“My Father, My Son”

April 18, 1957
Los Angeles

Someone at The Times had a sense of humor to place a story about a drunk driving case next to an ad for Southern Comfort. There really wasn’t much news to it, just the son of a Hollywood star, in trouble for being drunk once more.

The arc of his life is not a pretty one. The Times’ earliest stories are about birthday parties with other children of other celebrities. Then the stories turn dark: Injuring himself slightly when he was 16 and out in his expensive convertible, hitting two cars at Willoughby and Hudson avenues in Hollywood.

At 19, he eloped to Tijuana with the first of his three wives. His furious father threw him out of the house at 910 N. Rexford Drive and cut off his $70 weekly ($524.97 USD 2006) allowance. He and his wife split up and reconciled several times until she finally divorced him three years later.

He was arrested for drunk driving, being drunk and disorderly, and charged with holding up cabdrivers, although the jury deadlocked  in that case.

Here and there, he turned up in a few movies and TV shows: “Screaming Eagles” and “Tank Battalion”; “Laramie,” “Wagon Train” and “Gunsmoke.”

And he appears as Johnny Paradise with George Raft in “Some Like it Hot” in scenes set at a resort that was actually the Del Coronado.

By the time he was 38, he was so ill that his lawyer warned the judge he might not survive a 90-day jail sentence for drunk driving.

And in February 1974, at the age of 40, Edward G. Robinson Jr. was dead.

Somewhere in the midst of all his arrests, Robinson found time to write a book, “My Father/My Son,” which was serialized in the Mirror, despite terrible reviews.

In a biting commentary, Robert R. Kirsch wrote: “If Edward G. Robinson Jr. ever reads this book with the eyes of an adult it should seem apparent to him  that at least some of his difficulties stemmed from his unwillingness or incapacity to make his own way. Though he deeply resents it, he has done very little to prepare himself for what he says are his ambitions and ideals.

“He might try changing his name and making his own way as a start.”

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About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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