Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
Category: March 1, 2009 - March 7, 2009
Our mystery movie star is Betty Bronson, who died in 1971. Her last film was "Evel Knievel." Eve Golden also points out that she appeared in an episode of "Marcus Welby" not listed on imdb.
Check back Monday for another Movie Star Mystery Photo!
Just a reminder on how this works: I post the mystery photo on Monday and reveal the answer on Friday. To keep the mystery photo from getting lost in the other entries, I move it from Monday to Tuesday to Wednesday, etc., adding a photo every day. I have to approve all comments, so if you're wrong your guess will be posted. If you're right, you'll have to wait until Friday. There's no need to submit your guess five times. Once is enough. The only prize is bragging rights.
The answer to last week's photo: Pier Angeli.
Betty Bronson in Paramount's "Ritzy" in a photo dated 1927.
Here's another picture of our mystery woman. Please congratulate Eve Golden, Anne Papineau and Sophie at UCLA, who correctly identified her. Remember, only post your answer once--all comments must be approved, so there's no point in submitting "Barbara Stanwyck" six times. The answer won't be revealed until Friday, so if your guess is published before then, that means you're wrong.
By Valerie J. Nelson
March 6, 2009
Sydney Chaplin, an actor who experienced his greatest success on stage, earning a Tony Award for starring in the late 1950s musical "Bells Are Ringing," died Tuesday. He was 82.
Chaplin, the oldest surviving child of film legend Charlie Chaplin, died at his Rancho Mirage home of complications following a stroke, said Jerry Bodie, a longtime friend.
Read more >>>
Through the 1950s, Police Officer Ector A. Garcia became a minor
celebrity for producing sketches of crime suspects that were
astonishingly accurate. But he wanted the excitement of being on the
streets and that's what he got.
Garcia and his partner, Detective Jose L. Castellanos, were working homicide March 5, 1959, when they got a call that a gunman had gone on a deadly rampage at an East Los Angeles restaurant and was probably heading for the home of his estranged wife.
The gunman ambushed the detectives as they escorted the woman and her uncle to safety, killing Castellanos instantly. Although Garcia was struck by a shot that "seared across his eyes," the police artist was able to return fire, killing George J. Arevalo, 2844 Whittier Blvd.
"We always knew he would do something like this," Arevalo's wife said. "He would go crazy every time he drank. Last March 27 we separated because of his drinking. He told me when he left he would come back some day and kill the children and me."
Lying in the hospital, perhaps blinded by a killer's gunfire, was the last thing Garcia must have imagined when he began his career as an artist. Born in El Paso, he graduated from Woodbury College in 1949 and worked briefly as an editorial cartoonist at a Seattle newspaper. After a short time with a Los Angeles printing company, Garcia decided to join the Police Department. He had no idea of becoming a sketch artist, but the job slowly emerged as department officials realized his talent for producing drawings from witnesses' descriptions.
Evidently he was quite talented and in one demonstration for a magazine story, Garcia produced a sketch of "Dragnet's" Joe Friday based on a description given by a woman in the department's Research and Planning Office. One of his most successful drawings was that of Gaylord Hammond, who was being sought in an attempted rape. When Hammond was arrested, officers found that Garcia's sketch was virtually identical to Hammond's mug shot. Garcia also provided sketches of the nonexistent attackers in the Marie "The Body" McDonald case.
But all of that was before he was assigned to homicide; before that night in March 1959 unfolded tragically.
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That evening, Arevalo, 42, had gone to Bill's Place, a restaurant at 506 E. 9th St. where his friend Mary Loera was manager.
"He was drunk," she said. "I told him to get out. He left but returned in a few minutes with a gun. He aimed it at me, said he was going to kill me and fired." She fell to the floor, wounded in the arm, as another customer, Carlos Carranza, wrestled with Arevalo for the gun. Arevalo broke free, went outside and when Carranza followed, Arevalo shot him to death.
Police staked out Arevalo's room on Whittier Boulevard, and Castellanos and Garcia were sent to the home of his estranged wife at 716 N. Bonnie Beach. They were escorting the woman and her uncle, Alex Verdenas, to their police car and planned to take them somewhere safe when Arevalo ambushed them.
Arevalo shot Castellanos in the temple, killing him instantly, then fired again, hitting Garcia in the head and Verdenas in the chest. Garcia, despite being struck in the eyes, killed Arvealo, shooting him once in the head and once in the chest from 50 feet away, The Times said.
Although his right eye was destroyed, the doctors saved his left eye and after that he wore a eye patch. In November 1959, Garcia was honored with a Purple Heart during a ceremony in the City Council Chambers recognizing officers who had been killed or wounded in the line of duty.
Garcia returned to being a police artist and published a book of his work, "Portraits of Crime," in 1977. He retired about 1981 and went to work for a private security firm, but continued doing sketches, including some of fugitive Nazi Dr. Joseph Mengele. Garcia died Sept. 27, 1987.
Notice that there's no traffic signal at Highland, just a stop sign.
|This postcard of Hollywood at night, showing the neon signs on Hollywood Boulevard, has been listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $5.99. I suspect my crime buddy Nathan Marsak can give the history of every sign in this picture, starting with Coffee Dan's (6776 Hollywood Blvd.) and the Pickwick bookstore, 6743 Hollywood Blvd.
From The Times, Feb. 12, 1933.
Seven lines of type in the March 5, 1939, issue of The Times unspooled
into quite a story. If the beginning of the tale is a bit unclear, the
end is even more enigmatic. All we're left with is the great middle.
The focus of our story is the Rev. George Robert Garner III, who achieved so many firsts in his lifetime that it's remarkable so little has been written about him:
Garner was the first African American to solo with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, c. 1927.
He was the first African American teacher in Pasadena.
He was the first African American lead in a production at the Pasadena Playhouse.
According to a 1933 interview in The Times, Garner was born in Chicago and his father was the longtime butler of the Timothy Blackstone household. According to a 1932 Time magazine feature, Garner sold papers, worked as a bellhop and sang in the choir at Olivet Baptist Church as a young man.
Although Garner was clearly talented, his father opposed a career in music, insisting instead on something more practical. Garner eloped with a young musician (presumably pianist Netta Paullyn/Paullyin Garner) and eventually won the financial support of Mrs. Blackstone and other arts patrons so that he was able to study in England for six years.
By 1933, Garner had arrived in Pasadena. The next year, he became the first African American to star in a production at the Pasadena Playhouse, "Finder's Luck," by Alice Haines Baskin. By that time he had established the George Garner Negro Chorus, which performed concerts at the Rose Bowl and took part in the first performances of a choral symphony by David Broekman titled "Harlem Heab'n." The chorus was also recognized for performances at expositions in San Diego and San Francisco.
Garner also began the Negro Music Research Foundation, 470 Blake St., Pasadena. Unfortunately, The Times wrote very little about it except to say that the goal was to preserve spirituals. The group later opened a center at 440 N. Westmoreland, Los Angeles.
According to a 1938 article in The Times, Garner received a bachelor's degree in music education at USC and became Pasadena's first African American teacher.
There's very little about him in The Times in the 1940s except that he led an interracial chorus that performed Dubois' "Seven Last Words of Christ" for Palm Sunday, 1947. The Times critic described Garner as "one of the city's outstanding Negro choral directors."
Interesting enough, by 1949, he appears as the Rev. George Robert Garner III in The Times, which says he was regional director of the National Assn. of Negro Musicians. He delivered the invocation at a 1953 Republican fundraiser and campaigned in Illinois for the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket.
In the 1950s, he was music critic and arts editor for the Los Angeles Sentinel, a weekly serving the African American community, and the conductor of an interfaith chorus sponsored by the Pasadena YMCA. He was also a leader in the Los Angeles County Forum Lyceum.
In 1959, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors honored him as executive vice president of the George Garner Music Research Center of Pasadena. He was also recognized as the founder of the Pasadena Assn. for the Study of Negro Life and History, which was founded in 1937 and met at First Methodist Church, 500 E. Colorado Blvd.
What became of him after that is unclear. California death records list a George R. Garner dying Jan. 8, 1971, but it's not certain if this is the same man. The only current reference I can find is a chapter of the National Assn. of Negro Musicians in Altadena that's named for him.
One nice thing about history blogging is that questions can be open-ended. I've asked the Chicago Symphony Orchestra about Garner's historic performance and I'll be interested to see what else turns up. And then there's the citations at the Pasadena Public Library. If I get a chance I'll take a look and see if I can fill in some of the blanks.
Horton Foote at New York's Booth Theatre, where his "Dividing the Estate" was being performed, Oct. 11, 2008.
Horton Foote: "I Stick With It"
* Theater * The playwright, 86, keeps very busy and has won a new fan at SCR, where his 'Getting Frankie Married' world-premieres.March 29, 2002
By MIKE BOEHM, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Horton Foote achieved his first great success in the theater by laying on the histrionics.
That was some 70 years ago, when he was a schoolboy from Wharton, Texas, competing in a statewide drama contest. The play, he recalls, was about three college roommates. He was the one with the bad drug habit.
"He needed a fix, and I remember [performing] this catastrophic breakdown onstage," Foote recalled. "When it was all over, the judges called my teacher over and said, 'Is that boy afflicted, or is that acting?.' She said it was acting, so they gave me first prize."
Somewhere along the line, Foote changed his tack. By his mid-20s he had concluded that writing, not acting, was his true calling. And since 1940, when his first play was produced, he has secured a niche as an admired, Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist who eschews stage histrionics and invites audiences to absorb the subtle, detailed ebb and flow of life in Harrison, Texas, the fictional small town modeled on Wharton where his stories unfold.
On March 14, Foote spent a chunk of his 86th birthday at New York City's Lincoln Center, where his play "The Carpetbagger's Children" was in rehearsals for its New York premiere this week. After the opening, he was planning to take a day off, then fly to Costa Mesa in time for tonight's first preview performance of another new play, "Getting Frankie Married-and Afterwards," at South Coast Repertory.
"I love the theater, and I'm always there" when a major production is gearing up, Foote said over the phone recently from a New York hotel room. "I'm sure I'm a bother, but there I am. I stick with it."
Foote is five months younger than his more famous, and similarly still productive peer, Arthur Miller. But Foote has a four-year head start on Miller when it comes to getting plays produced: Miller's debut didn't come until 1944, with "The Man Who Had All the Luck." (Miller's next play, "Resurrection Blues," opens Aug. 9 at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapollis.)
Foote has written more than 60 plays. He won the Pulitzer for his 1994 drama, "The Young Man From Atlanta." He won Oscars for his adaptation of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" and his original screenplay for "Tender Mercies." He won an Emmy for his TV adaptation of William Faulkner's story "Old Man." In 2000, President Clinton awarded him a National Medal of Arts.
And now, finally, he has stuck with it long enough to see one of his plays produced on a major Southern California stage.
Overlooked in Southland Until a New Fan Emerges
His work has been done occasionally here in small theaters. But until South Coast Repertory secured the world premiere of "Getting Frankie Married," the area's leading resident companies-including the Mark Taper Forum, Ahmanson Theatre and Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, the Globe Theatres and La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego County and the Laguna Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse and South Coast itself-had been pitching a career shutout against Foote.
Martin Benson, the South Coast artistic director and director of "Getting Frankie Married," acknowledges having overlooked Foote until the playwright's agent sent the "Frankie" script about 18 months ago. Benson went for it immediately. Now he is reading his way through the Foote oeuvre, with an eye toward producing more of his scripts--"The Trip to Bountiful," which was made into a movie with Geraldine Page in 1985, is a leading candidate.
"I'm a great admirer of his now," said Benson, who spent time in Wharton with Foote, meeting some of the townsfolk and soaking up the atmosphere in hopes of capturing some essence of small-town Texas onstage in Orange County "Maybe one reason he's not produced as much as he should be is that sometimes his plays seem simplistic on the page. You can think, 'Oh, rural America' and that it's oversimplified and a cliche. But when you get up to act them, they're incredibly rich, with enormous depths. That's been my discovery with this play."
Foote wrote "Getting Frankie Married" around 1990, the year in which the play is set. One reason it may not have been produced until now is that it requires a cast of 12--a huge number for a contemporary play. Its central figures are Fred Willis, a wealthy, 43-year-old landowner, and Frankie Lewis, the girlfriend he has been stringing along for more than 20 years. Frankie is a wife in all but name and an object of small-town gossip. Fred makes a series of choices-motivated, he thinks, by love and honor-that turn out horribly for him.
Foote rates Fred as perhaps the saddest character he has ever drawn. "That last moment is certainly very moving. to me. There's nobody there to comfort him, and he has to struggle through it for himself."
Although Southern California has been a tough nut for Foote to crack in terms of productions, it was, long ago, the seedbed for his theater career. After winning schoolboy laurels for his acting in Texas, he managed to get his reluctant parents" approval of his plan to skip college and get more theatrical training. They wouldn't countenance his going to New York--"They thought it was a wicked place"--so he headed West and enrolled in the Pasadena Playhouse's acting conservatory. Foote said s the event that shaped him most in Pasadena--apart from having his Texas accent whitewashed in elocution lessons--was the touring production of "Hedda Gabler" he attended in Los Angeles on his 18th birthday with his visiting grandmother. Eva Le Gallienne's performance enraptured him, and he came back to see "A Doll's House" and "The Master Builder," the other plays the noted actress was performing in repertory.
"It really rocked me," Foote recalled. "I'd had this sense of 'Maybe I'll end up in the movies.' This made me go to New York to be a [stage] actor." In New York, Foote began writing plays as well as acting in them. "Texas Town," staged in 1941, won a rave from New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson who loved Foote's writing but panned his acting. Writing became his focus. Foote said he is searching these days for his next idea, making notes and hoping inspiration will take hold. "There's something I've been thinking about for 20 years, searching for a way to do it," he said. He declines to elaborate because "I think it's death to talk about something when you're working on it."