Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jan. 2, 2021, Florentine Dagger Mystery Photo Title
This week’s mystery movie was the 1935 Warner Bros. film “The Florentine Dagger,” with Donald Woods, Margaret Lindsay, C. Aubrey Smith, Henry O’Neill, Robert Barrat, Florence Fair, Frank Reicher, Charles Judels, Rafaela Ottiano, Paul Porcasi, Eily Malyon, Egon Brecher, Herman Bing and Henry Kolker.

Screenplay by Tom Reed, additional dialogue by Brown Holmes, dialogue director Arthur Greville Collins. Edited by Thomas Pratt, art direction by Anton Grot and Carl Jules Weyl, photographed by Arthur L. Todd, gowns by Orry-Kelly and musical direction by Leo F. Forbstein. Directed by Robert Florey.

“The Florentine Dagger” has never been commercially released on VHS, DVD or Blu-ray. There are a few clips online, but that’s all. It was last broadcast on TCM in 2015.

Continue reading

Posted in 1935, Books and Authors, Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights – Mack Sennett’s Rose Parade Gag

Sleuths at the Floral Parade
Photo: “The Sleuths at the Floral Parade.” Credit: Mary Mallory, the Collections of the Margaret Herrick Library.

Note: This is an encore post from 2011.

The Tournament of Roses Parade is going on its 122th year, and grows more elaborate and beautiful every year.  Bands, floats, cars, horses, and even celebrities take part in this festive annual event.  This year, Paramount Pictures is even entering a float celebrating its 100th anniversary, honoring “Titanic” and “Wings,” the first feature film awarded the Best Picture Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1927/1928.

Continue reading

Posted in 1913, Film, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory, Photography | Leave a comment

L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Drinking Guide: The Harvey Wallbanger

Harvey Wallbagner

A vintage 1972 iron-on transfer of Harvey Wallbanger himself, on EBay for $12.

Note: This is a repost from 2013.

We have been looking at some historic drinks for this holiday season. To the millennials in the audience: This is what mom and dad used to drink (along with the Tequila Sunrise) when they went out in the 1970s.

Return with us now to the thrilling days of yesteryear:

1 ounce of vodka
4 ounces of orange juice
half an ounce of Galliano.

Poured over ice in a highball glass.

Cue Grand Funk Railroad’s “Gimme Shelter” or Carole King’s “It’s Too Late.”

Posted in 1971, Food and Drink, Music | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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).

Continue reading

Posted in 1862, Books and Authors, Food and Drink | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Black Dahlia: Dec. 23, 1949 — Jury Finds Dr. George Hodel Not Guilty of Molesting Tamar Hodel

Dec. 23, 1949, Mirror-News, George Hodel found not guilty of molesting daughter Tamar Hodel

The Los Angeles Mirror-News, Dec. 23, 1949.

Today is the anniversary of a jury of eight women and four men finding Dr. George Hodel not guilty on two counts of molesting his daughter Tamar. I’ll have more to say about this in the days to come, but I wanted to mark the day.

Steve Hodel is fond of quoting an incomplete transcript of defense attorney Robert A. Neeb Jr. interrogating Tamar.

On the jump, the entire exchange, which tells a different story.

Continue reading

Posted in 1949, Black Dahlia, Cold Cases, Crime and Courts, LAPD | 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.

Continue reading

Posted in 1949, 1958, Books and Authors, Columnists | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)


This week’s mystery movie was the 1934 Warner Bros. film “I Am a Thief,” with Mary Astor, Ricardo Cortez, Dudley Digges, Robert Barrat, Irving Pichel, Hobart Cavanaugh, Ferdinand Gottschalk, Arthur Aylesworth, Florence Fair, Frank Reicher, John Wray and Oscar Apfel.

Screenplay by Ralph Block and Doris Malloy. Dialogue direction by Frank McDonald. Edited by Terry Morse, art direction by Jack Okey, photography by Sid Hickox, gowns by Orry-Kelly. Vitaphone Orchestra conducted by Leo F. Forbstein. Directed by Robert Florey.

“I Am a Thief” has never been commercially released. It aired seven times on TCM in the last 20 years, most recently in 2014 and 2019.

Continue reading

Posted in 1934, Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

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.

Continue reading

Posted in 1938, Architecture, Film, Fire Department, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory, Nuestro Pueblo | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide


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 with free shipping and if you’re a bit resourceful you can score an additional 10% discount.

Posted in Books and Authors, Raymond Chandler, Retro | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

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.

Continue reading

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

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. 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.

Posted in 1957, Art & Artists, Books and Authors | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hollywood and Poinsettias

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

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.

Continue reading

Posted in Film, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)


This week’s mystery movie was the 1939 RKO picture “The Marshal of Mesa City,” with George O’Brien, Virginia Vale, Leon Ames, Henry Brandon, Harry Cording, Lloyd Ingraham, Slim Whitaker, Joe McGuinn, Mary Gordon and Frank Ellis.

Screenplay by Jack Lait Jr.

Production executive Lee Marcus, photographed by Harry Wild, art direction by Van Nest Poglase, associate art director Charles F. Pyke, recorded by John C. Grubb, edited by Frederic Knudtson.

Directed by David Howard.

Produced by Bert Gilroy.

“The Marshal of Mesa City” is available from Warner Archive with “Legion of the Lawless” and “Triple Justice.”

Continue reading

Posted in 1939, Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Holiday Shopping Guide: ‘Making Black Los Angeles’

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.

Continue reading

Posted in 2016, African Americans, Books and Authors, History | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

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.

Posted in Art & Artists, Books and Authors | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.”

Posted in 1950, Books and Authors | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Books and Authors | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Oct. 14, 1947: Capt. Chuck Yeager Breaks the Sound Barrier

L.A. Times, 1947, Comics

June 11, 1948, Chuck YeagerNote: This is an encore from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.

Hm…. U.S. prison population up for the first time since World War II…. Lawsuits over deed restrictions in South Pasadena…. A 35-year-old merchant seaman in San Francisco is badly injured while walking down a street when he’s struck by a 67-year-old woman who committed suicide by jumping from a 10-story building….

But the story I’ve been anticipating—one of the biggest of 1947—can’t be found: Capt. Charles E. Yeager breaking the sound barrier Oct. 14, 1947. In fact Yeager’s name didn’t even appear in The Times in 1947, at least according to a Proquest search, which admittedly is less than perfect.

Continue reading

Posted in 1947, Aviation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Pearl Harbor Survivor Kills Himself


Jan. 10, 1942, Comics
Can’t draw? You too can be a famous cartoonist.

Note: This is an encore post from 2012.

Jan. 10, 1942:  Pearl Harbor survivor William Parks kills himself in San Francisco after going AWOL. “His note to his wife indicated that the bombardment he underwent had upset him,” The Times said.

He was 19.

Aimee Semple McPherson preaches on “The Price of Power” at 10:30 a.m. and “Samson and Delilah” at 7 p.m. on Jan. 11 at Angelus Temple.

Tom Treanor recounts a story about tourists visiting L.A. “Do you want to see the orange groves? The Mt. Wilson telescope, the public library, the museum?

“Why,” said one of the rubbernecks, “we thought we’d like to drive down and see where all those people were killed last night.”

Immigration problems?The Times’ classified ads have a solution.

Jimmie Fidler says: Since the blackout, a woman and daughter have been seeking autographs outside the Mocambo, armed with flashlights.

Continue reading

Posted in 1942, Art & Artists, Columnists, Comics, Film, Hollywood, Immigration, Religion, Tom Treanor | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Navy Releases Accounts of Pearl Harbor

Dec. 22, 1941, Axis Subs

Dec. 22, 1941, Comics

Note: This is an encore post from 2011.

Dec. 22, 1941: The Navy releases three personal accounts of the Pearl Harbor attack. Many acts of heroism are described, and these few lines shed more light on the presence of African Americans (recall that the armed services were segregated at the time):
“A Negro mess attendant who never before had fired a gun manned a machine gun on the bridge until his ammunition was exhausted.”

On the jump:

Looking for an experienced domestic? Check The Times’ classified.

Tom Treanor writes about a  Korean American girl who came to school wearing a button showing the flags of the U.S. and Korea so classmates will know she’s not Japanese.

Jimmie Fidler says it’s unfair for the Hollywood Women’s Press Club to name Marlene Dietrich as one of the year’s most uncooperative stars.

Mamie Gould, Pittsburgh Gene Autry fan, has obtained 165,000 signatures on a petition demanding a special Academy Award for Autry, Fidler says.

Continue reading

Posted in 1941, African Americans, Art & Artists, Columnists, Comics, Film, Hollywood, Jimmie Fidler, Tom Treanor, World War II | Tagged , , | Leave a comment