The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: March 8, 2009 - March 14, 2009

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Movie Star Mystery Photo


Photograph by Bruce H. Cox / Los Angeles Times

Phyllis Kirk and George Eckstein at the Hollywood Bowl, September 1951.

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 your guess is posted immediately, that means you're wrong. (And if a wrong guess has already been submitted by someone else, there's no point in submitting it again). If you're right, you will 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: Betty Bronson. A Daily Mirror reader named Pat has scanned in some stills from Betty Bronson's "Peter Pan."  Recall that The Times' library only had one photo of Bronson in her most famous role--and it was heavily repainted.

Update: This is, as many Daily Mirror readers guessed, Phyllis Kirk. Congratulations! For some reason, her photo file at The Times doesn't have any pictures from "House of Wax," which many Daily Mirror readers recalled fondly.
Los Angeles Times file photo
Here's another photo of our mystery woman (sorry about the line through the middle. One of The Times' photo librarians folded the oversize print in half to get it in the envelope--quite typical).

Please congratulate Claire Lockhart, Dru Duniway, Paul Cardinal, LC, Steven Bibb (half credit, our fellow isn't Ring Lardner Jr.), Lou Zogby, Sonny King, Carmen and Marty Wasserman for correctly identifying her.

Phyllis Kirk in a 1952 publicity photo with Aldous, named after Aldous Huxley.
Los Angeles Times file photo

Debbie Reynolds, Jane Powell and Phyllis Kirk in "Two Weeks With Love."
Here's another photo of our mystery woman. This should make it easy. Please congratulate Alexa Foreman, Don Danard, Dewey Webb, Nancy Price, Michael Ryerson, Betsy Palmer, "Laura" fan Waldo Lydecker, E. Perman, Jill Scrivner, Kai, David P. Nelson,  Eileen/Joe/Ludie Jeff Hanna, Rosalyn, Plankbob, Joan Compagno Wright and Annie Frye for correctly identifying her.
Los Angeles Times file photo

Phyllis Kirk and Peter Lawford
in "The Thin Man" TV series.
Here's another photo of our mystery woman and a mystery companion, with the background thoughtfully painted out by The Times' art department.  Please congratulate Eve, Cold in Phx, Pat, R. Ahuna, Wilson Smith, rdare, Edward Cradduck, Marilyn Johnson and her mother, Tony Lucia, Lee Ann Bailey, Gary Martin, William, Craig Deco and Stacia for correctly identifying her.

Check back tomorrow when we reveal the mystery woman's identity!
Los Angeles Times file photo

Phyllis Kirk, above in "Two Weeks With Love," and at left in a 1959 publicity photo for an interview about her problems with hypertension. Kirk died in 2006 at the age of 79.

New Pope Crowned; Fleeing Jews Trapped in Snow, March 13, 1939

Ads for Gilmore gas take a more informal tone than most others. 

Czech mob attacks Nazis.
The world's Roman Catholics welcome a new pope, Pius XII, the first time a  papal coronation was broadcast on radio.  The guests included Joseph P. Kennedy, U.S. ambassador to London, his wife and eight children, The Times says. Kennedy family correspondence on the coronation may be found at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.

A wedding in St. Louis is picketed because the canopy installed to protect guests from the rain was put in by non-union workers. And The Times begins a series by Winston Churchill, whom The Times identifies in the byline as "Noted British Statesman."

The Times notes that the new pope once visited Southern California.

Photos of the new pope sent by radio--and a feature on women's hats.

Marlene Dietrich and Ernst Lubitsch attend a concert by Richard Tauber.

The White Sox beat the Pasadena Merchants in spring training.

Tough Times and Beauty in the Bay

"City Life," painted by Victor Arnautoff in 1934.


In San Francisco, the Depression's artistic legacy

By Christopher Reynolds,
Reporting from San Francisco

10:20 AM PST, March 07, 2009

Stocks have crashed, industry is shuddering and banks are failing. The restless unemployed will soon fill the streets. Yet in San Francisco, some crazed optimist in the Pacific Stock Exchange Tower has hired Diego Rivera to decorate a private club for stockbrokers.

Could this be the most doomed, stupid idea of all 1930? Here is Rivera, an intermittent communist who'd met with Stalin in Russia only two years before, perched on the scaffolding above the financial titans of Sansome Street. He's supposed to sketch grand visions of happy, healthy California, its produce plump and shiny, its hills dotted with oil wells, the Golden State agleam with capitalism. All this, a year into the Great Depression.

What is the muralist thinking? What are the stockbrokers thinking?


View-Master Vanishing From Landscape

Photograph by Tom Uhlman / AP

Mary Ann Sell holds one of her
more than 25,000 discs.

View-Master to stop selling scenic photos

Fisher-Price will continue making discs of more popular cartoon characters.

Associated Press

March 8, 2009

Viewmaster_grand_canyon_02Columbus, Ohio — Amber LaPointe's introduction to one of the country's greatest tourist attractions came from small square pictures on a white wheel.

"It was like you could look into a world away," said the 28-year-old from Toledo, Ohio. "My only image of the Grand Canyon was from the View-Master."

The iconic reels of tourist attractions, often packaged with a clunky plastic viewer and first sold to promote 3-D photography, are ending their 70-year run after years of diminishing sales.

Collectors like Mary Ann Sell of Maineville, Ohio, are dismayed.


Found on EBay -- Chinese Festival


This postcard of a dragon in Chinatown has been listed on EBay, mailed to Staten Island, N.Y., in 1908. Bidding starts at $1.99.

Matt Weinstock -- March 12, 1959

A Nose Is Thumbed

Matt_weinstockdThe National Book Award for fiction, you may have read, went to a collection of short stories, "The Magic Barrel," by Bernard Malamud, English prof at Oregon State. To short-story addicts this is a triumph indeed. It is also a slight nose thumbing at magazine editors who insist on relegating short stories to a secondary position behind stale, repetitious articles.

It also could reflect a feeling by the judges that no novel worthy of the award was published last year. Short-story collections rarely win an award; in fact, publishers are reluctant to bring them out at all.

Several Hollywood writers were discussing the decline of meritorious fiction and came up with some bitter comments.

1959_0312_attack THEY AGREED on this sad truth: "If you're not writing for television, you're not eating very good."

One outlined the writer's dilemma as follows: "OK, I'm working on a script that is junk but will pay me $750 or $1,500. It's a fairy tale, full of cliches, with maybe a twist that's different. I come to a situation that is so strained it's on the edge of travesty. I could write a line of dialogue that would destroy the whole business. It would make me feel better. But I back away from it and play it straight, the way they want it, so there will be no suspicion that anybody thinks I'm kidding. That way I get paid."

Another challenged, "Well, if you hate TV so much, why do you keep writing it? What about your novel?"

"What are you talking about?" the first retorted. "How can I write junk one day and good stuff the next?"

* *

SPEAKING OF TV, a Santa Monican, while asleep, slugged his wife so savagely in the back she could hardly move for three days. He was subconsciously re-enacting a brutal fight scene in a TV western he'd watched before retiring.

It has come to this.

* *

A softness steals into the air,
While birds new mates are choosing.
Grandpa gets out his rocking chair,
To sun-tan while he's snoozing.

* *

THERE'S AN apocryphal story about a stranger who asks an old-timer downtown how to get to the post office, and the old-timer, after deep thought, says, "You can't get there from here."

Then there's the case of Jack Clarke and his brother, visiting here from Chicago.

Jack arranged to pick him up the other day at 8:15 a.m. at 36th and Hoover. He wasn't there. Jack scoured the neighborhood in vain. When an hour passed he phoned the place where his brother was staying and learned he had left there on schedule.

When two hours passed he phone again. He was told the brother had phoned and said he was waiting at 36th and Hoover but had seen nothing of Jack.

On an impulse Jack toured the SC campus area and found his brother. As he suspected, there are two of them -- 36th and Hoover Street and 36th and Hoover Boulevard -- blocked off from each other.

"It's impossible," the brother said.

"Not in L.A.," Jack said.

* *

A typographical posy to Playhouse Pictures for the shaggy dog take-off on Viceroy's "thinking man" commercial. Excerpt "Do you think everyone should be a dog?" "Well, that's something everyone should decide for themselves" . . . No truth to the rumor there's an underground move to bring the Brooklyn Zoo here.

Paul Coates -- Confidential File, March 12, 1959


Dr. Zhivago's Life Slightly Confusing

Paul_coatesRobert Ruark, my competent colleague from darkest Africa and a few dimly lit saloons, is, I fear, a periodic victim of his own vitriol.

Occasionally he's able to find instant relief by blasting the brains out of a hapless water buffalo.

Apparently, however, when the Great White Hunter misses a shot, he's inclined to turn and draw a bead on his own readers, among whom I number myself.

I read Ruark for more or less the same reason I read Nick Kenny's poems -- out of a sense of professional obligation.

But a Kenny poem has never personally offended me. The worst it's ever done was to give me a mild sense of guilt for not writing. Ruark, on the other hand, offends me frequently. 

1959_0312_red_streak He did it again the other day. After probably firing wide at a wildebeest, he sat down and wrote a bitter tirade accusing all of us who've read: "Dr. Zhivago" of being wishful highbrows.

The crack was entirely uncalled-for. I'm no highbrow. I bought "Zhivago" only because I was slipping too far behind in literary matters, and it was causing me a great deal of embarrassment at cocktail parties.

(For example, I didn't even read "Lolita." Somebody told me it was a story about a little girl, and I assumed it must have been written by Louisa May Alcott, which is not my speed.)

When, later, I became confused about whether Boris Pasternak was the author of "Dr. Zhivago" or Dr. Zhivago was the author or "Boris Pasternak," I decided it was high time to buy the damn book and find out.

I've read it. And I'm here to tell you I didn't understand it. As a matter of fact, no red-blooded American can read a Russian novel and make any sense of it. You lose the entire thread of the story in a maze of utterly impossible names.

The hero is a physician named Zhivago. I caught on to that right away. But it wasn't until Page 261 that I realized he was also known as Yuril Andreievich, who I thought was another character altogether.   

1959_0312_duncan This, of course, put a different light on the story, and I had to go back and read the whole thing over again.

On another occasion, I got hung up for an hour of reading in reverse while I tried to recall the identity of Prov Afanasievich Sokolov, only to find that he was somebody's cousin twice removed, and didn't add a thing to the plot.

Sifting Out Identities

Finally, I was able to eke out the reliable information that Antonina Alexandrovna was not Zhivago's brother. It was his wife. And he loved her with a kind of melancholy, Russian passion. But he couldn't keep his grubby little hands off the wife of a man named Pavel Antipov who was also known, for reasons far beyond me, as Strelnikov. 

In their tender, clandestine meetings, Yurii Andreievich calls Pavel Antipov's wife "Lara," except for one scene when he takes her in his arms and calls her "Larisa Feodorovna."

1959_0312_abby Now, if we don't assume that Lara and Larisa Feodorovna are the same person, we are left only to believe that Yuril Andreievich is an adulterer on a wholesale scale.

Just at the point in Pasternak's book when I began to get all these characters fairly well fixed in my mind, everybody becomes a Bolshevik, goes underground and starts using aliases.

This whole experience has left me with only one conclusion. I want peace in our time as much as the next person. But coexistence is impossible, unless the Russians agree to shorten their names.  

In the Theaters -- March 12, 1934


Trouble Was His Business -- Raymond Chandler


Oct. 16, 1949: The Times reviews "The Little Sister" in four paragraphs. The editor's note introducing Roy "The Fugitive" Huggins is half as long!

Mystics Predict the 'Big One' Will Destroy California; Dodger Recalls Negro Leagues, March 12, 1969

L.A. is doomed! ... Again!
"The most knowledgeable scientists say not only inconceivable but ridiculous."

Above, Mama Cass sings "California Earthquake," one of the tunes inspired by the notion that a huge quake was about to destroy the state. Another pop song was "Day After Day" by Shango. Former Times staff writer Linda Mathews (mother of author Joe Mathews) traces it to Edgar Cayce in this three-page nondupe. 
"The Late, Great State of California," by Curt Gentry.
Fellowship of the Ancient Mind
seeks permit to salvage whatever
is left of Los Angeles.

1969_0312_sports The Dodgers' Jim Gilliam was connected to another era. More than the days in Brooklyn, he was a reminder of baseball's segregated past who was able to reach the majors.

"I was one of the lucky ones. I was born at the right time," Gilliam told The Times' John Wiebusch.

By 1969 a coach with the Dodgers after a long and versatile career, Gilliam told about his early days in the Negro League. He started playing at 15 and was 21 when the Dodgers signed him.

"I think of the old days often, " he said. "I think of the games we played at Bugle Field in Baltimore and how rough it was then. I think of the guys who made it--the Roy Campanellas, the Monte Irvins, the Larry Dobys, the Willie Mayes... the Junior Gilliams.

"Then I think of Josh Gibson and the others. And Satchel Paige and the barnstorming days and the guys who played for the New York Black Yankees and the Washington Homestead Grays."

Gilliam said if a scout tried to sign Gibson in 1969, "they would have a blank spot on the contract and say, 'Fill the amount in.' That's how good Josh Gibson was."


1969_0312_gilliam Don Drysdale of the Dodgers and Jim Fregosi of the Angels were two of the players approached to join a wannabe major league run by a former baseball commissioner.

The Global League was supposed to be just that, with teams in the Caribbean, Japan, Mexico and the United States. A.B. (Happy) Chandler, a former baseball commissioner, had signed on for the same title with the new league.

Ross Newman's short story in The Times had a lot of detail on Fregosi, who said he turned down $500,000 over four years. "The cash was there, there never was a doubt in my mind about that," Fregosi said. "I can assure you that it is very difficult turning down security for life."

Fregosi was the Angels' first big attraction, their all-star shortstop and future manager. Newhan reported on March 2 that Fregosi had agreed to a new deal for "a small cut" from the previous year's salary of $65,000--at that time the highest-paid Angel ever.

He said he considered the Global League offer for two weeks but the Angels "have treated me well in every respect."

--Keith Thursby

Baghdad Welcomes Leader; Senate OKs Hawaiian Statehood, March 12, 1959

Iraqi Premier Abdel Karim Kassem waves to a crowd in Baghdad after putting down a rebellion. He was overthrown and executed in February 1963 after surviving an assassination attempt by a team that included Saddam Hussein.



"Throwback" Thursby threw me for a loop today. He was all set for a post on Bill Brundige (stay tuned for that) and I noticed something quite peculiar: A broadcast of the Met's premiere production of "Wozzeck." It's hard to imagine what impression Alban Berg's opera--performed in English--made on 1959 audiences but I would guess they were fairly perplexed.

It turns out that ProQuest popped a gear and only has a few of the March 12, 1959, pages. The rest are actually for March 14. What we do have is the cover and Kim Novak with Pyewacket publicizing the PATSY Awards for animals in motion pictures and TV.  
May 4, 1930: A Times feature on "Wozzeck."

Found on EBay -- Little Joe's

Little_joes_ashtray_ebay_crop Someone went to Little Joe's, in what used to be an Italian neighborhood but is now Chinatown, and swiped an ashtray. Although the restaurant closed years ago, the building remains, although it has been heavily modified over the years. Bidding starts at $14.99, which seems a bit steep.

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