Movieland Mystery Photo [Updated]

Aug. 5, 2011, Mystery Photo


Jan. 30, 1937, Broomfield and Greeley
Jan. 30, 1937: Leroy Broomfield and Aurora Greeley perform at the Ubangi Club.

[Update: This is Aurora Greeley, and if you have never heard of her, you have lots of company.]

Here’s a Witzel photo that truly is a mystery….

I stumbled across this striking Witzel photo of Aurora Greeley and became curious when I couldn’t readily find much information about her. She was only mentioned once in The Times, which is not particularly surprising as the major newspapers devoted little coverage to African Americans.

Greeley and her dance partner Leroy Broomfield are mentioned in the 1999 book “Backbeat: Earl Palmer’s Story” by Tony Scherman.

Broomfield and Greeley
Longtime Count Basie sax player Marshall Royal also remembers them in the 1996 book, written with Claire Gordon,  “Marshall Royal: Jazz Survivor.”

image Aurora Greeley

I delved into Google’s news archives and was pleased to find issues of the Afro American, which covered the entertainment industry from a black perspective. Here’s a 1931 story:
March 28, 1931, Gossip of Movie Lots 1931_0328_afro_gossip021931_0328_afro_gossip07

1931_0328_afro_gossip081931_0328_afro_gossip09 1931_0328_afro_gossip10

And in the Nov. 26, 1932, issue we find Broomfield and Greeley at Frank Sebastian’s Cotton Club (d. 1950), 8781 W. Washington Blvd., in Los Angeles.


While a June 13, 1936, story says Broomfield and Greeley were back in New York at the Ubangi Club after six years on the West Coast and in China.

Aurora Greeley

Aurora Greeley

Nov. 4, 1939: Broomfield and Greeley are once again performing in Los Angeles.

A March 14, 1963, article in the California Eagle mentions Broomfield and says he’s been ill.


According to the Social Security Death Index, a woman named Aurora Greeley, born April 19, 1905,  died in Los Angeles in March 1983. The index also lists a man named Leroy Broomfield, born Sept. 28, 1902, dying in Los Angeles in August 1971.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in African Americans, Dance, Mystery Photo, Nightclubs, Obituaries, Photography, Witzel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Movieland Mystery Photo [Updated]

  1. Rudy? Naw that’d be too easy and not really a mystery. I’m going to guess it’s a lady (or a woman if not a lady) but that is one serious blunt she’s waggin around.


  2. Mary Mallory says:

    The nose isn’t really right, but Julian Eltinge? I’ve never seen him in a Mexican outfit before, just his usual dresses.


  3. Eve says:

    She she almost looks like Judy Canova, though that’s obviously too early for her. I’d peg this as late 1920s–kinda late for a Witzel! When did he close up shop?


    • Arye Michael Bender says:

      Just a comment on Mr. Navarro. His brutal death in the late sixties would make for an excellent in depth exploration. It seems to me that I met the person (Ed – something) who was Ramon Navarro’s house / business manager at the time the actor was attacked. Ed treated Navarro as a doddering old man, without any sense of how important and bright the actor really was. It was my first exposure into a darker Hollywood subculture reminiscent of ‘Day of the Locust’.


  4. Mike Hawks says:

    Wild card, Clara Bow.


  5. Jenny M says:

    Charles Laughton?


    • aryedirect says:

      Wonder if Laughton ever dated Valentino? When in university long ago, the venerable Mr. Laughton did a one-man show for the student body. I covered it in a live radio broadcast. Being Charles Laughton, he could read from the dictionary and make you cry. He was amazing! After the performance I went backstage to meet him. He was rightly surrounded by most of the Drama Department. He especially loved the adoration from the male student actors. It was said that was a prime reason why he would do shows in such out of the way places as Carbondale, Illinois. That was the day I learned that a publicly married couple such as Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester could have many more levels than previously thought. Less shocking than enlightening.


  6. juliemerholz says:

    I love the information. Thanks Larry.


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