Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Edward A.D. Christopher Home Witnesses History


11015 Front Facade Windows - Columns
The Edward A.D. Christopher home, photograph by Mary Mallory.

ith the speed of change in technology, transportation, and society, it’s often amazing that something historic survives. The Edward A. D. Christopher home at 11015 Aqua Vista Street in Studio City is such a specimen, a simple farmhouse which is a survivor and witness to the evolution of San Fernando Valley history for over 109 years. Time perhaps could be catching up to the home, and it needs your help to prevent demolition at the Thursday, February 9, 2017, Planning Commission meeting.

The Christopher home remains as one of the last vestiges of an original ranch home constructed when the Lankershim Ranch Land and Water Company began colonizing the former Rancho de San Fernando with white farmers in the late 1800s. On July 2, 1869, the San Fernando Farm Homestead Association purchased all interest in the ex Mission de San Fernando Rancho from Pio Pico. They also brought a suit for partition against the heirs of Eulogio de Celix and received full title to the southerly portion of the Valley.

Hollywood at Play, by Donovan Brandt, Mary Mallory and Stephen X. Sylvester is now on sale.

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Mephisto


Igo Sym
A postcard of Igo Sym listed on EBay as Buy It Now for $6.

So I’m watching this 1927 German silent film, Café Elektric, starring Marlene Dietrich as a ne’er-do-well spoiled rich girl. And I am charmed by the young blond actor playing the male lead. Igo Sym; never heard of him, but he is handsome and charming and such a good actor. I’ll look him up online and see whatever became of hi—OMIGAWD!

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Coming Events: Book Signing for ‘Hollywood at Play’

Hollywood at Play

A book signing for “Hollywood at Play,” by Donovan Brandt, Mary Mallory and Stephen X. Sylvester, will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at Larry Edmunds Bookshop at 6644 Hollywood Blvd.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)


This week’s mystery movie has been the 1931 Paramount film “The Smiling Lieutenant,” with Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, Charlie Ruggles, Miriam Hopkins, George Barbier and Hugh O’Connell. The film was directed by Ernst Lubitsch, written by Ernest Vajda and Samson Raphaelson, based on “The Waltz Dream” by Leopold Jacobson and Felix Dormann, and the novel “Nux Der Prinzgemahl” by Hans Muller, with music by Oscar Straus, lyrics by Clifford Grey and photography by George Folsey. It was preserved by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

It is available on DVD for $47.96 in the four-disc box set from the Criterion Collection: “Lubitsch Musicals” with “The Love Parade,” “Monte Carlo” and “One Hour With You.”


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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Cecil B. DeMille – Big Man on Campus


Sept. 8, 1956, Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil B. DeMille meets students who will attend DeMille Junior High School, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Sept. 9, 1956.

chools are often named after historic or famous figures that offer inspiration, hope, and good examples to students of that neighborhood or district. While many buildings are named after Presidents, authors, inventors, and the like, sometimes world famous film folk like Cecil B. DeMille are honored as well. In the 1950s, two Southern California schools were named after the legendary director at the peak of his popularity.

In 1955 Long Beach, California required a new junior high for its expanding district. After much consideration, school Supt. Douglas Newcomb announced on January 3, 1955, that they would honor both the motion picture industry, the largest Southern California industry, and the great director by naming their new school the Cecil B. DeMille Junior High School. It would be located on land they hoped to acquire from the city of Long Beach.

Hollywood at Play, by Donovan Brandt, Mary Mallory and Stephen X. Sylvester goes on sale Feb. 1.

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Castles on the Air


Vernon and Irene Castle
Eve Golden’s biography of Vernon and Irene Castle.

I am operating on the assumption that none of you have read my 2007 biography of Vernon and Irene Castle—that book laid an ostrich-sized egg. Three dogs and a cat bought it, and I think the cat returned it.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jan. 28, 2017, Mystery Movie
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1951 Twentieth Century-Fox film “Fixed Bayonets!” with Richard Basehart, Gene Evans, Michael O’Shea, Richard Hylton, Craig Hill and Skip Homeier.

The film was written and directed by Samuel Fuller  from a novel by John Brophy. It was photographed by Lucien Ballard, with music by Roy Webb, art direction by Lyle Wheeler and George Patrick, set decoration by Thomas Little and Fred J. Rode, wardrobe by Charles LeMaire, musical direction by Lionel Newman, makeup by Ben Nye, special photographic effects by Ray Kellogg and sound by Eugene Grossman and Harry M. Leonard. The technical advisor was Capt. Raymond Harvey a Medal of Honor recipient. It was produced by Jules Buck.

“Fixed Bayonets!” is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: S.H. Woodruff and the Electrical Adobe House

An artist's concept of the electrical adobe house
A drawing of the electrical adobe home, Journal of Electricity, Jan. 15, 1921.

eal estate brokers often look for a unique hook or gimmick on which to sell their developments. Any special amenity or feature which can grab headlines and attract the attention of serious buyers, such as a giant electric advertising sign or exclusive, high-end features, is dreamed up.

S.H. (Sidney H.) Woodruff reigns as one of the early Los Angeles masters of ballyhoo, perhaps most well known for his involvement with, and perhaps conception of, the creation of one of the world’s largest electrified advertising signs spelling out the name of the Hollywoodland development in 1923. Woodruff dreamed up fanciful gimmicks promoting his real estate schemes, some of them leading to legal troubles.

Hollywood at Play, by Donovan Brandt, Mary Mallory and Stephen X. Sylvester goes on sale Feb. 1.

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Musical-Political Theater by the Tucson Symphony in the Time of Trump

Markus Huber

Tucson Symphony Orchestra guest conductor Markus Huber. Photo by René Achenbach.

Note: This has nothing to do with Los Angeles or with history – except perhaps my own history as onetime classical music critic of the Arizona Daily Star. Feel free to ignore it.

No one involved in selecting the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s 2016-17 season could have realized that Johannes Brahms’ “A German Requiem” and Arnold Schoenberg’s “A Survivor From Warsaw” would be performed on the inauguration day of President Donald J. Trump and certainly no one anticipated its underlying political commentary. It’s quite likely that even Friday night’s audience at the Tucson Community Center Music Hall (and evidently the local press) did not fully appreciate the concert’s political overtones. Continue reading

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Meine damen und herren, Viktor und Viktoria!


Renate Müller in Viktor und Viktoria.

I have never been a big Blake Edwards fan. The one time I encountered him he was very unpleasant, and even before that I’d never cared for most of his films—I feel his idea of “sophisticated” was less “Ritz-Carlton” and more “Ritz Brothers.” So his Victor/Victoria failed to impress me. For one thing, Mrs. Edwards—Julie Andrews—was 25 years too old for the part, and would have been miscast in it even when she was young. (I am going to be stoned to death for this, but you know who I think would have made a fabulous Victor/Victoria in 1982? Madonna! Go ahead, come at me with your stones.)

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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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