The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: July 2007

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Matt Weinstock

Matt_weinstockd July 31, 1957

The whole thing started many months ago when Sparks Stringer poured out his chagrin here at being unable to find any farkleberries in L.A. He had in mind whipping up a farkleberry pie like his mother used to make down South.

Clearly there's something unlikely and contagious about the word farkleberry. Publicist Joe Weston was so enchanted by it he named his frisky Siamese cat Farkleberry. Others thought it was a gag. It isn't. A farkleberry, I'm told, is somewhere between a huckleberry and a gooseberry.

Comes now a letter from Capt. M.R. Flehinger, who used to sell the Daily News at Beverly Boulevard and Normandie and is now with the Air Force in Japan.

"After asking in vain for farkleberry pie in Hong Kong, Bangkok and most of the larger cities in Japan," he writes, "I though I'd scored in a Tokyo restaurant. But it was only the accommodating manager and the language barrier working against me. What I got was a plain berry pie, I think. Of course, it might have been farkleberry but how can you be sure?"

1957_0731_grant The search goes on.

ALTHOUGH Mrs. Alex Mayer of North Hollywood has been making regular purchases on her charge account at a department store, she has received no bill for three months. The other day, she phoned the store and inquired about it.

A girl looked up the account and reported, "The reason you haven't received a bill is that you moved and the mail we sent to your new address has been coming back."

Mrs. Mayer, puzzled, said they hadn't moved, they still lived on Bonfield Street.

"Well," said the girl, "on the last payment we had from you your address was a post office box--PO 50042--and our statements have been returned from there."

So Mrs. Mayer explained that PO 5-0042 is her telephone number--PO as in POplar. And now, lucky girl, she will be able to pay her bill.*

Oh, I can tell you, life can be complicated.

AROUND TOWN--As an added fillip to its lavish party for the movie "Omar Khayyam," Paramount operatives scoured the city's tobacconists for Omar cigarettes. Mostly the tobacco boys said they hadn't seen any in 25 years. But guess where the Paramounters found an unlimited supply--Rexall's.

* In the dark ages, phone numbers had a two-letter prefix. Common ones in Los Angeles were AT lantic, AX minster, CI trus, HO llywood, MA dison, OX ford, RI chmond, etc.--lrh

Women attacked

 

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1957_0731_mirror_front_2July 31, 1957
Los Angeles

In the continuing assaults across the city, a North Hollywood housewife fought off an intruder while a 60-year-old Hollywood woman was saved from strangling by the staff of her Hollywood apartment building after she was grabbed from behind in the hallway, gagged and raped.

Mildred Chastain, 40, 11228 1/2 Emelita St., said she was watching TV about 1 a.m. on July 31, 1957, as she waited for her husband, Robert, to get home from his job at a liquor store. She heard scratching at the screen door and thought it was the cat trying to get in. Chastain opened the door and a masked gunman barged into the house.

"I guess I was foolish to take the chance, but the next thing I knew I was scratching at his face and trying to knock the gun out of his hand," she said. "He grabbed me with his free hand but I had him off balance. I knocked him against the washing machine. Then I screamed like crazy."

According to the Mirror, 30 LAPD officers joined by six officers from the Burbank Police Department made a house-to-house search for the attacker, who had been prowling the neighborhood for two months.

In Hollywood, an unidentified woman told police she was going into her 12th-floor apartment at 1811 N. Whitley on the afternoon of July 30 when she was grabbed from behind. She said she never got a look at the rapist who blindfolded her, tied her wrists with a silk stocking and gagged her.

Although she was tied up, the woman knocked the receiver off her telephone to summon help. The desk clerk and the janitor found her nearly dead from "a knotted garment in her mouth," The Times said.

Police Chief William H. Parker said the Hollywood attack was like the stranglings of Marjorie Hipperson and Ruth Goldsmith.

To be continued.

In the meantime, read more about 1811 N. Whitley. Search for Oct. 12, 1947, entry at the 1947project. 

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No deal

 

1957_0730_confidential

1957_0730_meade July 30, 1957
Los Angeles

The state prosecutor and the defense had reached an agreement on most points in the conspiracy trial involving Confidential and Whisper magazines.

According to the proposed accord, Confidential and Whisper would:

  1. Abandon their present format, would stop printing smear stories and publicize the change in newspaper ads.
  2.  
  3. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Herbert V. Walker would decide the case based on grand jury transcripts.
  4.  
  5. Charges against Fred and Marjorie Meade (the alleged sources of the magazines' stories) would be dropped because "they are out of business the minute the format of the magazine is changed," according to Chief Assistant Atty. Gen. Clarence Linn.

Defense attorney Arthur J. Crowley agreed to everything except Linn's insistence that guilty verdicts against the corporations--Whisper Inc., Confidential Inc., Hollywood Research Inc. and Publishers Distributing Corp--could not be appealed.

Linn told the judge that the agreement would suppress the magazines and Crowley noted that the deal would avoid a long trial that would threaten the reputations of Hollywood celebrities.

To which Walker said: No. "I don't think a good reason has been given here for the dismissal of the indictments against the individuals."

The Mirror said there was little scandal in the 143-page grand jury transcript, noting that it mostly dealt with testimony by 20 witnesses that publisher Robert Harrison's objective was to print "as much shocking material as he could obtain by wiretaps, by using prostitutes as witnesses or by any other means."

Ronnie Quillan testified:

"Harrison stressed the point that he primarily was just interested in the sexual activities of the stars and celebrities and whether they were homosexuals or weren't, in other words, the most lurid phases of their lives that he could expose."

To be continued.

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Bill Walsh in The Times

Bob Oates on Bill Walsh rebuilding the 49ers, Oct. 1, 1980; and Jim Murray on Bill Walsh, Jan. 10, 1982:

Bob Oates, Part 1

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Bob Oates, Part 2

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Bob Oates, Part 3

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Jim Murray, Part 1

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Jim Murray, Part 2

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Ingmar Bergman on 'Cries and Whispers'

Charles Champlin's interview with the late Ingmar Bergman on "Cries and Whispers," Feb. 25, 1973:

Part 1

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Part 2

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Part 3

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Random queries

1969_0214_isadora_2 The hits for the Daily Mirror blog show that someone is researching the Feb. 13, 1969, robbery of the Bank of America at 3320 S. Hill. Here's your answer:

The Times wrote very little about the case, although police killed two robbers. According to the account, the unidentified men were believed to be part of a five-member gang that robbed the bank Jan. 10, 1969, getting $17,600 ($98,532.55 USD 2006).

A stolen car was found nearby with its engine running, The Times said. The slain holdup men were wearing stocking masks, gloves and "two changes of clothes, one of which apparently was to be discarded after the robbery to hamper identification."

Aha! A little research shows that on July 2, 1969, James "Tayari" Doss and his wife, Carmelita, were convicted in the January 1969 holdup. Doss was the vice chairman of a black nationalist group called US headed by Ron Karenga, the man who founded Kwanzaa. The other three robbers weren't identified, The Times said.

The Times apparently didn't cover the Dosses' sentencing. The only other citation I can find is Pacific Stars and Stripes, July 3, 1969.

There is no further information on the Dosses.

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Cold case solved

 

1954_1113_nagin

July 25-31, 1957
Los Angeles

1954_1113_nagin_maurine Nine minutes after the cyanide pellets were dropped in the gas chamber at San Quentin, James Lewis Feldkamp,  25, who had once tried to become an LAPD officer, was dead.

If he hadn't been turned down by the Police Department,  he said, he would have gone straight.

If the FBI hadn't found his juvenile police record,* he might have been hired.

But because of a burglary committed at the age of 15, James Lewis Feldkamp went to the home of David L. Nagin,  1641 Holt Ave., with a loaded gun. Somehow, this seemed like logical reasoning to him.

It was supposed to be an easy job with a three-way split for Feldkamp, Ambrose (Bocho) Lucero and Joel Leyva Villas, a truck driver who worked at the wholesale grocery run by Nagin.

Villas and Lucero met in jail, where Villas was serving a sentence for forgery and Lucero was serving a term for armed robbery. When Villas finished his sentence, he contacted Lucero and they began planning the Nagin holdup. It is unclear when or how Feldkamp became involved.

According to Villas, they failed in two attempts to rob Nagin at his office so they tried his home, knowing that he would have a large amount of cash he planned to deposit the next morning.

On the night of Nov. 12, 1954, Lucero apparently went to the home and asked the Nagins' housekeeper, Marie Jacobs, about the address. Nagin went out to speak with him, returned and told Jacobs to be sure to lock the back door. "We don't know who this kid is or whether he really wanted anybody," Nagin said.

Later that evening, as Nagin, his wife, Maurine, and daughter, Fredericka, watched TV, Feldkamp knocked at the door. Fredericka answered it, thinking it was her boyfriend.

"I didn't want to kill him or anybody else," Feldkamp said. "When I rang the doorbell a young girl answered the door and screamed when she saw my gun.

"Shut that door!" Nagin screamed. "Don't let him in!"

"She shoved the door in my face," Feldkamp said. "I panicked. I shot myself, the man and somebody I didn't see."

Leaving a trail of blood after shooting himself twice in the wrist, Feldkamp went to a nearby car. He and Lucero hid on the floor of the back seat while Feldkamp's 17-year-old-wife, Lucy, drove them to Mexicali and persuaded a doctor to treat the bullet wounds. (Another woman, possibly Lucero's wife, Carmen, may have been with them, police said).

1957_0729_feldkamp1958_0122 Nagin was killed instantly and Maurine had been wounded in the right arm.

Maurine testified at the inquest: "I remember seeing the man shooting. The flash blinded me.... I saw my husband was hit--I don't know where.

"I tried to hold him up but the weight was too much for me. We fell together and the man was still shooting. I felt I was hit and I cried, 'Oh my God, we're both dead.'

"My husband closed his eyes as we were falling. I called, 'Dave, Dave' and he never opened his eyes again."

The investigation turned up some early leads but then went cold. It wasn't until July 24, 1957, when Feldkamp was arrested in the robbery of a market at 7132 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys, that the case broke. In an anonymous phone call, a man told detectives to talk to Feldkamp about the Nagin killing. Feldkamp denied any knowledge of the case, but Lucy Feldkamp broke down during questioning and admitted that he had killed Nagin.

Feldkamp and Villas were charged in the killing, but Lucero was tried in Mexico because he had dual citizenship. It is unclear what became of Lucero and Villas, but Feldkamp waived his right to a jury trial and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

James Lewis Feldkamp, who almost became an LAPD officer, was executed Feb. 27, 1959.

David L. Nagin's funeral was conducted by Rabbi Jacob Pressman at Hollywood Cemetery.

* Why wasn't his juvenile record destroyed? A good question and I don't have the answer.

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Matt Weinstock

Matt_weinstockd July 29, 1957

I tore a taco the other day with my favorite villain, Paul Fierro.

Chances are that you've seen him in movies or TV without knowing who he was. He's the tall, dark, grim guy who gives the hero trouble.

Mostly he portrays treacherous Indians, with or without clothes or warpaint. He is indifferent on this point. "I can go naked," he says. "I got muscles."

The important thing to Paul and others who play minor character roles is getting enough work so they can live in the quiet [illegible] style to which they are accustomed.  Paul has a cottage in Laurel Canyon and his passions are cooking and laughing at life.

Born in L.A.'s "Dogtown," he attended Castelar Street School, Vernon Avenue School, Venice High and Madera High, upstate.

He sold papers at Santa Barbara Avenue and Figueroa Street and fought at a smoker in a Spring Street gym when he was 8. Won, too.

1956_1114_wild He played football, halfback, at Madera and won a scholarship to North Carolina State, where he played in 1935, 1936, 1937 under coach Hunk Anderson of Notre Dame. "I ran into the Civil War," he recalls.

He can't help being amused at all the fuss over aid to athletes, as if it were something new. He says he got room, board, tuition, books, laundry and $25 a week.

Funny things are always happening to Paul. Not long ago, while driving his old Ford to Madera, he stopped to pick up a soldier near Fresno. As the soldier got in, fear clouded his face and he exclaimed, "Jeepers! Lou Garcia!" Turned out he'd seen a movie at his base the night before in which Paul played a fierce Mexican devil who robbed a stagecoach and kidnapped an old lady. Paul quieted the youth's fear.

"I've never had a kissing role, said Paul, 41, and a stalwart 200 pounds, "but I don't mind." He's reconciled to playing bad guys. Only one thing. He has to watch his weight. "You can't get too round," he explained. "Fat guys can't scare people."

Paul was preparing to leave for Bend, Ore., on location for the Lindsley Parsons production "Rio Bravo." [Note: Not the John Wayne movie. It was released as "Oregon Passage"]. In it he will play, for a change, a friendly Indian scout named, of all things, Nato!

A LADY NAMED Louise reports she spent a sleepless night pondering upon this classified ad in a neighborhood paper in Hollywood: "Diamond ring. Will trade for gun or ?"

She remains fascinated by the "or ? " She reasons, here is a person with a diamond ring which he--presumably it is a he--wishes to unload. He'll take a gun or what have you.

His mention of the gun indicates he's in a surly mood, in which case the question mark would likely mean a gallon of poison, a tree with a noosed rope attached or a do-it-yourself bomb kit.

Tell you what. I'm going to do, Louise. I'm going to ignore the whole thing and try to get some sleep.


Here's to the Thunder Riders

 

Phantom_empire_robot
Photos courtesy of the Autry National Center.
Gene Autry reboots a Muranian robot deep beneath Radio Ranch.

Phantom_empire_poster_2

The Autry National Center is marking the centennial of Gene Autry's birth with a showing of "The Phantom Empire," my favorite movie combining science fiction and cowboys (the other contenders being "Valley of Gwangi" and "Night of the Lepus").

"Phantom Empire" will be shown from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (remember it's a 12-part serial) Sept. 29 at the Wells Fargo Theater at the Autry museum in Griffith Park.

I love the costumes in this movie. It looks like they just raided the wardrobe department for whatever they could find from all sorts of different period pictures.

In the 1969 "Valley of Gwangi," bad things happen when cowboys capture a Tyrannosaurus rex for a wild west show. 

In the 1972 "Night of the Lepus," bad things happen when a studio green lights a movie about giant bunnies terrorizing the Southwest.

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Literary diversions

Although we overlapped slightly at The Times, I never met Chuck Powers, who left the paper to write novels only to die of a rare blood disease shortly before his first book, the critically acclaimed "In the Memory of the Forest," was published in January 1997.

So even though we were nominally colleagues, Powers was something of a discovery for me and I grilled current and former co-workers about him. Everyone, without exception, praises "Forest," which is set in Poland.

I'm pleased to present a Powers story published May 11, 1969. It's quite a compelling piece of work. It is interesting to speculate on what he might have produced had he not died at the age of 53.

Part 1
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Part 2
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Part 3
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Rewriting history

 

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From left, Times reporter Bonnie Glessner, Tiny Broadwick and Glenn Martin, Jan. 9, 1914

Tiny_broadwick_1912 This was supposed to be an upbeat story about the early days of aviation--a nice change of pace from crime and death.

And it is--but not the kind I imagined. Instead of a story about a person, this turned into a story about a mistake.

On July 28, 1957, The Times published  Harry Nelson's feature about Georgia "Tiny Broadwick" Brown, a petite great-grandmother who was famous in her youth as a parachutist, appearing at balloon ascensions and air shows from about 1908 to 1922.

In the course of the story, Nelson said that Broadwick made history June 20, 1913, in an exhibition over Griffith Park, with one of the first parachute jumps from an airplane.

A bit of background: Broadwick was born in North Carolina in 1893 to a family named Thompson and when she was about 14, she met George Broadwick, an inventor and traveling aeronaut.  Tiny Broadwick joined the show and performed parachute jumps. Her specialty was  jumping with a parachute, discarding it and opening another one in what she called a "cutaway." If she had enough altitude, she might make up to four cutaways, she said.

Her first jump to be recorded in The Times occurred in 1912, during the second air show at Dominguez Hills (the first, in 1910, is a story unto itself and far too complicated to get into here). She was later said to have appeared at the 1910 show, but I can't find any record of it so far. 

Two years later, The Times sent reporter Bonnie Glessner aloft with Broadwick and pilot Glenn Martin, who was at the controls of his newest biplane. As they were flying about 80 mph at an altitude of about 1,000 feet, Broadwick climbed out of the plane and positioned herself to jump using Martin's aerial "life vest."

"When she was ready to drop, Martin touched my shoulder," Glessner wrote, "I faced about and turned my eyes on the face of the child. She was clambering over the side of the machine as though it were stationary. Once over, she clung tenaciously, her eyes fixed on Martin, who was just then looking down over the side of the aeroplane. The signal came while he watched below. Just the slight movement of his hand but the girl understood  and her lips formed a 'goodbye' which I sensed rather than heard. Smiling at me, she stepped off into space, not even a tremor of the machine showing she was gone."

Tiny_broadwick_1914_page

Note that I said "two years later." The story is dated Jan. 10, 1914, and deals with an incident that occurred the day before: Jan. 9, 1914.

Not June and not 1913.

Oops.

So how did a Jan. 9, 1914, parachute jump become June 20, 1913, and later June 21, 1913?

Unlike Nelson, we have Proquest, so we can trace the mistake, which has quite a pedigree.

An unsigned  Jan. 31, 1949, story changes the year, saying that the jump occurred over Griffith Park on Jan. 10, 1913, "and got a three-column write-up in The Times."

It is apparently Nelson we have to thank for changing the date from Jan. 10, 1913, to June 20, 1913. And by the time of a 1966 story by Dorothy Townsend, June 20 has become June 21. This date appears in Broadwick's 1978 obituary and, of course, is all over the Internet.   

I'll go fix the Wikipedia entry and see how long it lasts before somebody tweaks it.

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Attack in Griffith Park

 

1957_0727_dunn_hed

1957_0727_eleanor_dunn July 27, 1957
Los Angeles

I'm going to describe a neighborhood and you guess where it is:

Gay women living together, speaking Armenian and working for nonprofits. (OK, I'm exaggerating slightly). Also lots of foreign-born urbanites and "makin' it singles." 

That's right, Los Feliz, at least according to Zillow.

And "They tend to have a modest income relative to housing cost."

Los Feliz?

I'm looking up 2000 N. Berendo because strange things are afoot at the Dunn household. Very strange.

Nine years after her mother, Eleanor, vanished, Lynn Eleanor Dunn, 18, says a man forced her to drive to Griffith Park and attacked her following a series of threatening letters and lewd phone calls.

Just to make things interesting, her father is Linwood G. Dunn, special effects cinematographer who worked on "King Kong," "Citizen Kane" and many other films.

Let's go back to May 28, 1948. Eleanor Winifred Dunn, 35, the mother of four children, got in a cab at Fairfax  Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, never to be seen again. She was wearing a gray suit and green coat, and wasn't carrying any money, The Times said. There are no further stories about her, so we don't know if she was ever found.

In 1957, Lynn Dunn, who was about 9 when her mother vanished, told police the following story: She had been receiving threatening letters, one a week for the last five weeks. The first letters threatened her life while the later ones made "indecent proposals," according to The Times. She also began receiving anonymous phone calls from a man who asked her to meet him in Griffith Park.

1957_0727_lynn_dunnOn July 26, 1957, she was returning home from her job as a telephone service representative when a gunman allegedly jumped into her car while she was stopped at New Hampshire and Finley avenues. Dunn said the man forced her to drive to Griffith Park, dragged her down a 300-foot embankment, beat her, kicked her, ripped her clothes, gave her some yellow pills and tried to attack her but apparently changed his mind.

She fainted when the man fled and was found four hours later by her brother-in-law, James George, 4706 Ambrose St. Her fiance, Don Hendricks, 23, 5333 South St., Glendale, discovered her car parked on Mount Hollywood Drive half a mile west of Griffith Observatory.

Authorities were looking for leads in the Marjorie Hipperson and Ruth Goldsmith killings, so in an attempt to catch the attacker, she agreed to meet a man who called her. She drove to Griffith Park with an FBI agent hidden in the trunk (recall that this is Los Angeles in July), but the man never appeared.

There are no more stories about Lynn Dunn. On Nov. 3, 1957, The Times list of marriage licenses included a Hendricks and Dunn, so they presumably went ahead with their wedding plans.

Beyond that, we simply don't know. It's easy to guess that Dunn's missing mother would resurface if she saw the news stories about the attack, but there's nothing to show that she did.

Linwood Gale Dunn died in 1998 at the age of 93.

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