Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights — ‘The Film Parade’

Aug. 1, 1935, J. Stuart Blackton

Note: This is an encore post from 2012.

Beginning his career as a journalist in the late 1880s, J. Stuart Blackton is today recognized as one of the American film industry’s first pioneers.   He founded Vitagraph in 1896 along with Albert E. Smith and W. T. Rock, one of the first early production companies.

Using simple props, they concocted films with fake footage as Spanish American War propaganda films in 1898, such as “The Battle of Manila Bay,” shot for $3 using miniature ships and cigars.  They would go on to produce short films featuring comedy, animation, and drama through the mid-teens, when they began producing features as well.

In 1906, Blackton gave birth to film animation when he drew caricatures for the Vitagraph short “Humorous Phases of Funny Faces,” shooting one frame of film at a time.  Vitagraph would claim many firsts over the years, including creating the first newsreel, first full-length feature film, the first fan magazine, and the first complete color film.

By the early 1930s, Blackton would produce the first true film documentary on the history of the medium as well, “The Film Parade.”  Though Smith and Blackton sold the name Vitagraph in the mid-1920s, Blackton retained ownership of their films and other film footage.  He would employ this footage in the documentary, detailing the birth of moving pictures and their evolution, tinkering with it for years.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Main Title. Just lettering
This week’s mystery movie was the 1926 film Up in Mabel’s Room, with Marie Prevost, Harrison Ford, Phyllis Haver, Harry Myers, Sylvia Breamer, Paul Nicholson, Maude Truax, Carl Gerard, William Orlamond and Arthur Hoyt.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights – Marion Davies, an Actress With a Heart to Help Children

Marion Davies and a photo of the front of her clinic, in Spanish revival style
Hollywood Heritage will celebrate Marion Davies’ birthday with a celebration Sunday, Jan. 22., at 2 p.m.  featuring Lara Gabrielle, author of
Marion Davies: Captain of Her Soul, and a showing of Zander the Great. Tickets are $10 for members, $20 for non-members.

Long considered one of silent film’s top comediennes as well as actresses, Marion Davies also ranked as one of Hollywood’s most generous philanthropists. Though never a mother herself, she loved children, be they relatives or those of others, often mothering those in need. After discovering the lack of health resources for destitute families, Davies took it upon herself to establish a clinic to provide medical care for children in Los Angeles.

Born January 3, 1897, in Brooklyn, New York, young Marion Douras charmed everyone she met with her endearing mixture of mischief, humor, and gentleness. After her family experienced downward pressures with the death of her older brother, her father’s alcoholism, and growing financial pressures, the three sisters eventually became showgirls. Marion, the youngest, would find the greatest success, moving on to stardom in motion pictures and establishing a long-term romantic relationship with newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Smart in many ways, Marion invested well, and employed her savings in benevolent causes that warmed her heart, especially those dealing with children.

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Black Dahlia: How to Read a Story on the Murder of Elizabeth Short, and the Traps That Await Unwary Writers

Oxygen posted a story for the anniversary of Elizabeth Short’s murder, so I thought I would go through it and point out the sorts of errors that writers usually make.

Christina Coulter falls into many of the traps that await writers who assume that published articles, even from reputable sources, are accurate.  And if you want to honor the memory of Elizabeth Short on the anniversary of her murder – trim your roses.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie was the 1957 Twentieth Century-Fox picture The Deerslayer, with Lex Barker, Rita Moreno, Forrest Tucker, Cathy O’Donnell, Jay C. Flippen and Carlos Rivas. (The original credits have been replaced in the German release I used for the film).
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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Clock Tower Enters Its Second Century

Gray sky. Beige building with clock tower. All windows painted over.
A landmark both as one of the first buildings in the original Cahuenga Valley area known as Colegrove and for its dramatic appearance looming over the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Cahuenga Avenue, what is now the L.A. Security Storage Building still serves as one of Hollywood’s major storage facilities 100 years after construction. The building stands over what was once Buster Keaton’s studio and a prominent entertainment district, demonstrating the durability of Hollywood and its connection to film and other popular entertainment.

The site occupies what was originally part of Rancho La Brea, 4444 acres given by Mexican governor Jose Maria de Echeandia in 1828 to Antonio Jose Rocha and Nemesio Dominguez. Forced to defend and file claims to the land, Jose Jorge Rocha deeded the rancho land to Henry Hancock, the family’s surveyor and defender, in 1860. Hancock and family later subdivided and sold the property, with former Republican Sen. Cornelius Cole purchasing 500 acres in 1880 and establishing what would become known as Colegrove. Continue reading

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Main Title. Lettering over an image of the bus where much of the action takes place.
This week’s mystery movie was the 1934 MGM picture Fugitive Lovers, with Robert Montgomery, Madge Evans, Ted Healy, Nat Pendleton, C. Henry Gordon, Ruth Selwyn, Larry Fine, Moe Howard and Jerry Howard. Continue reading

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

The city at night. Main Title on a book cover with the image of Carol Ohmart.
This week’s mystery movie was the 1956 film The Scarlet Hour, with Carol Ohmart, Tom Tryon, Jody Lawrance, James Gregory, Elaine Stritch, E.G. Marshall, Edward Binns, David Lewis, Billy Gray, Jacques Aubuchon, Scott Marlowe, Johnstone White, James F. Stone, Maureen Hurley and James Todd.

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Black Dahlia–Why I Don’t Give Black Dahlia Interviews and a Progress Report on My Book

I decided to start the year with something different — a video update.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Chop Suey Comes to Hollywood

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 6, 1884.

Chinese food has long been popular in the United States, particularly chop suey, and for many it is a Christmas Day tradition. Although stories claimed that chop suey was a special dish created in China, it was devised by Chinese American restaurant owners to appeal to white patrons, using leftovers.

While American laws actively discriminated against Chinese and Asian immigrants, many Americans fell in love with Chinese food, and chop suey. As early as the 1880s, American newspapers documented the dish.  The July 6, 1884, Brooklyn Eagle published a long article on Chinese cuisine. “The renown of Chinese food and cooking is more than deserved. For generations the followers of Confucius and Buddha have studied the art which Brillat-Savarin and Blot rendered famous, and have evolved a system which…possesses an individuality and merit of a high order.” “…Chop soly (sic) is a ragout and may be justly called the national dish of China.” Continue reading

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Silent Film Actress Margaret Whistler Found True Vocation in Costuming

Margaret Whistler in a 1916 photograph. She wears a broad, elaborate hat.
Margaret Whistler in Motion Picture News.

Many women made contributions to silent film, often in more than one field. Then as now, some found a job gaining them entry to the profession before moving on toward what they loved or desired. Margaret Whistler began acting in silent movies in the early 1910s, eventually transitioning to her true loves: costuming and wardrobe.

Born July 31, 1888, as Louise Margaret Pepper in Louisville, Kentucky, Whistler grew up in Washington D.C., and attended the Notre Dame Academy there. Records don’t show if she married and gained the last name Whistler, but by the time she gained fame in the moving picture industry during the mid-teens, she called herself Margaret Whistler. The actress also claimed in her 1916 Motion Picture Year Book entry to have played on the stage, vaudeville, and in the circus across the United States and England, and with Bostock’s Trained Animals at Coney Island, though these credits have not been verified. Whistler supposedly entered the movie business in 1911 with the Pennsylvania-based Lubin Film Company before joining Universal in 1912. Her first credits with Universal appear in 1915, where she mostly played character parts, heavies, and second leads in films with stars like Cleo Madison, Lee Moran, and future great Lon Chaney. Continue reading

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Main title over image of pearls and an orchid
This week’s mystery movie was the 1932 picture No More Orchids, with Carole Lombard, Walter Connolly, Louise Closser Hale, Lyle Talbot, C. Aubrey Smith, Allen Vincent, Ruthelma Stevens, Arthur Houseman, William V. Mong and Jameson Thomas. Continue reading

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie was the 1934 RKO picture The Age of Innocence, with Irene Dunne, John Boles, Lionel Atwill, Helen Westley, Laura Hope Crews, Julie Haydon, Herbert Yost, Theresa Maxwell Conover, Edith Van Cleve and Leonard Carey. Continue reading

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: ‘White Christmas’ Soothes the Home Front in 1942

Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds and Virginia Dale in “Holiday Inn.”

Note: This is an encore post from 2015.

Recognized today as one of the top selling singles and pieces of sheet music of all time, Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” was just one of eleven songs in the 1942 holiday classic, “Holiday Inn.” First put to paper by Berlin in 1940, the tune evolved over time before becoming the beloved hit sung by the dulcet tones of baritone Bing Crosby.

Jody Rosen, in his book, “White Christmas: The Story of an American Song,” reveals that on Monday, January 8, 1940, Berlin composed forty-eight bars which his secretary Helmy Kresa transcribed to manuscript paper, after the composer flew into the office claiming he had written his greatest song. Nearly fully formed as the song we know today, the most famous sixty-seven notes never changed from the first time they hit the page. These emotion-filled lyrics touched hearts during America’s first year in World War II, nostalgic for better and happier times.“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is now available at Amazon and at local bookstores.

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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 Staples (2022 update) for about $17.19 or Office Depot. 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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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie was the 1947 Universal picture Ivy, with Joan Fontaine, Patric Knowles, Herbert Marshall, Richard Ney, Sir Cedric Hardwick, Lucile Watson, Sara Allgood, Henry Stephenson, Rosalind Ivan, Lilian Fontaine, Molly Lamont, Una O’Connor, Isobel Elsom and Alan Napier.
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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hollywood and Poinsettias

Poinsettia Postcard
A postcard c. 1908 of poinsettias, “California’s Christmas flower,” listed on EBay.

Note: This is an encore post from 2020.

Euphorba Pulcherrima, better known as the poinsettia plant, has been popular in Los Angeles since the late 1800s. Some call it flor de fuego (fire flower) or flor de la noche buena (flower of the holy night) because of its bright red leaves or bracts. First used as centerpieces or accents during the holiday season, since the leaves turn color quickly during the shorter winter days, the blazing plant gained popularity at the hands of Hollywood residents, now one of the most popular flowers highlighting homes across the United States at Christmas.

Indigenous in Mexico and Central America, these bright red and green plants grow as shrubs and small trees as tall as 13 feet. The Aztecs employed the striking flower for medicinal purposes, such as healing pulmonary infections.

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

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Found on EBay: 1930 Los Angeles Junior League Cookbook

Los Angeles Junior League Cookbook. Art Deco lettering, black on a yellow background

A vendor has listed a rare copy of the 1930 Los Angeles Junior League Cookbook. For $1,760. No really.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

2022_1203_main_titleThis week’s mystery movie was the 1938 Warner Bros. film Gold Is Where You Find It, with George Brent, Olivia de Havilland, Claude Rains, Margaret Lindsay, John Litel, Marcia Ralston, Barton MacLane, Tim Holt, Sidney Toler, Henry O’Neill, Willie Best, Robert McWade and George Hayes.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Christmas House Offers Simple Family Joys of Holiday Season

Christmas House
The Christmas House in Boyle Heights, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library.

Note: This is an encore post from 2019.

Long before the inauguration of Instagram and trying to win social media by posting the most elaborate or flashy photo, George G. Skinner designed a homespun holiday light installation in the late 1930s meant as a simple opportunity to enjoy happy times and pleasures with friends and family. A popular holiday destination in Los Angeles similar to Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena, the Christmas House at 919 S. Mathews St. perhaps inspired later fancy holiday light displays throughout Southern California.

Born in Canada in 1912, George Skinner found himself in Los Angeles when his father Albert abandoned the family and took his son with him to sunny Southern California in 1920. The teenager developed a strong bond with his father, enjoying camping and beach trips. Though he yearned for his family, he remained with his dad, who told George that the warm weather better suited his health.

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

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

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