The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: January 25, 2009 - January 31, 2009

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Found on EBay -- Bullock's Wilshire


Check out this fabric. Definitely of an era. From the Wynshire department at Bullock's Wilshire, listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $6.99.

Matt Weinstock -- January 31, 1959

Dash Dashes Dreams

Matt_weinstockd Among those who went along on American Airlines' first jet flight to New York a few days ago was this paper's Bill Thomas. His colleagues felt the event should be commemorated, and as the hour for departure neared they gathered solemnly around the city desk and each contributed 25 cents for a $25,000 insurance policy on his life.

It is hardly necessary to mention that newspapermen are lacking somehow in reverence for the things most people hold dear. Doubtless this comes from seeing civilization at its worst.

"As the plane goes down," one said, "it should be comforting for you to know you are doing a nice thing for your friends."

1959_0131_beggar EVERYONE KNOWS the plane made it in a record 4 hours and 3 minutes and Bill is back. Naturally, his philanthropic associates are bitterly disappointed. They had dreamed of buying small weekly papers in the calmer hinterlands with the insurance money and taking life easy.

Now they not only find Bill superfluous to the local scene, they're out two bits. In their forthright manner they have conveyed their feelings to him.

By way of retort Bill has addressed this notice to his benefactors: "Dear Boys and Ghouls: Sue me."

To complete their disillusion, there's a strong suspicion their contributions went for a crock of grog.

* *

A LONG-DISTANCE operator asked by a young sounding voice to put through a call asked cagily, "Is there anyone else at home?"

"My brother," was the reply.

"May I speak to him?" she asked.

After a long wait the young voice said, "I'm sorry, he can't come. I can't let him out of the playpen."

* *

1959_0131_cover HAUL THROUGH THE NIGHT
Roaring diesels dusk 'til dawn,
Rumbling freight trains never gone,
Motel patrons seeking sleep,
Slumber fades and dreams won't keep,
Motorists all soon play this game-
Auto-Inn-somnia is its name.

* *

IT WAS mentioned here recently that the origin of the Alcoholics Anonymous basic prayer, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference," was unknown.

Not so, according to Rose Gropman, who says it's a condensation of a passage from Confucius.

Virginia Sharp of Tujunga states it originally was an old Chinese prayer which read, "Give us the courage to change that which can be changed. Give us the serenity to accept that which cannot be changed. And give us the wisdom to recognize one from the other -- each for what it is."

Whoever first wrote it and in whatever form, it's a fine thought.

* *

1959_0131_missing A PUBLIC relations man I know received a brochure inviting him to membership in the Diners Club and he is captivated by the prospect.

He is particularly intrigued by the assurance, on page 2, that members' credit is good in "the world's finest restaurants, hotels, night clubs, auto rentals, motels, including members of Congress, Best Western and Superior Courts . . ."

It's a little confusing, but the way he reads it he could get through to a congressman by flashing his Diners card.

* *

FOOTNOTES -- How do colors get named? Well, Janet Holt won a trip to Chicago for the finals of the national cherry pie baking contest for high school students, and her proud mother, Mary, a dress designer for Blum of California, is bringing out a line in cherry pie red . . . Ernie Maxwell sold his paper, the Idyllwild Town Crier, a year ago to travel. Now he has taken it over again. His reason -- no neckties or business suits . . . That snarl you hear comes from station wagon owners who get clipped an extra dollar for license renewals. They don't understand why.

Paul Coates -- Confidential File, January 31, 1959


Junks 'Junk'; Grads Applaud

Paul_coates It's commencement week, but the proudest graduate in Southern California today isn't from any institution of learning.

He went through his ceremony in a shabby Ocean Park store-front dwelling crowded with friends whose combined arrest records could overflow the filing cabinets of any middle-sized town in the country.

Most of the guests, like the graduate, were former gutter dope addicts.

A couple of months ago I wrote about their experiment in "communal kicking" of the habit.

The group calls itself Synanon.

This week's "grad" was a man named Jesse, who at 35 -- for practically the first time in his adult life -- is free.

The arrests for narco, burglary, theft and half a dozen other crimes are behind him, he thinks.

'Clean' for Seven Months

Life After Synanon

March 29, 1998

By Ted Rohrlich
Times Staff Writer

In the turbulence of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the Vietnam War was at its peak and faith and society’s institutions were becoming unmoored, a small drug and alcohol program in Santa Monica became an unlikely buoy in a storm.

   Synanon had been heralded by Time magazine for its supposed 80% success rate and touted by a politician as “a man-made miracle on the beach.”

   Its founder, a charismatic former drunk, may have been so intoxicated by fabulous press that he decided he could make the “miracle” apply to everyone. In 1969, Charles E. Dederich stopped graduating drunks and drug addicts to the larger society and instead invited the larger society to join his drunks and drug addicts in a Utopian quest to perfect communal life.


At the weird exercises Jesse was honored for (1) receiving his discharge papers from his parole officer, and (2) having stayed "clean," off the junk, for a personal record of seven months.

* *

Last Saturday I devoted this space to a situation which I considered a very unfortunate one.

At that time, the body of Carl (Alfalfa) Switzer, a onetime "Our Gang" star, lay in the County Morgue, and because of legal technicalities which delayed its release, a funeral planned by his parents had to be postponed.

The body was being held at the morgue by coroner's officials, who claimed they couldn't release it to the family until Switzer's ex-wife, Dian Collingwood Switzer, gave them approval. The family indicated to me that they had tried unsuccessfully to contact Mrs. Switzer at her home in Hutchinston, Kan.

I printed the story. And it's one of the perils of journalism that as it was going to press, Mrs. Switzer's wire arrived in the coroner's office

Wanted Legal Advice

It should be made clear that the young lady wasn't deliberately avoiding giving consent to release of her ex-husband's body for burial. Because of the divorce situation, she wanted the telegram to be dictated by her Los Angeles attorney. And, as soon as she was able to reach him, the telegram went out.

* *

The question of who wrote the original story for the motion picture "The Brave One" has been dumped into the laps of the Screen Writers Guild this week.

A leading contender for the honor is the deceased Spanish-born writer-dancer-actor, Juan Duval, whose posthumous candidacy I revealed last week.

And adding new support to his claim is Dale Robertson. The western star telephoned me after reading my column- with the information that he, personally, had taken Juan Duval's script about a boy and a bull to a number of producers in town. 

Voices -- Christine Collins, August 17, 1932


Company Town


You may recall my recent post about lunch with Harry Medved and the continuing quest to determine the name and date of the first film shot entirely in Los Angeles.

Val Almendarez, collections archivist at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, writes:

The first fiction film made in Los Angeles (as travelogues and documentaries had been filmed here earlier) was probably THE HEART OF A RACE TOUT, which was released July 29, 1909. 

William Selig later named this film as the first one shot here.  It is not known when the film was shot, but as the company arrived in Los Angeles on March 21, 1909, it is probable it was made either at the end of March or the first week of April.

According to a Selig scholar, IN THE SULTAN'S POWER was the fourth film made by the Selig Company in Los Angeles.

As to your second question, Sing Lee's laundry was on Olive between 7th and 8th Streets.

We do have some of Bosworth's papers here at the library, but did not receive the journal pictured in your blog.

We also got his scrapbooks, but he only has a few pages about his time at Selig, and nothing about IN THE SULTAN'S POWER.

Below, a long list of Los Angeles firsts by E.V. Durling, including "The Heart of a Race
Track Tout." I'm not sure what a "roundhouse" haircut is--but I don't think I want one.

Found on EBay -- Haggarty's

1961_0116_haggartys Haggartys_ebay

A 1961 catalog for Haggarty's has been listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $1.99.

Haggarty's, a prestigious chain of women's clothing stores that began in 1917, closed in 1970 with $4.4 million in debt after losing money for years, The Times said.

Matt Weinstock -- January 30, 1959

Life Can Be Lovely

Matt_weinstockd_2 Everywhere a person turns, it seems, another Tishman building is springing up. It's a magic name in the construction industry. And the other day there was 56-year-old, Harvard-educated, serene-looking Norman Tishman himself, proudly showing people around the latest Tishman triumph, the $13 million Wilshire Terrace, perhaps the most luxurious apartment structure ever built. 

Located on Wilshire Boulevard at Beverly Glen, the highest point on the fabulous boulevard, the 14-story edifice is distinguished by its staggering design and by large salmon-colored Italian glass plant boxes, one for each suite.

1958_0711_tishman There are 112 apartments and five penthouses. They are intended for wealthy people; for instance, those whose children have grown up and gone off, and who wish the privacy and elegance of a home without the headaches of running one. You now, mowing the lawn and taking out the garbage and trapping gophers and all those little irritations.

IT IS ALMOST superfluous to mention that there is a maid service, a beauty shop, a restaurant, a 70-foot pool and an underground garage for 300 cars -- two and a half cars per apartment.

The Wilshire Terrance is a co-operative apartment building which means tenants don't rent, they buy. The smallest apartment, four rooms and two baths, goes for from $24,000 to $36,000. The largest, eight rooms and three baths, $71,000 to $81,000. Penthouses are up to $125,000.

There also are maintenance charges, $2,640 to $13,750.

However, tenants can claim substantial tax deductions, $1,668 to $8,687.

Chatting with Edgardo Contini of Victor Gruen Associates, who designed the place, I brought up a question that has always fascinated me: "Where in the world do all the people who can afford such luxury get all that money?"

He sighed and he said he didn't know, but they do. And he pointed out there are scores of $150,000 homes nearby, many even more expensive, whose owners will be attracted to the Wilshire Terrance.

Very classy joint.

* *

A PRESS RELEASE from the National Association of Suggestion Systems in Chicago states a personnel officer in Sacramento recently developed a novel idea to attract employee attention. As a worker approached a Genie suggestion box, an electric eye sets in motion. To quote: "A music box plays and moving, printed tapes, give a suggestion pep talk. At the bottom of the box, a mechanism provides a free shoe shine."

1958_0731_tishman Sometimes a person can't help wondering whither electronics leadeth.

* *

TWO MEN got into a political argument and soon were shouting violently at each other. A friend broke it up, but a lady who'd been listening disapprovingly was overheard by Rosetta Case Bent in this charming malaprop: "You wait! In a minute they'll go through the whole rigamaroar again!" 

* *

A FISHERMAN asked Tony Costa, who tends the boat rentals at Paradise Cove, where the fish were hitting.

"It is very good at the Depot," Tony replied. Or at least that's what the fisherman's baffled expression indicated he thought Tony said. Tony, of course, was referring to the Deep Hole, a spot between the Cove and Zuma Beach, where the big ones lurk. 

* *

MISCELLANY- It was old home week for customers and clerks again yesterday when supermarkets reopened. One lady asked a checker what she'd done all the time. "Just sat there on my hands," was the reply . . . Wonder if it's true that engineers at a plant here have developed a laboratory model which cancels the force of gravity? Could be the biggest thing since splitting the atom . . . A waitress in the Sparkletts plant commissary has an effective formula for dispersing girl employees who block her path. Instead of the usual warning, "Hot stuff! Coming through!" she says, "Watch your nylons!" They scatter like frightened birds.

Paul Coates -- Confidential File, January 30, 1959


Crackdown Hits Death Ballads

Paul_coates_2 Stop that dancing up there. And sit down a minute. I want to talk to you.

I suppose you know that most of this town's top disc jockeys have -- either by choice or station edict -- banned a new release called "The Ballad of Barbara Graham."

If you didn't know, I'm telling you now. The record's subject matter, they say, is too hot. Too controversial.

It's such a sizzling "political" issue that in the space of a week, KFWB has jerked it off the air, KDAY has gone out of its way to inform listeners that the record is banned, and KMPC program director Bob Forward has warned his disc jockey staff by memo:

"There are several new recordings on the market which appear to be out-and-out propaganda against capital punishment.

1959_0130_cover "The decision as to whether to be for or against capital punishment is one that will be made by station management and will be plainly stated in an editorial campaign.

"I am referring specifically to 'The Ballad of Barbara Graham' and 'The Last Mile.' Please do not play these or any other similar records without first discussing it with me personally."

Now, hold on a minute, boys. I've heard this ballad about Barbara Graham. But the only controversy I can work up with myself is whether it's music.

But that's something I could question about a lot of the stuff passed off as "hit" material.

The Graham piece- if you'll excuse my close scrutiny- has a melody which sounds suspiciously like the tune I used to sing "Sweet Rosy O'Grady" to, years ago.

I quote, in B-flat:

1959_0130_runover "Poor Bar-bar-a Gra-ham was wild and couldn't be tied.

"But could she com-mit mur-der? And should she real-ly have died!"

That's about as controversial as the lyrics get. And the only question they seem to bring up, somewhat belatedly, is whether Mrs. Graham was guilty.

And now, it's my turn to raise an issue.

Who let Tom Dooley in? According to his defense attorneys, the Kingston Trio, the poor boy is going to be strung up tomorrow at dawn for a crime of passion. Any decent criminal attorney in the land could almost guarantee to get him off on second-degree murder, at the worst.

It's clearly and issue involving capital punishment.

Vocalist Avoids Arguments

Out of idle curiosity, I telephoned the vocalist and co-writer of the Barbara Graham ballad last night to find out what kind of a fanatic this town's disc jockeys were barring from the turntables.

The young man's name was Val Norman, and he admitted that the idea for the song came to him after he'd seen the movie.

"It had commercial possibilities," he told me.

"Do you have any views on capital punishment?" I asked.

1959_0129_plane He hesitated, then answered, "Well, I have some personal opinions. But I'd rather not get involved. Religion, subjects like that- I just don't get into arguments."

Still, I'm bothered. Not so much for Mr. Norman.

But because of what looks like the beginning of a trend.

It just so happens that Chuy Reyes and I have been collaborating in our spare time on a jumpy little tune called "The Cahan Decision Cha-Cha."

But I guess we better forget the whole thing. Some disc jockey is bound to call it too controversial.  

Voices -- Christine Collins, August 16, 1932


Movie Star Mystery Photo


Los Angeles Times photo

Update: This is Mary Pickford and Cecil B. De Mille after he received an Oscar and an Irving Thalberg Award at the 1953 Academy Awards.

Update: Many Daily Mirror readers have correctly identified the people in the photo (or at least one of them). Congratulations! If I haven't posted your answer, you're right. (I'm delaying the correct answers to give other people a chance). Check back tomorrow for more pictures!


Photograph by John Malmin / Los Angeles Times

Update: From left, Charles Boyer, Danny Kaye, Y. Frank Freeman, Mary Pickford, De Mille and Bob Hope in a photo published Aug. 13, 1958. The photo was too wide for my scanner, so I cropped out Samuel Goldwyn.


Regular reader Arye Michael Bender wonders whether the fellow on the left in photo No. 2 is A.C. Lyles rather than Charles Boyer. The story and photo above show Boyer was also photographed at the same event. Lyles doesn't appear on the list of guests.

My goodness, Daily Mirror readers know their movie stars! Many folks have correctly identified one or both of our mystery guests. If your comment hasn't been posted it's because you're right (I want to give other people a chance). Just for fun, here's another picture of them, with some mystery friends.

Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: From left, H.G. Stern, president of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce, De Mille, Judge Benjamin Bledsoe and Louis B. Mayer, in a photo dated June 16, 1927.

Pretty much everyone got the majority of the folks in the last picture. Special credit goes to Dewey Webb for sending me the actual clipping from ProQuest. I hope this one will be a bit more challenging.

Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: This is a photo of the newly dedicated university religious center at UCLA, published March 31, 1932. From left, De Mille, Bishop Cantwell, President Sproul, Rabbi Magnin, the Rev. James B. Fox, Provosot E.C. Moore and the Rev. J. Lewis Gilles.

Everybody recognized at least two people in the previous photo. This one will be more difficult, I suspect. By now, the fellow on the left is a gimme.

Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: Paulette Goddard and De Mille in "The Unconquered."

Here's the final mystery photo. I'll post the identities later today.

Come back next week. I've got an especially interesting photo.

Man Kills Dentist Over Picture, 1936

I said in a previous post that the fate of Peter Voiss' burros was unrecorded. Unrecorded in The Times, that is. Regular Daily Mirror reader Dick Morris sent along some information about Voiss and his beloved animals, Trixie, Jimmie and another whose name is illegible in an old story from the Hayward (Calif.) Review.

In his later years, Voiss worried about what would become of his burros, and he prepared a will in which he bequeathed the burros to a beneficiary. In fact, any time someone lent him money, he left them a will in which he bequeathed them the burros.

"He scattered 'wills' along the coast from Los Angeles to Seattle like Johnny Appleseed," the Hayward paper said.

Of course, this came to light only when he was on his deathbed and there were competing claims for the animals.   

According to census records, Voiss was born in Germany about 1867. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1886. He apparently was a brewer before becoming a gold miner.

Thanks to Dick Morris for the info!

Marilyn Monroe Mystery

Chamales_naked Chamales_intro

Until I came across the news stories about him threatening his wife with a butcher knife, I'd never heard of Thomas T. Chamales. I picked up a copy of "Never So Few" because The Times' Robert Kirsch called it "Easily one of the best novels to come out of World War II." I also got a copy of "Go Naked in the World," at left. Check out the acknowledgment, above. Marilyn Monroe and Tom Chamales? That's a new one on me. Or maybe it was just wishful thinking.... 

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