Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights – Franklin Pangborn

Franklin Pangborn
Photo: Franklin Pangborn and an unidentified co-star.

Note: This is an encore post from 2012.

When 1930s Hollywood needed a seemingly organized and efficient bank or hotel manager who quickly became nervous and rattled, who better to turn to than the scene-stealing, ever lovable Franklin Pangborn? Busy and in demand from the beginning of his film career, he spent several years mostly starring in one- and two-reel comedies for the likes of Mack Sennett, Educational, Pathe, and Mermaid, along with occasional feature roles, until settling in as Hollywood’s favorite nervous nelly in the mid-1930s.

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Movieland Mystery Photos: Brain Trust Meetings on Zoom


This mystery gent emeritus, who knows how to wear a newsboy cap, is here to help promote Mystery Movie Brain Trust meetings on Zoom. I have heard from several Brain Trust members who are interested in using the new technology to meet and discuss mystery movies, films in general, or other subjects that may arise. Email me if you are interested in joining.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

April 4, 2020, Interrupted Melody
This week’s mystery movie was the 1955 MGM picture “Interrupted Melody,” with Glenn Ford, Eleanor Parker, Roger Moore, Cecil Kellaway, Peter Leeds, Evelyn Ellis, Walter Baldwin, Ann Codee, Leopold Sachse, and Stephen Bekassy. Written by William Ludwig and Sonya Levien, based on “Interrupted Melody,” by Marjorie Lawrence.

Operatic recordings supervised and conducted by Walter Du Cloux, musical supervision by Saul Chaplin, operatic sequences staged by Vladimir Rosing. Photographed in Eastman Color, photographed by Joseph Ruttenberg and Paul C. Vogel, art direction by Cedric Gibbons and Daniel B. Cathcart. Color consultant Alvord Eiseman.

Dramatic music score adapted and conducted by Adolph Deutsch, recording supervisor Wesley C. Miller, set decorations by Edwin B. Willis and Jack D. Moore, special effects by Warren Newcombe, assistant director Ridgeway Callow.

Costumes designed by Helen Rose, edited by John Dunning, hairstyles by Sydney Guilaroff, makeup by William Tuttle, music adviser Harold Gelman.

Produced by Jack Cummings. Directed by Curtis Bernhardt.

“Interrupted Melody” is available on DVD from Warner Archive (which is currently on hiatus because of COVID-19).

Note: Please leave a comment or email me if you would be interested in Zoom sessions of the Brain Trust to discuss mystery movies or other aspects of film. Zoom is quite simple and with a few precautions on the part of the host (which would be me) seems to have adequate security.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Larry Edmunds Bookshop Provides Film Education for More Than 75 Years


Jeanne Moreau shoots a scene for the 1970 film “Alex in Wonderland,” starring Donald Sutherland, right, at Larry Edmunds Bookshop, from a catalog listed on EBay 

Note: This is an encore post from 2016. The Larry Edmunds Bookshop has been hit by the cancellation of the TCM Classic Film Festival, cancellation of screenings at the Egyptian Theatre and postponement of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books until October. The store is taking orders for shipment — please patronize it if you can — editor.

Long a mecca for film aficionados, Hollywood’s Larry Edmunds Bookshop continues educating film lovers through talks and signings by authors and through its large selection of film books on every topic. Probably the first true film book shop, Larry Edmunds has survived the ups and downs of book publishing for over 75 years as it serves the needs of cineastes.

Original owner Larry Edmunds, who worked at Book of the Day store on La Brea Avenue in the late 1930s, bought out Sam Reiser and his book shop at 1603 N. Cahuenga Blvd. in 1939 and brought in Milton Luboviski, a former co-worker, as partner in 1940. When Edmunds committed suicide in 1941, Luboviski and his wife, Git, took over.

“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 + + + +)

A Royal Scandal

This week’s mystery movie was the 1945 Twentieth Century-Fox production of “A Royal Scandal,” with Tallulah Bankhead, Charles Coburn, Anne Baxter, William Eythe, Vincent Price, Mischa Auer, Sig Ruman, Vladimir Sokoloff and Mikhail Rasumny.

Screenplay by Edwin Justus Mayer, adapted by Bruno Frank from a play (“Czarina”) by Lajos Biro and Melchoir Lengyel.

Music by Alfred Newman, orchestral arrangements by Edward Powell, photography by Arthur Miller, art direction by Lyle Wheeler and Mark Lee Kirk, set decorations by Thomas Little and Paul S. Fox, edited by Dorothy Spencer, costumes by Rene Hubert, makeup by Ben Nye, photographic effects by Fred Sersen, sound by Alfred Burglin and Roger Heman.

Produced by Ernst Lubitsch. Directed by Otto Preminger.

“A Royal Scandal” is available on DVD from TCM.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: George Ali, World’s Greatest Animal Impersonator



George Ali in “Peter Pan.”

Note: This is an encore post from 2014.

est remembered for portraying Nana the dog in Herbert Brenon’s 1924 film adaptation of “Peter Pan,” George Ali excelled at playing all types of animal characters in vaudeville and the stage for over thirty years. His realistic, animated portrayals of four legged creatures earned him the moniker, “world’s greatest animal impersonator” in many reviews. Wearing an oversize animal costume, Ali’s expressive, whimsical performances touched children and adults alike, giving dignity and human like qualities to pets or service animals.

Not much is known about Ali’s early years prior to working on stage. A 1925 issue of Photoplay, describing his wonderful work in “Peter Pan,” states that Ali “was trained as an acrobat in his youth by a troupe of strolling Arab gymnasts. His non-professional name is George Edward Bolinbroke.” Searches under both names, however, fail to turn up any evidence of his true name and background.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

March 21, 2020, Gentlemen Are Born

This week’s mystery movie was the 1934 Warner Bros. / First National picture “Gentlemen Are Born,” with Franchot Tone, Jean Muir, Margaret Lindsay, Ann Dvorak, Ross Alexander, Charles Starrett, Russell Hicks, Robert Light, Addison Richards, Henry O’Neill, Arthur Aylesworth, Marjorie Gateson and Bradley Page.

Screenplay by Eugene Solow and Robert Lee Johnson, from a story by Robert Lee Johnson, edited by Herbert Levy, art direction by Robert M. Haas, photography by James Van Trees, gowns by Orry-Kelly, music and lyrics by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal, Vitaphone Orchestra conducted by Leo F. Forbstein.

Directed by Alfred E. Green.

“Gentlemen Are Born” has never been commercially released. According to an impressive online database, TCM has aired “Gentlemen Are Born” six times since 2001, most recently in 2017.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Harriet Parsons, Hollywood’s First Female Studio Producer

Harriet Parsons Home Screenland 1946

The headline “Gal Producer” in Screenland reflects attitudes toward women in Hollywood.

Virtually “born in a trunk” August 23, 1906, Harriet Parsons, the only child of John Dement and Louella Parsons, grew up surrounded by entertainment folk. A child performer, Parsons later worked behind the scenes writing and producing films. Overshadowed by her mother, gossip columnist Louella Parsons, Harriet Parsons strove for excellence and seriousness in all she did. Ambitious and dedicated, she became Hollywood’s first female studio producer in the 1930s, fighting against prejudice and discrimination to make thoughtful projects starring strong women.

Parsons and her mother struggled after her parents divorced. Louella, originally a teacher, began writing social columns before her daughter’s birth. After the divorce, she focused ever more on her writing, producing stories of all types to help make ends meet. The two moved to Chicago in 1912 when Louella sold a script for $25 to the Essanay Film Company, “The Magic Wand,” written with her daughter in mind.

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


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San Francisco Silent Film Festival: CANCELED


The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is the latest movie event to cancel its plans, following the TCM Classic Film Festival and Noir City Hollywood.

The festival is rescheduled for November. More information is available here.

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Noir City Hollywood: CANCELED


Eddie Muller issued the following statement today on Facebook:

NOIR CITY: HOLLYWOOD—CANCELED. With much regret, but with a far greater concern for the safety of our loyal patrons, the Film Noir Foundation is postponing the current Noir City: Hollywood film festival at the Egyptian Theatre. The decision was reached in cooperation the American Cinematheque, the venue host and operator and our partner in noir the past 22 years. We hope to reschedule the remainder of the program later this year; An announcement will be forthcoming as developments in this unprecedented health crisis become clearer.

If you have already purchased tickets:

Advance tickets bought via Fandango will be automatically refunded. If you already purchased tickets in-person at the theatre, you can get a refund at the box office with your credit card. If you paid cash for an advance ticket, you will get a voucher for an upcoming show.

I personally thank all the terrific people who attended the festival this year. We all hoped that the situation would not reach this point. I look forward to seeing all of you at festivals in the future, once we (the collective “we”) have a handle on this situation.

Best of luck to everyone. Take this seriously. Stay safe.

—Eddie Muller

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TCM Classic Film Festival CANCELED Over Coronavirus


The Hollywood Reporter says that the TCM Classic Film Festival, scheduled April 16-19, is canceled. As of last night TCM was still advertising the festival on the air and its streaming services. TCM says it will refund all purchases of passes, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Tsuru Aoki, Lotus Flower of the Cinema

Tsuru Aoki
Tsuru Aoki, in Sunset magazine.

Note: This is an encore post from 2017.

Though long in the shadow of her more well known husband, Tsuru Aoki achieved just as great a fame as Sessue Hayakawa, with a life story as fascinating as any novel. Born in Japan though raised in the United States, the beautiful Aoki functioned as a crossroads of the East and West, blending together the best attributes of both nations into a wonderful hybrid, though never fully embraced by either. Brought to this country as a child, she was never able to apply for American citizenship thanks to Anti-Asian laws and sentiments, and was often forced to depend on the kindness of others as she was shunted to and fro. Aoki’s life story also reveals America’s changing viewpoints and knee-jerk reactions about and to the Japanese, often during times of trouble in which the “other” became the villain to make up for other groups’ sins.

The vast majority of books and articles mentioning Aoki then and now blend together fact and fiction into her biography, not digging for the true facts. She was not born with Aoki as her name. In fact, she was probably born December 24, 1891 or 1892 in Hakata, the daughter of a poor Japanese fisherman Kahara Isekichi and his wife, Taka Kawakami, which she discovered when her father sent her a letter years after she became a star.

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

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

March 14, 2020, Mystery Photo

This week’s mystery movie was the 1960 MGM / Andrew and Virginia Stone Production of “The Last Voyage,” with Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, George Sanders, Edmond O’Brien, Woody Strode, Jack Kruschen, Joel Marston, George Furness, Richard Norris, Marshall Kent, Andrew Hughes, Robert Martin, Bill Wilson and introducing Tammy Marihugh.

Photography by Hal Mohr, music arranged and conducted by Rudy Schrager, edited by Virginia L. Stone, assistant director and production manager Harrold A. Weinberger, special effects A.J. Lohman, sound mixer Philip N. Mitchell, sound by Ryder Sound Services.

Written and directed by Andrew L. Stone.

“The Last Voyage” is available on DVD from Warner Archive.

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Daylight Saving Time: A Reminder From Pier Angeli and the Daily Mirror

Pier Angeli

Pier Angeli and her adorable little friend remind Daily Mirror readers that Daylight Saving Time begins today and to set your clocks forward one hour. Hi Eve!!

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Black Dahlia: Donald H. Wolfe; ‘Black Dahlia Files’ Fraudster | 1931 – 2015

I’m five years late on this item, but for the record:

Donald H. Wolfe, the fraudster who wrote “The Black Dahlia Files,” died in February 2015.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: 22nd Annual Noir City Hollywood Travels the World

Take a worldwide tour through sordid back alleys and danger-filled shadows in the 22nd Annual Noir City Hollywood, kicking off Friday at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre and running through March 15. Czar of Noir Eddie Muller and Film Noir Foundation Treasurer Alan K. Rode will guide audiences through the dark and dangerous byways of the seven deadly sins.

The festival takes an unusual detour through foreign intrigue and despair, visiting such diverse international locales as Buenos Aires, Berlin, Seoul, the British Isles, Tokyo, Sweden, and Mexico City. Outstanding Argentine noirs are scheduled, including “The Beast Must Die” (1952), The Black Vampire” (1953), and “Hardly a Criminal” (1949), along with diverse German thrillers “M” (1931), “The Devil Strikes at Night” (1957), and the 1961 “Black Gravel.” The schedule also features 1961 the South Korean film “The Housemaid,” the 1964 Japanese noir “Pale Flower,” the 1950 Swedish film “Girl With Hyacinths,” and the 1949 Mexican film “In the Palm Of Your Hand.”

Program information from Noir City.

Program information from the American Cinematheque.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

March 7, 2020, Deadline at Dawn

This week’s mystery movie was the 1946 RKO picture “Deadline at Dawn,” with Susan Hayward, Paul Lukas, Bill Williams, Joseph Calleia, Osa Massen, Lola Lane, Jerome Cowan, Marvin Miller, Roman Bohnen, Steven Geray, Joe Sawyer, Constance Worth and Joseph Crehan.

Screenplay by Clifford Odets. Based on a novel by William Irish (Cornell Woolrich). Photography by  Nicholas Musuraca, special effects by Vernon L. Walker, art direction by Albert S. D’Agostino and Jack Okey, set decorations by Darrell Silvera, music by Hanns Eisler, musical director C. Bakaleinikoff, edited by Roland Gross, sound by Earl A. Wolcott and James G. Stewart, gowns by Renie, assistant director William Dorfman.

Executive producer Sid Rogell. Produced by Adrian Scott. Directed by Harold Clurman.

ps. James Curtis, who wrote an excellent biography of William Cameron Menzies, emails that Menzies did a lot of work on “Deadline at Dawn” in production design and as co-director, but had his name taken off the picture because he hated director Harold Clurman and didn’t like the way the movie turned out. Menzies’ involvement explains the film’s remarkable visual style.

“Deadline at Dawn” is available on DVD in a four-disc set from Warner Archive.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights – 1938 Floods Wreak Havoc on Los Angeles Area

 North Hollywood Flood House Collapse

Flooding in North Hollywood, courtesy of Mary Mallory.

Note: This is an encore post from 2013.

Seventy-five years ago, a deluge of rain hit Los Angeles and the surrounding area, leading to massive floods and causing millions of dollars in damage and a devastating loss of life. Many factors led to this destruction: too much rain, inadequate construction of bridges and roads, and homes and businesses located in flood-prone areas. One of the unfortunate consequences of the floods was the eventual concreting of the Los Angeles River, ruining its beauty.

Although other areas of the country suffered through droughts and dust storms in the 1930s, Los Angeles and Southern California endured large amounts of rainfall. Most years saw higher than normal annual rain levels. 1937 saw 17.85 inches fall by March 1, while 1934 saw the largest amount of rain since the 1860s.

1938 started out with heavy rains, growing worse through February. Small patches of flooding caused concerns throughout the city. On Feb. 28, a severe storm hit the area, leading to five days of disaster.

The March 1, 1938, Los Angeles Times noted that gale winds hit the coast, and more than 2.5 inches of rain fell on Feb. 28. Seasonal rain totals reached 14.43 inches, more than 4 inches above average.

Mary Mallory will present “Washed Away:  The Great 1938 Flood and Its Effects on Studio City” at 3:30 p.m. on March 24 at the Studio City branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, 12511 Moorpark St. Admission is free.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: ‘That’s My Baby’ Promotes Popularity of Baby Peggy

Actual Baby Peggy Sheet Music

Note: This is an encore post from 2018. Diana Serra Cary died Feb. 24 at the age of 101.

Film studios often employed gimmicks as ways to build word of mouth, increase box office, and promote movie stars throughout the golden age of Hollywood. Pennants, dolls, photos, dishes, and even sheet music produced in conjunction with sponsors or major companies cost the studios virtually nothing but added bonus revenues to their coffers, a cheap form of advertising and promotion.

At the same time, sheet music publishers rushed to create songs around the newest craze, one-hit wonder, and popular novelty, anything to make a sale. These companies sometimes developed material that the studios either purchased or joined forces with in order to create synergy, and thereby sell more products for both. Selig Polyscope Co. employed a song titled “The Kathlyn Waltz” to help promote their action serial “The Adventures of Kathlyln” in 1914, while other sheet music companies also devised songs to play off the popular title.

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


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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: J.B. Rapp, Hollywood Pineapple Man

J.B. Rapp's pineapples, Pacific Rural Press
Long before the movie industry came to town, the little farming community of Hollywood grew crops that helped feed the state of California as well as the nation. Thanks to the climate and fertile soil, farms and ranches produced a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, some considered exotic and rare today. Chief among these was German immigrant J.B. Rapp’s astounding crop of pineapples.

For its first several years after its founding, Harvey Wilcox promoted Hollywood for its fertile land in the “frostless belt,” healthy location, and views. In a September 7, 1888, Los Angeles Herald ad, he stated, “It possesses the finest soil in the world – nothing equal to it elsewhere. It will grow successfully the most delicate flower or tender plant in midwinter, without irrigation; in fact, we never irrigate this foothill land. It does not require it.”

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

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