‘Full Service’: Fun With Fact-Checking, Part 26

"Full Service" cover

In case you just tuned in, I’m doing a little fact-checking as I go through Scotty Bowers’ “Full Service.” This will be fairly tedious except to a research drudge.

We have moved on, ever so slightly, to the further exploits of Scotty Bowers in 1946. In this portion of the book, he’s discussing life in Los Angeles.

Fact-Checking “Full Service”: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21 | Part 22 | Part 23 | Part 24 | Part 25


Here we go:

My live-in girlfriend Betty never questioned me, even when I got home after dawn. With a regular paycheck coming in we were able to move to a nice little apartment not too far from the station. Although we never took the plunge by getting married, within a couple of months Betty was pregnant.

Jan. 6, 1946, Illegitimate Babies Well that seems ordinary enough. And it is, today, when we have the typical boilerplate of “John Jones and his fiancee, Tiffany, with whom he has three children.”

But believe it or not, the practice of couples living together didn’t become commonplace until the 1970s (trust me, I was there). I would have to see if there’s much data to back that up, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that POSSLQ became a necessary term.

I’m not saying that it didn’t occur, but I would say that any couple who cohabited in the 1940s were considered far outside the norms of society – Bohemian artists, people at the low end of the economic scale, or folks who were just unconventional.  For mainstream, middle-class white people, this would be considered deviant behavior.

And to have a child from such a relationship and not give it up for adoption? This may seem nothing out of the ordinary today, but in 1946, it would been shocking behavior.  I wonder what they told the landlord.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1946, Another Good Story Ruined, Books and Authors, Film, Hollywood, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to ‘Full Service’: Fun With Fact-Checking, Part 26

  1. Oh, Mr Harnish, Do I have a surprise for you. My middle class mommy was married to at least three guys at the same time; she had a scheme for keeping them out of Vietnam, and keeping herself um, gainfully employed. C 1965. Because of the shame and scandal, her mother arranged for the sister in law of another daughter to raise me. HER mother, beginning c 1919-1935, was not legally married to either of her two older husbands, one of which was the black sheep of a very prominent family. Of course, because of the shame involved, I only discovered it after everyone had passed c 2004-6 when I began researching these smart, funny, fascinating resourceful women, and could find no marriage records. I called one of the two (down to one, now, sadly) surviving children, and was informed calmly that there were never any marriages to record.
    One of my moms’ “marriages” the one that actually recorded, was to my dad (b 1941 d 1970), a recent vet, who was a Long Beach kid. That’s how I got up with you and your fantastic sites to begin with; he and his mom may have lived right down the street from “The Site” at the time of the “Shocking Crime.” Keep up the great work, and let me know what your boredom threshold is for southern noir.


  2. Gillian Greenwood says:

    It’s a given that Scotty was living far outside the norms of society–he was a prostitute.
    Also, I urge you to read the book before doing the fact-checking–you can save yourself a lot of time. For example, Bowers later mentions the name of the gas station owner is Bill Booth and the address of the station is 5777 Hollywood Blvd. Your research uncovered that, but only after having to check out a lot of different names and gas stations.
    FYI: Gore Vidal backs up some of the assertions in the book, though I’m not sure how reliable Vidal is: http://www.queerty.com/gore-vidal-confirms-that-katharine-hepburn-was-a-very-slutty-lesbian-20120210/
    Raymond Burr’s long-time partner confirms that what Bowers said about himself and Burr is true, and for what it’s worth also supports Bowers as a truthful person, though of course that’s no proof of the truth of all of the other claims: http://blogs.laweekly.com/arts/2012/03/scotty_bowers_raymond_burr.php


  3. Lynne says:

    Mr. Harnisch,

    I became acquainted with this site after devouring your fact-checking evisceration of Donald Wolfe’s “The Black Dahlia Files.” Then, I lost your links following an adware invasion on my PC and a job change which wiped out all of my favorites lists. I finally found this site again, and I’m rewarded with another fantastic series of research “drudgery”!

    I must be a research drudge at heart, because even with all the salacious information apparently present in ‘Full Service,’ the only question I have is about one of the sources you are using to fact check. In Part 18, you say “ProQuest is unable to read fancy lettering…. Because the address is in regular type, we now find this display ad from 1938.” Does this ProQuest service have a character recognition capability? Can it read text within what looks like an image of a newpaper ad? Oh, my. I think I’m in love!

    Thank you for this wonderful site. I’m so glad to have found it again.

    Lynne Ray


    • lmharnisch says:

      ProQuest is a wonderful service and I can’t say enough good things about it… I only hope that more Los Angeles newspapers will be scanned — especially the Examiner. The user interface was recently revamped. At first I didn’t care for it, but I’ve gotten used to it.


    • lmharnisch says:

      And yes. ProQuest works by scanning microfilm of a newspaper. So most text is searchable. That means the classified ads and some display ads — if they don’t have elaborate lettering. I’ve seen cases in which ProQuest was reading signs that appear in photographs — as long as the letters are crisp and sharp. It’s infrequent, but it does happen.


      • lray987 says:

        Thank you for the information. I must check with our university library to see if we have the service. Is it crazy expensive?


      • lmharnisch says:

        ProQuest is not available to private subscribers, just libraries and corporate users (like The Times). There are some subscription services that offer newspaper archives, but I don’t believe they include The Times — just lots of smaller, regional papers. You can get the wire stories (AP/UP/INS/UPI etc.) that way, but other material is more difficult to get. The majors, like the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, etc., also offer archival material but it’s pricey.


  4. lray987 says:

    Cuz’, if it comes down to a choice between subscribing to ProQuest or buying the football team new diamond-tipped cleats, I know which one will win… 🙂


  5. “Gore Vidal backs up some of the assertions in the book, though I’m not sure how reliable Vidal is:”

    Many true stories Gore Vidal told were juicy, and the reverse may have been true too. But he also plainly liked to say things just to shock and amuse– for instance, deducing that Washington’s relationship with Alexander Hamilton had all the character of an older wealthy partner and his rent boy. (Well, Vidal would likely know. About the character if not the historical personages.)

    The first credibility problem I have with it is that everything in it appears to match up so perfectly with the previous secret histories. It verifies so much in the original, uncensored Hollywood Babylon, which is to say, it smells like it depends for believability on its concordance with an equally dubious pre-existing source. Which is like believing in the Hitler Diaries because so much of them match up with Clifford Irving’s Howard Hughes bio. In reality, secret lives are never so neat as to line up so perfectly, over and over, in two sources separated by decades.

    But what’s odious about Vidal lending credence to such a book is that Vidal once wrote indignantly about someone claiming that Noel Coward had an especially repulsive fetish, saying that he knew Coward, he was far too fastidious for his tastes to run in that direction, but that once something was out there, Vidal knew it was not only unstoppable but the nature of the times was that the worst, least believable thing would become the most certain in the minds of those who want the “real” story.

    And here he is endorsing a book which takes as historical fact the exact same thing about Charles Laughton, which, having once been in a book (the original Hollywood Babylon), is now attached to him firmly no matter how dubious the source itself. For shame.


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