The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: August 17, 2008 - August 23, 2008

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Valentino near death, August 23, 1926


Ladies in Black, you know what to do....

Couple found dead in pool, August 23, 1958

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Couple found dead in Arcadia swimming pool
Victims of Arcadia drowning August 23, 1958

We're parked outside the home at 322 Arbolada Drive, Arcadia. It's early morning and everything is quiet. Nice place, isn't it? Built in 1951. You'd never guess, but one spring day a few years ago, a college girl up the street killed herself over her boyfriend while her parents were on vacation. Very sad.

Ready? Let's go. Keep your hands in your pockets. Don't touch anything and don't move anything.

They're over here in the swimming pool. In a few hours, a man from the maintenance company is going to find them.

The man floating face-down is named is Reginald J. Koster. He's 69 years old,* a retired businessman. Reginald was staying here by himself while his daughter and son-in-law were on a trip to Washington, D.C. According to an in-law, he was not a good swimmer.

The woman is Lucille Marceline Barry, 43, an auditor for Manor Market, 2526 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.  She lived at 101 S. Fremont in Alhambra with her mother, who says Lucille wasn't a good swimmer.

Apparently they met for drinks at Eaton's restaurant, 1150 W. Colorado Blvd., Arcadia. That's the one with the windmill on the roof. Witnesses say Reginald and Lucille had a few cocktails and took a cab back here. Reginald changed into his trunks in one room and Lucille changed into a swimsuit in another room. Here's their cocktail glasses: empty.

Police will figure they drowned when one of them began having trouble in the deep end and the other tried to help.

Reginald was widowed or divorced and survived by three married daughters. He might have been a lab assistant to a New York inventor named Fred E. Bright, or maybe that was another Reginald J. Koster.

Judging by California death records, Lucille had never been married. The Times wrote about several women named Lucille Barry, but it's unclear whether any of them were the same woman. One of them was a model who posed for pictures promoting the County Fair.

We better get going, the pool man will be here soon.

* According to California death records.



UFO over Los Angeles, November 26, 1904

A historic first for women in politics, November 26, 1904
Photograph of a 20-story telegraph antenna shows early street lighting in Los Angeles

No, the above object is not a flying saucer on a stick. It is, in fact, Los Angeles' earliest attempt at street lighting in which carbon arc lights were mounted on tall poles around the city. This one was near 7th Street and Alameda, where a 20-story wireless telegraph antenna was being built. That's some skyhook, folks.

And a milestone in women's history: "The first women's campaign committee ever formed in Los Angeles for the purpose of doing a definite work in an election."

The Times is careful to note that these women can't actually vote!

A higher plane

 Illustration from Splendid Little War
Dropcap_w_1904 e at the Daily Mirror have been taken to task by an anonymous commenter (an SBC Global subscriber ISP for focusing on "crap"  rather than more intellectually stimulating fare. (I tend to suspect this is a pseudonym, though I could be wrong) bemoans the demise of the book review section in published editions of The Times and the brevity of published theater listings.

Although I am unable to do anything about either situation, I hope you will enjoy Robert R. Kirsch's 50-year-old review of Frank Freidel's "The Splendid Little War." I trust you will find this more to your liking, Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms. Please note that "Splendid Little War" has been reissued and is ranked 1,160,900 in Amazon sales. With luck, this post may give it a nice little bump.

Robert R. Kirsch's book review of Splendid Little War
And now back to the regularly scheduled mayhem.... 

Los Angeles history: Bunker Hill

Former mayor may enter recall race, Cubs win over Pirates, August 22, 1938

Los Angeles tries to ease downtown traffic

Above, more proof, as if any were needed, that bad traffic is nothing new in Los Angeles. Note the traffic island in the center of the drawing, which is where people waited to board a streetcar.

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Voila! A 70-year-old attempt to deal with Los Angeles' traffic.
Former Mayor Porter may enter Frank Shaw recall campaign

Cubs win against Pirates in double-header

Former Mayor John C. Porter adds an interesting wrinkle to the recall election by being coy as to whether he plans to run against Mayor Frank Shaw. The leading challenger, Judge Fletcher Bowron, is unimpressed. "I'm going to be elected regardless of how many run," he says.

Mayor Shaw, meanwhile, is praised for getting federal slum clearance money, and his wife is recovering from an appendix operation.

E.V. Durling asks: "Why do alleged experts in this country keep saying television as a general form of entertainment is not yet practical?"

And the city engineer hopes to relieve traffic by building an underpass on Figueroa beneath Temple.

In sports, the Angels and the Padres take turns "Snow White-ing" each other in a double header, 4-0 Angels and 5-0 Padres ... Light Horse Harry Cooper and Slammin' Sam Snead will meet for the Canadian Open championship. Catherine Malcolm wins the women's singles title in the National Public Courts Tennis Tournament in Griffith Park.

Police kill man, rock 'n' roll, Dodgers win, August 21, 1958

Hula Hoops!
Dick Clark at the Hollywood Bowl! Flying Purple People Eater

Hula Hoops and Dick Clark at the Hollywood Bowl (with Rod McKuen!) Jan and Arnie ("Jennie Lee," "The Beat That Can't Be Beat")? The Six Teens ("A Casual Look")? These are not names that are familiar to me. Hey Sheb Wooley! "Purple People Eater!" 
Police shoot robber

Dodgers win over the Braves
Here's a story that's particularly curious. Police officers kill an ex-convict identified as Nathaniel Calvin Spates during a robbery. We run it on Page 1 with a big headline and the next day--nothing. In fact, not a word ever appears as a follow-up. Very suspicious. I would have to look at the other papers to be sure, but I wonder whether he was African American.

As usual, only the front page got into the microfilmed edition. The jump is missing so we don't have most of the story. It would be interesting to see what the California Eagle and the Los Angeles Sentinel did with this story.

The 10 Arab nations in the U.N. announce that they have a peace plan for the Middle East ... A 10-day-old Teamsters strike shuts down trucking throughout the West ... President Eisenhower announces that he will enforce desegregation orders.

In sports, the Dodgers beat the Braves ... The Cubs and the Pirates split a double-header. After losing, 4-2, the Cubs take the second half, 5-1, when the game is called in the fifth inning on account of rain and darkness.

Times Sports Editor Paul Zimmerman writes a tribute to the late columnist Ned Cronin, imitating his stuttering:

"III'm the orororatorical eeqquivalent ttto ttthe bbblocked pppunt."

Playboy pitcher throws no-hitter, August 20, 1968

Bo Belinsky throws a no-hitter in 1962
Los Angeles Times file photo

May 6, 1962: Bo Belinsky of the Angels fires a fast ball at the Baltimore Orioles during his historic no-hitter.


Bo Belinsky and Mamie Van Doren, 1963
Los Angeles Times file photo

April 1963: Bo Belinsky and fiancee Mamie Van Doren skip the Baseball Writers Annual Awards banquet to go dancing.
August 20, 1968

By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

Bo Belinsky would have been something in the era of YouTube. A left-handed pitcher who loved the limelight, he'd probably even have his own blog.

Belinsky had a short, wild career that was filled with potential and problems. He pitched the first no-hitter in Los Angeles major league history for the Angels in 1962 and started his rookie season 5-0.

Ross Newhan, The Times' longtime baseball writer, wrote in 2001 about his first encounter with Belinsky in Palm Springs in 1962.

"There he was sitting by the Desert Inn pool, wearing shades to deflect the sun, a drink in his hand, perfectly at ease in the sparkling environment, as if he was already the toast of the town and this was just one more introductory news conference."

But the bright lights were too much for Belinsky, who dated actresses and got lots of publicity, little of which apparently had to do with his ability to throw a baseball.  His photo file in The Times' library has as many shots of nightclubs, press conferences and publicity appearances as pictures of Bo actually pitching. After starting 5-0, he finished 10-11 in 1962. In 1964, he knocked out Braven Dyer, the Times' baseball writer who was 64 at the time, and the Angels had seen enough. They suspended and ultimately traded him to Philadelphia.

Bo Belinsky and Mamie Van Doren 1992
Photograph by Gary Ambrose /
Los Angeles Times
June 1992: Bo Belinsky and Mamie Van Doren appear with Angels owner Gene Autry before a Legends of Baseball game.
By 1968 Belinsky was back in the minor leagues, pitching for Hawaii. The Times ran a short story about his no-hitter in a Pacific Coast League game over Tacoma. Even then, the wire story referred to him as "the playboy pitcher."

Left-handers with potential get plenty of opportunities, and Belinsky made a few more stops before his career ended in 1970. The Angels even purchased his contract in 1969 but soon sold him to the Pirates.

Belinsky died in 2001 at the age of 64 after battling bladder cancer for years. He had struggled with alcohol and drugs but had found peace in his last years, becoming active in a Las Vegas church.

The Times' Chris Foster reported that Belinsky, ever the colorful quote, said of his religious conversion: "Can you imagine? I had to come to Las Vegas to discover Jesus Christ."


House increases Social Security, sports columnist dies, August 20, 1958

Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot is boring, critics say

Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" is boring and unintelligible, the critics say.
House raises Social Security payments
Los Angeles County supervisors order a survey to determine which cars are the worst polluters ... The House approves a 7% increase in Social Security payments ... A surgeon revives a man using a lamp cord ripped from the wall to shock the man's heart.

In sports, columnist Ned Cronin, who came to The Times after the Daily News merged with the Mirror, dies of liver and kidney problems at the age of 48. He was survived by his wife, Harriet, and his son Jerry, 16 ... George Dickerson takes over as UCLA head football coach. Dickerson suffered breakdowns in August and October 1958 and was replaced by Bill Barnes.   
Times sports columnist dies Times sports columnist dies

Judge under guard after death threats, August 19, 1938

Now playing: Letter of Introduction
Clifford Clinton tells the Los Angeles County Grand Jury that Judge Fletcher Bowron has been threatened Death threats against Fletcher Bowron in the recall election? That's a new one on me. But in light of the Harry Raymond bombing, it shouldn't be any surprise ...

McIntyre and Heath, 1925

Thomas K. Heath of the McIntyre and Heath blackface vaudeville team dies at the age of 85.

In sports, Henry Armstrong and Lou Ambers may be headed for a rematch.
A Barrymore gets divorced

Armstrong and Ambers may be headed for rematch

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Movie star mystery photo


Can you guess the identities of our mystery Hollywood movie star and his golf partners
Los Angeles Times file photo
OK, who is this foursome on the golf course? (Sorry about the crack in the emulsion. The Times' library used to fold the big prints in half before putting them in envelopes -- verrry annoying).

Second from left, Mickey Rooney (Alexa Foreman). Absolutely. Let's see how people do with the other three....

Here's a hint: Rooney is the only actor in the foursome. The other three are golfers, all of them covered by The Times in the 1940s and '50s.

Update: Because it's Friday and this isn't a golf blog, I'll tell you one of the names. The man to the left of Mickey Rooney is Bob Unthank.

Update 2: Because it's Saturday and this isn't a golf blog, I'll tell you another name. The man on the right is Foster McMullen, who competed in local tournaments in the 1940s and '50s.

Update 3: Because it's Sunday and this isn't a golf blog, I'll tell you the last name. The man to the right of Mickey Rooney is Bob Rosburg.

Can you guess the identities of our mystery Hollywood movie stars

Here's our most recent mystery guest.... Still stumping the panel!

Hint: This woman was married to a member of a comedy team in real life and in film, but not the same man.

Update: Although she was married to a famous comedian of the 1920s and '30s, she never appeared in a film with him, although they often performed together on stage. Her film husband was one of America's top movie comedians.

Update: Here's another picture of the mystery woman.... Somebody was getting warm in guessing her film husband was Oliver Hardy. 
Can you guess the identities of our mystery Hollywood movie stars

And this fellow is still a mystery. Hint: Vanity of vanities ... deadly vanities.   

Update: Not Earl Carroll (I wouldn't make it that obvious), but you're on the right track.  Curiously enough, this man is NOT listed in imdb for the film that brought him to Hollywood. If he were, that would give him a fifth entry.

Update: Yes, he was brought to Hollywood for "Murder at the Vanities."   

Update: Let me make this perfectly clear. Our mystery guest was brought to Hollywood to appear in "Murder at the Vanities." However he does NOT-NOT-NOT (unlike Carl Brisson) appear in the imdb listing for the movie. Ergo, he is not Carl Brisson. It's a good guess. But I try to select mystery photos that can't be solved with imdb. Too easy. To make it even more difficult, his credit in the Broadway production misspells his name so he's even harder to find. 
Can you guess the identities of our mystery Hollywood movie stars

And who is our mystery artist?

Hint: This painting was done by an angel. If you are a regular Daily Mirror reader, you have seen the posts on the artist.

Answered by Nathan Marsak: Actress Gail Russell, star of "The Angel and the Badman."  Congratulations, Nathan!

Below left, the signature of Gail Russell. I would like to thank 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.

Wife ends family fight with shotgun, August 18, 1958

Woman ends family fight with a shotgun, 1958
August 18, 1958

Ralph Atkinson, 28-year-old upholsterer of 6609 Beeman Ave., North Hollywood, left home early Sunday to buy a newspaper. On the way back, he decided to stop at a bar and have a drink. Or two. Or three.

Charlotte Atkinson, 33-year-old housewife with a 7-month-old son and two daughters from one of her two previous marriages, went looking for him. She found her husband of 18 months at a bar in the early afternoon. They had a few drinks and returned home.

Charlotte went to the grocery store, but when she got back, Ralph had chained the door so it wouldn't open. She beat on the door until the chain gave way, The Times said.

According to testimony by her two daughters, Ralph began beating Charlotte and dragged her by the hair. She went into the den and picked up his 16-gauge shotgun.

"I got the gun just to scare him. I didn't know it was loaded," she said. "He'd beaten me before and he was starting to again when I got the gun."

Ralph Atkinson died at Hollywood Receiving Hospital after being shot in the stomach. Charlotte was charged with murder, but the case was dismissed at her preliminary hearing. She never again appeared in the pages of The Times.

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