The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: March 29, 2009 - April 4, 2009

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Elizabeth Taylor to Marry; Dodger Sent Back to the Minors, April 3, 1959


A new report by the House Un-American Activities Committee finds communists are going underground and are planning a new assault on California. 


At left, a nice, straight feature by Art Buchwald. He was a pretty fair writer when he wasn't trying to be funny.
"Green Mansions" opens in L.A.
"Leapin' Lizards!"

Photograph by Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times

Art Rogers used such a slow shutter speed that Bilko's bat disappeared!

1959_0403_sports  The Dodgers shipped Steve Bilko back to the minor leagues and the big guy didn't take it well.

Bilko had been a home run legend in minor league Los Angeles, hitting 148 home runs from 1955-57 for the Pacific Coast League Angels in Wrigley Field. But he failed to make Walter Alston's roster cuts for the 1959 season.

"I came to camp in the best shape I've been in for years," Bilko said. "I didn't get much of a chance." Bilko also mad that no other big-league team wanted his services.

The slugger eventually returned to the majors with Detroit and got one more chance in the big leagues with Los Angeles--the expansion Angels.

--Keith Thursby

Found on EBay -- Catalina Tile


This Catalina Tile table has been listed on EBay. As with all EBay listings, investigate the item and the vendor thoroughly before submitting a bid. Bidding starts at $99.95.

Matt Weinstock -- April 2, 1959

Petty Crime Solved

Matt_weinstockdHaving a little time to kill before a critics' preview of "The Naked Maja" the other night, United Artists publicist Roy Smith looked in a pet shop at 10650 W. Pico Blvd. A light was on so he tried the door. It opened and he went in.

No one was in sight so he called out, "Anybody here?" A faint answering "Hello" came from the cavernous rear of the shop. "Don't bother, just browsing," he said, inspecting the rows of cages and fish tanks.

Ten minutes later, as he headed out, he noticed the cash register was open, with money showing. Then he heard the same muffled voice in the rear calling, "Help, help!"

Envisioning a holdup and maybe a little mayhem, Roy summoned police and a nearby druggist phoned the pet shop owner. The mystery was quickly solved, amid laughter. The front door had accidentally been left unlocked. The owner said he had left the register open. As for the voice, it was probably some lonesome parrot.


1959_0402_murder NO, NOTHING
is sacred any more. Melvyn Douglas, here rehearsing for an upcoming "Playhouse 90" drama, was walking along the beach at Laguna last Sunday with Jackson Leightner when they came upon a beautifully executed sand sculpture of Christ. Alongside someone, presumably the artist, had lettered, "Happy Easter,Cha Cha Cha."



I rather think my voice is choice
And I guess my friends do too,
For when I sing they all rejoice
The moment I am through



while trying to explain adjectives to an 11th-grade English class at Arroyo High School in El Monte, Marcia Lander asked a boy named Darryl, "What part of speech is the word 'selfish?' "

"A noun," he replied.

"A noun?" she echoed. "Can you buy a selfish, see a selfish?"

"Why, sure. You know, when you go ocean fishing you sometimes catch selfish."

Miss Lander saw the light but still doesn't know whether he meant shellfish or sailfish.


1959_0402_comics ONLY IN
North Hollywood -- Rosetta Case Bent needed a cowboy hat for a PTA show and went into a store that supplies them to the studios. They were costlier than she expected, so she asked about a used one. These, she learned, were more expensive than the new ones. Logically, no cowpoke could be expected to bring the villains to justice wearing a new Stetson.


Glancing out the window of her home on Allen Avenue, Lena Cook saw a police car slowly weaving from one side of the street to the other. A closer look disclosed the driver was herding a steer back to the railroad car from which it had escaped.


antisocial and inconsiderate. Say I'm picayunish and unappreciative. I can only state that I have declined an offer to judge a pizza eating contest, for which I am awarding myself a mozzarella cluster on my Good Conduct medal.


1959_0402_abby AT RANDOM --
Every day on the L.A. to Playa Del Rey bus a man and woman play cribbage. The other passengers hold her seat until the bus gets to the block where she gets aboard ... The Better Mottoes Association selection for the month is "Are you a man or a mouse? Come on, squeak up!" ... Under the heading "Above and Beyond" the California Highway Patrol annual report reports, "In attempting to unsnarl an Echo Summit traffic tie-up during a snowstorm, aCHP officer discovered the cause for the delay was an elephant pushing a disabled circus truck up the grade" ... J. Stuyvesant Fish is still quivering from a grammatical gem he heard during a radio interview. A participant agreed to a point by saying, "That is very so."

Paul Coates -- Confidential File, April 2, 1959

Confidential File

Birth Travails of a Spaghetti Salon

Paul_coatesFrank Sinatra and Peter Lawford, the Moskowitz and Lupowitz of Italian food, have, as you doubtlessly heard, opened a plush Beverly Hills lasagna palace called "Puccini's."

It's an old racket to Sinatra, who frequently backs restaurants and then becomes his own best customer.

But for Lawford, being the owner of an Italian restaurant is a whole new, frightening world.

When I saw him at Puccini's the other night, he was sitting at a corner table and staring, somewhat awestruck, at his investment.

"Whatta you think?" he asked me.

"Think about what?" I replied.

He glanced at me with thinly veiled annoyance.

"The room, the room," he said. "Do you like it?"

"I like it," I told him.

1959_0402_cover He nodded absently.

"It's a pretty room," he admitted.

I nodded absently.

"The food is delicious," he said sadly. "Business has been wonderful. The place will probably be a big success."

Then he signed and added: "But I probably won't be one."

Always on the lookout for a good, depressing story, I sat down quickly, leaned close and asked hopefully:

"Partner trouble?"

Lawford shook his head. "Nothing like that. Frank and I get along great."

"Then what is it?" I murmured soothingly. "You can tell me."

"I'm afraid," he replied, "that I'll never make it as a professional host. I feel ridiculous when I have to walk around the room and mix with the guests."

He signed again.

"Like tonight," he said. "Mike Romanoff came in for dinner. I've been eating at his place for years. He always comes over to the table, says a few pleasant things, buys a drink.

"Now that the situation is reversed -- he's the customer and I'm the host, I just didn't have the courage to walk over and play his role."


"What did you do?" I asked.

"Nothing," Lawford answered. "I sat right here until he left. Now he's probably sore at me. He must think I didn't talk to him because we're competitors."


1959_0402_bel_air_robbery--It's a basic tenet of show business (at least that portion of it which exists, precariously, in saloons) that in order to do well, an act must first make friends with theheadwater.

And of all the headwaiters in town, pudgy veteran maitre d' Marcel Lamaze certainly had the largest collection of friends.

Just recently, Marcel retired after 50 years of catering to the idiosyncrasies of customers and performers. Frank Sennes threw a testimonial for him at the Moulin Rouge.

 The cabaret was crowded. But it was a shock, to me at least, that not one of the many stars he had worked with over the years took the trouble to be present and saygoodby to a very decent guy.

However, this is Hollywood. And, I guess, you can never tell about friendships in Hollywood.

[Note: Puccini's, 220 S. Beverly Blvd., had previously been the Harlequin Club and by 1962 was the Tender Loin--lrh.]

Coming Attractions -- Last Remaining Seats


Tickets for the Los Angeles Conservancy's annual Last Remaining Seats have gone on sale. Tickets are available to members only ($80/$16) through April 14 and go on sale to the public ($100/$20) April 15. But surely most Daily Mirror readers are members! (I am and yes, I've already got my tickets).

This year's lineup is:

"The Sting," May 27, Orpheum Theatre.

"Buck Privates," June 3, Million Dollar Theatre.

"Cabaret," June 10, Los Angeles Theatre. (Guest appearance by Michael York).

"Macunaima," June 17,  Million Dollar Theatre.

"A Streetcar Named Desire," June 24, Los Angeles Theatre.

"Pandora's Box," July 1, Orpheum Theatre.

In the Theaters, April 2, 1911


Second Takes -- Billy Wilder


At left, our 1939 review of "Midnight," with Don Ameche and Claudette Colbert, which carried Billy Wilder's first writing credit in The Times.

We can quickly cover his earlier work in Hollywood:

Oct. 12, 1934: "One Exciting  Adventure" is the second half of a double bill at the Pantages with "Love Time." The Times' critic finds "Adventure" hard to follow.

Dec. 23, 1934: "Music in the Air" gets a two-paragraph rave in a roundup of current films.

Apparently we didn't even review "Under Pressure" or "The Lottery Lover."

Feb. 5, 1937: Edwin Schallert's review of "Champagne Waltz" finds "a thin, formula plot," but praises several scenes. Performances at the Paramount Theater featured Rube Wolf

March 23, 1938: Schallert calls "Bluebeard's Eighth Wife," written by Wilder and Charles Brackett, "a pretty, pink romantic cream puff."

Sept. 29, 1938: Schallert says, "Fourth picture in a row of the top-notch variety stars Deanna Durbin and in Hollywood that might almost be nominated a cinema miracle.  'That Certain Age,'  different from any of its predecessors, defeats attempts at comparison and simultaneously registers as yet another triumph for the little singing lady."

Kathy Fiscus Revisited -- April 9, 1949

The Times, April 9, 1949, a little San Marino girl is trapped in an old well.

L.A.Times photo

Bill Yancey is lifted to the surface, carrying the body of Kathy Fiscus.

I attended William Deverell's lecture Monday night on the Kathy Fiscus tragedy. Several people in the audience at the Huntington remembered watching live TV coverage or listening to it on the radio. One woman said she was 11 years old at the time and was at the rescue scene for an hour or so.

Here's a lofi recording for those who missed the lecture

Mickey Cohen at Center of Underworld Probe; Comedy of Errors at Wrigley Field, April 2, 1949


The San Bernardino County Grand Jury finds widespread corruption in the Sheriff's Department.
What do we find in the 1949 paper but Mickey Cohen in the middle of the Alfred Pearson scandal. To vastly simply the story, Pearson picked up a $4,000 house for $26.50 at a marshal's sale after he brought a lien against the owner -- a widow -- for an $8 bill at his radio repair shop. Cohen talks about this incident at length in his autobiography, claiming that Mayor Fletcher Bowron wanted him to "take care of" Pearson because Pearson was unfairly exploiting the law. Also notice the late Sam Rummel, attorney who was shot to death outside his home in December 1950. The Times called him "underworld mouthpiece" Sam Rummel. 

Alfred Pearson offers a deal to return the widow's home.

San Bernardino County Sheriff James Stocker denies corruption charges.

Susan Hayward has as good as signed a deal for "My Foolish Heart," based on a J.D. Salinger story.

Just a guess but I think "Nancy" is referring to a Ponzi scheme ... and we have a seriously unfunny "Ferd'nand."

1949_0402_sports I'm no baseball purist. Low-scoring games bore me as do contests filled with well-executed plays by highly compensated stars. Maybe it has something to do with all the years I spent watching Little League games but I find baseball is best when it's unpredictable.

My two sons went with me to spring training in Arizona recently and we saw two games in one day, a crisp Angels game in Tempe followed by a wild and sloppy Giants game in Scottsdale that included a nine-run inning and several horrible plays. I'll take the Giants game any day.

The old Los Angeles Angels won such a contest at Wrigley Field, defeating the Seattle Rainiers 12-10. But as The Times' Al Wolf wrote, "They really didn't win at all."

Carmen Mauro's pinch-hit, three-run home run was the difference with two outs in the ninth inning. If things were only that simple.

With one out, Dick Wilson struck out and reached first base when the ball got away from the catcher. The runner at first advanced to second. Wilson should have been out automatically--a hitter can't advance on a strikeout if there's a runner already at first. That should have been the second out.

Eddie Malone popped out and that should have been the ballgame. Instead that was the second out. Mauro then homered.

The Rainiers should have protested and they did--in the first inning over a completely different matter.

"[Seattle] Manager Jo-Jo White ... fell asleep--along with the umpires and all the Seattle players--when he had a real kick coming in the ninth and fateful inning," Wolf wrote.

They missed some ending.

--Keith Thursby

Found on EBay -- Earl Carroll's Nightclub


This unusual ashtray from Earl Carroll's nightclub has been listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $6.99.

Matt Weinstock -- April 1, 1959

End of the Trail

Matt_weinstockdIt may take a generation or two -- and in the broad scheme of things what are a few years -- but writer Bob Schiller is confident of the inevitable demise of the TV western. The thought came to him when he took his children to a dentist. The doctors, technicians and receptionists were all dressed in cowboy outfits. The kids sat on saddles.

The masquerade, of course, is designed to distract them and dispel any silly notion that what the dentist is about to do to them will hurt.

Maybe it does. On the other hand, maybe it doesn't. And if it doesn't, let's look ahead. Can you imagine kids wanting any truck with cowpokes who come at them with pincers and drills?


received an electric toaster for Easter has no use for it so she took it back to the store to exchange it for an electric frying pan, which she has wanted for a long time.

As she stood at the exchange counter she got the feeling the man there was not having one of his good days. And when he asked, "May I have your plate, please?" she had an impulse. As she fished in her purse for her charge plate she asked, "Upper or lower?"

Broke the ice.



That nine dollar tag
On the hat had a catch --
The gloves, shoes and bag
That the dress had to match.



AS SHE awakened her second-grader at 6:30 a.m. for school, Mrs. Charles Perrill of Whittier announced "Time to get up! All the birds are up already!"

Little girl blue wondered why they got up so early. Her mother said, "Well you know, the early bird gets the worm!" Came the query, "What time do the worms get up?"

Which should make non-parents understand why parents sometimes wear a defeated look.


is long gone but a gal named Helen still cherishes it. She drove her old black Chevrolet into a place advertising a free carwash for green cars that day. Noticing the new cars all around as she waited, she remarked, "My car is green with envy."

The attendant looked at it and said, "It sure is. One free carwash!"


John J. Anthony, the TV problem solver, heard a woman waiting to be interviewed remark to her companion, "You don't have to have a brain to be stupid!" He's still reeling ... Sudden realization: Some of the new cars recall the classic line in the old song "Mr. Five By Five" that goes, "There's no way of knowin' if it's comin' or goin.' "


Just finished reading Tennessee Williams' new play, "Sweet Bird of Youth." Again, for assorted deep South viciousness, ol' Tenn leaves nothing to the imagination ... The Saturday Evening Post's circulation is now more than 6,000,000, up from 4,702,000 in 1955. Its editorial comment: "More and more thoughtful people are turning to reading for the answers they want" ... Press release from Mad magazine states it is "from the padded cells of."


So you think some people go overboard naming dogs? Steve Bilheimer of the Glendale Kennel Club, which will hold its spring all-breed show Sunday, recalls that when Charles Dickens, on a tour of the United States, was presented with a white terrier named Timber Doodle he changed it to Snittle Timbery ... Figuring the average motorist drives 12,000 miles a year and gets 15 miles to the gallon, the Auto Club estimates the amount of fuel it takes to fill a DC-8 jet would last a car owner 29.1 years. Fifteen miles to the gallon? What dreamers! ... On the freeways 5 p.m. is the rush hour. Stan Wood suggests bars which lower the price of drinks at that time should call it the lush hour.

Paul Coates -- Confidential File, April 1, 1959

Confidential File

My Mom Loves Me, in a Sinister Fashion

Paul_coatesI'm a member, in good standing, of the grossly sentimental school which maintains, despite statistical evidence to the contrary, that a boy's best friend is his mother.

When all others fail you, she'll come smiling through. She loves you because of your faults, not in spite of them. "M" is for the million things she gave you.

Stuff like that.

And no matter how many miles may separate you from her, it's always a comfort to know that you can call and keep in touch.

So, the other day, beset by the cares of a troubled world and a wife who understands me too well, I dialed the long-distance operator and called home.

"Mom," I cried when she answered. "Guess who."

"How do you feel, sonny?" she said, cutting through the frivolity.

"Feel fine," I told her.

"Umm," she murmured in a tone tinged with doubt.

"Just fine," I said again.

"You sound tired," she suggested.

"Not a bit."

"Are you keeping something from me?" she asked hopefully.

I assured her that I wasn't keeping anything from her. She fell silent and I continued:

 "Of course, there was a thing a few weeks ago."

"What thing?" she demanded.

"Well, the doctor said my cholesterol was too high."

"Hah!" she cried triumphantly. "I knew it. I knew it."

"It's nothing, though," I went on hastily.

"Nothing?" she snorted. "It's a very serious thing. People are dropping like flies."

"But I had it tested just a few days ago, mother dear. And the doctor said it was down to normal."

"Doctors!" she said bitterly. "Who can believe doctors?"

"But ..."

"They only tell you what you want to hear."

"But the tests showed..."

"Tests!" she snapped. "Tests don't mean a thing.

Living Is So Fatal

"We have a neighbor," she went on. "Never a sick day in his life. Tip-top condition. Woke up one morning feeling like a million. And that night ..."

"Dead?" I asked.

"Umm hmm," she replied.

"Cholesterol?" I asked.

"It wasn't from a head cold," she told me.

"So," she concluded, "tests or not tests, you can never tell."

"Goodbye, mom," I said with a feeling of finality.

" 'Bye, son," she replied. "And don't worry. Worry's the worst thing for a person in your condition."

Note: I always get nervous when Coates writes about his health, knowing, as he couldn't have known, that he would die he was 47--lrh.


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