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 latimes.com and laobserved.com 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 , , , , | 30 Comments

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

 

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

 

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An ad for “Fascinating Youth.”



H
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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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Dec. 24, 2016, Mystery Photo

This week’s mystery movie was the 1956 film “The Wild Party,” with Anthony Quinn, Carol Ohmart, Arthur Franz, Jay Robinson, Kathryn Grant,  Nehemiah Persoff, Paul Stewart, Nestor Paiva, Maureen Stephenson, Michael Ross, James Bronte, William Phipps, Joe Green, Barbara Nichols and the Buddy DeFranco Quartet.

It was written by John McPartland, with music by Buddy Bregman, photography by Sam Leavitt, produced by Sidney Harmon and directed by Harry Horner.

Writing in the New York Times (Dec. 22, 1956), Bosley Crowther said:

“THE WILD PARTY,” a lurid little melodrama at the World, offers the same kind of diversion as the sight of four pythons teasing a pair of lambs. That is the sum and substance of this United Artists release (presented by Security Pictures) which manages to be weird, worthless and slightly terrifying at the same time.

It has apparently never been commercially released on DVD or VHS.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 39 Comments

Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Does 1971 Count As An ‘Old Movie?’

The Boy Friend
A scene from The Boy Friend.


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

I hope so, because this is one of my half-dozen very favorite movie musical numbers. Ken Russell was one of those love-him-or-hate-him directors, and I must admit I do hate several of his films. But how I love The Boy Friend, which could have gone so horribly wrong! And, okay, some people think it did.

But who knew Twiggy could act and sing and dance? And what a supporting cast: gorgeous Christopher Gable, jaw-dropping Tommy Tune, oddly sexy Vladek Sheybal as Hollywood director De Thrill, British national treasure Barbara Windsor, cat-faced Antonia Ellis as an evil chorine. And besides director Russell, one has to give a nod to cinematographer David Watkin, production designers Tony Walton and Ian Whittaker, and costumer designer Shirley Russell.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Dec. 16, 2016, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie – which turned out to be one of the most difficult I have ever posted – was the 1934 British musical “Evergreen.” The film stars Jessie Matthews, Sonnie Hale, Betty Balfour, Barry Mackay, Ivor Maclaren, Hartley Power, Patrick Ludlow, Betty Shale and Marjorie Brooks.  It was directed by Victor Saville, from a script by Emlyn Williams, scenario by Marjorie Gaffney, based on the  play by Benn W. Levy, adapted for the screen from Charles B. Cochran’s production at the Adelphi Theatre, London. Lyrics and music by Harry M. Woods, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Choreography by Buddy Bradley, photography by Glen MacWilliams, art direction by Alfred Junge.

Writing in the New York Times (Jan. 11, 1935), Andre Sennwald said:

At the risk of damning the Music Hall’s new photoplay with faint praise, it is imperative to report at once that “Evergreen” is the most pleasurable musical comedy yet offered us by the ambitious British screen industry. Both in its suave and expert technical arrangement and in its superb Rodgers and Hart songs, this Gaumont-British screen edition of Benn W. Levy’s London play is a considerable joy. In addition it is fortunate in the presence of Jessie Matthews, a nimble and winning dryad of song and dance, who deserves to be better known to American film audiences. A joyous and captivating nymph, she is the feminine counterpart of Fred Astaire. If Hollywood has the welfare of its customers at heart, it will immediately team her with Mr. Astaire in what should certainly be the perfect partnership.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times (Jan. 19, 1935), Philip K. Scheuer said:

“Evergreen” goes a bit quaint at times, especially in those moments when it presumes to be hotcha. And yet Miss Matthews could hold her own in the front line of our best choruses at that. Perhaps these scenes just look quaint because we know they come from afar. The dance ensembles are undoubtedly a bit dated, from the Hollywood standpoint.

“Evergreen” is available from Amazon and Amazon.co.uk in a Region 2 format.

 

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

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights – Richfield Building Jazzes Up Los Angeles’ Skyline

 

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The Richfield Building in an undated postcard.


Note: This is an encore post from 2013.

After years of deprivation, darkness and worry during World War I and its aftermath, America was ready to look toward a shining future of prosperity and sunshine in the 1920s. Overnight, fashion, music and the arts embraced change, style and risk-taking. Much was modeled after the 1925 Exposition International des Arts Decoratifs et Industriel Modernes in Paris, which displayed bold conceptions of applied arts, reveling in eclectic, glorious design. The new style embraced technology and the machine age, reflecting a belief in a dynamic, energetic future.

Architecture celebrated the Moderne style as well. Color, geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation replaced monochromatic massing in buildings. Triangles, sunbursts and zigzags screamed progress in modern buildings as they stretched toward the sky. New York’s Chrysler Building exemplified the new look, bold, sleek and gorgeous. The American Radiator Building also embraced the modern by daring to wreath itself in gold and black colors, a glamorous and contemporary design.

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

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Black Dahlia: ‘Ghostland’ and Another Good Story Ruined (Updated)

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Ghostland, Page 136.
“Ghostland” by Colin Dickey, Page 136.


OK, who can spot the mistake in the highlighted passage? (And yes, Dickey is about to invoke the name of Kenneth Anger, who has caused more grief for historians than any other writer). This occurs in a chapter of “Ghostland” that opens with the Black Dahlia at the Biltmore.

Update: Here is a response from Colin Dickey:

I came across your post on Ghostland on La Daily Mirror; first of all, thanks for taking the time to read the book. I appreciate it.

Second, just a quick clarification: in the passage you cite, I don’t actually say that Rappe died in Los Angeles (I know of course that she died in SF), only that her death reflects the darker side of a “Hollywood” mythos. I agree, though, that the passage could have perhaps been clearer.

Also, for the record, I’ve never read Hodel’s book, which I’ve long known to not be a reputable source.

If there are any factual errors in the book that you’ve come across, though, I’d be happy to know of them so they can be corrected for future editions. I’ll talk to my publisher about the sentence in question about Rappe so we can make it clearer in the paperback, hopefully.

Thanks again,
Colin Dickey.

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Posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Books and Authors, LAPD | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

A Firsthand History Lesson on Pearl Harbor

Rene Humbert, 1964 In 1962, I was a seventh-grader at Washington Junior High School in Naperville, Ill. On Dec. 7, Mr. Humbert, our social studies teacher, put aside the regular curriculum to give his young pupils a firsthand account of Pearl Harbor.

Many years later, I contacted Mr. Humbert. He didn’t remember me (I was not a stellar student) but he was thrilled to get a phone call from one of his former charges who wanted to hear once more about Pearl Harbor.

Rene P. Humbert died in 2002 at the age of 81. I was his student in a much more formal era of American life. Male teachers wore coats and ties, and didn’t share much about their personal lives. I don’t even remember him mentioning that his brother’s fighter plane had been shot down in June 1944 over France.

What I learned many years later was that Mr. Humbert joined the Navy at 19, went through all of World War II and was called back for the Korean War. Perhaps one reason he was a little hard on us Baby Boomers in the wealthy suburbs of Chicago was because he didn’t graduate from high school, but got a GED and started college at the age of 31 under the G.I. Bill

Mr. Humbert was on the San Francisco, a heavy cruiser, during the Pearl Harbor attack and the ship was untouched except for shrapnel because the Japanese were concentrating on the larger ships. He was also in the Battles of the Coral Sea, Midway and  Guadalcanal. In one battle, Rear Adm. Dan Callaghan and Capt. Cassin Young were killed by a 14-inch shell that hit the San Francisco’s bridge.

What follows is his account. I have edited his brief biography very lightly after scanning a typewritten copy with my optical character recognition software. And I have incorporated portions of his Pearl Harbor account from the Pearl Harbor Survivors website.

Photo 1: Rene Humbert, Washington Junior High, 1964.

Photo 2: Rene Humbert, no date.

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Posted in 1941, Education, History, World War II | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Any Movie Would Have Been Better if it Starred Jimmy Durante and Lupe Velez

image Lupe Velez and Jimmy Durante in Hollywood Party.

I’ve already written here about the great Lupe Velez, but my friend Stephen reminded me that we have a theory that any movie would have been better if it had starred Lupe Velez and Jimmy Durante. You can have your Bogart and Bacall, Liz and Dick, Tracy and Hepburn—give me Jimmy and Lupe.

They costarred on Broadway in Strike Me Pink (1933), and in the films Hollywood Party, Palooka and Strictly Dynamite. And they were! Dynamite, I mean. Jimmy and Lupe had the kind of chemistry that made for a great love team and a great comedy team (think Margaret Dumont and Groucho Marx, or Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis in Moonlighting).

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hollywood National Bank Watches History Go By

 

Carol Hughes Christmas
Carol Hughes as photographed by Schuyler Crail, with Hollywood and Cahuenga in the background, courtesy of Mary Mallory.


One of the most important and busiest intersections in Hollywood has always been that of Hollywood and Cahuenga Boulevards. The location of Hollywood’s first hotels, the intersection also soon became the home of one of Hollywood’s first banks, the Hollywood National Bank. The location serves as witness to much of the city’s business and movie history, acting as a gateway to dreams.

In 1888, Horace D. Sackett constructed a simple two story hotel on the southwest corner of Prospect Avenue and Cahuenga Boulevard on three lots generously given him by town developer Harvey Wilcox, the heart of the speculator’s subdivision as well as a prime stage coach stop. The quaint inn, which he called the Sackett Hotel, consisted of eighteen rooms with one shared bathroom, while downstairs featured a general store, lobby, parlor, and kitchen. Just three years later in 1891, Sackett opened the city’s first post office in part of his general store, becoming a prime gathering spot for the growing community.

 

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

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

 

Dec. 10, 2016, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1957 RKO film “All Mine to Give,” with Glynis Johns, Cameron Mitchell, Rex Thompson, Patty McCormack, Ernest Truex, Hope Emerson, Alan Hale, Sylvia Field, Royal Dano, Reta Shaw, Stephen Wootton, Butch Bernard, Yolanda White, Rita Johnson, Ellen Corby, Rosalyn Boulter, Francis DeSales and Jon Provost.

It was written by Dale and Katherine Eunson from a story by Dale Eunson published in Cosmopolitan Magazine. It was photographed by William Skall with music by Max Steiner, art direction by Albert S. D’Agostino and Frank T. Smith, set decoration by Glen Daniels, editing by Bettie Mosher and costumes by Bernice Pontrelli. It was produced by Sam Wiesenthal and directed by Allen Reisner.

The DVD is available from Amazon.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 63 Comments

1957 Club Mecca Firebombing in South L.A. Kills 6

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5841 S. Normandie, the site of the Club Mecca bombing, as photographed in 2007.

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April 7, 1957, the Los Angeles Times publishes an extra on the Club Mecca firebombing.

 


The tragic warehouse fire in Oakland, which has killed at least 24 people, evokes memories of the 1957 firebombing of the Club Mecca, at 5841 S. Normandie.

Here’s a blog post I wrote about the firebombing in 2007 when I was at the Los Angeles Times.

They were a six-pack of juiceheads, daddy-o. Human-torched by lowlifes that wildfired the imagination of young, L.A. bike-roaming James Ellroy, demon dogging the pulp novel city in type-O scarlet and memory napalm. Six juiceheads: That’s how they’re cast in our film noir tale about one of the biggest Los Angeles crimes of the 1950s. But it’s not that easy. History never is.

Posted in 1957, Fires, Food and Drink | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Daily Mirror Christmas Shopping Guide: Scaccomatto Chess Set

SCACCOMATTO_01
A Scaccomatto chess set has been listed on EBay. The set, designed by Franco Rocco, is one of the more unusual ones you may encounter. All the pieces fit together to make two cubes, one brass and the other chrome. This set comes with a glass chessboard, a wooden box for the two cubes and the original manuals.

The last time I saw one of these sets on EBay, in 2010, it was only $1,600. The asking price for this one is $13,000.

As with anything on EBay, an item and vendor should be thoroughly evaluated before submitting a bid.

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Daily Mirror Christmas Buying Guide: Scary Clown Clock to Terrify Baby Boomers

abbotwares_bozo

Photo of the Abbotwares Bozo clock via EBay.


If you are tired of misty-eyed Baby Boomer nostalgia, this may be for you.

I have written before about Abbotwares radios (often rendered as Abbotware). You may recall “Atwater Kent’s Love Child From a Drunken Night in a Trophy Shop.”

Thank goodness I didn’t know about this when I was a kid. Nightmare City!

abbotwares_durante
Maybe you thought the Abbotwares’ Jimmy Durante piece was stunning.

The Abbotwares Bozo is listed as Buy It Now for $359.99.  As with anything on EBay, an item and vendor should be evaluated thoroughly before submitting a bid.

Wow. Just wow.

Posted in Found on EBay, Television | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: That Girl In The Satin Dress! She Kills Me!

 

rufus_jones_for_president A poster for “Rufus Jones for President.”

 


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

Ever see Rufus Jones for President? Calling it “quite a pip” would be an understatement. Filmed at the Vitaphone studio in Brooklyn, it’s a cringingly racist little two-reeler, with Ethel Waters (still in her jazzy phase, before she became Mother Courage), and seven-year-old Sammy Davis Jr., in which little Rufus Jones does indeed get elected President (blacks and women as President were topics of hilarity well into the 1970s).

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

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This week’s mystery movie has been the 1933 Warner Bros. film “The Silk Express,” with Neil Hamilton, Sheila Terry, Arthur Byron, Guy Kibbee, Dudley Digges, Arthur Hohl, Allen Jenkins, Harold Huber, George Pat Collins, Robert Barrat, Vernon Steele and Ivan Simpson. The screenplay was by Houston Branch and Ben Markson, based on a story by Houston Branch, with art direction by Esdras Hartley, photography by Tony Gaudio, gowns by Orry-Kelly and dialogue direction by Stanley Logan.  The film was directed by Ray Enright.

The DVD is available from Warner Archive for $12.59.

 

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 63 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Celebrities’ Sons Become Photographers

Carlyle Blackwell Jr., Bryant Washburn Jr. Elsie Ferguson II and Erich von Stroheim Jr.
Carlyle Blackwell Jr.,Bryant Washburn Jr., Elsie Ferguson II and Erich von Stroheim Jr. shown in Motion Picture Herald, 1933.


When it comes to careers, many children follow in the footsteps of their parents, either through family tradition or because it is comfortable and what they know. The same holds true for celebrity offspring. Many yearn to work in the entertainment field after being surrounded by it daily, and either become actors  themselves or find something in one of the many crafts that contribute to the making of films and television.

In the 1920s and 1930s, several famous celebrity children like Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Constance and Joan Bennett, Tyrone Power Jr., and Lon Chaney Jr. followed their parents into motion pictures and became successful actors themselves. Others like Delmar and Bobs Watson, Fred Kohler Jr., Erich von Stroheim Jr., Wallace Reid Jr., Bryant Washburn Jr., House Peters Jr., Allan Hersholt, Edward Arnold Jr., Carlyle Blackwell Jr., and Peter Gowland mostly began as actors before moving on to other entertainment related professions, particularly photography. Decades later, Harry Langdon Jr. would also become a respected portrait photographer. Most of the Watson Boys later worked as newspaper photographers in Los Angeles, while Blackwell Jr. and Gowland became recognized portrait photographers.

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

L.A. Celebrates a Wartime Thanksgiving, 1943

Nv. 26, 1943, Thanksgiving

Note: This is a post from 2013. Happy Thanksgiving!

A wartime Thanksgiving in Los Angeles, with many service personnel welcomed into people’s homes for a holiday meal.

The Times published cooking tips for war workers, advising cooks who were otherwise engaged “for the duration” to use prepared mixes, packaged pie crust and canned pumpkin to cut preparation time.

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