Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Dec. 7, 2019, Mystery Movie

This week’s mystery movie was the 1956 Warner Bros. film “A Cry in the Night,” with Edmond O’Brien, Brian Donlevy, Natalie Wood, Raymond Burr, Richard Anderson, Irene Hervey, Carol Vezzie, Mary Lawrence, Anthony Caruso, George J. Lewis, Peter Hanson, Tina Carver and Herb Vigran.

Screenplay by David Dortort based on a novel by Whit Masterson, photography by John Seitz (“Double Indemnity!”), art direction by Malcolm Bert, editing by Folmar Blangsted, sound by M.A. Merrick, set decorations by Frank M. Miller, costumes by Moss Mabry, makeup by Gordon Bau, orchestrations by Maurice de Packh, assistant director Robert Farfan, music by David Buttolph, associate producer George C. Bertholon.

Directed by Frank Tuttle. A Jaguar production. (This was Alan Ladd’s production company).

“A Cry in the Night” is available on DVD from Warner Archive.

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Black Dahlia: 6 Reasons Dr. George Hodel Didn’t Kill Elizabeth Short — No. 6 No Connection

Elizabeth Short contrasted with the unidentified woman found in George Hodel’s photo album. Not at all the same.

Here are six reasons Dr. George Hodel did not kill Elizabeth Short that you will need to know before watching the TNT mini-series “I Am the Night” or listening to the eight-part podcast accompanying the production.

Reason No. 6: Dr. George Hodel had no connection to Elizabeth Short.


Reason No 1: George Hodel was never “a prime suspect” in the Black Dahlia case.

Reason No. 2: George Hodel was found not guilty of morals charges.

Reason No. 3: George Hodel was not pals with Man Ray.

Reason No. 4: George Hodel served the poor blacks of Bronzeville.

Reason No. 5: George Hodel had no surgical practice in Los Angeles.

Also: Why George Hodel didn’t kill his secretary.


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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 True style never goes out of date, after all.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 $16.49. 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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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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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Huntington Japanese Garden Gives Rest and Refinement

Japanese Garden
A c. 1937 image of the Japanese garden at the Huntington, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library.

In 1919, Henry E. and Arabella Huntington signed trust papers that would turn their estate into a public institution. Once opened to the public, the Japanese gardens became one of the top attractions to visitors, thanks to its peace, beauty and refinement. Remarkably, the garden was not created by Huntington gardeners, but bought lock, stock, and barrel from a commercial business operating in Pasadena, disassembled, and transplanted at the Huntington. Here is its remarkable story.

Japan reopened trade with the West after American Commodore Matthew Perry and his armada sailed into Tokyo Bay on July 8, 1853. Oriental and Japanese art like textiles, prints, and ceramics quickly became popular in both America and Europe, leading to a collecting craze for everything Japanese. This frenzy led to the term Japonism, the influence of Japanese philosophy, art, and aesthetics on Western Culture.

Mary Mallory’s “Living With Grace” is now on sale.

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L.A. Celebrates a Wartime Thanksgiving, 1943

Nv. 26, 1943, Thanksgiving
Note: This is an encore post from 2013.

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 an encore post from 2011.

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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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Elsie Janis Rallies the Troops for World War I

World War I, the “War to End All Wars,” concluded 100 years ago at the 11th minute of the 11th hour, November 11, 1918. A bloody conflagration involving such countries and republics as the United States, Canada, England, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia for more than four years, it saw borders dissolved and reconfigured, terrible new lethal means of killing and maiming men created, and eventually led to World War II.

Young American men found themselves weary, repulsed, and depressed as they slogged on and on, looking for a ray of sunshine and an end to the mayhem. Vaudeville and stage star Elsie Janis, quick with a quip and song, came to their rescue, providing a measure of hope and forgetfulness. Long before Bob Hope visited troops around the world during World War II to bring moments of levity, Janis became the first major star to tour camps and hospitals entertaining the American Sammies, our soldiers.

Mary Mallory’s “Living With Grace” is now on sale.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Nov. 30, 2019, Mystery Photo

This week’s mystery movie was the 1946 Twentieth Century-Fox film “Somewhere in the Night,” with John Hodiak, Nancy Guild, Lloyd Nolan, Richard Conte, Josephine Hutchinson, Fritz Kortner, Margo Woode, Sheldon Leonard and Lou Nova.

Screenplay by Howard Dinsdale and Joseph L. Mankiewicz, adapted by Lee Strasberg from a story by Marvin Borowsky.

Photography by Norbert Brodine, art direction by James Basevi and Maurice Ransford, set decorations by Thomas Little and Ernest Lansing, editorial supervision by James B. Clark, costumes by Kay Nelson, music by David Buttolph, musical direction by Emil Newman, orchestral arrangements by Arthur Morton, makeup by Ben Nye, special photographic effects by Fred Sersen, sound by Eugene Grossman and Harry M. Leonard.

Produced by Anderson Lawler, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

“Somewhere in the Night” is available on DVD from Amazon.

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From the Vaults — ‘Vamonos Con Pancho Villa!’

Vamanos con Pancho Villa
Note: This is an encore post from 2011.

“Vamonos Con Pancho Villa!” (“Let’s Go With Pancho Villa!”) is the surprisingly dark, roughly hewn story of six friends who call themselves “the lions of San Pablo” and join the Mexican Revolution as much for the adventure as the idealism. “Vamonos” is a study in the progression from loyalty to blind obedience and from courage to being tragically foolhardy.

The 1936 Mexican film was directed by Fernando de Fuentes from a novel by Rafael F. Muñoz and portrays Villa as a ruthless, cold-blooded killer who nonetheless is adored by his thousands of rag-tag troops. “Vamonos” is a bleak film of increasingly senseless violence and the alternative ending included on the DVD raises the bloodshed to the impossibly surreal.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie was the 1937 Paramount film “Bulldog Drummond Comes Back,” with John Barrymore, John Howard, Louise Campbell, Reginald Denny and E.E. Clive.

Screenplay by Edward T. Lowe, based on “The Female of the Species” by H.C. “Sapper” McNeile.

Photographed by William C. Mellor, musical direction by Boris Morros, art direction by Hans Dreier and Franz Bachelin, edited by James Smith, sound by Harry Mills and Charles Hisserich, interior decorations by A.E. Freudeman.

Directed by Louis King. According to the AFI Catalog, the producer was Stuart Walker.

“Bulldog Drummond Comes Back” is available on DVD from TCM.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hollywood Sign Built and Illuminated November-December 1923


The Hollywoodland Sign, in a photo published in the Los Angeles Evening Herald, Dec. 8, 1923.

Note: This is an encore post from 2017.

riginally constructed as a publicity gimmick and branding symbol to help generate sales for a real estate development, the Hollywood Sign is now a worldwide icon just as powerful as Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, and the Statue of Liberty, signifying a land of glamour and opportunity. Myths have always existed about it, from the date of its construction to how the city of Hollywood obtained it. After in-depth research by both historian Bruce Torrence and myself, we can conclusively say the sign was constructed in late November and early December 1923, and illuminated in that first week of December.

Like me, a California transplant involved in history, research, and writing since I was child, Torrence has always been fascinated by Hollywood history, perhaps because his two famous grandfathers contributed much to it. His paternal grandfather, Ernest Torrence, starred in many classic silent films such as “Steamboat Bill Jr.” and “Peter Pan” after a successful career as an opera singer. His maternal grandfather C. E. Toberman could be called the builder of Hollywood for his construction of so many iconic structures around Hollywood Boulevard. Bruce began a photo collection of Hollywood in 1972 with thirty photographs, which has blossomed into thousands. He employed these photos in writing one of Hollywood’s first detailed history books in 1979 called “Hollywood: The First 100 Years.”
Hollywood at Play: The Lives of the Stars Between Takes, by Stephen X. Sylvester, Mary Mallory and Donovan Brandt, goes on sale Feb. 1, 2017.

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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 featuring the star of last week’s mystery movie.

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

Mosjoukine began film acting in 1911 with the Khanzhonkov Company, starring in dramatic roles that emphasized his physical stage presence and sharp-featured good looks, finding time to occasionally write and produce films as well. Five years later, he studied and made films with Evgeni Bauer, learning to modulate his performing, to expertly apply makeup, and to fully inhabit his roles. Becoming one of Russia’s top romantic leads he frequently co-starred with his lovely, soon-to-be wife, Nathalie Lissenko, in such films as “Behind the Screen,” “Satan Triumphant” and “Father Sergius,” burying himself behind makeup, a Russian Lon Chaney.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights – Einar Petersen and His ‘Aladdin and His Lamp’ Murals

The Bridal Procession - Petersen

One of Einar Petersen’s murals at the Spring Street Guaranty Building and Loan Assn., courtesy of Mary Mallory

Note: This is an encore post from 2013. Curbed L.A. recently reported on the renovations at the building.

ame is fleeting. An individual might go unrecognized while creating great art while alive, only for the works to be considered masterpieces decades after their death, as with painter Vincent Van Gogh. Others slowly build a portfolio of work, gaining increasing recognition and respect with each new piece. They maintain fame for a long while, but see it disappear as times, styles and values change. Many become forgotten.

Unfortunately, this second scenario applies to Einar C. Petersen, recognized as one of Los Angeles’ and California’s greatest muralists in the 1920s. Achieving great reviews for his first Los Angeles mural at the New Rosslyn Hotel in 1915, Petersen would go on to craft murals for San Francisco’s Hunter-Dulin Building as well as downtown’s Mayflower Hotel, Beverly Hills Security-National Bank, and particularly, the forest mural for Clifton’s Cafeteria on Broadway Street in downtown Los Angeles. As new owners and developers came along, most either removed or painted over Petersen’s murals, save for the one in Clifton’s.

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywoodland: Tales Lost and Found” for the Kindle is available from Amazon.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Nov. 16, 2019, Mystery Photo

This week’s mystery movie was the 1934 Vitaphone short “Art Trouble,” with Harry Gribbon, Shemp Howard, Beatric Blinn and Leni Sengel. Writted by Jack Henley and Dolph Singer, photographed by E.B. DuPar, directed by Ralph Staub. According to the trades, it was released June 23, 1934, in a package of 29 Vitaphone one- and two-reelers scheduled for June through August, 1934.

“Art Trouble” appears to be available from Warner Archive on the Vitaphone Comedy Collection, Vol. 1. Warner Archive doesn’t list the contents, but they are available elsewhere.

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Black L.A. 1947: Kiwanis Refuse to Give Lottery Winner a New Cadillac Because He’s Black

July 31, 1947, L.A. Sentinel

Note: This is an encore post from 2018 that is getting lots of interest on Reddit.

This is a story that involves a $1 lottery ticket, a new Cadillac and an incredible amount of stupidity by members of an ostensibly charitable organization who were determined to uphold racist attitudes. And it really happened.

The story, as told by the Associated Negro Press, begins with Harvey Jones, a black Navy veteran who was a tenant farmer near Ahoskie, N.C. Jones paid $1 (current value $11.72) for a ticket in a lottery held by the Ahoskie Kiwanis Club with the first prize of a new Cadillac, worth about $3,200 (current value $37,000.)

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Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights – ‘I Lost My Girlish Laughter’


Note: This is an encore post from 2012. The book is being republished Nov. 5, 2019, by Vintage.

Stories about Hollywood have always been popular among American readers. Early fan magazines included fictional stories about the crazy and glamorous life in Tinsel Town, on into novels. Most of these were written for women, but many also appealed to men. One with appeal to young girls was titled “Ruth Fielding and Her Great Scenario: or Striving for the Motion Picture Prize,” written by Alice B. Emerson in 1927. An early forerunner to Nancy Drew or Cherry Ames, Ruth was an orphan living with her miserly uncle and getting into all types of travels and adventures.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Nov. 9, 2019, Mystery Movie

This week’s mystery movie was the 1926 Albatros Cinegraphic film “Feu Mathias Pascal” (“The Late Mathias Pascal”), story by Luigi Pirandello, directed by Marcel l’Herbier, interpreted by Ivan Mosjoukine, Marcelle Pradot, Lois Moran, Marthe Belot, Pauline Carton, Irma Perrot, M. Barsac, Michel Simon, Isaure Douvane, Pierre Batcheff, Georges Terof, Philippe Heriat and Jean Herve.

Sets by d’Alberto Cavalcanti, photography by Guichard, Letort, Bourgassof and Berliet.

Music for restored version composed and conducted by Timothy Brock

A restored version of “Feu Mathias Pascal” released by Flicker Alley is available on Blu-ray from

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Fernridge Row Pays Homage to Tam O’Shanter

Quaint Village Bungalows LAT 7-5-23

In the 1920s, housing developments sprang up all around the Los Angeles area as real estate developers purchased small farms to subdivide into housing tracts holding everything from small homes to apartments to bungalow courts. Fernridge Row, stylish Hollywood bungalow complex, was built by A.B. Zwebell, who later built designed apartment complexes around the city with his wife, Nina.

Stylish but comfortable, these complexes offered individual units that functioned as mini-homes, with multiple rooms, special amenities, and porches looking out at greenery and gardens providing their residents bang for their buck. In the 1910s to the 1930s, bungalow courts served as popular housing for new, middle-class residents of Hollywood and Los Angeles. Popular with entertainment industry professionals and wanna-bes, these mini-bungalows made a comfortable dwelling in which to nest.

Mary Mallory’s “Living With Grace” is now on sale.

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A Reminder From Pier Angeli and Friend

Nov. 3, 2016, Pier Angeli

Pier Angeli and her little friend remind Daily Mirror readers to turn back their clocks this Sunday.

Posted in Animals, Film, Hollywood | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights — Spooky, Ooky Witch’s House Haunts Beverly Hills

Willat-Lescalle House

A sketch of the “The Witch’s House” by Charles Owens from “Nuestro Pueblo,” courtesy of Mary Mallory

Note: This is an encore post from 2013.


Once upon a time, home design and architecture saluted fantasy and make-believe, and not just in fiction. Bilbo Baggins and lucky leprechauns resided in twee little bungalows, short, off-kilter, hutch-like, but so did imaginative and childlike Los Angeles residents of the 1920s. Storybook architecture, dreamed up and promoted by film industry veterans, flourished near movie studios, magical little Brigadoon-like structures.

A strong proponent of storybook design was Hollywood art director Harry Oliver. Noted for his work as art director on films “7th Heaven” (1927) and “Street Angel” (1928). Oliver merrily dreamed up colorful structures on the side, like the famous Van de Kamp’s windmills and Los Feliz’s Tam-o-Shanter restaurant. Another whimsical structure, however, remains his most famous design, the Witch’s House in Beverly Hills.

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywoodland:Tales Lost and Found” is available as an ebook.

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