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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: March 2, 2008 - March 8, 2008

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Mystery photo


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Photograph by Frank Q. Brown / Los Angeles Times

OK, this photo is from the funeral of Columbia executive Harry Cohn, which was held on a massive sound stage that had been turned into a chapel. Who are these pallbearers, who were at one time some of the most powerful men in Hollywood? Note to people with ProQuest (you know who you are): I've got my eye on you.

  • Director George Sidney? (Alexa Foreman). Yes. George Sidney is one of 16 pallbearers listed in The Times' story. The men aren't identified on the back of the original photo, so all I have to go by is what we reported.
  • Irving Ludwig? (Sorry, he's not listed in The Times' story).
  • Walter Wanger? (He's not listed in The Times' story).
  • Jack Warner? (Sorry, no).
  • Frank Capra? (Sorry, no).
  • Jerry Wald? (Sorry, no).
  • John Ford in the upper left corner. (Richard Heft) Exactly right! Terrific work.
  • Mendel Silberberg. (Richard Heft) Terrific work.

Hint: There is another famous director among the pallbearers.

Update 2: Arthur Friedman, an office boy at Columbia's New York offices in 1957, says: Top left-in order--Abe Schneider-Paul Lazarus-John Ford----Bottom rt 1/2 blocked Leo Jaffe---believe 3rd up with glasses is Abe Montague. He also recommends reading "King Cohn."

Update: The always engaging and ever-enchanting Nathan Marsak did exactly what I would have done, which is go to ProQuest and dig up the list. Let the hills resound with his glory as a diligent researcher. Here they are:

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Irving Briskin--left, Los Angeles Times file photo, right, at Harry Cohn's funeral. See below*

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Jack Entratter, left in 1954, and a mystery pallbearer. (Richard Heft).

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John Ford (Richard Heft, Alexa Foreman)
Jack Fier
Alfred Hart
Dr. Stanley Imerman
Leo Jaffe
B.B. Kahane
Max Kettner
Paul N. Lazarus Jr.

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Abe Montague

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Abe Schneider

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George Sidney (Alexa Foreman)
Mendel B. Silberberg
Morris Stoloff
Jonie Taps

But as you have undoubtedly noticed, these are in alphabetical order. So the challenge becomes: Put the names with the faces.



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Photograph by George M. Lacks / Los Angeles Times

* OK, who are the folks with mystery pallbearer Irving Briskin? Note: This isn't a movie still, in case you are using IMDB to crack the enigma. This photo is from an event.

  • Bogie and his wife, Mayo (Joe) Yes/No.
  • Bogart and a Columbia starlet, of course (Alexa Foreman). Yes/Yes. Well, what's her name?
  • Florence Marly? Sorry, no.
  • Susan Perry? Sorry, no.
  • Janet Blair (Richard Heft). Absolutely right. Congratulations!

By the way, notice Bogart's understated, classy look. Yes, it's a double-breasted suit, but he's got a classic pinstripe, subdued tie (check out that cravat on Briskin) and handkerchief.

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Paul Coates

March 8, 1958

Paul_coates A high school official who nearly died from stab wounds inflicted by a sheriff's vice officer said today that he intends to take legal action against the deputy.

William R. Barringer, 43, dean of boys and vice principal of Oakdale Union High School, revealed his intentions following a court trial in which he was accused of battery and resisting arrest.

The trial, in Citrus Municipal Court, ended in a hung jury late last night. After deliberating eight hours, the jury locked 9-3 for acquittal.

Barringer was arrested following a brawl in a Baldwin Park bar with three vice officers last Dec. 21.

He was stabbed twice in the stomach, once in the back and slashed across the face.

Deputy Heliodoro Gonzales admitted in court that he inflicted the facial and stomach wounds, but denied knifing the vice principal in the back.

Barringer reportedly did not receive adequate medical attention for his wounds until 16 hours after the incident. He also charged that as a result he is suffering from peritonitis, a serious inflammation of the stomach and intestinal walls.

The vice principal testified that he went to the Ramona Boulevard bar at approximately 12:30 in the morning of Dec. 21 with a sister-in-law to pick up his brother, Jack Barringer of 3379 N. Frazier, Baldwin Park.

His brother, whom he was visiting over the holidays with his wife and 10-month-old son, was employed there as a bartender.

According to the 6-foot, 4-inch school official's story, a fight broke out in the bar shortly before closing time.

"It was at the other end of the bar," he said. "I saw my brother step from behind the bar to break it up. Someone hit him and he went down.

"That's when I went to his aid."

Barringer explained that he knocked down the man he thought had floored his brother.

1958_0325_barringer "But it turned out to be a friend of my brother's," he said. "I apologized to the man. The fight seemed to be over and my brother was all right, so I started walking back to the table where my sister-in-law was seated.

"At that point I was jumped by two men from behind. Both were in old civilian clothes. They pushed me out the front door and another man followed them."

It was brought out in the trial that all three men were on-duty vice squad officers. Barringer's testimony that he had no knowledge that the men were sheriff's deputies was supported by several witnesses.

"Outside," Barringer continued, "I found myself battling all three of them. I knocked two of them down. One stayed down. The other got up and ran away.

"He returned immediately with a gun. I was still fighting the third man and had just noticed that my shirt was covered with blood when I heard the man with the gun shout:

" 'Cut him up some more.'

"I tried to run back into the bar then but the door was bolted. As I turned away from Gonzales, he slashed me across the face and I felt the sting of the knife in my back.

"That's when I collapsed to the ground."

Deputy Gonzales' story in court conflicted  with that of Barringer.

He stated that Barringer, followed by several other men, charged him.

He also testified that the weapon he used was a small penknife. The knife was not confiscated by Baldwin Park police who came to the scene, and Gonzales told the court that he lost the weapon three weeks later in some sand dunes.

Following the brawl, Barringer was handcuffed and taken to El Monte Receiving Hospital, where--according to witnesses--he was knocked from his wheelchair by a vice officer.

The witnesses also reported that another vice officer came in and showed Barringer's watch (which had fallen off in the scuffle) to the injured man and told him:

"You'll never see this again, you S.O.B."

Barringer stated that the watch--the band of which was a gift from students of Oakdale High--has not yet been returned.

Later, the vice principal was transferred to the prison ward of County General Hospital. However, according to his attorney, William A. Kurlander, he received no medical attention until 5:30 p.m.

"I arrived there around noon and found him lying unattended on a cot in the hallway," he said. "I got him out of the prison ward as fast as I could and into surgery.

"If he hadn't had the money for an attorney I'm afraid he might have died before he received any attention. The woulds were very serious."

Throughout the case, the Central California community of Oakdale has stood behind its school official.

Donald R. Lund, principal of the high school there, said:

"Barringer has been a wonderful credit to our school and community and I'll back him up 100%."

Frank Asbill, retired Los Angeles Police Department officer now serving on the Oakdale Board of Education, added:

"I'm shocked to hear that a vice officer would use a knife on a suspect. Of course we're behind Barringer but no matter who it was a police officer should never use a knife to enforce the law."

Unless the misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest is dropped, a retrial will be held later this month.

[Note that the original Times story bears little resemblance to Coates' column. Unfortunately, it's emerging as something of a trend as this is about the third time I can recall that Coates' account differs drastically from what was reported. He tends to leave out essential facts when interviewing victims, which I find extremely troubling. All charges were dropped, according to a March 25, 1958, story in The Times--lrh].

       

March 8, 1958


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Transportation in Los Angeles as it was 50 years ago. A motorist is stranded on the median of the Harbor Freeway. Significant point: At this time in Los Angeles history, the freeways were patrolled by the LAPD, not the CHP ... And an interesting problem for streetcars. Notice that when the tracks are blocked, nothing can move. To greatly simplify the problem: The thing defined streetcars--tracks--was also their inescapable weakness. Which is one of the major reasons they were replaced by buses that could change lanes.


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March 8, 1908


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Above, meet Margaret Deland and take a look at some of the things she says: Divorce is selfish, it's socially criminal to bring a child into the world that can't be properly cared for, and she opposes women's suffrage because it would extend voting rights to uneducated women. To see a women advance some of these views comes as a shock, I must say. Below, political coverage by a staunchly Republican paper.


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House of the week


March 8, 1908
Los Angeles


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1908_0308_kellogg_story_2


Above, the Kellogg mansion, built for newspaper executive F.W. Kellogg. It was named Highlawn by John Muir, The Times says. One of my favorite pastimes is to visit these 100-year-old "homes of the week" but this one was torn down in 1960 so the land could be subdivided for tract homes (note the street name Scripps Place). Several surrounding buildings have survived, including a studio.


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Sleepy Lagoon


Aug. 3, 1942
Los Angeles



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I received several requests for Times stories on the Sleepy Lagoon case after we published the obituary of Manuel Reyes, who was wrongly convicted in the slaying of Jose Diaz. This is our first story on the incident, which occurred on the Williams ranch in Montebello.


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Matt Weinstock

March 7, 1958

Matt_weinstockd Another citizen is resentful because police came and got him at 2 a.m. on a warrant for an unanswered parking violation.

Eventually, after the long ride to City Jail, the processing and waiting, a neighbor put up the $25 bail and he was released.

At first he was hollering "Gestapo!" but he has cooled off some. After all, he did ignore the ticket and the subsequent warning.

BUT HE STILL doesn't think he's quite a criminal--it was his first ticket--and he has a suggestion.

He thinks parking tickets, even when they go to warrant, might more efficiently be handled by letter and serve the same corrective purpose.

For instance, if a ticket were ignored for 30 days the offender would be notified by mail that his fine had 1958_0307_moviesbeen doubled. If he didn't respond to that, OK, let the gendarmes wake him. But under this procedure our undermanned police force detailed to the dawn patrol might be released for more important duty.

LIKE MANY freelance writers, Sparks Stringer works mostly at home and wears comfortable clothes.

The other day, wearing old dungarees, a faded shirt and needing a shave, he went into a Beverly Hills store. The manager rushed over with such attentive cordiality that Sparks, puzzled, asked why he, in shabby clothes, should get the A treatment.

"Here in Beverly Hills," the manager said, "when someone dressed as you are comes in we figure he's too important to care about his appearance and we give him special attention. Men in $300 suits and women in mink we take for granted."

SO YOU DON'T believe the stars can influence people's lives? Some people do, among them writer Sydney Omarr, who insists astrology is an authentic science.

Syd was interviewed on Ben Hunter's early morning KFI program and when Ben said he was going to Santa Anita that day Syd suggested a test based on a chapter titled "How to Pick Winners" in his book  "Thought Dial," due out next month.

First determining Ben's planetary symbol, Syd asked him to concentrate on going to the cashier's window after a race and collecting money, then to pick horses based on a numerical sequence whose  names reminded him of the sun.

Ben bet a horse across the board in each of six races and all six finished in the money.

SUCH IS THE maze of No Left Turn, No Right Turn and One Way signs, it's virtually impossible to get on or off Crescent Heights Hill north of Sunset Boulevard. Even hill residents who know their way around are complaining.

To make matters worse, the Keep Right sign at Hollywood Boulevard and Laurel Canyon Boulevard has been knocked down half a dozen times lately by baffled motorists. And so a gal named Kendis is urging the hill people to rise and demand the city padres to create a new post, Keeper of the  Keep Right signs.

AT RANDOM -- A restaurant at Huntington Drive and Garfield has a sign, "About the birds and the bees--birds are bigger" ... It's a mixed-up world. A departing friend remarked to Ralph Portnor, "Wonder if I'll be late on time again" ... Nat Cole was touched by a phone call from W.C. Handy in New York congratulating him on the film "St. Louis Blues" to be released in April. "It's one of the finest pictures I've ever seen," he said. Handy is blind ... The dictionary can be mighty frustrating at times. For instance, the word expedient is defined, "That which is expedient" ... A headline stated "Slump Over, Official Says." To which Raul Rodriguez caught himself retorting, "What for? Another kick in the pants?"


       

Dear Abby

March 6, 1968

1968_0306_abby

OK, does anybody want to take a guess at what's going on here?

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March 7, 1958


1958_0307_movies_clip_2

Above, a look at upcoming films with African American casts, "St. Louis Blues" and "Porgy and Bess." Click on the image to read the complete story. Below, time to take the classic Porsche 356 up to see the snow ...  It rains beans in Van Nuys ...  Bus and trolley fares are going up ...  Unexpected problems with a proposed atomic-powered plane. Hint to engineers: Lead is not an ideal airframe component. 


1958_0307_cover


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March 7, 1938


1938_0307_oz_2

Above, Spencer Tracy as the Tin Man--that's a casting idea that never occurred to me. Or to MGM, apparently. Below, former President Hoover is to visit Hitler ... Cleanup from the storms continues as the death toll reaches 92 ... A "silver lining" to the flood damage: Gold is found in mud left in Santa Monica Canyon ...


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March 7, 1908


1908_0307_church


Above, an African American church is planted at 37th Street and Denker, The Times says.  According to the church's website, Westminster Presbyterian was built at 35th Place and Denker. Below, The Times reports on Los Angeles County's plans for a network of roads. Unfortunately, we didn't run a map so it's difficult to determine the precise routes.

Notice the name of one landmark: "N-word Slough." Early news accounts say the slough, which was fed by overflow from the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers, covered 1,500 acres and was slightly south of Gardena. [Aha! Here's a map from 1920].  In 1941, The Times reported that a mile-square oil slick floating on the water in the slough caught fire at 190th Street and Figueroa. The term remained in use in The Times as late as 1949, although in later years it was replaced by "Dominguez Slough."



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Matt Weinstock

March 6, 1958

Matt_weinstockd They've stuck a flock of pictures on the walls of the County Museum by some fellow named Degas and, well, I was shanghaied by some well-meaning friends the other night just like in "This Is Your Life" and taken over there for a squint.

The joint was sure crowded. And you should have seen some of the guys. Yeah, tuxedos. Just to take a gander at some pictures. Imagine.

Well, I paraded around with the gang, picture after picture, making faces at them as if I could tell whether they were good or bad.

This Degas (pronounced Day-gah) was a fiend for ballet dancers. The joint was jumping with them, mostly young girl types. Some were real pretty, too.

1958_0306_cowboy Afterward the gang stood in line and some dolls were dishing out coffee and cake and pink-colored punch, unspiked I figured. Just like at the mission only these gals were dressed better.

SERIOUSLY, the exhibit is excellent and admirers of Hillaire Germain Edgar Degas (1834-1917) will find their feeling for his warmth and depth reinforced.

My favorite, by the way, is a painting of Degas' father, a rapt expression on his face, listening to a man playing a guitar.

In an exhibit of this kind as wide a variety as possible of the artist's work is shown. Thus, some pieces are only fragmentary sketches.

Well I couldn't help hearing a distinguished-looking gentleman say to a young lady as they studied one charcoal drawing, "That should teach you never to throw anything away. That one looks like someone fished it out of the wastebasket."

AS THE NEWS came over the teletypes yesterday that the Army had launched another satellite, irrepressible Delmar Watson went around to former Navy men on the staff and remarked, "Well, admiral, I see the Navy's still at it,"--accompanied by the motion of rowing a boat.

AS IF there weren't enough frustration in the world already, employees of an Alhambra contracting firm are playing a diabolic game on a woman bookkeeper.

She virtually lives for her personal mail. She even goes home at lunchtime for it.

Well, the last few days she has been finding cards recalling past associations, expressing regret at not seeing her for so long, ending "Love"--but with no name.

When or if she finds out it's her colleagues you may look for a little assault with intent to commit mayhem in Alhambra.

SPEAKING OF practical jokes, cruel sixth-graders at Montague Street School in Pacoima did a naughty thing to a boy of Mexican ancestry whose knowledge of English is limited.

They "taught" him to pronounce his new teacher's name. One morning he greeted the shocked instructor, "Good morning, Mr. Jackass!"

A USUALLY reliable spy reports by long-distance whisper it's apparently true that when Sputnik II made its first few runs over Washington, D.C., its electronic signals opened half a dozen garage doors. The Air Force is said to have quietly investigated and conceded the probability.

AROUND TOWN -- Alan Fox's version: "I disagree with what you say but I will defend to your death the right to say it" ... Since the strange disclosures in the drunk driving trial of Mrs. Ron Waller, taxi passengers are having fun remarking, "Be careful what you say, the driver may be wired" ... Sam Katzman, Columbia producer, likes the sign on a shoe repair shop at Hollywood Boulevard and Kingsley: "We doctor shoes. Heel them. Attend to their dyeing. And save their soles" ... Fascinating fragment of conversation overheard in an Olive Street lunchroom, two women chatting: "Is he wealthy?" "Oh, off and on."


       
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