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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: June 21, 2009 - June 27, 2009

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Matt Weinstock, June 27, 1959



Re: Sharks


Matt Weinstock There's so much activity in Sharksville these days, first thing anyone knows the papers will appoint shark editors. Meanwhile, a man who used to be a commercial shark fisherman says it's a waste of time to try to kill them from a distance with rifle fire.

When he went after the big blues and whites off Baja California the procedure was to slip up behind them -- they swim just below the surface -- and harpoon them with a 12-ft. pole with a detachable 3-ft. steel spear on the end. Attached to the spear was a dynamite charge with a one-minute fuse. The harpooned shark always dove, thenblooie!

During a shark-scare discussion at a party in Canoga Park, Harry Gibson reports, a girl remarked, "And I always thought a basking shark was a con man lolling in the sun at Palm Springs."

On the wrist watch found in a 750-lb. shark killed off Catalina, Jack L. Peterson and Elliott Earll chorused: "I knew that some day John Cameron Swayze would go too far with those Timex commercials."

And some brash young men, who had painted the fins of their surfboards black, came rushing at a cluster of girls at Hermosa Beach with the boards upside down, yelling, "Shark!" Broke the ice very nicely.

::

AWHILE BACK, a lady in Eagle Rock reported six quarter-pounds of margarine had splashed on her roof and driveway as if dropped from a great height. The assumption was that they had fallen or been thrown from a plane.

Bob Presnell, the movie writer, who lives on Magnolia Blvd. in Sherman Oaks, offers another mystery. He found a recently deceased fish --a tomcod, he thinks --in his back yard. Only explanation --a nervous seagull dropped it.

Step right up folks, and report your phenomena.

::

REMINDER
Variety is the spice of life --
But don't forget you have a wife
    --J.S. McHOSE

::

LIFE BECAME a little confusing a few days ago aboard an El Paso-to-L.A. plane. En route the pilot announced that arrival time would be 5:30, then said, "Oh, I'm sorry, that's eastern time, I'll have to figure it out and let you know." As the plane was about to get down at International Airport the stewardess gave the weather reading, then said it was 7:30 in Los Angeles. A passenger told her it was really 8:30 and when the ship came to a stop the confused girl asked the attendant who opened the door, "What time is it, please?"

::

THREE broken-down politicians stood on a Spring St. corner chatting the other day and one said, "We are victims of McGloober's disease."

"What's that?" he was asked.

"McGloober's disease," was the reply, "is the inexorable law of politics -- the bad politicians drive out the good."

"You are paraphrasing Gresham's law of money," his questioner said.

The third, hitherto silent, said sadly, "I'm glad to know that we are associated, however remotely, with money. I haven't seen any lately."

::

THAT THUD you just heard was a fellow named Al falling out of his chair at hearing for the 64th time a marshal or a mayor in a western drama say, "This is going to be a big country some day, son, the frontier is growing up, and you better realize guns never settled anything."

::

VACATION NOTE -- Ernie Maxwell reports that a young man leaned back comfortably against a tall pine in Idyllwild and mused, "For thousands of years man has been fighting his way out of the woods -- now he's working like crazy to get back into them."

::

FOOTNOTES -- Last Monday a man leading a lame horse north on Sepulveda from Imperial Blvd. had reached the tunnel under the airstrip as Harold Mallon drove by. Maybe someone can tell him, did they make it through the blinding, poor-lighted bore? ... Jay Gurey doesn't need to listen to the radio for weather reports. "When I can see the Tishman Building from 3rd and Western," he says, "I know there's no smog alert."


Paul V. Coates -- Confidential File, June 27, 1959



Confidential File

Mash Notes and Comments

Paul Coates"Dear Mr. Coates,

"Are you acquainted with the following fact?

"A cat can stray into your garage, find a comfortable place to sleep.

"You put your car in the garage, lock the door and retire.

"He wakes up any time in the night and wants to get out.

"The owner hears it and calls you on the phone and demands that you get up and let his cat out of your garage.

"If you are like me, you tell him where to go, and go back to sleep.

"Next the sheriff rings your bell and you get up and let the cat out, no ifs or buts.

"You may be old. You may be sick. The night may be cold and damp, but you get out of a warm bed and go out and let the cat out.

"You may be discomforted, but who cares? The cat is happy.

"This happened to me the other night.

"I supposed it will happen again, but what can I do about a cat like that?" (signed) O.E. Van Tuyl, 8914 Marshall, Rosemead.
    --I could tell you, O.E., but the sheriff will be after both of us.


::


(Press Release) "It probably never will be recorded in the history books, but the current Look magazine reports that Vice President Nixon is the fastest dresser in high office.

"His time: eight minutes for formal clothes, two and half minutes for regular wear." (signed) Publicity Dept., Look Magazine, New York City.
    --Pull down the shades, Pat. Here comes that Look reporter with his damn stop watch again.

::

"My dear friend:

"May I share with you a very exciting experience I have enjoyed?

"Should you be impressed with my story, please pass it along to your friends.

"I attended a 13-week course with the Simmons Institute on human relations. One of the assignments during this course was to go home and tell our spouses, 'I love you because' -- giving a new reason for 30 consecutive days, and then bring in a report.

"I was quite impressed with this assignment and asked many of my friends and relatives to help me out.

"It was amazing how the reports came in. Some spouses were shocked, some suspicious and some made a game of it.

"Best of all, I like to tell about an attorney I know who specializes in divorce cases. Since I told him of this assignment, he now instructs his clients to try the above advice for one week before he takes the case.

"If, by the end of the week, they still want the divorce he will then proceed to get it for them.

"He instructs them to say, 'Even though I am going to divorce you, I want you to know that I love you because' -- giving them several reasons such as: you are a good dancer, you are handsome, you are helpful, etc.

"Was I thrilled by the result of the first case he reported me!

"Before the week was over, this client phoned to say, 'It's all off!'

"Imagine just the communication of the four powerful words, 'I love you because'...

"Try it on your wife --the results will be very gratifying, I assure you." (signed) Mrs. Violet Dworman, 1411 N. Fairfax, L.A.
    --What's the use, Violet? These Hollywood marriages never last, anyway.



A Kinder, Simpler Time Dept.: Your Music



June 27, 1979, Stereo

June 27, 1979: The Zenith, with stereo tuner, plays records, cassettes and eight-track tapes. The price is $469.95, including speakers. That's $1,376.31 USD 2008. And you can probably pick up one in a thrift store for $10.

Minister, Wife, Pray as Confession to Sex Crime Is Read



May 4, 1939, Joseph Jeffers
Los Angeles Times file photo

May 4, 1939: Church members rally around the Rev. Joseph Jeffers and his wife, Zella, after their arraignment.
June 27, 1939, Joseph Jeffers

June 27, 1939: The Rev. Joseph Jeffers and his wife, Zella, pray as her confession is read in court. They were accused of a sex crime that The Times considered unprintable. The defense charged that Jeffers was framed because of his controversial views against Catholics and Jews.

Woman, Baby Hurt in Bike Crash



June 27, 1899, Stove  

June 27, 1899: The Times published many stories about fires that were started by gasoline stoves. Given the primitive nature of firefighting at the time, the results were often tragic.

June 27, 1899, Bicycle  

June 27, 1899: A woman with her baby crashes while trying to ride her bicycle down 1st Street. Before it was altered, 1st Street was extremely steep with a 45-degree grade. The old Central Police Station was on the south side of 1st between Broadway and Hill.

Lawsuit Over Estate Reveals Abusive Home



June 27, 1889, Redondo Beach

June 27, 1889: Redondo Beach and Inglewood are being developed.

June 27, 1889, Probate Court

June 27, 1889: A contested will brings the dirty linen of the Banta family into court ... Eugene Destry's father-in-law accuses him of vagrancy as a last resort after Destry tried to persuade his sister-in-law to join his wife in a life of prostitution.

Found on EBay -- Hanging Rock




 Hanging Rock
Oct. 17, 1901, Matilija Springs

A postcard listed on EBay shows an old Ventura County landmark that has been hidden for decades. The famous Hanging Rock was submerged by the reservoir of Matilija Dam, built to hold the Ventura River. The Matilija Coalition is trying to have the dam removed.

At left, a Oct. 17, 1901, Times story reports the beauty of Matilija Springs.

Bidding on the postcard starts at $5.99.


Matt Weinstock, June 26, 1959




An Act to Remember

Matt Weinstock Unintentionally profound remarks come from the strangest places.

The setting for this one was postwar Japan. It was told to Hal Humphrey by publicist John Plake, who was there.

The soldiers in a certain headquarters company had done everything there was to do, which was not much, and they were bored, as the saying goes, almost to tears.

One day they decided to put on a show. All available talent was rounded up and urged to do its worst.

ON THE schedule that day there was the guitar player, the magician, the singer. Then came the finale. A young man wearing a long underwear leotard, a fake flower in his hair and papier-mache wings dashed out on the platform. He spun around -- perhaps pirouetted is the word -- flapped his wings and collapsed, not as gracefully as he imagined, like a fallen angel. He half rose, flapped his wings one more time, looked out at the audience and shouted hoarsely, "Everything is being done wrong!"

::

DID YOU KNOW that news photographers have a theme song? Well, they do. Furthermore, several of them sang it the other day when a burly, belligerent and handcuffed prisoner, who indicated he hated cameramen, was escorted into a courtroom.

It goes, "He who shoots and runs away (another version has it "from far away") lives to shoot another day."

::

PEOPLE IN A position to give out complimentary tickets to theaters or other events are constantly besieged by persons wishing same. In fact, handling tickets can become a nuisance to the point of making other work secondary. And so a certain editor, constantly fighting off the freeloading wolves, notoriously fierce, derisively tears off two or three green stamps from a sheet and hands them out with each pass.

::

FIRST THINGS FIRST
It isn't really necessary to teach us how to drive.
The thing we need instruction in is how to stay alive.
--FELIX DE COLA

::

AN ELDERLY woman who rides around in a one-seat electric car is a familiar sight around Bixby Park, Long Beach.

The other day she went to a neighborhood market and purchased the few items her limited  income permits. When the box boy offered to carry them out she said, smiling, "put them in the Cadillac, please." She confided to the manager, "That's my little joke."

But when she went out to her car, no groceries. The boy had put them in the Cadillac and it was gone.

::

A BRITISHER living here is known for his irascible temperament and his sardonic view of civilization. Very little pleases him. When something particularly irks him he writes a letter to the London Times. The other day Martin Ragaway found him unaccountably pleasant. "If Charley gets any sweeter," he admonished the Britisher's wife, "he'll have no personality at all."

::

THE DARNEDEST things happen in restaurants. Slim Means, veteran chef, was working recently in a small seaside cafe and a waitress put in an order for two friend eggs -- one sunny-side up, the other over easy. He didn't believe her but it was true. Two women had only the price of two eggs and were going to split them. One wanted them one way, the other another.

::

AT RANDOM -- A girl with a Pasadena insurance company has the semi-official title Supervisor of Errors ... Writer Caskie Stinnett, here to host the Saturday Evening Post party Monday at the Beverly Hills Hotel, was surprised to see so many people wearing wash-and-dry suits. "It's the same old story," he said, "what is a new trend in Philadelphia is a long-established tradition everywhere else" ...  The way Bob Skeetz tells it, a gal in a bikini came into a beach city jewelry store and asked for one of those "sharkproof" watches ... And Dick Degnon reports a Riverside Dr. surplus store is advertising shark repellent for bathers, with the slogan of "Don't be a shark tidbit."

Paul V. Coates -- Confidential File, June 26, 1959



Confidential File

Mickey to Hit Banquet Trail


Paul CoatesMickey Cohen, reputed former czar of a million-dollar bookie empire, is preparing to hit the banquet trail to spread the word that "crime don't pay."

Already a verbal-contract agreement has been reached between the ex-mobster and the head of a nationally known lecture agency, whose clients include U.S. senators, admirals and university presidents.

The agency, with offices here and in the East, reportedly is set to finalize negotiations within a few days.

The plan -- learned exclusively by the Mirror-News -- was confirmed to me today by Cohen and, in part, by the involved agency.

A spokeswoman for the lecture booking outfit admitted that preliminary conferences had been held, and that at present the agency was "feeling out the reaction."

"Whatever we do," she assured me excitedly, "we don't want to change Mr. Cohen's style of murdering the King's English.

"In person," she added, "he's quite a different man than I expected. He's -- I suppose I shouldn't say it -- but he's adorable."

Cohen, while not so lavish in praise of his own appearance and personality, pointed out in his conversation with me that he was fully qualified to speak on a variety of subjects.

" 'Crime Don't Pay' will be the theme," he explained, "but I can handle anything. Like 'Crime in Politics,' 'Juvenile Delinquency' and 'The Mafia.'

"The so-called Mafia," he corrected himself.

"What I'll do is tell them the experiences I went through," he said. "I'll show them that all is not gold that glitters. A fast buck ain't all that it's set up to be. Things like that."

Mickey explained that his decision to stump the fried chicken and mashed potato circuit was prompted by a conversation he had with Mirror-News columnist Drew Pearson on a recent trip east.

"Pearson told me I should give lectures," he said. "But I done it before. Once I spoke in Oxnard to 300 people. And another time, I spoke to a juvenile delinquency home in Banning."

"When you drive an expensive car and wear expensive clothes," I asked Mickey, "isn't it going to be hard to prove your point that crime doesn't pay?"

"I don't dress expensive," he replied. "I'm just neat."

I asked him what arguments he'd use to show that crime doesn't pay.

"I'll use me as an example," he said. "I'll them it's no good when you're notorious and you've got people pointing at you all the time.

"And," he added, "when you're harassed and bothered all the time by the police, it just don't pay."

He explained to me that the tentative format for his tour would be a lecture, followed by a question-and-answer session.

"Suppose somebody in the audience asks you how you can look so prosperous with no visible means of support, Mickey? How would you answer that?"

He was thoughtful, but only for the briefest moment. "I'll tell them," he said, "that I got a big borrowing capacity.

"Besides," he went on, "I'll be getting paid, remember? I used to do those lectures as favors. I didn't know there was dough in it."

Mickey admitted that he had some qualms about facing women's clubs around the country, but what he liked best was "straight from the shoulder" talks to juvenile delinquents.

Wants to Help a Little

"Like that time in Banning, he said, "I told those kids that if I could get one of them to go straight, I'd feel I done something."

I asked Mickey if he planned to make a specialty of lecturing to juveniles.

He shrugged. "I don't know whether the agency will book me in them places. I don't think those institutions have that kind of dough."

The lecture agency, which books speakers for the United States, Canada and Hawaii, has numbered among its clients Sen. Paul Douglas, Dr. Robert M. Hutchins, Drew Pearson, Sen. J. William Fulbright and Vice Admiral Munson.

The agency's spokeswoman assured me that such company wouldn't be too fast for Mickey.

"Our clients are all top men," she said, "but after all, Mr. Cohen, in a sense, was a captain of industry in his field.

"I think he'll be a tremendous hit with the women," she added. "He's really quite captivating." 

Then, with a sigh, she concluded: "But maybe I'm prejudiced. I've always been intrigued by cops and robbers."

A Kinder, Simpler Time Dept.: Your Wardrobe



June 26, 1976, Leisure Suits

June 26, 1976: Johnny Carson and Jack Nicklaus leisure suits at Silverwoods. In texturized polyester!

Michael Jackson: End of the Jacksons?




Michael Jackson, Sept. 13, 1981

Sept. 13, 1981: Michael Jackson tells Robert Hilburn that he's done touring with the Jacksons.


Michael Jackson, Sept. 13, 1981

"I sometimes feel like I should be 70 by now," Michael Jackson says.
Michael Jackson, Sept. 13, 1981

"Our parents did push us, but it wasn't against our will," Tito Jackson says.
Michael Jackson, Sept. 13, 1981

"I think I'd die on my own. I'd be so lonely. Even at home, I'm lonely. I sit in my room sometimes and cry. It's so hard to make friends and there are some things you can't talk to your parents or family about. I sometimes walk around the neighborhood at night, just hoping to find someone to talk to. But I just end up coming home," Michael Jackson says.


Movie Star Mystery Photo

 


 June 22, 2009, Mystery Photo
 
Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: As many people guessed, this is Lois Wilson. Above, a publicity still from "The Covered Wagon," July 16, 1924.


 

Lois Wilson; Star of Early Silent Movies

March 9, 1988

By PAUL FELDMAN, Times Staff Writer

Early screen star Lois Wilson, who acted in many important silent Paramount productions, including the 1923 Western epic, "The Covered Wagon," has died at age 93, it was reported Tuesday.

Miss Wilson, who succumbed to pneumonia in Reno, came to Hollywood in 1915 after winning a statewide beauty contest in Alabama.

She soon wangled a small part in "The Dumb Girl of Portici," which starred legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova, and went on to act in more than 100 silent and sound films over the next 33 years.

Her best known roles included Molly Wingate in "The Covered Wagon" and Daisy Buchanan in the 1926 version of "The Great Gatsby," for which she won the Photoplay magazine best performance award.

In other features, Miss Wilson acted opposite such stars as Rudolph Valentino and John Gilbert.

After retiring in 1941--except for a bit part in the forgettable 1949 comedy "The Girl from Jones Beach," starring Ronald Reagan--Miss Wilson turned to the Broadway stage, road company productions, including "The Women" for 57 weeks, and, eventually, television.

Among the network soap operas in which she played featured character roles were "The Guiding Light" and "The Edge of Night."

Although she never wed, Miss Wilson, a 5-foot-5 brunette, was once described as cultivating a screen image of the "soft, marrying kind of woman."

Selected in 1924 by Paramount to represent the motion-picture industry at the British Empire Exposition, studio officials termed her "a typical example of the American girl in character, culture and beauty."

She was also typical, for that era anyway, in fudging on her age. While various studio publicity accounts have listed her year of birth as anywhere from 1896 to 1902, her actual birthday was June 26, 1894, according to officials at the Riverside Hospital for Skilled Care in Reno, where Miss Wilson died March 3.

Born in Pittsburgh to an English father and a Bostonian mother, Miss Wilson attended grammar and high school in Birmingham, Ala., where her family moved when she was a toddler.

Earning a teaching certificate at Alabama Normal College, Miss Wilson briefly taught in rural schools before winning the beauty contest and coming west to enter a contest to publicize the newly founded Universal City.

Miss Wilson parlayed her role in "The Dumb Girl of Portici" into a contract with Paramount and the role of leading lady in a series of J. Warren Kerrigan films, including "The Covered Wagon." Her other film credits included roles in Valentino's "Monsieur Beaucaire," "Ruggles of Red Gap," "The Vanishing American," and her personal favorite, the 1921 "Miss Lulu Bett."

Miss Wilson made her stage debut in Los Angeles in 1928 and moved to New York a decade later, appearing on the Broadway stage in such plays as "Farewell Summer," "Chicken Every Sunday," and, in the late 1960s, "I Never Sang for My Father."

After retiring, Miss Wilson returned to North Hollywood, where she shared a home with a sister. She later moved near her niece, Sheila Fitzmaurice Shay, in Reno, according to nephew George C. Lewis.

Miss Wilson was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, Glendale, on Monday after a memorial service at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills.




Just a reminder on how this works: I post the mystery photo on Monday and reveal the answer on Friday ... or on Saturday if I have a hard time picking only five pictures -- sometimes it's difficult to choose. 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 mystery star: Toni Gerry!

June 23, 2009, Mystery Photo
Los Angeles Times file photo


Update: Lois Wilson and Holmes Herbert in "Another Scandal," Sept. 18, 1924.

Here's another photo of our mystery guest ... with a mystery companion. Please congratulate Donna Hill, Dewey Webb, Anne Papineau, Eve Golden, Mike Hawks, Carmen, Mary Mallory, Cinnamon Carter, Dru Duniway and Sandy Reed for identifying her!

June 24, 2009, Mystery Photo
Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: Lois Wilson and Leo Carrillo in "Obey the Law," Feb. 10, 1933.

Here's our mystery woman with another mystery companion. Please congratulate Anne Frye for identifying her!

June 25, 2009, Mystery Photo
Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: Lois Wilson and Jimmy Dunn at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in an undated photo.

Here's our mystery woman with another mystery companion. Please congratulate Alekszandr, Eric Yockey, Juliet, Barbara, "L.A. Confidential" fan Rolo Tomasi, Margaret, Claire Lockhart, Mary Mallory, William and Sue for identifying her. 

June 26, 2009, Mystery Photo
Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: Lois Wilson and a mystery companion Sept. 11, 1979









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