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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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1957_0904_confidential

Sept. 4, 1957
Los Angeles

1957_0904_ohara On a field trip to Grauman's Chinese Theater so that the court could visit the notorious Row 35, where Maureen O'Hara's alleged tryst occurred, jurors discovered that it was really Row 40. Aisle C.

Upon being shown to the seats, La Guerre Drouet, the juror whose request prompted the trip, tried to reenact O'Hara's alleged encounter with a Mexican lover, cuddling and writhing with an imaginary companion. "For several moments, the juror turned and tried various poses as he recalled defense testimony as to what allegedly happened," The Times said.

Back in court, wearing a blue-striped white cotton dress, turned-up white straw hat and "90-cent pearl earrings," O'Hara made her entrance, vowing "Up the Irish!" On the stand, she insisted that the incident never occurred, noting that she was out of the country when the alleged encounter took place.

Defense Attorney Arthur J. Crowley attacked her testimony on several fronts. He first tried to show that O'Hara had been out on the town with Mexican millionaire Enrique Parra. Crowley displayed a news photograph of the two of them at a nightclub and when O'Hara said she couldn't recall where it was taken, Crowley attempted to demonstrate that her memory was unclear on where the two of them had gone.

When Judge Herbert V. Walker barred that line of questioning, Crowley examined whether O'Hara had ever been to the Chinese Theater. O'Hara said she had only gone to the theater for several premieres ("The Robe," September 1953; "Prince Valiant," April 1954), and was always accompanied by a relative.

When a series of questions establishing Parra's identity concluded in whether they had ever been to Grauman's Chinese Theater, O'Hara replied: "Never!"

1957_0904_dandridgeCrowley's final effort was to show that publicity from the Confidential article and the resulting trial had been good for her career. O'Hara said she hadn't been offered a job since the story was published (her next movie was "Our Man in Havana," released in 1959) and described her daughter Bronwyn crying herself to sleep because children at school were talking about the scandal.

Dorothy Dandridge also testified, disputing a purported incident described in the Confidential story "What Dorothy Dandridge Did in the Woods," involving white band leader Daniel Terry that supposedly occurred when she was appearing at Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe placed so many restrictions on African Americans that she spent most of her time in her suite, Dandridge said. "I worked nights and slept in the afternoon," she said.

When asked if she had ever ridden in a car with Terry, Dandridge replied: "I couldn't have been seen with Mr. Terry in a prejudiced place like Lake Tahoe."

Fashion note: Dandridge wore a beige linen suit with a white artificial corsage at her shoulder, The Times said.

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