Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Pickford Headlines 1933 Rose Parade

Mary Pickford, Rose Parade
Photo: Mary Pickford in the 1933 Rose Parade. Courtesy of Mary Mallory

Note: This is a 2012 post with a slight update. The 131st Rose Parade is on Wednesday.

Tomorrow sees the 124th annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena,  welcoming the new year with magnificent garlands of fresh flowers. It also acts as the 80th anniversary of Mary Pickford serving as the first female grand marshal of the parade.

Begun by the Valley Hunt Club in 1890, the Rose Parade saluted the area’s wonderful weather and flowering paradise.Soon, the Tournament of Roses Assn. took over what they now call “America’s New Year Celebration, greeting the world on the first day of the year….”

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Drinking Guide: A Brief History of the Tom and Jerry


A recipe for the Tom and Jerry from the San Francisco Call, June 30, 1912.

Note: This is an encore post from 2013.

Over on Facebook, Christopher McPherson asked whether the Tom and Jerry was named for the MGM cartoon characters. I said I suspected the opposite was true, rather like Disney’s Chip ‘n’ Dale being named for Chippendale furniture.

All the old newspaper stories give credit for the drink to bartender Jerry Thomas, who according to one account was born in New Haven, Conn., in 1825 (or Watertown, N.Y., in 1830).

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Los Angeles Celebrates Christmas, 1913

Dec. 25, 1913, Christmas in Los Angeles

Dec. 25, 1913, Christmas

Note: This is an encore post from 2013.

Dec. 25, 1913:
The Times carries a biblical passage across the nameplate (notice the artwork of the new and old Times buildings) and a Page 1 cartoon by Edmund Waller “Ted” Gale. “Cartoonist Gale” frequently drew a character known as Miss Los Angeles, but I don’t recall seeing “Mr. Wad” before. Gale was an institution at The Times for many years, but finally quit in a dispute and went to the Los Angeles Examiner. Continue reading

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Dec. 24, 1907: Merry Christmas, Gen. Otis as Times Celebrates Record Year

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.

Dec. 24, 1907
Los Angeles

Last-minute shopping, crowded post offices, trees decorated in hotel lobbies and toys given by Santa to the neediest children of the city; it was a Christmas season very much like today. And at Levy’s, 310 Times employees gathered to celebrate the most prosperous year in the newspaper’s history.

Of course, as The Times noted, not everyone could attend because “the news must needs be collected and the wheels kept going.”

Between courses of the Christmas dinner, speakers made humorous comments, following the motto: “Spare not the gaff, but live to laugh.”

Harry Chandler received a set of doll triplets and Gen. Otis was presented with a tin sword. The employees also put together a comic eight-page paper, “The Timeslet,” full of jokes, satirical ads and cartoons. Among the most notable speakers was George W. Burton, “known around the office as ‘The Bishop,’ who gave “a jolly and entertaining talk, full of humorous thrusts at the managing editor and others.”

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Dec. 25, 1947: The Times Christmas Poem

L.A. Times, 1947

Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.

The Times’ front-page Christmas and Easter poems are as forgotten today as their author, James M. Warnack. I’ll leave it to my theological betters to parse the significance of a Christmas poem that’s mostly about the crucifixion, but Warnack was just as contradictory as his work.

He called himself the Foothill Philosopher and was nicknamed around the office as “the Bishop” because of his angular features and long, white hair. An actor in his early life, he appeared in D.W. Griffith’s silent movies, portrayed a priest in the “Mission Play” and Judas in the first “Pilgrimage Play.”

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Dec. 14, 1907: L.A. Schools Ban Mention of Christ at Christmas (Uh-Oh)

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.

Dec. 14, 1907
Los Angeles

The madman who calls himself the superintendent of the Los Angeles schools has touched off an absolute firestorm of anger by ordering teachers not to mention Christ during Christmas pageants or other festivities.

“The town was agog with it yesterday,” The Times said. “It was the talk among both ministers and laymen of the 200 and more churches in Los Angeles.”

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Dec. 23, 1947: Baby Girl Abandoned at Downtown Restaurant With Christmas Card Pinned to Blanket

L.A. Times, 1947

Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.

The young mother asked the waitress at the cafe in the Subway Terminal Building to hold her baby for just a moment—and then she was gone.

Four-month-old Nancy Joyce Morris, with light blue eyes and blond hair, was wrapped in a purple quilt and a pink blanket to which her young mother had pinned a Christmas card: To Mr. and Mrs. Robert Lane, 1711 N. Alexandria, with a return address of C.H. Wagoner, 4256 Troost Ave., in North Hollywood. It was signed Bonnie.

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Black Dahlia: Steve Hodel’s Many Lies About His Father, Dr. George Hodel

Your Theory Is Junk in cutout lettersSomeone asked me to write a one-paragraph rebuttal to Steve Hodel’s claims about his father, Dr. George Hodel. My reply:

Steve Hodel has been lying about his father and the Black Dahlia for nearly 20 years, so it’s impossible to put a rebuttal into one paragraph, but here goes.

Six Reasons George Hodel Didn’t Kill Elizabeth Short.
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Posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, books, Cold Cases, Homicide, LAPD | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide


Note: This is an encore post from 2020.

Many years ago, the editor of the Los Angeles Times book review section (yes, the really, really odd one) insisted that publishers send him advance review copies and unbound galleys rather than the final printed book. The ARCs and galleys often ended up in the trash, including the loose pages for the Library of America’s boxed set of Raymond Chandler—which, as far as I know, The Times didn’t bother to review. Several of us on the copy desk were in the habit of inspecting the book review trash and I felt that Raymond Chandler deserved better. And so for years, I have been getting by with a zillion loose pages of my rescue set of Chandler.

This year, as a present to myself, I ordered the Library of America’s boxed set. It lists at $100 and is available from Amazon for $80, but Library of America is selling it for $60 (2021 update: $75) with free shipping and if you’re a bit resourceful you can score an additional 10% discount.

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

Big Picture Cover

Note: This is an encore post from 2011.

I picked up “The Big Picture,” Melba Levick and Stanley Young’s 1988 book about Los Angeles murals, not realizing what a terribly sad book it would be. As Young notes: “Most artists are aware that, exposed as it is to the elements, both human and natural, there is a limited life-expectancy for any mural.”

I wanted it for one picture, specifically.

“The Big Picture” is listed on Amazon and Bookfinder.

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Posted in 1988, Architecture, Art & Artists, Books and Authors, Crime and Courts, Downtown, From the Stacks, Hollywood, Latinos, Photography, Preservation, San Fernando Valley, Sports, Zoot Suit | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Al Martinez, a Dying Boy and Some Peaches — A (Non) Christmas Story

Jim Romenesko

Note: This is an encore post from 2015.

Jim Romenesko, for those who aren’t in the news business, runs an essential blog that serves as a clearing house for information, gossip, bad headlines and assorted gaffes.

A Jan. 6 post dealt with former Times columnist Al Martinez, who died Monday, and the occasional columns Al wrote over the years about a dying boy who craved peaches.

John Russell of the Indianapolis Star wrote to Romenesko in hopes that some reader would verify Al’s story, saying: “After months of digging, I still can’t find any evidence of the original story, and too many questions to ignore.”

Russell elaborated on his skepticism in “Why I Have Trouble Believing the ‘Get the Kid His Peaches’ Christmas story,” noting that he had written to Al for help in finding the original.

We have some answers — and the story — with a not-so-gentle reminder for reporters: DON’T write from memory or bad things can happen. Use the clips. It’s what they are for.  Memory can compress time and erase crucial details, as we will see with Al’s story.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie was the 1944 Universal picture Christmas Holiday, with Deanna Durbin, Gene Kelly, Richard Whorf, Dean Harens, Gladys George, Gale Sondergaard and David Bruce. 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

Making Black Los Angeles

Note: This is an encore post from 2018.

I only recommend books that I have read, which is why I haven’t listed Susan Orlean’s “The Library Book” or Stephen Gee’s “Los Angeles City Hall: An American Icon.” I look forward to reading both of them, but I’m not there yet.

Marne L. Campbell also appears in a video on

“Making Black Los Angeles,” by Marne L. Campbell, 2016. University of North Carolina Press.

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

“Angel’s Flight” by Leo Politi.

Note: This is an encore post from 2014.

Another of my favorite books about Los Angeles is Leo Politi’s “Bunker Hill Los Angeles: Reminiscences of Bygone Days,” published in 1964. Copies are listed on Bookfinder in the $30-$40 range. (Update 2020: Starting at $44). This painting shows Angels Flight as it was in the 1930s and ‘40s, when it was next to the 3rd Street Tunnel. It was moved to its current location, across from Grand Central Market, as part of a 1980s redevelopment project after years of being in storage.

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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. (Update 2021: They are almost out of stock at Staples but still available from 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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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide

Los Angeles Book.

Note: This is an encore post from 2014.

“The Los Angeles Book,” with text by Lee Shippey and photos by Max Yavno is one of my favorite books on Los Angeles – but only for Yavno’s photographs. The text is forgettable and, in fact, Yavno said he paid no attention to it when he took his pictures. There are many famous images here, including Muscle Beach, the opening of “The Heiress” at the Carthay Circle Theatre (RIP), etc. Copies can be located on starting at $17 (2020 Update: $22).

Here’s my 2011 post on “The Los Angeles Book.”

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: A 1940s Christmas Story in ‘Star in the Night’

Star in the Night, re-creation of manger scene from 1940s film
An updated version of the Nativity in Warner Bros. Star in the Night.

Made as a twenty-minute film to complete a program slate for movie theaters, the 1945 Warner Bros. two-reel short Star in the Night provides an understated, moving example of an offbeat contemporary take on the traditional Christmas nativity story. Featuring a much larger budget and more experienced cast than normal for shorts, the powerful featurette proved popular with audiences making it a perennial hit.

While the norm at the dawn of cinema, one- and two-reel shorts came to be seen as just an entertaining morsel or appetizer for the more respected feature film by the 1920s. Providing a training ground for rising talent or work for fading stars, these short films covered the gamut – newsreels, documentaries, travelogues, musical numbers, slapstick comedy, and playlets – offered entertaining product at low prices for local theater owners.

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide


Note: This is an encore post from 2014.

In February, I ran a series of posts by James Curtis about producer David Lewis. This isn’t a new book but I found it remarkably insightful. “The Creative Producer” can be found via, with copies starting as low as $19.99 (Update 2020: Starting at $66? This has really gone up since 2014) in somewhat bedraggled condition.

James Curtis: L.A. Voices – David Lewis, Part 1
James Curtis: L.A. Voices – David Lewis, Part 2
James Curtis: L.A. Voices – David Lewis, Part 3

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Dec. 18, 2021, Main Title of Captive City, with letters and a desk pad in the background. In the center is a government report on organized crime.
This week’s mystery movie was the 1952 film The Captive City, with John Forsythe, Joan Camden, Harold J. Kennedy, Marjorie Crossland, Victor Sutherland, Ray Teal, Martin Milner, Geraldine Hall, Hal K. Dawson, Ian Wolfe, Gladys Hurlbut, Jess Kirkpatrick and Sen. Estes Kefauver.
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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 40 Comments