Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + +)

Feb. 19, 2018, Mystery Photo

For Monday, we have a mystery gent.

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Black Dahlia: Blogging “Black Dahlia Files” Part 21 —The Cloudy Crystal Ball

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.
I have a poor track record with movie screenings, being one of the few people to walk out halfway through a sneak preview of “Boogie Nights,” which I thought was terrible. Of course the kid who conned me into seeing it told me it was “a Burt Reynolds movie” (a few years ago, any passing warm body on Colorado Boulevard in Old Pasadena was at risk of getting dragged into a theater for a screening). The polka music inserted as a placeholder for the soundtrack didn’t help. Imagine my surprise when everybody I knew absolutely adored it.

So I said “no” when someone asked me last week if I wanted to get into the sneak screening of the Brian De Palma movie “Black Dahlia” on Tuesday night in Sherman Oaks. Some people burn ardently for a movie deal, but I’m not one of them. I’m still thinking of David Thomson’s line in his New York Times review of Steve Hodel’s “Black Dahlia Avenger”: “Kevin Spacey should buy the film rights to this book quickly.” I don’t think there’s any way Hollywood could do a film about the Black Dahlia without turning it into a gruesome slasher flick. And I’m certainly not interested in that.
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Feb. 22, 1907: Rainstorm Inspires Lyricism From Times Reporter

Note: This is an encore post from 2007.
Feb. 22, 1907
Los Angeles

Here’s how The Times weather stories read a century ago:

“For all the daylight hours yesterday, the rain drizzled down, much of the time like a heavy Scotch mist, but toward nightfall the storm deepened and the rain began to fall in earnest. For two hours in the early part of the night there was a constant downpour that soon set the gutters running full and brought about the usual results to the streets near the hill district.

“The wash from the highways intersecting the hills poured down onto the streets of the business section and deposits of sand and gravel caused much inconvenience to electric cars. At several of the intersections on Broadway and Hill streets, men were stationed with shovels to keep the tracks passable for cars.

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Black L.A., 1947: Willie Earle Lynched by South Carolina Mob

Feb. 20, 1947, Lynching

Feb. 20, 1947: The lynching of Willie Earle drew nationwide attention.

Here is the New Yorker’s 1947 account of the trial in which 28 men were acquitted.

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Billy Graham Brings ‘Canvas Cathedral’ to Los Angeles, 1949


Billy Graham brings his “canvas cathedral” to Los Angeles in 1949. Via YouTube.

Billy Graham, 1949


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Black Dahlia: Blogging “Black Dahlia Files” Part 20 —The FBI Story

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.
There is an individual on ebay who sells copies
of Elizabeth Short’s FBI file for $22 and some bidders drive the price even higher. The fact that the files are available online for free has curbed the demand somewhat. But I don’t know which is worse: a seller offering something that anybody can get for free (oh yes, you do get a “bound” version, if you consider a cheap plastic spiral a “binding”) or the people who buy it for $44.89, like sydney20030_3 .

Update: The price on ebay has gone up to $23, plus $5 shipping. Still free on the FBI’s website.

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Feb. 21, 1907: Mystery Killer Poisons Dogs and Cats in Angeleno Heights

Note: This is an encore post from 2007.
Feb. 21, 1907
Los Angeles

Someone who hates animals is at work in Angeleno Heights, having poisoned 10 valuable dogs and several cats, The Times says.

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Black Dahlia: Some Rando Stripper, Not Elizabeth Short, in EBay Photos Listed at $3,000

Rando Stripper
A vendor on EBay has listed old pictures of some rando stripper as Elizabeth Short for $3,000. No really.


I mean seriously? The description doesn’t hedge a bit – like saying photos that *might* be Elizabeth Short or photos that *resemble* Elizabeth Short. They are (supposedly) images of Elizabeth Short. One is dated June 19, 1945, when Elizabeth Short wasn’t anywhere near Los Angeles. Oops.

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Posted in 1945, 1947, Another Good Story Ruined, Black Dahlia, Found on EBay, LAPD, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Black L.A., 1947: ‘Milk Bottle Murder’ – Couple’s Fight Ends in Death


Feb. 20, 1947, Milk Bottle Murder

Feb. 20, 1947: Lois Ellis, victim of the “Milk Bottle Murder.”

Feb. 20, 1947, Milk Bottle Murder

1207 E. 47th St., Los Angeles

The neighborhood of 1207 E. 47th St. via Google Street View.

From his bed in the jail ward of county hospital, Sam Ellis told of killing his wife, Lois, in a fight and then trying to commit suicide by slashing his wrists and filling the home with natural gas. Her son Ronnie, 5, who was found in the living room, also survived.

The Sentinel said that Sam Ellis, a World War II veteran, returned from the service to learn that Lois had been unfaithful. On the morning of Feb. 17, 1947, he was shaving in the bathroom when he and his wife began arguing. According to the Sentinel, the wife attacked her husband with a butcher knife. He took it away and attacked her with it. Police also found a broken pieces of a milk bottle, covered with blood, but it’s unclear from the story how bottle figured in the killing.

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Black Dahlia: Blogging “Black Dahlia Files” Part 19 — The Houyhnhnms

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.
Our story so far, the two-minute executive summary:

Donald H. Wolfe’s book “The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, the Mogul and the Murder That Transfixed Los Angeles” has introduced the character of “Uncle Vern,” not a blood relative but the boyfriend of the author’s grandmother.

Uncle Vern is presented as:

    • a disgraced former prosecutor, which he wasn’t (disgraced, yes; prosecutor, no)
    • a mob lawyer (lawyer, yes; mob mouthpiece, not a chance)

    • a house-sitter for Bugsy Siegel in 1946, which is impossible because Siegel didn’t live at the house in question until 1947. Uncle Vern is the source of a story about the murder of Thelma Todd by Bugsy Siegel, buttressed by the book “Hot Toddy” that is entirely suspect.


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Feb. 20, 1907: How to Dress for Mowing the Lawn

Note: This is an encore post from 2007.
Feb. 20, 1907
Los Angeles

Apparently mowing the lawn was a formal occasion.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Delight Evans Sells the Movies to Female Fans


Delight Evans Headshot
Full of charm and personality, Cordelia D. “Delight” Evans fell in love with the movies as a toddler, and basically dedicated the rest of her life to learning about, watching, and telling others about them. She achieved fame as one of the most important critics and reviewers of films in the 1920s and 1930s, and gained fame as possibly the world’s youngest and only female editor of a magazine in 1926. Smart but never high-hat, Evans appeared to delight whoever she came in contact with.

Born in 1901 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, young Cordelia quickly gained the name Delight for her enthusiasm and energy. Intelligent and curious, the precocious young girl adored learning and education, spending her time reading and watching movies, entranced by the dreamlike and mysterious medium. Evans later told Screenland magazine in 1929 that she immediately fell in love with movies after seeing her first film as a tiny child.

Mary Mallory’s latest book, “Living With Grace: Life Lessons from America’s Princess,” will be released June 1.


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Black Dahlia: Blogging “Black Dahlia Files” Part 18 — Uncle Vern

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.

Page 24-25

I was breezing along (“breezing” being a relative term in reading a book at the molecular level) when I came across this little bon mot tucked into a sentence:

“Angry about the threats she was receiving if she didn’t cooperate with Bugsy Siegel and his pals, on December 11, Thelma made the mistake of going to District Attorney Buron Fitts’s office and lodging a complaint against the mobster who had muscled in on her café. She had no knowledge, of course, that the District Attorney of Los Angeles was on the mob payroll and that word would soon get back to the very people who had threatened her.”

Oh? And who might be the source for this little nugget of information? Quick, Watson, to the end notes.

Humph: “Hot Toddy,” Pages 171-172, 184. Now it doesn’t take much skill to find quibbles with Andy Edmonds’ book, even without buying it, nor to discover other accounts that Todd went to the police rather than the district attorney (recall that Wolfe has the annoying little problem of mixing up city and county government).

I’m going to take a rain check for now, but it’s terribly irresponsible to make such accusations without attribution, even if it’s to a potboiler on Hollywood scandals.

Time to trot out Uncle Vern again, the disgraced prosecutor who never was.

Aha! And it is Uncle Vern who tells young Donald his tales about Thelma Todd. Oh I see, Bugsy Siegel killed Thelma Todd, did he? Uncle Vern was working in the D.A.’s office, eh? I didn’t realize the district attorney was operating out of 405 Subway Terminal Building (MU-3790) in the 1930s. (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 27, 1934).

Hm. Hamilton represented Esther M. Jones in her divorce suit against her husband? (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 10, 1935). I guess we can conclusively write off any notion that Uncle Vern was ever a prosecutor.

But what’s this? On Aug. 5, 1942, Uncle Vern (attorney Vernon R. Hamilton) was bombed with tear gas by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department because he had barricaded himself in his home and wouldn’t come out? He was put in jail? And where was this house? 407 N. Normandie? That would be nearly seven miles from South Camden Drive. Oh my! Looks like Judge Edward R. Brand found Uncle Vern in contempt for appearing in the court while he was drunk. And sent Uncle Vern to … jail?

And Uncle Vern was supposedly an attorney for the mob? Getting into the newspapers for showing up tanked in court, being gassed by the police and thrown into the graybar hotel by the judge? For the record, Jerry Giesler was Siegel’s defense attorney in the 1942 trial on charges of killing Harry “Big Greenie” Greenberg and I doubt very much if Giesler would let Uncle Vern as much as carry his briefcase.

Hm. Now Wolfe gives his address as 803 N. Roxbury, a bit of a drive for Uncle Vern if he’s in his cups.

“…Bugsy Siegel and his girlfriend Virginia “Sugar” Hill, lived just behind us at 810 Linden Drive.”

The wonders of Google Earth. Notice the generous definition of “just behind.”

Now Wolfe builds to Uncle Vern the disgraced prosecutor who never was, the mob mouthpiece who never was, having a key to the home on North Linden Drive and taking care of it in 1946 while Siegel and Hill were off in Las Vegas building the Flamingo.

Except for one problem. Siegel didn’t move into the home on Linden until January 1947. How do we know? Because the FBI had him under surveillance.

Her new home? Jan. 10, 1947? And just whom was Uncle Vern house-sitting for in 1946?


ps. I’m quite serious about blogging this in real time. Well-intentioned people have tried to clue me in about what’s coming up next. I appreciate your concern, but please don’t spoil the fun, thanks.

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Feb. 19, 1907: Orange County Accuses L.A. County of Attempted ‘Land Grab’ of Beach Towns

Note: This is an encore post from 2007.
Feb. 19, 1907
Los Angeles

A quick trip to the Thomas Bros. will show that Los Angeles County doesn’t look like this, but it’s not for lack of trying. The wealthy men of Los Angeles and Orange counties are furious with one another over an attempt by Assemblyman Phil Stanton to give Los Angeles County a strip of coastal communities as far south as Newport Beach.

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Black Dahlia: Blogging “Black Dahlia Files” Part 17 — The Lookies

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.

Above, one of the formative publications of my youth, which was included with the purchase of the World Book Encyclopedia. The Lookies had a wonderful motto: “We don’t guess, we look it up.”

Page 22

I really don’t want to get derailed into Thelma Todd as I can’t see what it has to do with the Black Dahlia case. I’m going to take a rain check with the simple proviso that given Donald H. Wolfe’s track record, there are going to be errors and misstatements. I’ll dig into it later if necessary, but this will have to do for now:

“Nevertheless, D.A. Buron Fitts insisted that her death was a suicide, though there were rumors among the movieland cognoscenti that Thelma Todd had been murdered by one of her intimate acquaintances—a mob boss who suddenly left town on the night of Thelma’s ‘suicide.’ ”

In fact, Fitts said: “We want it distinctly understood that we aren’t imputing this to be a murder. But there are circumstances that do not satisfy us. We intend to clear them up.” (Los Angeles Times, Dec. 19, 1935)

Moreover, the Los Angeles Police Department, under the auspices of crime lab chief Ray Pinker (the same man who had his hands in his pockets at the Black Dahlia crime scene), took Todd’s Lincoln and, using a volunteer, sealed the garage and started the engine to see how long it would take to render him unconscious. In 90 seconds, Detective Joe Whitehead was pounding on the door to be let out of the monoxide-filled garage.

It should also be noted that Todd’s death was investigated by the Los Angeles County Grand Jury. And in testifying before the grand jury, Pinker said that blood found inside Todd’s car contained carbon monoxide, excluding the possibility that the stains occurred before she started the car’s engine. According to testimony before the grand jury, Todd became unconscious from the fumes and struck her head as she collapsed, causing a wound that bled.

Eventually, the jurors found the evidence of suicide or accident so compelling that several of them refused to hear any more testimony.

I’ll leave Thelma Todd at this: It’s impossible to say Dist. Atty. Buron Fitts tried to cover up the case when it went before the grand jury.

What are the sources for this nonsense?

Samuel Marx and Joyce Vanderveen, “Deadly Illusions”; Andy Edmonds, “Hot Toddy”; and the Thelma Todd inquest report. Apparently Wolfe has some aversion to original sources such as newspapers. I’m mildly curious about the source of the Todd inquest. But not enough to go digging for it.

Page 24

Oh, more on Uncle Vern, the disgraced former prosecutor who never worked for the district attorney’s office. I don’t have time for this today.

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Feb. 18, 2007: Architectural Ramblings

Note: This is an encore post from 2007.
Feb. 18, 2007
Los Angeles

The buildings featured in The Times for this week have been torn down, but in glancing through the listings, I found the sale by the Althouse brothers of a lot at 3006 S. La Salle.

3006 S. La Salle


I can’t say the house was particularly interesting, although I was happy to find it still standing. Still, it was an interesting neighborhood to visit and the house at 2921 S. La Salle cries begs out for rehabbing.


This house is in the 2900 block; I didn’t get the exact address.


2921 S. La Salle

3015 S. La Salle

3027 S. La Salle


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Black Dahlia: Blogging "Black Dahlia Files" Part 16 — A Moment of Silence

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.
Wednesday was the 61st anniversary of the kidnapping of 6-year-old Rochelle Gluskoter from the frontyard of a home around the corner from where her parents, Abe and Miriam, were preparing to open their market at 8464 S. Central Ave.
Rochelle’s skeletal remains were found in a remote part of Orange County on Nov. 9. 1947. The case was never solved.

Page 21

Now back to all Wolfe’s stuff about “Uncle Vern,” who is presented as a disgraced former prosecutor but really wasn’t. This is terrible research and worse writing. Just an out-and-out lie.

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Feb. 17, 1907: Before Staples Center — City Straightens 12th Street

Above, a vanished landmark: The Schermerhorn Inn, at Potter Park, a street that has disappeared.

Note: This is an encore post from 2007.
Feb. 17, 1907
Los Angeles

West 12th Street between Main and Hoover is maddeningly crooked, but how to fix it? One set of residents has agreed to cut the boulevard through front yards because having the street as straight as an engineer’s ruler will raise property values. The other set says that homes will be ruined and that residents will be assessed too much to pay for the work.

Those in favor of the improvement include W.H. O’Melveny (hm. Isn’t that a familiar name?) while opposition is led by Mr. Kincaid, the developer of the Kincaid Tract.

“When the matter was brought up before the City Council several weeks ago, there was a merry tussle, but the side favoring the proposition won out,” The Times says.

Alas, city planners in 1907 failed to anticipate a large sports arena blocking traffic.

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Black Dahlia: Blogging "Black Dahlia Files" Part 15 — Time for a Reality Check

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.
I was all set, or so I thought, for today’s entry. And then something fell in my lap that I simply couldn’t ignore.

Let’s suppose you are an established author with a well-known book on a particular subject. Let us further suppose that another writer comes along, uses your book as the backbone for his work, runs a picture of you and praises you in his acknowledgements.

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Black L.A., 1947: Stylish Men in Harlem Wearing Berets

Feb. 13, 1947, Real Estate

2400 Block S. St. Andrews Place

At top, the home at 2443 S. St. Andrews Place is for sale at $16,500 cash or $18,000 “terms.” Above, the 2400 block of South St. Andrews Place via Google Street View.

Feb. 13, 1947: Columnist Bill Smallwood says “Richard Wright, back from Paris whence he proved such a distinctive favorite, is having trouble getting his Manhattan apartment back! He lives in half of it while awaiting outcome of his filing suit against the occupants to regain the other half.”

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Posted in 1947, African Americans, Books and Authors, Fashion, Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments