The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: February 1, 2009 - February 7, 2009

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Movie Star Mystery Photo

People didn't care much for the last mystery photo. Here's one you may like better.

Update: Herb Nichols and Pete Nowell guessed that our mystery fellow is Chargers football coach Sid Gillman making a guest appearance on "The Rifleman." Notice he's even wearing his little bow tie. According to The Times, the episode aired Feb. 16, 1960, although imdb doesn't list Gillman in the cast.

House on Haunted Hill, February 9, 1959

1959_0209_boxoffice_cover_crop I've been exploring 1959 copies of Boxoffice that have been uploaded to The website is extremely hard to navigate and its search engine is useless. However, Google does a good job of ferreting out articles.

One particularly interesting article notes that 554 theaters across the country reopened in 1958, many of them in smaller communities. Theaters were being renovated or upgraded to show films in Todd-AO or Cinemiracle (like Grauman's Chinese in Hollywood).

Top hit of the week? "House on Haunted Hill."

Here's a link to the Feb. 9, 1959, edition.

Anorexia, 1902 Style


Evidently lying down with a cinder block on your stomach
is tonic for the "emaciated woman," shown above.

Found on EBay -- 1908 Rainier

The 1908 Rainier in all its aged glory.
A 101-year-old touring car on its third owner has been listed on EBay. According to the vendor's information, the car was purchased in Los Angeles and driven by the Asbury family, which gave the car to the family chauffeur when the rear axle housing broke. The chauffeur replaced the piece with a Pierce-Arrow rear end, but wisely threw all the original Rainier pieces in the back seat. When the chauffeur died, the car was sold at auction to the vendor's grandfather, a car enthusiast. Bidding starts at $185,000.  The vendor says that on the way home from a 1938 horseless carriage gathering, this car was clocked at 70 mph.

Matt Weinstock -- February 5, 1959

Sleeping Dogs Roused

Matt_weinstockd A man came into the Earl V. Lewis camera shop several weeks ago and asked if a batch of old, unedited home movies could be spliced. He'd inherited them, he explained, from the estate of a relative who one had lived in the old country.

The job was done and the other day, when he came into the store again, he was asked if it had been satisfactory.

The customer shook his head sadly and told what had happened.

"He'd invited some friends to view the historic shots and as one sequence followed another he did a running commentary, pointing out relatives. At one point he thought he recognized some footage of himself as a small boy taken in the early 1930s.

Suddenly, to his horror, shots of the same people came into view- entertaining German storm troopers in their home and giving theHeil Hitler salute.

* *

1959_0205_valens01 ONLY IN L.A. -- Driving in the curb lane on W 1st Street to make a right turn at a corner, Atty. Al Matthews found his path blocked by a city truck. A man on a raised platform was changing the bulb in a street light. As the signal changed to green Al shouted, "Are you leaving?" The driver cupped his car and Al shouted again. "Are you leaving?" The driver shrugged and yelled back, "Leaving? No, I am existing."

* *

Ever so much more infantile
Than the tiny baby's smile
Is the gibberish employed by man
To entice the baby to smile again.

* *

THE RECENT CBS documentary "The Changing Face of Hollywood" had, among others, the voice of Sam Arkoff, producer of "I was a Teen-Age Werewolf."

1959_0209_boxoffice_cropAsked by Joe Laitin in a recorded interview if there are any taboos in the making of horror movies. Arkoff replied jocularly that his monsters didn't drink or smoke, and even if they occasionally carried off a screaming blond their intentions were honorable.

On hearing the complete broadcast Arkoff said he didn't realize it was going to be such a serious discussion. He told Laitin, "I think I'll demand equal time to reply to myself."

* *

IN OBSERVANCE of his 12th year in public relations and advertising, Jim Bishop got out a press release acknowledging his debt to the night janitor and the switchboard operator.

The janitor's initiative in cleaning not only the wastebaskets but the desks of correspondence, files and unanswered phone messages, he stated, enabled the staff to begin each day with a fresh, uncluttered approach.

1959_0205_valens02 The phone girl, he announced, had been appointed executive co-ordinator of client and media relations, so she may be able to concentrate on reading Abby Van Buren's column and thereby give outstanding service to clients' problems -- if they can ever get through.

As part of an expansion program, he added, a new set of plastic coffee mugs have been obtained by Green Stamps, and the rest of the room has been tastefully redone in Annual Report Red.

* *

AROUND TOWN -- A teacher at a junior high in San Fernando Valley greeted a new class Monday with, "Everything you've heard about me is true!" . . . A committee of East L.A. residents is urging Gov. Brown to appoint Alberto Diaz, editor of the Belvedere Citizen, to the State Athletic Commission. Someone asked Al what his qualifications were and he replied, "I boxed in the Army. I won two and lost one, by a knockout. I know how it feels not to be able to get up off the floor" . . . Oops, the 1959 plastic wallet calendars issued to members by the Water and Power employees credit union have no Dec. 30 -- they jump from the 29th to the 31st. Maybe it would be better that way. In fact there's a school of thought that holds the entire last week of December might well be eliminated.

Paul Coates -- Confidential File, February 5, 1959


Soiled Politics in Rosarito Raid

Paul_coates I'm back from the sleepy little border village of Tijuana after a quick visit to its dirty little jail.

And glad to be back.

Feeling much better now, thank you.

Had a hot bath to wash away the itchy feeling that I trust was all in my imagination. And I've had a few hours sleep to wipe clear the initial shock of what I saw.

Jails at their architectural best were not designed to rival Hilton hotels. But the Tijuana clink is one of the most evil-smelling, dirtiest-looking zoos I've ever seen.

And the sight of cells packed with Americans who were held for the reason that they got caught in the middle of a foreign political battle was one I won't forget in a hurry.

1959_0205_mirror_cover The fact that they were arrested in a gambling raid on a casino they were clearly led to believe was legally open is bad enough.

But the harsh, unreasonable terms of the bail set by a federal judge to keep them locked up were incredible.

What purpose this bizarre bit of Pan American diplomacy serves I cannot fathom. If you take the situation to its highest level, the raid was obviously pulled on orders of Mexico's new president Adolfo LopezMateos. 

The rumor has been racing around Tijuana since before Lopez Mateo's inauguration two months ago that el presidente nuevo had a yen to "get" Baja California's Gov. Braulio Maldonado.

Under Adolfo Ruiz Cortines, who went out of office Dec. 1, Maldonado had free reign in his state. Reportedly an old Veracruz buddy of Cortines, the governor was even being considered as presidential material.

However, Maldonado's general obstreperousness ired the new federal regime. His fingers were allegedly in too many jam jars, including the casino gambling activities at Rosarito Beach. 

Although the rattling of the casino's dice could be heard around the world, the governor reportedly answered in the negative every time an inquiry was made from the federal district as to whether nasty games of chance were being conducted in Baja California. 

Thus came the plan to embarrass Maldonado but good. Initial strategy was to catch the governor himself in the act of rolling snake-eyes, but that got goofed-up.

Instead of Maldonado, the feds settled for a few tanks full of American tourists, leaving Braulio to suffer a less direct type of embarrassment.

Bad in Any Language

This, in my opinion, is a real dirty way to play. Even for Latin American politics, it's dirty.

1959_0204_jail To help prevent another occurrence of this or any other subtle or flagrant tortures of Americans visiting Mexico, I have a suggestion for the State Department.

I'd like to see them run off little pamphlets to be handed to every American tourist who steps off U.S. soil into Mexico.

The pamphlets should point out that Mexican law isn't the same as American law.

They should warn us that if we pitch pennies or look over someone's shoulder and see a pair of dice, we could conceivably spend two or three years in federal prison.

Also, they should point out that we're committing a crime if we permit a drunk to ram into the rear end of our cars.

I think it's only intelligent for us to protect our citizens by informing them, before they step across the border, that they're proceeding at their own risk.

And the risk can be extremely great.

Voices -- Christine Collins, August 25, 1932


Burbank to Open Time Capsule!

A representative from the city of Burbank says:

On Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009, at 10:30 a.m., the city of Burbank will be opening a time capsule that was placed in the Magnolia Boulevard bridge when it was built in 1959. There will not be a big ceremony, but the press is invited to attend.

Nuestro Pueblo, February 1, 1939


View Larger Map

This is the bluff overlooking the Cornfield and a good route into downtown
if the Pasadena Freeway is jammed.
I've been neglectful in posting Nuestro Pueblo -- so many stories, only one Larry Harnisch. Here's an interesting entry on a part of downtown Los Angeles that had vanished by 1939. Notice the story about police corruption continuing on Central Avenue. The Times rarely covered the African American community, so this story is particularly noteworthy.

Company Town


As long as we are talking about the early days of the movie industry and Cecil B. De Mille, here's a 1915 interview with him.

Los Angeles Times file photo

And in going through the De Mille photos, I found this undated picture of the Lasky studio, which has been turned into a museum.

Photograph by Mike Meadows / Los Angeles Times

And here's the studio in 1993. But what's this? There's a porch. Hmm.

And here's the current photograph from the Hollywood Heritage Museum website.
And in 1979 on the Paramount lot. No porch. The barn was turned into the studio's gym and used by Marlon Brando and Paul Newman, The Times says.

Found on EBay -- Duesenberg Engine

Duesenberg_engine_ebay An engine and other assorted parts (headlights, gauges, radiator shell, etc.) for a Duesenberg have been listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $99,999

Matt Weinstock -- February 4, 1959

A Taxpayer Votes 'No!'

Matt_weinstockd_2 As mentioned here recently, the Internal Revenue Service has the legal authority to attack bank accounts of persons who are delinquent in their payments. The policy, however, is not to work a hardship on those earnestly trying to co-operate.

Apparently one slips through now and then, as in the case of an angry man who lives in a suburb.

He owed less than $60 and had agreed to pay $20 a month until the debt was canceled. But life can be whimsical. When one payment came due he suddenly had to take his wife to the hospital for the birth of their first child.

He had $21 in the bank. Not wanting to be absolutely broke, he sent the government $10 and a note explaining the circumstances.

First thing he knew some checks bounced. A lien had been put on his bank account.

"What's this country coming to?" he asks, among other things. The other things are not printable.

* *

A NEIGHBOR caught short several weeks ago in a baking emergency, borrowed three cups of flour from a Palms woman.


The other day the neighbor's daughter, 15, brought it back, with five Green Stamps for good measure.

* *

Picture windows high and wide,
Provide a spacious view outside;
But some intriguing scenes have been
From the outside looking in.

* *

1959_0204_valens_01 IF YOU press him, North Young, a Malibu artist, will tell about the time he and a friend from New York set up their easels near the LaBrea tar pits. 

Toward dusk they completed their paintings. The New Yorker's was a portrait of a famous publisher holding his beloved but miserable pet poodle, which he had rescued from the pits. North admired it and asked what he was going to title it. He replied, "Hoist, With His Own Pet Tarred."

The New Yorker then looked at North's composition, an abstraction showing two fossils anthropologists had dug from the tar: The left femur of a baby bear from Iraq and the skeleton of a rabbit from an ancient Chinese city. "How about yours?" he asked. North replied, "Iraq Cub Bone and aHankow Hare." 

Obviously the fires, floods and landslides didn't do some Malibutes any good.

* *

KID STUFF-- Kevin, 10, was sent to the grocery store for a can of crushed pineapple but brought chunks instead. When his mother chided him, Kim, 4, remarked, "Well, I see the Lone Ranger goofed again!" . . . As an exercise in originality, Mr.Leatherman had his sixth-graders at Culver School make up limericks. Nancy Guinn's : "I have a fish named Noel, who lives in a very small bowl. He swims all day, in the saddest way, for I think to get out is his goal."

* *

1959_0204_valens_02 DURING a discussion of a case with a private investigator Clyde Duber in his Spring Street office, attorney James Starritt, former LAPD detective captain, asked his secretary to go out and get some coffee.

While she was gone a sneak thief, a glass partition away from the two sleuths, entered the outer office and stole her purse.

* *

LOOSE ENDS -- Yep, they finally made it, the Chattanooga Choo Choo Cha Cha -- but Charlie Park is pretending he didn't hear it . . . A furniture store at Sherman Way and Laurel Canyon Boulevard lists among its specials, "Antic Beds." Gal named Rosetta can't figure if it should be "antique" or not. Antic means grotesque and bizarre . . . Frank Barron, just returned from Miami, Fla., reports a restaurant has just opened there named the Diner Shore . . . A Newport Beach paper had this Miscellaneous For Sale ad: "Weight lifting equipment, barbells, etc. Lifted very little" . . . Those who know the place wonder if the current excitement will really blow the lid off Tijuana.


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