Another Good Story Ruined: Karina Longworth’s ‘Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood’

Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes's Hollywood

Here’s a “fun” challenge. How many mistakes can you spot on the first page of “Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood?”


A friend who has written many distinguished books on Hollywood emailed me over the weekend about Sheila O’Malley’s review in the Los Angeles Times of Karina Longworth’s “Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood.”

Continue reading

Posted in Another Good Story Ruined, Books and Authors, Film, Hollywood | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Abel Gance’s ‘J’Accuse’ a Passionate Indictment of War

An ad for “I Accuse” in Exhibitors Herald, Nov. 5, 1921.

The war to end all wars ended November 11, 1918, at 11 am. After four years of butchery, gas attacks, hand-to-hand combat and trench warfare, soldiers walked away from their hellholes stunned by the conflagrations they had seen. Ambitious leaders seeking increased power amid growing nationalism, military rivalry and pure hatred inflicted gross bloodshed on their weary citizens. Many people around the world found the conflict a barbarous mess, a vast killing fields rendering munitions makers multimillionaires and ordinary men just cannon fodder. Many cried out for disarmament and the end to war.

One such patriot was renowned French director Abel Gance. Rejected from serving at the front due to lingering effects from tuberculosis, the young man served as stretcher bearer, carrying gravely injured men from the front. He abhorred the destructive war, writing in 1916: “How I wish all that those killed in the war would rise up one night and return to their countries, their homes, to see if their sacrifice was worth anything at all. The war would stop of its own accord, horrified by its own awfulness.” Turning his outrage and anguish into poetry and passion, Gance created the moving film “J’Accuse” in 1919, a powerful cry for universal disarmament and an indictment against victory at any cost.

Mary Mallory’s latest book, Living With Grace: Life Lessons from America’s Princess,”  is now on sale.


Continue reading

Posted in Film, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory, World War I | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Big Broadcast of 1937
This week’s mystery movie was the 1936 Paramount picture “The Big Broadcast of 1937,” with Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Bob Burns, Martha Raye, Shirley Ross, Ray Milland, Frank Forest, Benny Fields, Sam Hearn, Benny Goodman and his band, and Leopold Stokowski and his symphony orchestra. Screenplay by Walter DeLeon and Francis Martin, based on a story by Erwin Gelsey, Arthur Kober and Barry Trivers, photographed by Theodor Sparkuhl, special effects by Gordon Jennings and Paul Lerpae, art direction by Hans Dreier and Robert Usher, music and lyrics by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin, musical direction by Boris Morros, dance ensembles staged by LeRoy Prinz, interior decorations by A.E. Freudeman.  Produced by Lewis E. Gensler and directed by Mitchell Leisen.

“The Big Broadcast of 1937” has never been commercially released, but you can find it on the gray market.

Thanks to the member of the Brain Trust who requested “The Big Broadcast of 1937.”

If you have a mystery movie request, send it in!
Continue reading

Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 38 Comments

Nov. 12, 1947: Pasadena Girl Recovers From Mystery Illness

L.A. Times, 1947

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

Andrea Brodine, 6, for whose life many have prayed since she was stricken by a deadly paralysis two weeks ago, walked again at the Huntington Memorial Hospital yesterday—supported by a mechanical carrier device but strongly on the road to full recovery.

The little girl’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Brodine, 839 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena, were in despair when she was first taken to the hospital. Their daughter, suffering a type of spinal paralysis, seemed doomed to die.

Continue reading

Posted in 1947, Medicine, Pasadena, Religion | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Bad Way With Horses

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.

Nov. 12, 1907
Los Angeles

Half a block from his home at 1131 Westlake, John P. Shumway Jr. was badly injured when the carriage he was driving collided with the 11th Street trolley. Shumway was thrown about 20 feet, striking the pavement head-first, and the horse ran for the stable, pulling what was left of the smashed carriage, witnesses said.

Shumway was carried to his home, where his father, Dr. John P. Shumway, treated him for a concussion, bruises and cuts. A year later, the family filed a personal injury suit against the Los Angeles Railway, seeking $10,355 ($204,938.83), although The Times failed to report the outcome of the trial.

Continue reading

Posted in 1907, 1909, Animals, Crime and Courts, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nov. 11, 1907: Cad Told the Truth Only Once — He Wasn’t Worthy of Her

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.

Nov. 11, 1907
Los Angeles

On a trip to Topeka, Kans., to visit relatives, Lena River Packard of Los Angeles met Edgar (or Edwin) Campbell Arnold, a wealthy wholesale druggist who quickly became her constant companion and ardent suitor. Love soon blossomed and in a few months, Edgar arrived in Los Angeles to claim his bride.

A lavish wedding was arranged, bridal showers were given for Lena and the minister was brought to town from Ventura, where the Packards once lived. Edgar gave her a diamond-studded bracelet as a token of their upcoming marriage.

Continue reading

Posted in 1907, 1908 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Nov. 10, 1947: Remains of Kidnapped Girl Found in Orange County Ravine

L.A. Times, 1947

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

Bits of clothing found with a child’s skeleton in a small ravine in Orange County yesterday were identified as belonging to 6-year-old Rochelle Gluskoter, who was kidnapped Feb. 15, 1946.

The identification was made by the child’s parents, Abe and Miriam Gluskoter.

Thus came the first tangible clue in the abduction case which has baffled investigators for nearly two years.

The Gluskoters, who now live at 913 E. 87th St., appeared at the sheriff’s Bureau of Investigation accompanied by Inspector J. Gordon Bowers, who directed investigation in the days following the little girl’s disappearance.

Continue reading

Posted in 1947, Cold Cases, Crime and Courts, Homicide | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Nov. 10, 1907: Story of L.A. Real Estate Is Dislocation, Dislocation, Dislocation

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.

Nov. 10, 1907
South Pasadena

What sort of monument do we leave for real estate developers? For John B. Althouse, who built hundreds of homes in the Wilshire district, as well as the West Adams district and the San Gabriel Valley, the answer might be nondescript offices and vacant lots.

Here’s the house he built for himself at Oxley and Fremont in South Pasadena, a few blocks from my home. In fact, I pass the corner every day.

Continue reading

Posted in 1907, 1914, Architecture, Real Estate | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

November 1947: A Mysterious Shooting at the Biltmore

L.A. Times, 1947




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

Every now and then, research presents you with a story that doesn’t make any sense. Further readings, rather than clarifying anything, only make the circumstances more confusing—and such is the case of Gerald L. Richards, 19, of Danville, Ill.

Richards was arrested after trying to shoot the Biltmore’s assistant manager, Andy Martin, during an argument in the lobby over Richards’ bill. Richards fired a German .25-caliber semiautomatic once, hitting Martin in the cheek, but found that he was out of bullets when he made a second attempt to kill Martin by shooting him in the stomach.

His 24-year-old companion, George L. Kirtland of 949 Magnolia in Gardena, told police that he had lived with Richards in New Orleans and that he was in Richards’ hotel room to recover some personal belongings. He said he sensed trouble a few minutes earlier up in Richards’ room as Richards and Martin were arguing in the hallway and removed the pistol’s magazine—although he neglected to get the bullet out of the chamber.
Continue reading

Posted in 1947, Comics, Crime and Courts, LAPD | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Nov. 9, 1907: ‘We Are Revolutionists!’ Supporters Call for Release of Ricardo Flores Magon

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.

Nov. 9, 1907
Los Angeles

Local sympathizers, anarchists and socialists are organizing a mass meeting to protest the imprisonment of Ricardo Flores Magon, Librado Rivera, Antonio Villareal and L. Gutierrez De Lara, who are being held on charges of trying to overthrow the Mexican government.

After years of avoiding capture, Magon, Rivera and Villareal were arrested Aug. 23 at 111 E. Pico St. after a brawl with Thomas Furlong of the Furlong Secret Service Bureau of St. Louis, along with Los Angeles Police Detectives Felipe Talamantes, [Thomas F.?] Rico and two deputies. De Lara was arrested by U.S. marshals at 420 W. 4th St. on Sept. 27.


Continue reading

Posted in 1907, Books and Authors, Crime and Courts | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nov. 8, 1947: Tokyo Rose Seeks to Return to U.S.

L.A. Times, 1947

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

Her name was Iva and she was born in Watts on the Fourth of July, attended high school in Compton and graduated from UCLA with a degree in zoology. For a while, she lived at 11668 Wilmington Ave.

Then came the trip to Japan on behalf of her mother who, was too ill to visit relatives.

“My mother had high blood pressure and diabetes. She wanted very much to see her sister in Japan,” Iva said. Because her mother was unable to make the trip, “she asked me to go.” Iva left from San Pedro on July 5, 1941.

She said that she was supposed to return to the U.S. on Dec. 1, 1941, but there was a problem with her passport and was stranded when the war broke out. Then came the broadcasts that earned Iva Toguri of Los Angeles the nickname “Tokyo Rose,” although she called herself “Orphan Ann” or “Orphan Annie.”

In November 1947, she applied to return to Los Angeles. Nobody seemed to care about her, one official said. But the next year she was brought to the U.S. and accused of treason before a jury from which blacks were systematically eliminated by prosecutors. She was released after serving six years of a 10-year term.

In the ensuing years, a movement grew for a presidential pardon—supported by Times editorials—which was granted by Gerald Ford in January 1977 on his last day in office. The Los Angeles City Council, however, refused to rescind its 1947 condemnation of Toguri.

In 1976, The Times published a belated fan letter from a former Marine corporal urging Ford to pardon Toguri:

“I first heard her on Guadalcanal in 1942. Some of us had salvaged an excellent shortwave receiver from one of our own dive bombers which crashed trying to take off with a cold engine….

“The records she played were old, nothing later than the mid-1930s, as I recall, and her chatter was corny, harking back to the days of coonskin coats and ukuleles. We were hooked. We listened to her every chance we got as we island-hopped through the South Pacific.

“A typical Orphan Annie program might open with Guy Lombardo’s band and the trembling trio singing “Boo-hooooo. You’ve got me crying for youuuuuuuu.” Then Annie would come on with: ‘Hiya keeds, I mean all you poor abandoned soldiers, sailors and marines vacationing on those lovely tropical islands. Gets a little hot now and then doesn’t it?

‘Well just remember, fellas, while you’re sweating it out on the islands, your little sweet patootie back home is having a hotcha time with some friendly defense worker. They’re probably dancing right now to this number… it used to be your song…. Remember?’

“The fame of Tokyo Rose spread quickly throughout the 1st Marine Division—which is to say the world if you were in the 1st Division on one of those islands. We would tune in the show on our radio Jeep at platoon headquarters and pipe it through the phone system to our gun emplacements up and down the beach. Sometimes battalion headquarters would run it through the switchboard so marines on the perimeter lines could listen Nobody worried about morale. We liked her.
“As far as I’m concerned, and I suspect I speak for most of us who listened to her shows, it was difficult then and is impossible now to consider [the broadcasts] treasonous. Given the opportunity, we might have voted her a medal for her contributions to our morale.”
Ex-Cpl. Charles S. Hurley
333893 (USMCR)

Bonus factoid: As of this writing Iva Toguri is alive and has a website:

Posted in 1947, Crime and Courts, Immigration, Radio, World War II | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nov. 7, 1947: Santa Makes Second Appearance in Downtown L.A.

L.A. Times, 1947
imageNote: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project..

You might want to clip and save this for the next time someone complains that the Christmas season comes earlier every year.

Santa was a well-traveled gent in 1947, appearing in downtown Los Angeles the day after Halloween. He arrived in a Bell helicopter at the Owl drugstore at Beverly and La Cienega; on Union Pacific’s City of Los Angeles at Union Station; on an American Airlines DC-3; and on the Navy submarine Sawfish (SS-276).

And the day before Thanksgiving, he appeared in the parade opening Hollywood’s Santa Claus Lane. Stay tuned…..

Quote of the day: MARIHUANA Weed With Roots in Hell Plus “Nite Club Girls.” Continuous from 2 p.m. Adults ONLY!
Mission Theatre, South Broadway at 8th.


Correction: The Mission Theater was on South Broadway at 42nd.

Posted in 1947, Comics, Downtown | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Black L.A. 1947: Sentinel Offers $100 for Proof That LAPD has Black Motorcycle Officer

L.A. Sentinel, 1947

Nov. 6, 1947: LAPD motorcycle officers received a pay differential, so these were desirable jobs. The photograph is fairly dim, but this looks like a three-wheeled Harley-Davidson Servi-Car.

Posted in 1947, African Americans, LAPD | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Nov. 6, 1947: LAPD Officer Kills Black Suspect in Market Burglary

L.A. Times, 1947

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

The Times did absolutely no follow-up to this incident as to whether Everline was tried in the burglary, nor was there any apparent investigation of the officer-involved shooting. Of course, in the 1940s, police shootings were rarely if ever investigated.

Public records shed little light on Wallas, except that he was born in Texas and apparently had no Social Security number. Everline (SS# 467-22-4104), who died in Virginia in 1981, was also born in Texas, but there’s no further information.

Continue reading

Posted in 1947, African Americans, Comics, LAPD | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Nov. 6, 1907: An EBay Mystery

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.

Nov. 6, 1907
Los Angeles

Here’s a real mystery, although a minor one, and like all real mysteries, it is incomplete and may have no solution.

Exhibit 1: This postcard up for auction on Ebay.

Continue reading

Posted in 1907, Found on EBay | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1964 Twentieth Century-Fox picture “Back Door to Hell” with Jimmie Rodgers, Jack Nicholson, John Hackett, Annabelle Huggins, Conrad Maga, Johnny Monteiro, Joe Sison, Henry Duval, Ben Perez and Vic Uematsu. Photography by Mars Rasca, makeup by Nita Sol Cruz, camera operation by Ricardo Remias. Music by Mike Velarde. A Lippert Inc. Production, filmed in association with Medallion Films Inc. Screenplay by Richard A. Guttman and John Hackett from a story by Richard A. Guttman. Produced by Fred Roos. Directed by Monte Hellman.

“Back Door to Hell” is available on DVD from Amazon.

Continue reading

Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 28 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: John Decker – Painter to the Stars

Conklin-J Decker
Chester Conklin by John Decker, courtesy of Mary Mallory.

Note: This is an encore post from 2013.

“To sing, to laugh, to dream, to walk in my own way and be alone…”

A recording of John Decker’s voice recited this phrase and the other words of Edmund Rostand’s “No Thank You” speech from “Cyrano de Bergerac” at his own Memorial Service on June 10, 1947. The phrase succinctly described how the 52-year-old Decker conducted his life, madly dining at the banquet of life like a male Auntie Mame. His wild life and exact talent as a caricaturist overshadowed his fine skill as an artist.

W.C. Fields as Queen Victoria

One of Hollywood’s Three Musketeers, along with actor John Barrymore and writer Gene Fowler, Decker had a colorful life that outshone even the most outlandish film. His surrealist eye captured Hollywood irony. As his stepdaughter Mary Lou Warren noted decades later, “He worked very hard at being a painter, but he worked very hard at being a character too.”

Born Leopold Wolfgang von der Decken in 1895 Berlin, the son of a Prussian count and British opera singer, Decker grew up in Brixton, England, after his parents fled censure of their scandalous relationship. His parents divorced and abandoned him as well as each other, leaving the artistic 13-year-old to fend for himself.

A 1923 article in Daily Variety noted that he studied acting for a short time, performing impersonations of author Charles Dickens in London, which earned poor response. Decker turned to scenery painting for theatrical productions while studying painting and also apprenticing with an art forger.

Magic Castle
Mack Sennett

Brand Library
Auction of Souls

Continue reading

Posted in 1947, Art & Artists, Film, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Nov. 5, 1947: ‘Amazing Career of a Girl Drug Addict’

L.A. Times, 1947
L.A. Times, 1947

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

Nov. 5, 1947: She called it “The Amazing Career of a Girl Drug Addict” and she wasn’t exaggerating—and yet she was.

Arrested in October for driving erratically on Wilshire Boulevard, a woman calling herself Margaret Burton told police she was a former actress and had become addicted to sedatives during the London Blitz, when a physician gave her tranquilizers to calm her nerves.

Continue reading

Posted in 1947, Crime and Courts, Film, Hollywood, World War II | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nov. 5, 1907: Bride Travels From Scotland to Marry Fiance Seeking Better Life in L.A.

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.

Nov. 5, 1907
Los Angeles

John Richie led the bass section of the choir at St. Machar’s Cathedral in Aberdeen, Scotland, while Testristina Adams was a contralto. They sang in the choir for about 10 years, and fell in love.

Two years ago, in hopes of more opportunity, John left Scotland and came to Los Angeles, but not before asking Testristina, a pretty brunette, according to The Times, to marry him. “If I had not said that I would follow him he would never have come,” she said.


Continue reading

Posted in 1907, 1908, Immigration, Music | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Nov. 4, 1947: East L.A. Junior College Observes ‘Women’s Week’; Jokes Ensue

L.A. Times, 1947

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

Nov. 4, 1947: Although it isn’t mentioned, this sounds like a riff on “Sadie Hawkins Day,” founded by “Li’l Abner” cartoonist Al Capp, who has been featuring the holiday for the last month.

Continue reading

Posted in 1947, Comics, Education | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment