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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: August 2008

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Woman kills husband as children sleep, Giants win over Dodgers, August 31, 1958


1958_august_31_ed Lillian loved Ed. She loved him even though he beat her. She loved him even though he was on probation for beating her. And she loved him even when he lay dying on the kitchen floor after she stabbed him in the heart. "I didn't want him to hurt me anymore," she said.

On the night of the killing, Lillian and Ed had hired a babysitter for their two children and gone to a party in Sierra Madre. By the time they left, both had been drinking heavily.

On their way back to their home at 3843 Blanche St., Pasadena, Ed said he was going to drop her off and do some more drinking.

"I said, 'Oh, no you don't. You're not leaving me this time,' " she told detectives. So Ed, who was 6 feet tall, slapped Lillian, who was 4 feet 11.

"When we got home, he hit me again and again," Lillian said. "Then he started to leave.... I loved him so much."

He got her into the kitchen and backed her against the sink.

"I reached into a drawer and pulled out a knife. I don't know why I did, except that I didn't want him to hurt me anymore ... and I didn't want him to leave," she said.

"But I didn't mean to hurt him."

Lillian took the 5-inch steak knife and stabbed Ed in the heart. Then she pulled it out and threw on the kitchen floor.

"I embraced Ed. I asked him to speak to me," she said. "I didn't want him to die. I begged him to live."

"I didn't know what to do," Lillian continued. "I called the telephone operator and told her to get the police to our address. I woke up the kids and told them I hurt him. But I wouldn't let them see him."

On Jan. 28, 1959, Lillian Gloria Kella, 33, was convicted of second-degree murder in the killing of her husband. She faced a sentence of five years to life in prison, but The Times never followed up on the story.

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The Blanche Street neighborhood via Google maps' street view.
Now here's some Frank Finch sports writing for you: "Willie Mays, who needs a rest like Israel needs Nasser, drove in all the runs for the Giants tonight as they completed a day-night double-header with the Dodgers."

The Braves beat the second-place Pirates, 9-1. Pitcher Lew Burdette (16-9) drives in four runs with a double and a triple. Eddie Mathews and Frank Torre hit home runs.

And college football is about to begin in the final year of the Pacific Coast Conference ... Sports Editor Paul Zimmerman notes that Street & Smith's Football Yearbook picks Ohio State as the nation's top team, followed by Oklahoma and Notre Dame. Best in the West is Oregon State (ninth) and ASU (10th).

Los Angeles history--Nuestro Pueblo


Below, Western and Los Feliz, as seen in Google maps' street view.

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Dodgers coach to manage Padres, August 30, 1968

1968_august_30_sports By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

The Angels weren't the first team to fill their coaching staffs with former Dodgers.

Preston Gomez was named the first manager of the San Diego Padres, who would begin play the following spring. Buzzie Bavasi had quit as the Dodgers' general manager to run the Padres and it could not have been much of a surprise that he picked a familiar face. Gomez had been the Dodgers' third base coach since 1965.

The Angels can trace the beginnings of their recent success to the hiring of Mike Scioscia as manager. The former Dodger catcher filled his staff with former Dodgers such as Mickey Hatcher, Alfredo Griffin, Ron Roenicke and Dino Ebel.

The first Padre coaching staff also had a Dodger feel to it. According to a list on the Padres' website, at least three of the 1969 staff could bleed a little Dodger blue: Roger Craig, Wally Moon and Sparky Anderson.

Of course, that first Padre team didn't have the success Scioscia and Co. are enjoying in Anaheim. San Diego finished with a 52-110 record. Nate Colbert and Ollie Brown led the team in home runs and Al Santorini and Joe Niekro each had eight victories to lead the pitching staff.

Gomez managed in San Diego into the 1972 season before being replaced by another former Dodger, Don Zimmer. Gomez later managed the Astros and Cubs. He spent several years in the Angels' organization, most recently as a special assistant to the general manager. He was seriously injured in March on his way home from spring training when he was hit by a truck in a gas station in Blythe.

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Dodgers Labor Day weekend TV schedule, August 30, 1958

Los Angeles Times file photo(s)

Check it out! Jerry Doggett and Vin Scully are glued together! GLUED!! Published in The Times on Sept. 2, 1958. Glue and all. Oh you photogs (or more likely the guys in the art department, sez Howard Decker). As Gary Metzker would say: "They are out of control." When I showed this to Davan Maharaj, he called it "X-acto Shop." Anybody who did this today would be out on their ear.
1958_august_30_tv_listings By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

Channel 11 was bringing in reinforcements for the Dodgers' Labor Day weekend series against the Giants.  The Times' Don Page wrote in his Sportslook column that Channel 11 would use 15 cameramen in an effort to finish the Dodgers' first season in Los Angeles with improved coverage.

"The station spent the better part of last week at the Coliseum going through dry runs," he wrote. "In its telecasts from San Francisco earlier this year the station was open to criticism over failure to keep up with the action at times."

Sounds like some hockey games I've watched.

Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett would alternate between KMPC radio and Channel 11. Baseball teams may have too many announcers now, but that seems like a lot of work for only two guys.

Page also discussed the use of some new technology to bring college football games to local television.

USC and UCLA home games would be shown on Sunday afternoons "via the videotape recording process," Page reported. Videotape "could maintain the live quality of the original telecast," he promised.

I don't remember this era of televised sports, but I do remember when a game on TV was a big deal. It doesn't seem like that long ago that baseball's Game of the Week was worth arranging your Saturday morning around.  After all, it was your only chance to see baseball from some exotic destination like Chicago or Pittsburgh.

Of course, it was that long ago.

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Movie star mystery photos


Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

Update: The woman below is indeed Veda Ann Borg. The above photo was put in her folder by mistake and I didn't notice when I was scanning the pictures! She's not Veda Ann Borg. Any guesses as to whom she might be?

Los Angeles Times file photo

Veda Ann Borg in a 1941 photograph taken while she was making "Two Yanks in Trinidad."
OK, who is she?

Is it Veda Ann Borg? (L.C.) Absolutely! Congrats!

Can you guess the identities of our mystery Hollywood movie stars


We have a correct answer! Betty Healy? (D. Webb).

Yes, this is Betty Braun (or Betty Healy) with Ted Healy of Ted Healy and His Stooges. She was sometimes known as the "girl stooge."


She came out of retirement to play Stan Laurel's wife, Bubbles, in "Our Relations."

Can you guess the identities of our mystery Hollywood movie stars


To recap: Our mystery guest was brought to Hollywood to appear in "Murder at the Vanities." However he is NOT listed the imdb entry for the movie. To make it even more difficult, his name is misspelled in the listing of the Broadway production of "Murder" so he's even harder to find. 

Wait! Wait! This just in: Paul Gerrits? (Alexa Foreman). Yes, this is skater Paul Gerrits (or Gerrish in ibdb), who was a sensation in the Broadway version of "Murder at the Vanities." He appeared in several movies and worked in Los Angeles as a master of ceremonies, often for Earl Carroll.

Nice work, Alexa!

Can you guess the identities of our mystery Hollywood movie stars

The identity of our mystery artist was guessed by Nathan Marsak: Actress Gail Russell, star of "The Angel and the Badman."  Congratulations, Nathan!

Below left, the signature of Gail Russell. The Daily Mirror thanks Jackie Lugo of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for the picture of Russell's painting. After Russell died, her brother gave the painting to Johnny Grant. Upon Grant's death, the picture passed to Lugo.

I have no idea how many other Gail Russell paintings there are. I suspect not too many.

Who is eating dinner with the Reagans? And who is the Reagans' mystery dinner companion?

Hint: Hoosier hoopster. NBA. Now ask yourself, does this gent look like an athlete? Someone said something about the Pacers.... You're red hot!

TV game show is faked, player says, LA bids for Olympics, August 29, 1958

New York Dist. Atty. Frank S. Hogan announces the investigation of charges brought by Herbert Stempel that the NBC game show "Twenty-One" was rigged. NBC says it investigated the same charges a year before a found them without merit.

According to the New York World-Telegram and Sun, Stempel said  producers told him he could "make a pile of money" by "playing ball." He said he was instructed on how to "bite my lips, clench my fists and look agonized."   

Los Angeles contestants Wade Ruby of Pepperdine and Deputy Kermit Kynell (remember him from the Norwalk plane crash?) said they weren't coached before their winning appearances on the show.

In sports, the Rams and the Browns prepare for a game at the Coliseum. The Browns are 1-1 in exhibition games, having beaten the Steelers 10-0 and lost to the Lions 17-7. The Rams have beaten the Redskins 31-10 and the Giants 38-10. The Rams starting quarterback is Jim Ninowski ... The Braves beat the Giants 3-0, stretching their National League lead to 7 1/2 games ... And Councilwoman Rosalind Wyman introduces a resolution to seek the 1964 Olympic Games.

US relaxes immigration law for Jewish refugees, Greenberg leads Babe Ruth, August 29, 1938

Sheriff guards Trojans' trophies

I've never made a scientific survey, but it wouldn't surprise me if Eugene Biscailuz were the most photographed sheriff in the history of Los Angeles County. The man certainly knew how to get his picture in the paper. The trophy is being held by USC low-hurdle star Earl Vickery, left, and pole valuter Kenny Dills. 
US relaxes immigration laws to accept Jewish refugees
Greenberg leads Ruth in home runs
At left, the U.S. is accepting Jewish refugees from Europe at the rate of 100 a day. The AP story notes that the refugees have no money but are being assisted by Jewish aid groups.

Also note: Germany's Catholic bishops denounce the Nazis, though not by name. The bishops say all Catholic books are censored, banned or confiscated. 

African Americans in sports

Above, if you look hard enough you really can find African Americans in The Times.

In sports, the Angels beat the Stars in the final double-header of the "Civil War series" ... Hank Greenberg hits his 45th homer of the season as Detroit wins against Boston, 4-3 ... Greenberg's run in the Tigers' 118th/119th game puts him ahead of Babe Ruth's 1927 season, when Ruth had hit 39 runs in 118 games.   

Intruder kills former actress, August 28, 1958

LAPD at Hollywood murder scene, August 28, 1958
Murder victim Helene Jerome She is one of those cold cases that leave all kinds of unanswered questions even when the killer is finally caught, convicted and sent to prison. Nothing about it passes the sniff test.

We know her name was Helene Funk Jerome, born in New York on March 12, 1908, which makes her 50 at the time of the killing. She was living in a rear apartment at the Las Palmas Hotel, 1738 N. Las Palmas. That's the one used in "Pretty Woman."

She was supposedly a retired actress, but her credentials are rather vague. The Times said she was a graduate of either the Royal Dramatic Academy or the Royal Dramatic Society in London, so I'm guessing it was the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, which has no record of her -- at least online.

Most of her career was spent on the stage in China, The Times said. She never made any movies and shouldn't be confused with Helene Jerome Eddy, who died in 1990.

About 1943, Helene married Edwin Jerome, an actor who had a long career on Broadway before coming to Hollywood, where he appeared in such roles as a butler in "Gigi" and a doctor in "The Three Faces of Eve." They were estranged, he said, but remained friendly. He lived about 2 miles away at 1710 N. Harvard.

It's unclear whether Edwin called the hotel or the hotel switchboard operator called him, but either way, he became concerned when the operator said Helene's phone had been off the hook for a long time. He told police he went to the apartment to investigate and found Helene's nude body. The screen had been torn from a window near the door and detectives inferred that someone had broken in. The autopsy found that she had been strangled.

Murder suspect Edgar McAdooEdwin told police that he had been there late Tuesday, the night before the killing, and had answered the phone because she was asleep. Edwin said the caller was a man, but didn't get his name.

A few days later, police arrested Edgar Glenn McAdoo, 25, because he closely resembled the police sketch of a man seen with Helene in a bar a few hours before she was killed. McAdoo, who was working as a carhop after arriving from Lubbock, Texas, two months earlier, admitted being in a bar with Helene and said he escorted her back to the apartment but went home to 6674 Yucca St.

Investigators searched Helene's apartment for fingerprints to see if any matched McAdoo and he was given an extensive polygraph exam. However, prosecutors refused to file charges against him. He was released, charged with outstanding traffic warrants and freed on bail.

Next, based on an informant's report, police arrested Miller F. Dowdy, 42, who operated an all-night newsstand at Las Palmas and Hollywood Boulevard. Although the informant said Dowdy had been with Helene on the evening before the killing, Dowdy said he was working all night, although he admitted going on a date with her about three weeks earlier.

Dowdy was released a few days later for lack of evidence and police arrested Jordan Holt, 32, who was captured on a hotel roof and admitted being with Helene on the night of the killing, The Times said. The paper never reported what became of Holt, although he was apparently released.

In September 1960, police found another suspect, Henry Adolph Busch, 29, who admitted strangling three Hollywood women, including his foster mother's sister. He was questioned about Helene's killing, but apparently nothing came of it.

Murder suspect Miller DowdyFinally, in November 1962, a 26-year-old shipping clerk from La Puente, Michael John Donahue, walked into the Portland, Ore., police station and confessed to killing Helene. He said he left Los Angeles a week earlier to get away but decided to confess to clear his conscience. Donahue said he followed Helene and a young man (presumably McAdoo) home from a Hollywood bar, then broke in once the man left. They argued and he killed her, he said.

Donahue pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and in April 1963 was sentenced to five years to life in prison.

This is only chronology I can come up with for Helene's killing and it doesn't fit together terribly well: Edwin is at Helene's apartment. It's late and she's asleep. The phone rings and Edwin answers, then he leaves. For the rest of it to work, Helene would have to get up, go to the bar and meet McAdoo, come home with him, and then be killed by Donahue. And Holt is supposed to fit in there someplace.

This lady seems to have been hanging around with an awful lot of low-life men who were much younger; two of them were half her age. And then throw in the guy working at the all-night newsstand; not exactly prime date material. The Times doesn't say anything about what she did for a living. I wonder what was really going on. 

Helene was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park. In addition to Edwin, she was survived by sisters Josephine Laroza and Frieda Theis and brothers John and Bernard Funk.

Edwin died a little over a year after the killing, having moved to Altadena. He "reportedly never recovered from the shock of the unsolved murder of his wife," The Times said.

Public records are inconclusive on confessed killer Michael John Donahue. A man by that name died in Long Beach in 1999, but it's unclear if this is the same man.

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Front page, August 28, 1958 Reds win against Dodgers

Voices--Brian Stromsoe

Brian Stromsoe writes:

I think the Mirror was 5 cents back then. I delivered the Huntington Park Signal, which produced $20 per month for my comic book purchases, and a stop off at Rancher Bill's for a burger, fries, and coke -- all for $0.25 or $0.30.

I was a Boy Scout at the old Goodyear plant (Central and Florence -- neighbor worked there after WWII). And one g'pa used to take me out to Wrigley Field (Angels) and Gilmore Field (Stars). Got to watch Max West, Steve Bilko, Luke Easter, and (of course) Chuck Connors do their thing with a baseball. And I used to sneak into the Coliseum after Saturday morning classes at the Museum to watch some football games (UCLA 72 over Stanford; Frank Gifford as a USC halfback, etc.).

One of our family highlights was the Sunday drive to the airport to park on Aviation Boulevard to watch the prop jobs come in for landings. And who could forget the old aluminum hot dog stand near Central and Florence where Mr. Karcher began his chili dog career, maybe feeding those Goodyear employees for lunch. We later made him rich by eating at his #2 on Alameda south of Florence, and then his #3 in Huntington Park on Pacific south of Florence.

I was employed as a box boy at "Best Buy" or "Bi-Rite" on Florence / Avalon for $1.00 per hour (and $5.00 for any shopping cart we "found"). My sister was an usherette at the Fox Theater on Florence so I stopped by every night after work to watch movies (even the Spanish-language ones). My first haircuts were at Mac's on San Pedro, probably because he cut my dad's hair in the 1930s and 1940s. I think the family used another barber on Central for placing bets on the ponies. Seems betting on the horses was a pretty common neighborhood thing.

Well, enough for now, else I will be ruminating for the day.

Woman kills husband over singing, Reds win against Dodgers, August 27, 1958

Woman kills husband over singing

Madame Chiang Kai-shek visits Los Angeles Was Benajmin John Beynon an abusive husband ... or just a bad singer?

Ben, 46, and his wife of six years, Anne, lived at 1946 1/2 New England Ave., between Hoover and Vermont just south of Washington. For the last three years, Anne had been using a wheelchair, although The Times never explained why.

On the night in question, Anne wheeled her chair to the kitchen, got a knife and stabbed Ben in the chest. According to Anne, Ben had punched her in the nose and threatened her with a butcher knife.

However, Ben's 18-year-old daughter, Linda Lee Klein, said that Anne didn't like Ben's singing. She told police that Ben and Anne were arguing about his singing and as he hummed a tune, Anne wheeled out to kitchen, got a knife and stabbed him.

Anne was charged with murder, but The Times never followed up on the story, so we don't know what happened. Tracking down any details is even more difficult because we misspelled Beynon's name as "Benyon." Most unhelpful.

According to California death records, a woman named Ann Beynon died in Los Angeles on April 13, 1970, but it's unclear if it's the same person.

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Dodgers lose to Redlegs Former Dodger Don Newcombe, who was traded to Cincinatti in June, leads the Reds in a 6-4 victory over his old team, with help from Brooks Lawrence. Newcombe was 0-6 before he was traded, The Times' Frank Finch says.

Art Aragon's trainer, Bennie Conyers, visits the ballroom of the Lafayette Hotel, where challenger Carmen Basilio is giving an exhibition. "There's a spy in the house today," Basilio quips to the audience before doing some shadowboxing.

And Eddie Mathews hits two homers as the Braves beat the Giants, 7-3. 

Glenn Davis makes debut with the Rams, August 26, 1948

1948_august_26_sportsBy Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

Glenn Davis was such a star, his debut with the Rams was headline news. Even if the game wasn't a real game.

Davis, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1946 as part of powerhouse Army teams, was the main attraction at the Rams' intrasquad game at Gilmore Stadium. More than 11,000 fans attended the exhibition, which The Times' Braven Dyer said was Davis' first local appearance since he played at Bonita High in La Verne "way back before the war."

And Davis didn't disappoint, scoring three touchdowns. The only bad news was he wouldn't be available during the season for the Rams. Dyer wrote that after the next week's exhibition, Davis "goes overseas with Uncle Sam's army. Dan Reeves, principal stockholder of the Rams, sat in the stands last night and wished that Joe Stalin would drop dead or jump out of the third floor of the Kremlin."

1947_1104_west_point_2 Davis had a short career with the Rams after completing his military service. The Rams reached the league title game in 1950 and he led the team in rushing. But before his pro career started, he had injured his knee making a movie called "The Spirit of West Point" with his Army teammate, fellow Heisman Trophy winner Doc Blanchard. 

At Army, the speedy Davis was known as Mr. Outside and Blanchard was Mr. Inside. Army won national titles in 1944 and '45 and finished second in '46.

After football, Davis spent more than 30 years at The Times, retiring as the director of special events.

Davis died in 2005 at the age of 80. The Times' Mike Kupper used a quote from a former Army teammate in Davis' obituary: "There are words to describe how good an athlete Doc Blanchard was. But there aren't words to describe how good Davis was."

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LAPD officer accused in bizarre plot to kill neighbors, August 26, 1938

I had to look twice at this one: A suspended police officer hires a couple of men to tunnel to his neighbors' house? Really? I mean are you serious?
1938_august_26_cover An officer is suspended from the force after being charged with molesting the child of a neighbor (an LAPD detective) and is accused of trying to kill the family by digging a tunnel that police say could have been used to set off an explosion. The officer said his attorney told him to dig the tunnel so he could plant bugging equipment to see if the child was being coached by the parents. The officer was convicted of molestation in 1938. He was granted a retrial on appeal in 1939, but The Times did not report the outcome.

Also: A judge finds The Times guilty of contempt for editorials on pending court cases: The Douglas strike, the Helen Werner case and the "goon squad case" (a labor dispute) as well as two editorials about a committee of the Los Angeles Bar Assn.

Times contempt case
Tunneling case
1938_august_26_sports In sports, here's a deck worth noting: "Hollywood curvist shuts out Seraphs by 5-0 score." The curvist is Wayne Osborne of the Hollywood Stars, who threw a shutout against the Los Angeles Angels in the "Civil War series."

UCLA prepares for the beginning of football practice in September ...  "South Gate jitterbug jockey" Bob Swanson wins a 50-lap midget car race at Gilmore Stadium.

And the New York State Racing Commission suspends groom Raymond Smith to investigate allegations that he drugged racehorses at Saratoga.


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