, Mystery Photo

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1950 MGM picture “Two Weeks – With Love,” with Jane Powell, Ricardo Montalban, Louis Calhern, Ann Harding, Phyllis Kirk, Carleton Carpenter, Debbie Reynolds, Clinton Sundberg. The screenplay was by John Larkin and Dorothy Kingsley from a story by Larkin, musical direction was by Georgie Stoll, musical numbers staged by Busby Berkeley, orchestrations by Leo Arnaud and vocal arrangements by Saul Chaplin. Photography was by Alfred Gilks, art direction by Cedric Gibbons and Preston Ames, set decorations by Edwin B. Willis and Richard A. Pefferie, women’s costumes by Helen Rose, men’s costumes by Walter Plunkett, hairstyles by Sydney Guilaroff and makeup by William J. Tuttle. The producer was Jack Cummings and the director was Roy Rowland.

The movie is available from Amazon.com in several DVD sets.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 58 Comments

June 24, 1946: What Was the First Talkie You Saw?

“I thought talking pictures was a novelty that could never last — like miniature golf.”
— George Karg

“It was certainly an improvement over the silent pictures.”
— Mrs. Edna Helsing.

From the Inquiring Camera Girl, Maryon Zylstra, Chicago Tribune, June 24, 1946.

June 24, 1946, First Talkie

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Grauman’s Chinese Theatre Turns 90

 

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The opening of “King of Kings at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Photo courtesy of Bruce Torrence.


Still ready for its close-up, the TCL Chinese Theatre, originally Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, turns 90 on May 18, looking as glamorous and exotic as when it premiered on Hollywood Boulevard in 1927. Under construction for almost 16 months, the Chinese Theatre stands as perhaps legendary theatre impresario Sid Grauman’s ultimate masterpiece, a fabulous moving picture palace that outshines virtually anything produced by the Hollywood studio system.

While not the first film theatre devised and built by visionary Grauman, the Chinese Theatre represents the pinnacle of motion picture theatre construction, an atmospheric pleasure dome for the senses which still overwhelms with its unique beauty. Opening just two years before the start of the Great Depression, the theatre stands as a fascinating concoction of hallucinatory dream and kitsch, the ultimate symbol of success for those hoping to make it in motion picture business. Like the Hollywood Sign, the theatre acts as an iconic symbol for the city in which it was created, drawing people from around the globe hoping to soak up just a tiny bit of its special stardust.

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

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

April 22, 2017, Smart Girls Don't Talk

This week’s surprisingly difficult mystery movie has been the 1948 Warner Bros. picture “Smart Girls Don’t Talk,” with Virginia Mayo, Bruce Bennett, Robert Hutton, Tom D’Andrea, Richard Rober, Helen Wescott and Richard Benedict.

It was written by William Sackheim, photographed by Ted McCord, with art direction by Stanley Fleischer, dialogue direction by John Maxwell, set decoration by William Wallace, special effects by Robert Burks, makeup by Perc Westmore, orchestrations by Leonid Raab, music by David Buttolph and produced by Saul Elkins. The movie was directed by Richard Bare.

The DVD is available from Warner Archive for $21.99.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: TCM Classic Film Festival Salutes Preservation

 

TCM Schedule Cover

While the TCM Classic Film Festival’s official theme for 2017 saluted comedy, the underlying thread running through this year’s festival seemed to be preservation. Featuring everything from nitrate screenings to preservation talks to archivist introductions, the Festival saluted vintage films that wouldn’t survive without the care and help of film archives and libraries.

This year’s Festival opened Thursday afternoon April 6, with a Memorial Service for Robert Osborne, for whom this year’s event was dedicated. TCM employees spoke about their beloved colleague, and clips of his time on the channel or interviewing stars at the Festival played. A five minute video highlighting Osborne’s TCM career preceded each of the screenings that day.

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