Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1978 film “Fedora,” with William Holden, Marthe Keller, Jose Ferrer, Frances Sternhagen, Mario Adorf, Stephen Collins, Hans Jaray, Arlene Francis Gottfried John, Jacques Maury, Christine Mueller, Ellen Schwiers, Ferdy Mayne, Henry Fonda, Hildegard Knef and Michael York. Music by Miklos Rozsa, costumes by Charlotte Flemming, production design by Alexandre Trauner, photography by Gerry Fisher, screenplay by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, from the story “Crowned Heads” by Thomas Tryon. Produced and directed by Billy Wilder.

The movie is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

Down These Mean Streets

Virtually everyone who writes about Raymond Chandler cites this book by Philip Durham, but very few people seem to have read it.

Writing in 1963, four years after Chandler’s death, Durham produced a biography of Chandler as a writer rather than examining the whole fabric of his life. Durham also made what is probably the earliest systematic analysis of Chandler’s output, tracing Chandler’s extensive self-borrowing from earlier short stories into his novels. It’s a relatively brief book that includes a checklist of Chandler’s writing, a selected list of reviews and a bibliography.

We recently found a nice copy on EBay and thought we should add it to our holiday shopping suggestions. Bookfinder (and really that is the best way to locate a vintage book) lists quite a few copies, starting with a fairly low price for a less than perfect book up to ridiculously overpriced.

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

Los Angeles Book.

Note: This is an encore post from 2014.

“The Los Angeles Book,” with text by Lee Shippey and photos by Max Yavno is one of my favorite books on Los Angeles – but only for Yavno’s photographs. The text is forgettable and, in fact, Yavno said he paid no attention to it when he took his pictures. There are many famous images here, including Muscle Beach, the opening of “The Heiress” at the Carthay Circle Theatre (RIP), etc. Copies can be located on starting at $17.

Here’s my 2011 post on “The Los Angeles Book.”

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hollywoodland Survives 1961 Fire

Hollywoodland Fire 1961 Flames from Crenshaw

California is suffering its worst fire fall season in decades, after the huge Santa Rosa-Sonoma conflagration a few months ago, and the blazes surrounding the Los Angeles area over the past week. The Skirball fire itself, which has burned around the Bel-Air area and destroyed several homes, echoes that of the terrible November 1961 fire in the Bel-Air community in which celebrities like Joan Fontaine, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Burt Lancaster, and Joe E. Brown lost their houses. That fire was not the first to affect enclaves around Los Angeles that year though.

In May 1961, a fire around the Hollywoodland community and Griffith Park devoured eight homes, seriously damaged 24, and affected scores of others, threatened the Hollywood Sign, the Civil Defense station, Griffith Observatory, and zoo, while scorching acres of land in Griffith Park. On May 12, 1961, temperatures soared. At 7:43 pm that night, winds gusting 40 miles per hour and later up to 68 miles per hour, knocked down power lines at Hollyridge Drive and Canyon Drive, touching off a conflagration.

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” and “Hollywood at Play” are available from Amazon, Vroman’s in Pasadena and Book Soup in West Hollywood.

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

Los Angeles in Maps

Note: This is a repost from 2013.

Glen Creason’s book on maps of Los Angeles shows the many ways people have viewed the city over the years. I interviewed him for The Times in 2012 and fortunately for all concerned, the column was seen by a real estate agent who was getting ready to sell off a rather curious home in Mt. Washington that had been owned by a man who had a mania for maps. The result was the discovery of the “map house,” one of the great (and strange) stories of Los Angeles.

“Los Angeles in Maps,” published in 2010, is in many local bookstores and available online.

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L.A. Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

Holly. Cel. Holidays Cover hollywood_at_play_cover


Mary Mallory’s posts are one of the L.A. Daily Mirror’s most popular features, so we are happy to recommend two books: “Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays,” written with Karie Bible, and “Hollywood at Play,” written with Donovan Brandt and Stephen X. Sylvester. Both books are available at Vroman’s in Pasadena and Book Soup in West Hollywood. “Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” and “Hollywood at Play” are also available from Amazon.

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L.A.’s Views on Pearl Harbor Attack

Dec. 8, 1941, Person in the Street

Dec. 8, 1941, Person in the Street

Note: This is an encore post from 2011.

Dec. 8, 1941: The Times interviewed average Angelenos (if there is such a thing) for their opinions about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Many, like Horace Goodrich, thought the U.S. would wrap up the war in a few weeks. J.H. Allen was the only one with a contrasting view: “From what I gather, the Japanese must be well prepared. If they are, then we’re in for a long battle.”

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Navy Releases Accounts of Pearl Harbor

Dec. 22, 1941, Axis Subs

Dec. 22, 1941, Comics

Note: This is an encore post from 2011.

Dec. 22, 1941: The Navy releases three personal accounts of the Pearl Harbor attack. Many acts of heroism are described, and these few lines shed more light on the presence of African Americans (recall that the armed services were segregated at the time):
“A Negro mess attendant who never before had fired a gun manned a machine gun on the bridge until his ammunition was exhausted.”

On the jump:

Looking for an experienced domestic? Check The Times’ classified.

Tom Treanor writes about a  Korean American girl who came to school wearing a button showing the flags of the U.S. and Korea so classmates will know she’s not Japanese.

Jimmie Fidler says it’s unfair for the Hollywood Women’s Press Club to name Marlene Dietrich as one of the year’s most uncooperative stars.

Mamie Gould, Pittsburgh Gene Autry fan, has obtained 165,000 signatures on a petition demanding a special Academy Award for Autry, Fidler says.

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A Firsthand History Lesson on Pearl Harbor

Rene Humbert, 1964 Note: This is a repost from 2011.

In 1962, I was a seventh-grader at Washington Junior High School in Naperville, Ill. On Dec. 7, Mr. Humbert, our social studies teacher, put aside the regular curriculum to give his young pupils a firsthand account of Pearl Harbor.

Many years later, I contacted Mr. Humbert. He didn’t remember me (I was not a stellar student) but he was thrilled to get a phone call from one of his former charges who wanted to hear once more about Pearl Harbor.

Rene P. Humbert died in 2002 at the age of 81. I was his student in a much more formal era of American life. Male teachers wore coats and ties, and didn’t share much about their personal lives. I don’t even remember him mentioning that his brother’s fighter plane had been shot down in June 1944 over France.

What I learned many years later was that Mr. Humbert joined the Navy at 19, went through all of World War II and was called back for the Korean War. Perhaps one reason he was a little hard on us Baby Boomers in the wealthy suburbs of Chicago was because he didn’t graduate from high school, but got a GED and started college at the age of 31 under the G.I. Bill

Mr. Humbert was on the San Francisco, a heavy cruiser, during the Pearl Harbor attack and the ship was untouched except for shrapnel because the Japanese were concentrating on the larger ships. He was also in the Battles of the Coral Sea, Midway and  Guadalcanal. In one battle, Rear Adm. Dan Callaghan and Capt. Cassin Young were killed by a 14-inch shell that hit the San Francisco’s bridge.

What follows is his account. I have edited his brief biography very lightly after scanning a typewritten copy with my optical character recognition software. And I have incorporated portions of his Pearl Harbor account from the Pearl Harbor Survivors website.

Photo 1: Rene Humbert, Washington Junior High, 1964.

Photo 2: Rene Humbert, no date.

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

Chavez Ravine, 1949

Note: This is a repost from 2013.

You might have to hunt a bit for Don Normark’s 1999 book “Chavez Ravine, 1949,” but your search will be rewarded. The photos are terrific and the residents’ recollections make the book even better. Copies can be found via

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Movieland Mystery Cat Movie (Updated)

Dec. 6, 2017, Mystery Photo

As a bonus, we have another Mystery Cat Movie, totally unrelated to Mystery Cat Movie No. 1 and Mystery Cat Movie No. 2.

Brain Trust roll call: Sylvia E (Mystery Cat Movie and mystery drunk doctor), Joe Vogel (Mystery Cat Movie and mystery drunk doctor), E. Yarber (Mystery Cat Movie and mystery drunk doctor) and Sheila (Mystery Cat Movie and mystery drunk doctor).

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

Nuestro Pueblo

Note: This is a repost from 2013.

Whenever I’m asked about my favorite books on Los Angeles, my first recommendation is “Nuestro Pueblo,” a selection of features by Times artist Charles Owens and writer Joseph Seewerker that appeared in The Times. I went through all of them when the blog was at, so I won’t repeat them now, but if you’re a fan of Rediscovering Los Angeles, which was illustrated by Owens with commentary by Timothy Turner, you may enjoy “Nuestro Pueblo.”  Unfortunately, Rediscovering Los Angeles was never published in book form and has languished in obscurity.

“Nuestro Pueblo” is long out of print and the prices have gone up since I started writing about it, with some dealers asking more than $100 for a copy. A patient shopper can still find a copy for less than $20, however. One of my favorite tools for finding out of print books is, which shows wide price range on copies of “Nuestro Pueblo.”

And what are your gift recommendations for this holiday season?

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

Sept. 16, 1957, Parker T-Ball Jotter

Note: This is a repost from 2013. True style never goes out of date, after all.

We are being bombarded by stories about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with videos of long lines at stores and the attendant consumer frenzy.

The L.A. Daily Mirror prefers a more subdued approach to buying gifts during the holiday season. Here’s proof that an ideal retro gift can be practical and inexpensive. It’s the Parker T-Ball jotter, which has changed very little since this 1957 ad.

You can pick one up at most office supply stores for about $8. We like ours with the gel refill, medium point. Perfect for doing the New York Times crossword puzzle.

What’s on your shopping list? If you have a good gift idea, share it with us.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1945 20th Century-Fox film “Hangover Square,” with Laird Cregar, Linda Darnell, George Sanders, Glenn Langan, Faye Marlow and Alan Napier, with a screenplay by Barre Lyndon from the novel by Patrick Hamilton. Music by Bernard Herrmann, photography by Joseph La Shelle, art direction by Lyle Wheeler and Maurice Ransford, set decorations by Thomas Little and Frank E. Hughes, costumes by Rene Hubert and Kay Nelson. Produced by Robert Bassler, directed by John Brahm.

”Hangover Square” is available from Amazon on a newly released Blu-ray and DVD.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights — Ivan Mosjoukine, the Man With the Piercing Eyes

Ivan Mosjoukine

Ivan Mosjoukine, courtesy of Mary Mallory.

Note: This is an encore post from 2013.

Not as well known as other silent film stars like Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Buster Keaton or Rudolph Valentino, the recently rediscovered Russian motion picture actor Ivan Mosjoukine ranks among the greats for his charismatic star turns in several 1920s French silent films. While a superstar in Russia and France, Mosjoukine acted in only one Hollywood feature, which eventually helped push him into obscurity. But, as writer Liam O’Leary stated, “What Nijinksy was to dance in Russia, so Mosjoukine was to film.”

Born in Penza, Russia, Sept. 26, 1889, to wealthy parents, Ivan Ilich Mozhukhin attended private schools before studying law in Moscow. Quickly enthralled by the flamboyant world of the theater, Mosjoukine joined a touring theatrical troupe to learn his new trade. Within a few years, he returned to Moscow and entered the Dramatic Theatre for serious work.

Also by Mary Mallory
Keye Luke
Auction of Souls
Busch Gardens and Hogan’s Aristocratic Dreams

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Found on Craigslist: Oviatt Display Case (With Alterations)

Oviatt Display Case

A vendor on Craigslist has listed what is claimed to be a display case from the Oviatt Building for $12,500.

Note this disclaimer: “Updated glass shelves and lighting have been added.” So it’s not in original condition.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Howard Greer Inc., Maison of Haute Couture


Howard Greer in Modern Screen, 1933.

Long before Adrian left MGM to set up his own couture house, Paramount Pictures’ costume designer Howard Greer established a tony modiste shop on Sunset Boulevard catering to the needs and desires of many of Hollywood’s female stars. Driven and a great self-promoter, the charming Greer remained in business over 35 years creating simple but luxurious wardrobes for his clients.

Born in Rushville, Illinois, on April 16, 1896, Greer and his family moved to Nebraska around 1900 when his father became ill. The Greers worked their farm outside Lincoln, where young Howard dreamed of a glamorous life outside the dusty, monotonous acreage. While he tried to farm, young Greer loved drawing, especially sketches of female wardrobes and dresses.

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

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Dec. 2, 2017, Two Years Before the Mast
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1945 Paramount film “Two Years Before the Mast,” with Alan Ladd, Brian Donlevy, William Bendix, Barry Fitzgerald, Howard da Silva, Esther Fernandez, Albert Dekker, Luis Van Rooten, Darryl Hickman, Roman Bohnen, Ray Collins, Theodore Newton, Tom Powers, James Burke and Frank Faylen. The screenplay was by Seton I. Miller and George Bruce from the novel by Richard Henry Dana Jr. Photography was by Ernest Laszlo, art direction by Hans Dreier and Franz Bachelin, photo effects by Gordon Jennings and Dev Jennings, process photography by Farciot Edouart, technical supervision by Capt. Fred F. Ellis B.M.M. (Ret)., set decoration by Bertram Granger,  music by Victor Young and costumes by Dorothy O’Hara. The film was directed by John Farrow.

The DVD is commercially available on Universal’s Vault Series from Amazon.

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L.A. Celebrates a Wartime Thanksgiving, 1943

Nv. 26, 1943, Thanksgiving

Note: This is a post from 2013. Happy Thanksgiving!

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 a repost from 2011. Happy Thanksgiving!

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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