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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: April 5, 2009 - April 11, 2009

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Charlton Heston on the 'Ten Commandments,' October 28, 1956

Charlton Heston on the Ten Commandments, Oct. 28, 1956

We had our religion writer Dan Thrapp interview Charlton Heston about his role as Moses in "The Ten Commandments." Fortunately, Thrapp was not from the "over a salad and mineral water at the Polo Lounge" or "speaking by phone from Paris, where he is at work on his next picture" schools of celebrity interviewers, but he got something of substance.

Quote of the Day: It is interesting to note that once Moses climbs Mt. Sinai and talks to God there is never contentment for him again. That is the way it is with us. Once we talk to God, once we get his commission to us for our lives we cannot be again content. We are happier. We are busier. But we are not content because then we have a mission -- a commission, rather."

-- Charlton Heston

This is adapted from an earlier post on Heston's death >>>

Found on EBay -- Great White Fleet, 1908


A souvenir postcard of the Great White Fleet's 1908 visit to Los Angeles, showing the battleship Louisiana, has been listed on EBay.  Bidding starts at $9.99.

Matt Weinstock, April 11, 1959


Glendale 'Witch'

Matt_weinstockdWhile recovering from the flu in 1942 Charlotte Armstrong amused herself by writing a mystery novel, "Lay On, MacDuff!" To her surprise, she sold it and it was published the way she wrote it. Until then she had been writing unsuccessful plays. Previous to that she took classified ads on the phone for the New York Times.

It seemed like a nice life compared to the arduous toil of writing and rewriting plays and since that time she had written 13 more, almost one a year, most of which have appeared in magazines. "A Dram of Poison," won the Mystery Writers "Edgar" as the best suspense novel of 1956 and critic Anthony Boucher called her "one of the few authentic spell-casting witches of modern times."

is "Duo," two short novels with an L.A. setting. Scheduled for publication later this year is "The Seventeen Widows of Sans Souci."

1959_0411_brawl "There's no such thing as coasting for Miss Armstrong, wife of ad man Jack Lewis. She's at her typewriter every day at her home at 1700 Grandview Ave., Glendale. (What's that you say? People in Glendale don't write suspense novels? Huh!)

Miss Armstrong makes a fine distinction in this day of shoot-'em-up and beat-'em-up TV.

"I find I kill off fewer and fewer characters all the time," she said. "My 'Dram of Poison' had no crime, no violence and no villain."


has gone wrong with a Rolling Hills resident's TV set and all he gets is a diagonal picture across the middle with the other two-thirds of the screen, top and bottom, blacked out. Says he never had so much fun. The horses in westerns look like dachshunds. As for the ladies at the Academy Awards, my, my, such distortion.



It must have been fun
When people had some
Of the thing they call togetherness.
And the reason why
They still got by--
Perhaps they were just togetherless.



at the home of Bart Bradley, 12, TV actor and the caller asked, "Is Melvin there?" Bart said he must have the wrong number. A moment later the routine was repeated. The third time Bart said, "Melvin is being punished--he can't come to the phone." That stopped it.


, some in horrified tones, about juvenile delinquency but the County Federation of Community Coordinating Councils tries to do something about it by tracing its causes and understanding it.

The problem was pinpointed recently when a Pico Rivera housewife reported two little strangers appeared at her home with this note from their mother. "To whom it may concern: Please send my children home by five." In other words, she didn't care where they were just so they didn't bother her.


1959_0411_abby   NOTE FROM
a voter: "Do you suppose the people in politics and government got the message last Tuesday that the 2-1 defeat of Prop. A meant we won't stand for further tax increases? Or will we have to go through all that again?" Don't hold your breath.


Among the interplanetary problems raised at the Space Conference in New York was "Suppose a man sent to another planet liked it so much he didn't want to return to earth" ... The Animal Regulation Department has done it again. In addition to 1,234 dog and 99 cat bites, the monthly report lists the year's firstcoatimundi bite. Of course, we've also had chomps by an eagle, an eland, a mole and an ocelot ... Oops, a learned professor on Channel 4's early morning show, "Continental Classroom," committed this redundancy: "The beam of light goes vertically straight up" ... "No truth to the rumor, Bob Holcomb says, that if and when the cut version of "Gigi" is shown on the late, late show it will be called "Gi."

Paul Coates -- Confidential File, April 11, 1959

Confidential File

Paul_coates(Press release) "Those who are skeptical of the adage 'love at first sight' would do well to know Steve Allen's account of his first meeting with Jayne Meadows.

"Steve leaves no doubt about his feelings on the subject in an eloquent tribute he pays his wife in a current Look magazine article.

" 'Coming into contact with Jayne Meadows for the first time,' writes Steve 'is in some particulars like being exposed to the Statue of Liberty or Grand Canyon for the first time; one is just apt to stand and look. She is, like these other national wonders, big and beautiful and a bit overwhelming.

" 'You are confronted suddenly with a barrage of red hair and earrings and perfume and eyelashes and a generous red and white and pink mouth that keeps talking and smiling and gasping. " (signed) Public Relations Department, Look magazine.

--Beautiful! But, Steve, she sounds ill.


1960 GOP Convention Set for Chicago, April 11, 1959  "Dear Paul,

"Last week you wrote about a soap opera and a syrupy voice (Mr. Don Ameche) and there was Melinda and Carri. You admitted being confused. Perhaps I can set you straight, as I heard the whole story.

"You see, Helen was actually Don's (Jeff's) wife. Pop was Carri's stepfather and Jeff's manager, before he quit to be a horse trainer and became a fight promoter instead.

"Not that Pop was really anyone's Pop. But he helped Joe, Don's (Jef's) brother to meet Carri who fed sugar to the horses.

"But Carri decided she really loved Jeff's (Don's) brother. Now Jeff's wife, Helen, is dead so Melinda is fixing dinner. Jane, the daughter of Edward (a recluse at CampPendleton and first husband of Carri), runs away from home.

"Pop, Edward, Carri, Jeff (Don) and Melinda and Joe let Jane make her own way.

Garden of Allah to Be Torn Down, April 11, 1959"Wouldn't you?" signed Mickee.

--Frankly, I don't care what she does. I'm sick of the whole ugly mess.


 (Press release) "A national movement is afoot to replace the salutation 'Mister' with 'Esquire.'

"The originators of this plan suggest that the appellation 'Esquire' carries more dignity and gives a man more stature than the commonplace 'Mister.'

"Derivation of 'Esquire' is English. Originally meaning shield bearer and candidate for knighthood because of chivalry, the term came to refer to English landed gentry, men of property or squires.

"There is no doubt that Esq. after a name looks more impressive than Mr. before it.

"Today, man's reputation as the stranger sex has sunk low,' says Irving J. Bottner of Great Neck, N.Y., who's spearheading the Esquire campaign.

"He's head of a shoe polish firm coincidentally named Esquire." (signed) Carl Erbe Associates, New York, N.Y.

--Coincidentally? It's downright eerie.

In the Theaters, April 11, 1935


Second Takes -- Billy Wilder


Coming Attraction: "Double Indemnity," Aug. 6, 1944
A page from the script of "Double Indemnity."


Sept. 12, 1943: James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler discuss making "Double Indemnity." Here's the script from "Double Indemnity" from "The Daily Script."

Philip K. Scheuer's Aug. 6, 1944, review calls "Double Indemnity" a turning point in American film, like "The Human Comedy," "Citizen Kane" and "The Maltese Falcon."



Movie Mystery Photo


Los Angeles Times file photo

Diana Sands plays Diahann Carroll's cousin in an episode of "Julia," 1970.

Update: Yes, as nearly everyone realized, this is Diana Sands, who died in 1973 at the age of 39.
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: Sheila Ryan.


Here's a final photo of Diana Sands. Notice anything unusual about it?
Los Angeles Times file photo

As a few people noticed, the photo of Sugar Ray Robinson, Diana Sands and Diahann Carroll has been altered. Here's a detail shot:


There was a time when cutting and pasting a photo was considered an art, believe it or not.

Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: Diana Sands in "Doctors' Wives."

Here's another picture of our mystery woman. Please congratulate Dewey Webb, Eve Golden, Carmen, Sonny King, Atriana, Bernard in NYC, Jeff Comstock, Barbara Klein, Elsie, Pamela Porter, R. Ahuna, Mary Mallory, Vanessa Carey, Edward Cradduck and Sam O'Neal for correctly identifying her!

Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: Diana Sands and Diahann Carroll in "Julia."

Here's another photo of our mystery woman with a mystery companion. So many people have identified her that I can't list them all. Congratulations!

Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: Diana Sands in "Georgia, Georgia, 1972.

And here's another picture of our mystery woman!

City Workers May Get 5% Raises; Snow Cancels Dodgers Opener, April 11, 1959



On the cover, President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon predict a Republican victory in the 1960 presidential election. The country is "squarely behind our efforts to block excess spending and to keep the federal budget in balance," Nixon says.

At left, relatives are looking for Dennis Farrell, a hermit who lives in Griffith Park. Farrell, who has been sleeping in a cave near the Observatory, is being sought by his brother and father, who want him to come home to Nebraska.

And a curious story about Officer Marion D. Hoover, who shot Ramon Adolfo Vega Jr. in the head after Vega stabbed him during a chase through Hollenbeck Heights. Stay tuned on that one.

 Hey! It's "zany insult artist" Don Rickles!

1959_0411_sports The Dodgers and Cubs had a snow day instead of an opening day.

Game-time temperature in Chicago was a balmy 32 degrees, more suitable to the Bears and Rams playing, The Times' Frank Finch pointed out.

Finch apparently didn't expect bad weather: "Our hastily gathered wardrobe today included topcoat by Klippstein, gloves by Becker and insulation by Daniels [Jack, that is]."

Amazing that would make it into a story.

The Dodgers lost the season opener the following day to the Cubs, 6-1, the only Los Angeles run coming on a home run by losing pitcher Don Drysdale. Bob Anderson, who had been a relief pitcher for the Pacific Coast League Angels, was the winning pitcher for the Cubs.

--Keith Thursby

Little Girl's Body Taken From Well, April 11, 1949

Found on EBay -- UFO Society


This label, for the Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America has been listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $9.99.

Matt Weinstock -- April 10, 1959

Dilemma Continues

Matt_weinstockdA year and a half ago the frustrating dilemma of Roy Huerta, 38, a cook, and his wife, Manuela, 32, was told here.

Ten years before, in 1947, they were married in Los Angeles. One day in 1949 they took a trip to Tijuana. At the border on the way back they were asked the usual questions.

Roy had no trouble. He was born in Johnstown, Pa., and served three years in the Army in World War II, 18 months in the South Pacific.

Manuela panicked. Born in Zacatecas, Mexico, she speaks little English. She said she had never been in the United States, then said she had. She was detained and accused of entering this country illegally.

A hearing was set and she was notified but, out of fear, she ignored the summons. She was convicted of perjury and forbidden under theMcCarran Act to reenter the country.

"And so for the last eight years," it was stated here, "Roy has made a weekly pilgrimage to Tijuana. He takes along groceries, clothes and gifts for the five children."

1959_0410_fashions THE OTHER DAY a letter came in from Mrs. William Hr. Rosenblatt, 2424 Wilshire Blvd., stating, "The story in your column Sept. 13, 1957, about Roy Huerta and his separation from his wife and children living in Mexico has pricked my conscience daily. Can you let us known if this situation still exists? An injustice of this kind disturbs me. Perhaps enough attention can be focused on this case to try to heal one of the many heartaches caused by theMcCarran Act."

THIS IS TO REPORT that the situation is unchanged. Roy now works as a cook in a restaurant on Sunset Boulevard and lives with a brother on North Broadway.

He still travels to Tijuana each weekend to be with his family. There are now six children, three girls and three boys. The oldest, Gloria Jean, 9, and two others attend school.

Manuela's case is at a stalemate. Roy has been told by attorneys and the immigration people that the only hope is the repeal of theMcCarran Act.

Meanwhile, this patient, conscientious man continues to look forward after nearly 10 years to the day that his family may join him in Los Angeles


1959_0410_comicsDID YOU HEAR about the tabulating machine that can translate into Russian and then back into English? Someone inserted the line, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." It came out, "Vodka is ready but the meat's gone bad."



Though I often buy a new car
Don't call me an easy touch,
It's because my new car dealer
Claims he needs used cars so much.



Malvin Ward wrote a film based on the Mad Bomber of New York. One scene showed airplane passengers' luggage being examined because of the bomb threat.

Last week as he was about to take off for L.A. from Idlewild Airport in N.Y. policemen surrounded the waiting room and asked passengers to open their luggage for inspection. There was a rumor a bomb would be planted in the plane.

The real-life incident had an odd twist. A heavy fog prevented the plane from taking off.


1959_0410_abby ONE OF THE
most imperishable lines I ever heard was the cry of a downtown newsboy, now dead. No matter what the headlines stated he shouted, "It won't be long now!"

Walking past sunset and Gower the other day I heard another enduring remark, one unemployed actor sadly to another: "I've never seen it like this before." And never will again.


Language enrichment note: Mike Molony heard a customer tell Eddie, a Hill Street bartender, how he "got stooken" with a bum check. Superpluperfect of stuck, Mike figured ... The L.A. Press Club has 2,543 members, 1,398 actives -- largest in the world ... As one who only recently was dragged kicking and screaming into his 30s, JackSearles shuddered to hear the announcer dedicate a TV kiddies' program "To you -- the leaders of the 21st century!"

Paul Coates -- Confidential File, April 10, 1959

Confidential File

Con Men Live High When Going's Tough

Paul_coatesPaul Coates is back on the local scene. He'll take another look at the explosive Caribbean situation beginning Monday.

It's a simple economic fact. When times get tough, the con men live good.

Paradoxical, but that's the way it works.

A household blighted by recession becomes a fertile field for those who make their living fleecing the little guy.

And maybe it makes sense.

Those who need, want.

And the con artist holds out a glowing dream of plenty.

Too often, the dream becomes a nightmare.

A nightmare which drains American pocketbooks of an estimated $500,000,000 annually.

 Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Lamb, an English-born couple now living in Sherman Oaks, hold the purse strings on one of those pocketbooks.

The racket they succumbed to has a generic name -- "homework."

1959_0410_cover"Make big money at home in your spare time," the pitchmen promise.

Specifically, Mr. and Mrs. Lamb fell victim to the knitting machine con.

And they signed a contract which obligated them to pay $364 for a knitting machine which can be purchased "wholesale" for far less than half that figure.

In return for their investment, secured for the company by a chattel mortgage on their furniture, the Lambs were promised that any acceptable item manufactured on their machine would be purchased by the firm which sold it to them.

I talked to the couple yesterday.

"I know we're hooked," Mr. Lamb told me in a voice colored by both British accent and resignation. "But maybe if someone exposes this racket, other people won't be taken."

"Being English, we didn't know about things like this," his wife interjected. "We believed them. We trusted them."

 "Maybe we're kind of foolish," she added.

"How did you get mixed up in a deal like this?" I asked.

"We wanted to make a bit of extra cash, you know. So my wife and I answered an ad regarding work at home. It was knitting garments at our house and selling them to this company," Mr. Lamb explained.

1959_0410_dodgers"And did you ever sell anything?" I wanted to know.

"No," Mr. Lamb said bitterly. "My wife kept making garments and taking them down to the company's office. But the people down there always said they weren't good enough.

"I don't think they ever really planned to buy anything from us," he concluded hopelessly.

And I don't think so either.

Now the Lambs are stuck with their $364 knitting machine. That is, unless they want to pay it off, then sell it back to the company for $75.

"We couldn't possibly sell it that cheap," Mr. Lamb said.

"And besides," his wife added, "they'd probably turn right around and sell it to some other poor sucker."

She's undoubtedly right. That's the usual MO.

But in a way, the Lambs are luckier than some. Other knit-at-home pitchmen operating in and around Los Angeles are getting as much as $418 for their machines.

A Cruel, Vicious Racket

And always, they demand a chattel mortgage on the family furniture.

You can see it's a vicious racket. One that law enforcement agencies are working overtime to stamp out.

But the going is tough. Some of the firms involved do buy finished garments. Just enough to prove some sort of proper intent.

Many others don't bother. They place their ads, open their doors, fleece the sheep, then fold up and disappear to start again in another community where the pickings are good.

Where some economic disaster has worked a hardship on residents.

Where opportunity, when it knocks, is always answered.

Even when it's only a thinly disguised con man's pitch.

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