Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jan. 21, 2017, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1965 film “Chimes at Midnight.” It is available from the Criterion collection on DVD and Blu-ray, and also released in bargain versions sold at Wal-Mart.

By all means read E. Yarber’s insightful daily comments on Orson Welles’ “Chimes,” which I have been reading all week and are now public. Yarber also offered extended commentary on Roger Corman’s “A Bucket of Blood” last August and I salute anyone who is equally at home discussing Welles and Corman.

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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.

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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Black Dahlia: Today is Jan. 15 — Trim Your Roses

Today is Jan. 15, and the Daily Mirror marks the anniversary of Elizabeth Short’s death by pruning back the roses.

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Black Dahlia: ‘Severed’ Author John Gilmore Dead at 81 (Updated)

Jan. 12, 2017, Black Dahlia
John Gilmore is dead? Really?

Hidden in yet another rehash of the Black Dahlia case for the 70th anniversary of Elizabeth Short’s killing is word from Tony Mostrom in L.A. Weekly that “Severed” author John Gilmore died in October.

This tantalizing tidbit comes from the blog “Immortal Marilyn” and has been picked up by the notoriously inaccurate Wikipedia, so I am treading carefully until I can get reliable confirmation. John Gilmore’s website has no information on his purported death., which used to be closely affiliated with Gilmore and unleashed his collection of gruesome body pictures on the internet, is happily deceased and the domain is for sale for $2,000 if anybody wants it that badly.

All I will say for now is that “Severed,” Gilmore’s opus on the Black Dahlia case, is 25% mistakes and 50% fiction. And if Gilmore is really dead, boy do I have some stories for you.

Maybe we will finally find out whether he had a copy of Elizabeth Short’s autopsy, which he always claimed, but would never show anyone. In typical Gilmore fashion.

Updated at 4:45 p.m., Jan. 12, 2017.

Multiple sources have confirmed the death of John Gilmore on Oct. 13, 2016, from leukemia. He was 81.

Posted in 1947, 2016, Black Dahlia, Books and Authors, Cold Cases, LAPD, Obituaries | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Black Dahlia: The Brits Get It Wrong (Again)


Jan. 11, 2017, Black Dahlia
Remember what I said Monday about the Brits having a huge appetite for gruesome crimes but a distaste for the facts?  Here we have an even better example, from the Sun.

I won’t critique the entire article (why bother) but this was particularly amusing.
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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: ‘Green Acres’ was genius. I will not entertain counter-arguments

Arnold the Pig

Arnold the Pig in a musical moment.

Too many people think of Green Acres as just another hick sitcom, like Petticoat Junction and The Beverly Hillbillies (though to be fair, The Beverly Hillbillies could sometimes be genuinely funny). But Green Acres was a brilliant post-modern parody of those shows, and I have been delighting in reruns on Old People TV (did you know Tom Selleck is doing reverse mortgage commercials!?).


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Black Dahlia: The BBC Gets It Wrong

We are approaching the 70th anniversary of the killing of Elizabeth Short and it’s no trick for lazy writers to run off five yards of poorly researched copy on the Black Dahlia. The latest example is by James Bartlett for the BBC News. (I have noticed over the years that the Brits have a keen appetite for gruesome crimes but a distaste for facts.)

Bartlett, author of “Gourmet Ghosts,” rounds up some nonsense from Wikipedia (whenever you see a reference to “Glasgow smile,” you know an author has dipped into the fetid stew cooked up by citizen-scholars or someone who has swiped from Wikipedia and not checked anything). He works in a cameo by James Ellroy and a mention of former LAPD Detective Steve Hodel and his nutty theories about his father.

Glynn Martin of the LAPD Historical Society offers the usual take on the star-struck girl from back east being horribly killed and Christina Rice, senior librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library photo collection (and the definitive source on Ann Dvorak), attests to the crackpots who are drawn to the case. Kim Cooper and Richard Schave of Esotouric  also make an appearance.

Bonus: Recipe for the Biltmore Hotel’s Black Dahlia cocktail.

And boom, we’re done.

ps. James, you could have emailed me. I would have set you straight about a few things.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jan. 14, 2017, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie was the 1934 Vitaphone short “Movie Memories,” one of many films to use that title. The film is a compilation of silent clips accompanied by a rather maudlin narration about deceased movie stars. It is not available on DVD.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: 6600 Hollywood Blvd. Then and Now



Armstrong’s Cafe at 6600 Hollywood Blvd., courtesy of the California State Library.

he evolution of one address can reveal the revitalization and resurgence of a growing neighborhood or the mass commercialization and bland homogeneity of a district. 6600 Hollywood Blvd. provides ample evidence of the early development of Hollywood from a close-knit, intimate community into a money-driven commercial district.

During Hollywood’s formative years, Hollywood Boulevard was christened Prospect Avenue, a forward-thinking name for a farming community looking for prosperity and success. Only in 1910 did the community rechristen the street Hollywood Boulevard in recognition of their upcoming annexation by the city of Los Angeles. It was no longer just a regular thoroughfare but a boulevard of dreams.

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

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Black Dahlia: Why Dr. George Hodel Didn’t Kill Jeanne French

Jan. 4, 2017, Jeanne French

LA. Weekly has taken a deep dive into the Jeanne French case. I won’t get into all of it here, except to show why Dr. George Hodel didn’t kill Jeanne French.

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Eve Golden’s Radio Theater: Rich Conaty’s ‘Big Broadcast’

Photos of Rich Conaty courtesy of WFUV.



I am hijacking the usual YouTube Theater for a tribute to Rich Conaty, who hosted The Big Broadcast radio show—playing hits of the 1920s and ’30s—since 1973. He died of cancer on Dec. 30, aged 62; one last kick in the ass from a year that has been farkakte drek from beginning to end, as my grandmother would have said.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights — The Gibbons-Del Rio House: Like Stepping Into a Dream


The Cedric Gibbons home, via Google Street View.

Note: This is an encore post from 2014.

elebrity has often been the cachet for creating style, fashion and cultural trends, especially with the advent of films. Stars wearing a particular designer’s couture, driving a certain car, or a female star wearing pants, started tongues wagging and led average citizens to try to copy their style. Movies themselves fashioned popular trends in music, style and even architecture.

The gorgeous jewel box of a home belonging to 11-time Academy Award-winner MGM art director Cedric Gibbons and his wife, actress Dolores Del Rio, epitomizes Hollywood glamour, and still stands as one of the outstanding examples of home as art in Hollywood. All sleek lines and geometric patterns, it stands as a Streamline-Moderne masterpiece, the perfect representation of one of Gibbons’ MGM luxurious set designs come to life.

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

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Posted in 1931, Architecture, Film, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jan. 7, 2017, Mystery Photo

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1945 (copyright 1944) Paramount Pictures film “Murder, He Says,” with Fred MacMurray, Helen Walker, Marjorie Main, Jean Heather, Porter Hall, Peter Whitney, Mabel Paige and Barbara Pepper, making it a mini “Double Indemnity” reunion. The screenplay was by Lou Breslow from a story by Jack Moffitt, with photography by Theodor Sparkuhl, art direction by Hans Dreier and William Flannery, with special effects by Gordon Jennings and Paul Lerpae. It was directed by George Marshall.

It’s available on DVD from TCM for $10.75.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 47 Comments

Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Poor Judy Tyler. Poor ambitious, talented, dead Judy Tyler


July 5, 1957, Judy Tyler Killed
Los Angeles Times, July 5, 1957, Judy Tyler and her husband are killed in a car accident.

There have been a lot of careers cut short just as they were starting: from Clarine Seymour to James Dean to the recent demise of Anton Yelchin. But I can’t think of a more frustrating example than Judy Tyler, who died in a car accident in 1957, aged only 24. Oh, and her husband, puppy and kitten were killed, too! And someone stole the cash, furs and jewels from her wrecked car—depressed yet?

Judy not only had beauty and talent, but she had an almost frightening drive and ambition, so if there is an afterlife, she is really pissed-off. She started her career as a Copa Girl (“to call it dancing was entirely ridiculous. It was hardly walking,” she recalled). She branched out to nightclub singing and developed one of the best, clearest belt voices—kind of like Ethel Merman filtered down through velvet.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Nirvana Apartments

May 19, 1940, Nirvana Apartments

Note: This is an encore post from 2012.

A few months ago, a friend and I were walking up Orange Drive from the El Capitan Theatre to the Hollywood Heritage Museum and noticed a striking Japanese looking apartment building at 1775 N. Orange Drive. It featured a pagoda-style roof and carved dragons under the eaves. After reading the historical-cultural monument plaque on the front, I decided to investigate more about the history of the building.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Dec. 31, 2016, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1938 Twentieth Century-Fox film “Mr. Moto Takes a Chance.”

The film is available on DVD from Amazon.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 46 Comments

Christmas 1966: No Bad News at the Tucson Citizen

Dec. 24, 1966, Tucson Citizen

I finally tracked down the front page from the Tucson Citizen for Dec. 24, 1966, in which it followed the tradition of no bad news on Page 1.

And a sample of the Citizen’s weather poem.

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Black Dahlia: ‘Heaven Is Here!’ Progress Report

Dec. 18, 2015, Mystery Photo

A little over a year ago, on Dec. 18, 2015, I walked out the doors of the Los Angeles Times after 27 years, having asked a security guard to take this picture of my farewell. And yes, I’m wearing my 25-year watch and my Thank God It’s Friday Hawaiian shirt. As one of 92 people leaving the newspaper in the Class of 2015, I was through with copy editing, through with daily journalism and most certainly through with The Times. I have only been back to the newsroom once and I found the mood among my former co-workers so bleak that I have no plans to return.

I had already canceled my subscription to The Times that morning. The day after leaving the paper, I deleted all my bookmarks to and and embarked on a new life, refashioning myself as a writer and literary person.

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Posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Books and Authors, Cold Cases, LAPD | Tagged , , , , | 31 Comments

Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Who Knew Dick Shawn Could Sing?



A still of Dick Shawn and Renee Taylor in “The Producers,” listed as Buy It Now on EBay for $10.

Note: Eve has discontinued her YouTube Theater, but has consented to have me post the entries she has already written.

I mean, of course we knew Dick Shawn could sing, from The Producers. But I mean really sing, like Dean Martin or Bing Crosby. Old People TV has been showing reruns of The Judy Garland Show (which I am old enough to have seen first-run). He guested on a December 1963 episode which also featured Tony Bennett. Tony—I was surprised to see—was in weak voice that night and strained to hit a few notes. But then I was charmed by this absolutely adorable duet between Dick and Judy:


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Posted in Eve Golden, Film, Hollywood | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Paramount Pictures’ School of Acting Trains Junior Stars


An ad for “Fascinating Youth.”

ow do you make a movie star? Can you mold virgin and unproven talent into respected and popular screen performers, or is stardom just a result of some undefinable yet unique charm, personality, or appeal that just pops off the screen? Jesse Lasky and Famous Players-Lasky founded the Paramount School of Acting in 1925 to train talented and photogenic youngsters into new film personalities capable of drawing huge crowds to movie theatres.

In the 1920s, Studios focused on finding attractive, talented new talent to help fill out casts, increase box office coffers, replace fading stars, and decrease payroll allocation. Young, inexperienced hires received lower salaries and less benefits, always a plus for industries looking to make more profits for their owners and stockholders.

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

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