||Bidding starts at $9.99. And yes, people really dressed like this.
Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
(Bonhams & Butterfields)
This Vincent Black Shadow sold for $383,400 in October.
By Susan Carpenter
May 9, 2009
They leak, shake, rattle and spark -- and sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The rarest of rare vintage motorcycles, these decades-old machines are challenging to start and difficult to ride. Yet they are becoming more expensive to purchase despite -- and some say because of -- the down economy.
For years, ultra-obscure bikes such as a 1936 Crocker Twin or a 1907 Curtiss V-8 were collected by a small handful of moneyed gearheads. They had such deep appreciation for the unique designs and temperaments of these machines that they'd willingly use their shins as heat guards, repurpose their feet as brake shoes and consider it a deal to pay tens of thousands of dollars to experience such evolutionary technology.
Now, they're paying six figures. And the price increases are happening even as the market for new motorcycles is tanking.
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Photograph by Walter Frederick Seely, 1448 Wilcox Ave.
Jack Mulhall, Dec. 5, 1925
Update: As many people guessed, this is Jack Mulhall, a prolific actor who died at the age of 91. I had a difficult time choosing which pictures to post because there are so many good ones.
At right, Mulhall's obituary by Dorothy Townsend, June 6, 1979.
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: George Dolenz.
Los Angeles Times file photo
July 3, 1927: Mulhall and Jane Winton in "The Poor Nut."
Here's another picture of our mystery fellow with a mystery companion. Please congratulate Mary Mallory, Alekszandr, Juile, Steven Bibb, John Hall (I'm not sure if this is former Mirror/Times/Register columnist John Hall), Randy Skretvedt, Cinnamon Carter and Ed for correctly identifying him.
Los Angeles Times file photo
On the set of W.C. Fields' "The Old-Fashioned Way": From left, Director William Beaudine, Mulhall, Charles West, Jack Dillon and Dell Henderson.
Here's our mystery fellow with some mystery companions. Please congratulate Dewey Webb and "Laura" fan Waldo Lydecker for correctly identifying him (and to Mary Mallory for identifying the movie in the previous photo), What are these fellows doing with their hats?
Los Angeles Times file photo
March 19, 1954, Muhall and Harold Lloyd at a party for Mack Sennett.
Here's our mystery star with a mystery companion. Please congratulate R. Ahuna and Nick Santa Maria for recognizing our mystery fellow and cheers to Mary Mallory for identifying the movie in the previous photo.
Los Angeles Times file photo
May 9, 1959: Made Kennedy and Mulhall in "I Remember Caviar," an episode of Screen Gems' "Goodyear Theater."
I know I said I'd identify our mystery guest today -- but I'm having so much fun with these old pictures I decided to hold off until tomorrow. The man had an incredibly long career. Here he is with another mystery companion.
Los Angeles Times file photo
June 18, 1944. Mulhall and Gloria Gilbert in Ken Murray's "Blackouts of 1944." Isn't this a great picture?
The construction of Dodger Stadium was something the paper campaigned for and those who opposed the plan were either ignored or minimized in print. But the events of May 8 couldn't be ignored, in part because the evictions of the Arcechiga family and some of their neighbors were televised.
In the first-day story, the residents are barely quoted but we get to learn the thoughts of the people moving their furniture? We hear from only one opponent of the plan for Chavez Ravine, Councilman John Holland, and he basically said the fight was over.
It took another day for The Times to quote Councilman Edward Roybal, who would become a key player in this saga.
"The eviction in itself is legal," Roybal told newsmen, "but the manner in which it was carried out certainly was not. Someone stands to answer for violating the individual rights of these people. This is the type of action that occurred during the Spanish inquisition and Hitler's Germany. But never have I heard of anything like this taking place in this city."
The reference to "newsmen" makes me wonder if Roybal was being interviewed on television.
High FinanceTalk is not only cheap, it's frequently boring. But once in a while, if you listen intently, you catch an offbeat fragment that is profound or wonderful nonsense or raffishly realistic.
Mike Molony, who helps cover Hill St. cafe society for this corner, the other day captured a little beauty.
A character known as Mac was eloquently exhorting several acquaintances to drink up and rush back to their jobs or if they didn't have one to get one.
Mac is the happy recipient of a regular unemployment check, and he doesn't conceal his hope that this desirable way of life may continue. He refers to himself as a ward of the state.
BUT HE HAS BEEN READING about the shortage of tax money, and in his confused way he fears that unless enough people keep working and get deducted the unemployment fund might get depleted and his payments would possibly be lowered or the checks even bounce, a thought that horrifies him.
Mac's crusade has not been an outstanding success. His crafty colleagues have the same ideas about the joys of unemployment that he has. However, he claims one convert, a fellow known asHardrock. Cynics by the way, insist Hardrock had to go to work anyway because he was broke and his pals had become, as the word is in Calcutta, untouchable.
Mac interrupts his impassioned oratory now and then to say to Mike, "Not you, kid," Mike has a steady job.
TO PUT IN BLUNTLY
Mother's Day is for the purpose
Of honoring those who used to burp us.
- HELEN MITCHEL
A MAN FROM San Francisco, urging the 1,000 Junior Chamber of Commerce members convening in Santa Monica Auditorium to hold an upcoming meeting in his city, offered as inducement a wonderful night out on the town, a fashion show for wives, light opera and a chance to see the "pennant-bound Giants." The explosive roar from Dodger partisan almost blew him off the stage. The delegates later voted to go to San Diego.
SPEAKING OF the jaycees, Headlines, the L.A. Junior Chamber publication, committed this oopser in announcing a meeting next week for new members at a Beverly Blvd. restaurant: "Two rooms will be used for the reception with one for the bar and the other for the orientation session. The bar will remain open for those who wish during the indoctrination."
AS SOME people collect stamps, coins and rocks, others preserve and cherish phrases which show up in print. The weekly Rocky Mountain Herald, published in Denver by Tom and HelenFerril, has become a clearinghouse for this offbeat pastime.
An L.A. subscriber who collects "do hereby's" reported in delight that our mayor had committed one. After a few whereases he said, "I do hereby proclaim this Folk Dancing Day."
Understand one "do hereby," considered rare, is worth two "shark-infested waters" on the open market.
MISCELLANY -- For two weeks, Louis Chazaro reports, a chicken has been living happily in the shrubbery on an "island" on San Bernardino Freeway just off Aliso St. It was there yesterday, as usual, oblivious to the 5 p.m. bumper-to-bumper traffic ... Watch out for Bob Ritchey. He tells of a chamber-music group that played a Mozart piece so badly the audience booed and the group went into Haydn.
Why Eyewitnesses Aren't Too ReliableYesterday I detailed three recent local cases of innocent persons being jailed by mistaken eyewitness testimony.
I told you that the cases weren't rare ones.
Today, I'm going to tell you why.
To do it, I have to point the finger at some highly respected groups who don't like people who point.
For example, the police.
Too often, their power of subtle suggestion is used to influence a witness to make a wrong identification.
As an exaggerated example, there's the "Arkansas lineup," which has become kind of a bitter joke among criminologists.
It apparently was (and -- from what I read in the papers -- probably still is) common police procedure in the state after which it was named. It works like this:
A woman reports that a crime was committed against her by a Negro. She gives police a physical description of the suspect. Police find a man -- any man -- who generally answers the description she gave. Then they stick him -- one Negro -- in a lineup with eight white men, and ask, innocently:
"You see anybody there who looks like him, lady?"
Any conscientious cop would condemn the "Arkansas lineup."
But chances are that he, to a lesser degree, is employing the same tactic.
I talked about it at length this week with Marshall Houts, a former judge and FBI man, and one of the nation's best authorities on criminal evidence.
"Just by handing a book full of mugshots to an eyewitness or by letting him view a lineup of suspects, the police are planting the suggestion that the criminal is there," he pointed out.
"It's a dangerous procedure but obviously it's necessary," he added.
Houts' criticism was of the additional persuasion and influence -- often unintentionally -- used too often by police.
For example, showing a witness just one suspect or his picture.
Or, as is the procedure in San Francisco (you've probably seen it on the television show "Lineup), having an officer recite the past criminal record of a man in a line up for the witness to hear.
"Some victims are extremely susceptible to suggestion," Houts said.
In his book, "From Evidence to Proof," Houts cites example after example of persons later found innocent whose convictions resulted from "rigged" or unobjective witness-identification methods.
Houts' suggestion: "It should be standard police department practice to tape record lineups, and take pictures of them."
Houts also recited to me the dozens of cases where as many as 6, 10, 12 witnesses made identification of a suspect -- and were wrong.
"And as a general rule," he said, "the real criminal bears very little physical resemblance to the falsely identified party."
The problem today, he told me, is to educate judges, lawyers, police officers and the public that eyewitness identification is the type of evidence most susceptible to error.
Some Strong Words Coming Up
It's also been my experience," Houts said, "that the more positive an eyewitness is, the less likely it is that he's right.
"Today, judges and juries put too much credence in the eyewitness. In most cases, eyewitness identification should be considered little more than an investigative lead for the police.
"And if eyewitnesses are used in court, I think the judge should instruct the jury in every instance as to the unreliable nature of the evidence."
Those are strong words.
But they're coming from a man -- as general counsel of Erle Stanley Gardner's Court of Last Resort -- has seen dozens of the terrible injustices caused by equally strong words of "positive" eyewitnesses who were wrong.