The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: February 15, 2009 - February 21, 2009

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Found on EBay -- Williams and Walker


The sheet music of "I'm a Jonah Man," performed by Williams and Walker, has been listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $9.99. The vendor is also including two other pieces of vintage sheetmusic.

Matt Weinstock -- February 21, 1959

His Is a Good Job

Matt_weinstockd_2 Last November, Frank Frohnhoefer's daughter Francine wanted something different to "share" at school, so Frank, who did 27 months as an infantryman in the South Pacific during WWII, went through his mementos and found some coins and bills from Noumea, Fiji, New Guinea and the Philippines.

To his surprise he found nothing from Tonga, where he went one time as a gunner on a ship. So he wrote the Tonga treasury department, enclosed a $1 bill.

He has just received two four shilling notes of Tongan currency with a polite, friendly letter on official stationery from D.G. Urutian, assistant treasurer, Nuku'alofa, Tonga. And he has noticed a curious thing. The same signature is on the currency.

1959_0221_mideast Clearly, things are very informal in Tonga.

* *

on La Cienega Blvd., Bob Bowden saw a car cut across the center line and crash into a car traveling in the opposite direction. He shuddered and went on.

Three days later he happened to go into a fabrics store on La Cienega and, to his amazement, heard a salesman describing the accident to an insurance adjuster. The salesman, whose car was hit, said despairingly he had moved his car from the point of impact to permit traffic to pass and now the other driver was claiming he had caused the accident. In the absence of witnesses, things looked bad.

Bob introduced himself, said he'd seen the accident and offered to be a witness. Astounded, the salesman said:

"It's a miracle."

* *

There is a destiny that shapes our ends
A dietary goddess in control
Should we be broke she doughnuts us and mends
Cholesterolic tendencies of soul
Our vitamins of Hershey bars she spends
Our careless nickels alimentary whole.
-- R.W.A.

* *

HAD YOUR vicious circle for today?

A Hollywood writer decided recently he'd had all he could take of banging out cliche-ridden TV scripts. Full of resolve, he put his television money into a little bookstore which, he figured, would support him while he worked on a long-neglected novel. But things haven't been going well, and he's back writing TV scripts to keep the bookstore going.

* *

THE WEEK'S most unsettling piece of reading is easily Time magazine's report on the telephone (245 million phone conversations daily in the nation) and particularly an engineer's dream of the phone of the future:

"Whenever a baby is born anywhere in the world, he is given a telephone number for life. As soon as he can talk, he is given a watchlike device with 10 little buttons on one side and a screen on the other. When he wishes to talk with anyone in the world, he will pull out the device and punch on the keys the number. Then turning the device over, he will hear the voice of his friend and see his face on the screen, in color and in three dimensions. If he does not see him and hear him, he will know that his friend is dead."


* *

FOOTNOTES-- Fannie Hurst, in town for the opening of the movie "Imitation of Life" based on her book, brought along her two Yorkshire terriers. Their names: LilyPutian and Calla Lily . . . Since a geologist declared it unsafe, you'd be surprised how many people driving north on Pacific Coast Highway along the Santa Monica slide area hug the center lane . . . If you see Roger Beck, duck. He remarks that he appeared on "Traffic Court," then says, "And you know what happened to me on the way home from the studio?" You say, "A ticket?" "No, I got a pizza," he says anticlimactically. "I was hungry" . . . There's a big hassle in Boston over naughty girls. Someone dug up a 260-year-old law which prohibits police from arresting prostitutes in public places unless they've been under surveillance for three months. No problem like that here.

Paul Coates -- Confidential File, February 21, 1959

Killer Thinks He Deserves to Die

By Paul Coates
Staff Columnist

Paul_coates_2 Robert Leonard Mason wants to die.

Without a flicker of emotion, the 40-year-old confessed murderer told me today: "I think I should go to the gas chamber.

"Through the State of California, I'll pay for what I did," he added.

Mason is charged with shooting Rona Lorraine Parrazzo, 26, wife of jazz musician Johnny Zorro, and murdering her mother.

The short and stocky Hollywood sheet metal worker first met with me yesterday afternoon at Glendale Police Station, where he was booked on suspicion of murder and felonious assault following his return from Winslow, Ariz.

He was captured there in a roadblock Thursday, after invading the Glendale home of Mrs. Parrazzo, 1124- A Stanely Ave., two days before, killing her mother, Mrs. Susan Jamerson, 50, and wounding the young woman with a .38-caliber bullet in the brain.

1959_0218_red_streak"I want to tell it to you," he said to me. "It'll be straight -- the whole story."

'I am Guilty'

"Do you intend to plead guilty?" I asked.

His answer was a grim: "I am guilty."

With Glendale Det. Capt. Walter E. Hegi listening, Mason began his fantastic tale of love for Mrs. Parrazzo:

"You know the song that Frank Sinatra sings, 'Witchcraft'? That's what happened to me. That woman could make me do anything. It was like she had a spell over me.

"I didn't want to harm that woman. And God knows I didn't want to kill her mother. Her mother was innocent. So innocent.

Denies Choking Her

"When I went to their house that night, I just wanted to scare Rona into telling me who she was covering up for that time when she accused me of choking her to death.

"I didn't put those marks on her neck. Later, it's true, I did rough her up a couple times. But I was just trying to find out who she was protecting the first time."

Mason, who was befriended by Zorro and his wife in 1954, rambled on about his friendship with the couple and their son Paige, 5.

1959_0221_mirror_coverHe continued that he had been intimate with Zorro's wife on various occasions and that Zorro became aware of it through an unsigned letter mailed to him by a mutual acquaintance.

Zorro Faces Mason

As we conversed, the grieving Johnny Zorro burst into the room to face the confessed killer.

Zorro, trembling, charged up to the chair where Mason was slouched.

"You remember when I introduced you to my wife," the musician cried. "You were a very lonely guy.

"You remember when we took you home," he went on, recounting incident after incident in the early days of their friendship.

"You were my best friend."

Pounding the table in front of Mason's chair, Zorro shouted:

"You've ruined my wife's life, my son's life. My mother-in-law is gone."

Bolting up, Mason turned away. "I've had enough. I don't have to listen."

1959_0221_slash"C'mon and face me." Zorro demanded. "Aren't you man enough?"

Mason walked away. Zorro, who had come to the station from Glendale Memorial Hospital, where his wife had just been removed from the critical list, followed.

A policeman pleaded, "Leave him alone, Johnny."

Zorro wheeled. "Leave HIM alone? After all this torture, you want me to leave HIM alone."

Again the musician turned to the suspect, challenging Mason's claims of intimacy with his wife.

Wants Name Cleared

"She's a very religious woman and you're nothing but a liar. From the beginning, you've been a big lie.

"I want to get my wife's name cleared right now.

"For my boy," he pleaded. "You like Paigie. Don't let my son down. Don't say anything that'll hurt him."

Once during the scene, Mason pushed Zorro away.

"Don't touch me," snarled the musician. "I'll tell you something. After you beat up my wife, we got a gun in the house.

"To use if you ever came back," he added. "I'm just sorry we never got the chance." 

Coming Attractions -- February 21, 1926

Anti-Jewish Rally in NY; SD Padres for Sale, February 21, 1939


King Zany wrote tunes for the Ziegfeld Follies and "The Great Gabbo."

 Chimp from the Belgian Congo is killed after pet shop rampage.
At left, New York police hold off anti-Nazi protesters during a rally of the German-American Bund. An anti-Semitic tirade was interrupted when hotel worker Isadore Greenbaum leaped onto the platform at Madison Square Garden. He was attacked by six "storm troopers," The Times says, and rescued by police.

A missing Pasadena girl is found with a former gardener and onetime church organist.

Judge Leon Edelman of Chicago ignores Judge P.J. Finnegan's ruling that "a man has the right to slap his wife" and fines a husband $100. 
1939_0221_page02  Someone breaks into file cabinets containing material in
the Joe Shaw trial.
Suspect sent "strangely worded valentine greeting" to 10-year-old girl.
Trials and tribulations in getting stars' (and horses') hair the right color for "Gone With the Wind."
Padres for sale with an opening price of $100,000 ($1.4 million USD 2007) ... and Seabiscuit is recovering.

Enemy Planes Sighted Over L.A.! February 25, 1942

Feb. 24, 1942: The Times reports a submarine attack near Santa Barbara.

Feb. 25: Southland on alert.

Feb. 26: What happened?
The Army's Western Defense Command insisted a blackout and an antiaircraft barrage were in response to the sighting of enemy aircraft. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox dismissed it as "jittery nerves."

The Times' Elina Shatkin is looking for people who remember this incident. If you do, e-mail her at

Vintage Wheels -- 1941 Plymouth Woodie

1941_plymouth A 1941 Plymouth Woodie used in "Bugsy" has been listed with Hemmings Motor News. The price is $69,990.

Matt Weinstock -- February 20, 1959

She Stood in Bed

Matt_weinstockd They said it couldn't be done, but it was to a lady who lives in a large apartment house in midtown L.A. She turned over in bed around 1 a.m. and the bed, installed a few days before, folded with a whoosh into the wall, jamming her tightly, upside down, with her face full of pillow. Fearing suffocation, naturally she panicked.

She managed to work an arm loose and banged on the floor. The people in the apartment below her heard and indignantly banged back. When the pounding continued they called the manager, who rescued her. She was trapped for an agonizing half-hour and suffered a wrenched neck.


"Chicks like easygoing, smooth cats, somebody who's been around."

Opal Wise of the Central Insurance Agency, who handled the claim, said it was the first one on record. Investigation disclosed faulty installation, not the bed itself, was the cause.

1959_0220_churches The loss of dignity was bad enough, but what tortured the victim more was the reaction of the ambulance and emergency hospital attendants when they learned what had happened. They laughed.

* *

CARAMBA! Cathie Walls, 6, of Wilmington, announced on returning home from school that she could count to 5 in Spanish and she did: "uno, dos, tres, pot roast, cinco" . . . Steve Levy, 12, excitedly informed his mother a new boy named Ramon Porfavor, who couldn't speak English, had entered his class at Crozier Junior High. She said that was an odd name and he said, "Well, when the teacher told him where to sit she said, 'Over here, Ramon,por favor.'" The boy is really Ramon Diaz. 

* *

A rich contract for acting half nude
Proved to be the lady's nemesis.
What prominence to her had accrued
Had been built on false premises.

* *

ONLY IN L.A.-- A woman in the Goodwill Industries store on S Broadway pawed through a basket of eyeglasses and finally selected dark harlequins set with rhinestones. She held them up, tried them on, then asked, "You sure these aren't medicated?" After a puzzled moment the clerk caught on and assured her they were plain glass, not prescription ground.

* *

1959_0220_abbyTHERE'S QUITE a story about Dorothy M. Johnson, who wrote "The Hanging Tree," on which the movie is based.

Miss Johnson, 53, is a journalism prof at Montana State University, secretary of the Montana State Press Assn. and editor of several newsletters. When not busy at these jobs she hunts down old-timers from whose campfire stories she has evolved many of her raw, fiercely written frontier tales. Several are unforgettable, particularly "Lost Sister," included in her paperback collection.

Ironically, Miss Johnson broke into print with a book titled "Beulah Bunny Tells All."

* *

FORTUNATELY there's a limit to town-naming gags, and we've about reached it.

N.O. Greer cooked up these: Wehav, No. Car.; Woeis, Me.; Young, Miss., and Hangoutha, Wash.

Judi Stone is responsible for Aga, Conn.; Koko, Mo.; Wait, N.C.; Wassamatta, Pa., and Youlgetitintha, Ind.

Jack Foyle's best are You, S.C. and Casanoh, Va.


Raul Rodriguez must take the blame for Shapely, Calif.; Fatted, Calif.; Ifonly, Ida.; Brilliant, Colo.; Income, Tex., and Happy, N.D.

* *

LOOSE ENDS -- Anybody knows S. Cooper, retired Navy officer, Annapolis class of '14? Al Hagerman chief engineer at Shrine Auditorium, found his class ring in a pipe conduit tunnel under the place . . . Daniel Boone (of Bank of America) talked to David Crockett (of Lincoln Savings) the other day about the 1959 Heart Fund campaign . . . Sudden thought by Bill Weaver onKNX . If Ed Murrow lined up Drew Pearson and Bishop Sheen, he could bill his program as Pearson to Parson on Person to Person . . . Nick B. Williams, Times editor, getsMoideled today at a slings and arrows lunch. Probably even be disclosed that the B stands for Boddie. 

Paul Coates -- Confidential File, February 20, 1959


Fallacy Exploded on Older Workers

Paul_coates Between 40% and 45% of those individuals seeking employment are in the "older worker" bracket.

It's an unrealistic, unreasonably high figure. But it's a figure we cannot ignore.

For some vital answers on the causes and effects of age discrimination in the Los Angeles area, I talked yesterday with Mrs. Edythe Kennedy, a specialist in older workers' problems for the California Department of Employment.

Question -- How extensive is age discrimination in the L.A. area?

Answer -- It's prevalent in most businesses and industries, and it even extends somewhat into the field of Civil Service.

Q -- What seems to be the main objection employers have to hiring so-called middle-aged persons?

1959_0220_mirror_cover A -- They say it will raise insurance rates and their contributions to retirement and pension funds unless they place a quota on people past 40.

Q -- To what extent do you think this fear is legitimate?

A -- A study by the U.S. Department of Labor shows that age isn't as significant a factor in retirement and pension funds as employers make it out to be. Insurance leaders have told me that plans could be written to extend present coverage without a prohibitive raise in rates. But even if insurance costs are a little higher, it's false economy for business to discriminate against the middle-aged worker.

Q -- In what way is it false economy?

A -- First of all, it's much cheaper to make the older worker productive than to put him on relief. That will mean higher taxes for business and the rest of us. Also, if a worker is unemployed he's not going to be able to buy goods that industry produces.


Q --
What are some of the other prejudices employers have against the older worker?

A -- They say that the older worker is too slow, that he's incapable of learning new techniques. Or they say he has a higher rate of absenteeism, or that he doesn't like working under a younger supervisor.

Q -- Are these fair criticisms?

A -- Department of Labor studies show that in certain industries a worker's output remains stable through the age of 54, and there's only a slight decline in the efficiency after that. As for absenteeism, the studies show that it actually decreases as age increases.

1959_0220_mirror_hypnotist Q -- Do older men and women have trouble under young supervisors?

A -- There's some truth to this criticism. But industry can also train young foremen to get along with older workers.

Q -- What's the Department of Employment doing about the problem?

A -- Quite a bit, we feel. In educating industry, in dispelling the myth. We give special training to our own employees in placing the older worker. We have at least one specialist on the problem in every area office. We're doing a lot better job than we were a year ago.

Q -- What do you think will happen if the problem isn't solved soon?

A -- We'll have a huge group of unemployed, bitterly unhappy people in the community. And the rest of us will have to support them.  

In the Theaters, February 20, 1919



Mystery Photo


Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: This is David Warfield, one of the most noted figures of the American theater in the early 20th century.

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 you're wrong your guess will be posted. If you're right, you'll have to wait until Friday. There's no need to submit your guess five times. Once is enough. The only prize is bragging rights. 
Los Angeles Times file photo
Here's another photo of our mystery fellow in one of his most famous roles. Notice that I didn't title this post *Movie Star* Mystery Photo. This man was a major star, but he never appeared in a film -- although he made some screen tests.

Update: David Warfield in David Belasco's "The Return of Peter Grimm," which ran for 231 performances in 1911-12 and has not been seen on Broadway since 1921. 
Los Angeles Times file photo

At left, a third photo of our mystery fellow, in one of his most famous roles. Above, our mystery guest is greeted in Los Angeles by several entertainment figures, including Sid Grauman, right.

Update: From left, Fred Niblo, David Warfield, Leon Errol and Sid Grauman.

David Warfield as Shylock in "Merchant of Venice, produced in 1924, the year he retired from acting.
Los Angeles Times file photo

Here's another photo of our mystery fellow. He has been correctly identified by Claire Lockhart, Eve Golden, William, Zapgun and Dru Duniway. Congratulations! Please also congratulate Dewey Webb, Richard Heft and Sam.

Update: Another picture of Warfield as Shylock.


David Warfield appeared in Los Angeles several times, including performances in 1913.

David Warfield ... and a flea circus, a Times reporter strolls Los Angeles, 1909.
Los Angeles Times file photo

Above, an undated photo. At left, David Warfield died in 1951, 26 years after retiring from the stage.

Check back next week for another mystery photo!

Arabs on Alert, Baseball Strike? February 20, 1969

Nancy Sinatra ... in WAX!
To simulate prejudice, brunet students eat at a table designed "No Blondes."
At left, Arab countries prepare for retaliation for a terrorist attack on an El Al airliner at Zurich.

Also... Take the time to read Robert Kistler's excellent nondupe on a police officer's view of the changing culture within the LAPD after the Watts Riots. We evidently didn't use his actual name, but called him "Paul Anderson." The article explores what Chief Tom Reddin called "the terrible tightrope."

"The tightrope stretches between the 'hard-nosed' policing of minorities of the pre-1965 era [the William Parker years--lrh] and efforts to open channels of communication between police and minorities today," Kistler says.
"The old ways aren't going to be continued, and as an officer you either 'get with it' or get off."
1969_0220_times_nondupe_ro2 "Don't get the wrong impression.
None of us is going to be namby-
pamby out there."
Scientists study oil spill.
After he shot Robert F. Kennedy, Sirhan B. Sirhan was "enormously composed."

"Amid this hurricane of sound and feeling, he seemed like the eye of the hurricane.... He seemed purged," according to George Plimpton, testifying for the prosecution in Sirhan's trial.

Gov. Ronald Reagan reveals the source of his statement that a dean at San Francisco State was forced at knifepoint to admit a group of black students. 

Pueblo crewman Lt. (jg) Timothy Harris describes his treatment by  North Korean captors.   

Ro$ale$? Oh you sports guys!


Rayco eight-track stereo, $49.95!

Spring training or strike?

Players and owners were battling over how much money should be contributed to the pension fund. Most of the player representatives had rejected the owners' latest offer, but several current or future high-profile players were reporting for workouts.

"I expect there will be some resentment that I'm going to work out, but I need the work," Nolan Ryan told United Press International. Ryan was coming off a 6-9 season with the Mets and weighed 210 pounds, compared with 195 at the end of the season.

"I suppose the other players will be clipping my remarks and putting them on the wall and throwing darts at them, but I am ready to go and I might have eight practice fields all to myself," said the Braves' Pat Jarvis.

George Scott of the Red Sox hadn't reported yet but would be in camp next week. "Some of the players can afford to go without a salary, but the majority can't and I'm one of them," he said. "I'm supporting my wife and my mother, two households, really."

The Angels' player representative, second baseman Bobby Knoop, tried to put the potential labor dispute in perspective. Knoop told The Times' Ross Newhan on Feb. 2: "Perhaps some of this seems insignificant to the public. But we are not talking about a job that lasts for 20 or 30 years. The average player goes from day to day. At 32 or 33, he's looking for something else."

-- Keith Thursby


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