Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Main Title, lettering over a suburban street
This week’s mystery movie was the 1955 picture The Desperate Hours, with Humphrey Bogart, Fredric March, Arthur Kennedy, Martha Scott, Dewey Martin, Gig Young, Mary Murphy, Richard Eyer, Robert Middleton, Alan Reed, Bert Freed, Ray Collins, Whit Bissel and Ray Teal. Continue reading

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Ben Model’s Undercrank Productions Bring Silent Films to Life

Ben Model at the keyboard
For more than 40 years, Ben Model has been accompanying silent films and finding new ways to bring them to audiences all over the world. Besides being a resident film accompanist at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at the Library of Congress Packard Theatre campus in Culpeper, Virginia, Model plays at film festivals like the TCM Classic Film Festival and the Kansas Silent Film Festival, along with performing at theatres, universities, and museums worldwide.

Model serves as the programmer accompanist for the Silent Clowns Film Series at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center as well as a Visiting Professor at Wesleyan University. During the pandemic, he created the Silent Comedy Watch Party with Steve Massa, presenting silent comedy shorts over YouTube with his live accompaniment, which now happens monthly. Continue reading

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Main Title. Lettering over a stage curtain
This week’s mystery movie was the 1953 MGM picture The Clown, with Red Skelton, Tim Considine, Jane Greer, Loring Smith, Philip Ober, Lou Lubin, Fay Roope, Walter Reed, Edward Marr, Jonathan Cott, Don Beddoe and Steve Forrest.   Continue reading

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Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights – Patience Abbe

Patience Abbe
Note: This is an encore post from 2012.

Patience Abbe and her brothers John and Richard parlayed their adventures globetrotting with their famous photographer father James Abbe and mother Polly, a former Ziegfeld dancer, into three books in the 1930s. Patience, the oldest, “did most of the actual writing” her mother stated, with her brothers throwing in lines here and there. Their entertaining books tickled Americans with a refreshing naturalness and humor, showing down to earth kids who knew how to have fun.  As an August 16, 1936 Oakland Tribune article stated, “They are not quiet, they are not sweet, they are not coached to put on a good show for the public, which makes them refreshing to meet.”

Patience was born in Paris in 1924, followed in the next three years by her brothers, a second family to their more mature father. Abbe, a renowned portrait photographer, traveled the world looking for subjects and cheaper places to live.  Their first book, “Around the World in Eleven Years,” chronicled their adventures living in France, Germany, England, Russia, and the United States. The book did amazingly well, selling 20,000 copies in advance of publication.

Mary Mallory is giving a virtual presentation on “Your Girl and Mine” on women’s suffrage on Aug. 19 at 7:30 p.m. PDT. Tickets are $7.50 for Hollywood Heritage members and $15 for nonmembers.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Fine Chinese Dining and Asian American Celebrities’ Restaurants

Willie Fung opened the New Moon cafe.

Americans fell in love with Chinese food over the decades, drawn to it originally by cheap prices and chop suey, before growing to love more exotic and elegant dishes. At the same time, operating restaurants was one of the first ways for Chinese Americans to gain both respect and high income after coming to this country. Several film stars would open Chinese restaurants to take advantage of their celebrity and gain income for their families at a time when many Chinese Americans felt discrimination in society.

Chinese immigrants came to America and especially California just like everyone else, looking for opportunity and a place to call home. The first mass rush of Chinese came to California as did the mad rush of Americans in 1848 when gold was discovered along the American River on the Sutter Ranch outside Coloma, California. Over time, many worked building the railroad, operating laundries, serving as domestics, and founding restaurants.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Main Title, text in a framework.
This week’s mystery movie was the 1946 MGM picture No Leave, No Love, with Van Johnson, Keenan Wynn, Pat Kirkwood, Guy Lombardo and his Orchestra, Edward Arnold, Marie Wilson, Leon Ames, Marina Koshetz, Selena Royle, Wilson Wood, Vince Barnett and Frank “Sugarchile” Robinson.

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Remembering Newsman Tony Valdez | 1945-2023

We’re remembering veteran Fox 11 newsman Tony Valdez, who died last week at 78. Tony loved Los Angeles and he loved Los Angeles history; for Tony, the city was a profession and an avocation. When he wasn’t reporting on Los Angeles, he was leading tours as a docent for the Los Angeles Conservancy.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Main Title in elaborate cursive writing
This week’s mystery movie was the 1939 Universal picture First Love, with Deanna Durbin, Robert Stack, Eugene Pallette, Helen Parrish, Lewis Howard, Leatrice Joy, June Storey, Frank Jenks, Charles Coleman, Mary Treen and Kathleen Howard. Continue reading

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Two Chinese Restaurants in Studio City

Rickshaw Boy Matchbook

A matchbook cover for Rickshaw Boy, Courtesy of Mary Mallory.

Note: This is an encore post from 2016.

Graphics, films, advertisements, music – all demonstrate values and cultures of the time and place in which they were created. Words, phrases, or images considered acceptable at that time can often be considered demeaning or racist to future generations. Seeing them reveals a society and how far or little it has come.

California is a remarkable laboratory for understanding the evolution of thought and behavior towards people of other races, particularly the Chinese. Many Chinese first came to California during the Gold Rush fever of the late 1840s. Later their dedicated work and sacrifice helped build the railroads and vast agricultural empires that crossed the state and helped it expand in population and importance. When times became bad, however, white authorities blamed “the other” for problems they themselves created, angry and resentful that people like the Chinese were succeeding through hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. Laws like the Anti-Exclusion Act were enacted to limit their rights to become citizens, own property, or even marry.

“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is available at Amazon and at local bookstores.

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Black Dahlia: Ask Me Anything – May 2023

Here’s my latest Ask Me Anything on the Black Dahlia case.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Main Title spelled out in hickory branches.
This week’s mystery movie was the 1939 Warner Bros. short Old Hickory, with Hugh Sothern, Nana Bryant, Victor Kilian, Frank Wilcox, Irving Pichel, Natalie Moorhead, George Renevant and John Hamilton.
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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hollywood’s First Studio Librarian, Elizabeth McGaffey

In a field that prides itself on accuracy in production, it took a woman to recognize the importance of organizing and conducting research to verify facts and figures. Forgotten today, Elizabeth McGaffey established the Lasky Feature Play Company’s library with only a handful of books in 1914, before gaining recognition as Hollywood’s top reference librarian in the 1920s.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, as Elizabeth Brock January 17, 1885, McGaffey apparently loved the arts, both written and performed, from a young age. One publicity story would claim that she attended St. Mary’s School in Knoxville, Tennessee and later worked writing features for the Chicago Inter-Ocean newspaper. I have found little on her life, but by 1903 she studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. She received a few good notices for performing in presentations by the school, including the one act play “The Interview” in 1903 and the large production “The Good Hope” in 1904. Over the next few years, Brock is listed as a member of the chorus in several large productions on Broadway, including The British themed “The Lady Shore” in 1905 where she plays Big Meg and a production of “The Time of Napoleon.”Her name disappeared from print at this point, with some later stories claiming she became a reader for theatrical production. Continue reading

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Black Dahlia: Ask Me Anything – May 2, 2023

Coming next week: Ask me anything about the Black Dahlia case, Tuesday, May 2, at 10 a.m.

Can’t make the live session? Email me your questions and I’ll answer them! The video will be posted once the session ends.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Main title over presidential seal
This week’s mystery movie was the 1944 Twentieth Century-Fox picture Wilson, with Charles Coburn, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Thomas Mitchell, Ruth Nelson, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Vincent Price, William Eythe, Mary Anderson, Ruth Ford, Sidney Blackmer, Madeleine Forbes, Stanley Ridges, Eddie Foy Jr., Charles Halton, Thurston Hall, J.M. Kerrigan, James Rennie, Katherine Locke, Stanley Logan, Marcel Dalio, Edwin Maxwell, Clifford Brooke, Tonio Selwart, John Ince, Charles Miller and Alexander Knox. Continue reading

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Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights – The Quest for a Movie Museum

Image: Postcard showing a model of a proposed Hollywood museum, listed on EBay $3.99.

Note: This is an encore post from 2011.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Oct. 6 that the Academy plans to open a Motion Picture Museum in the beautiful old art deco May Co. Building at the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard.  Film museums have been bandied about in Hollywood since the 1920s, with many strong possibilities but nothing coming to completion.

Alfred Allen promoted the idea of a film museum in Los Angeles in a Aug. 2, 1927, Los Angeles Times article.  It would have been a repository for props, costumes, technical equipment, stills, and included a film theater, an area for workshops and a banquet hall.  Another important part of the complex would have been “…research libraries for all the allied subjects, not only of books, but engravings, portraits, and stills.  As he put it, what other location besides “the permanent capital of the film industry” should host it?  Most particularly interesting is the idea of using retired or handicapped stars as its docents, guards, caretakers and hosts.  Of course this idea went nowhere.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: TCM Classic Film Festival Salutes Warner Bros. Centennial

Highlighting classic film while saluting legendary Warner Bros. Studio’s Centennial, the recently concluded 14th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival offered an entertaining, thoughtful slice of life through its diverse slate of vintage movies and programming. While slimmed down from past years, the Festival still provided a lavish moviegoing experience with excellent programming, major movie stars, and special events that no other festival can offer.

Though I attended fewer films this year, they mostly all fit the theme of escaping tragic or conflicted consequences for what appears to be a richer, more hopeful future. The stories featured themes of troubled protagonists looking and hoping for something better just around the corner.
For the record, 10:21 a.m., April 20: A previous version of this post referred to “creating the sound of a Hammond organ.” It is a “mighty Wurlitzer organ.”
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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Main Title: Flaming letters over artwork of a candleThis week’s mystery movie was the 1947 Republic picture The Flame, with John Carroll, Vera Ralston, Robert Paige, Broderick Crawford, Henry Travers, Blanche Yurka, Constance Dowling, Hattie McDaniel, Victor Sen Yung, Harry V. Cheshire, John Miljan, Garry Owen and Eddie Dunn. Continue reading

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Eve Golden: The Amazing Life of Allan Gould

Ruth Tester and Allan Gould in 'Makers of Melody'
Ruth Tester and Allan Gould perform Manhattan in the 1929 Paramount short Makers of Melody.

Longtime readers may recall that way back in 2013, Larry and I pondered the career of Allan Gould, whom I had seen in a 1929 Rodgers and Hart short, Makers of Melody: You can see him here singing Manhattan with Ruth Tester, and The Girl Friend with Inez Courtney (whom we all recall from her many 1930s films, usually playing the star’s wisecracking pal).

Larry and I both wondered why no one had ever heard of this wonderful performer, and whatever happened to him? Lo, all these years later, comes the answer, and it is a happy one! Allan Gould’s offspring (who wishes to remain anonymous) got in touch with Larry, and fills us in on our Mystery Man. Continue reading

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + +)

Man with wide lapels and bow tie.
For Monday, we have a mysterious fellow. Back of the Head Guy has been cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness and will appear later in the week.

Update: For Friday, here’s Back of the Head Guy.

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Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights, ‘Hollywood’

Aug. 26, 1923, Hollywood

Aug. 26, 1923: “Hollywood” plays at Grauman’s Rialto.

Note: This is an encore post from 2011.

More than a decade before the release of HOLLYWOOD BLVD., Paramount Pictures also released a film looking at the behind-the-scenes industry that was also populated with stars. The 1923 film HOLLYWOOD told a fictional story, but featured real locations like the Hollywood Bowl as well as a couple of studios. It also featured appearances by 87 stars.

Director James Cruze searched for an unknown, or as he told the Los Angeles Times in February 1923, “the luckiest girl in the world,” to play the young, naive girl from the Midwest freshly come to Hollywood.  “It is a story of her fight to get in pictures.  If I used a recognized star to play that part the public would not accept it as a point of realism as quickly as if I used a girl who was new to them.”

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