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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: June 2010

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Paul V. Coates – Confidential File, June 28, 1960

June 28, 1960, Mirror Cover

June 28, 1960: Former hotel clerk Otis T. Carr has a plan to send a man to the moon and back – and Paul Coates has the story.

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Dodgers Beat Yankees


June 28, 1960: An emotional point in the Dodgers' early history in Los Angeles was the 1959 exhibition game against the Yankees to honor Roy Campanella, the star catcher who had been paralyzed in a car accident.

The Dodgers and Yankees met again in 1960, this time at Yankee Stadium in a game benefiting United Charities.

The Dodgers won, 4-3. The Times' Frank Finch said the teams played in front of "a highly vocal crowd with a heavy Brooklyn accent."

Finch had a sidebar knocking down a rumored seven-player trade between the Yankees and Dodgers. According to the rumor, Don Drysdale, Gil Hodges and Duke Snider would go to the Yankees for Tony Kubek, Elston Howard, Ryne Duren and Johnny James.

--Keith Thursby

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Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood, June 28, 1940

June 28, 1940, Wilkie Nominated

June 28, 1940, Willkie

June 28, 1940: “Height of swank: The dress Mary Martin's sporting in nitespots; it's trimmed with real gardenias which have to be renewed hourly from a reserve supply in the cafe icebox,” Jimmie Fidler says.

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Movieland Mystery Photo

June 21, 2010, Mystery photo
Los Angeles Times file photo 

Update: This is Lawrence Gray in an undated photo.

This week’s mystery guest was chosen by Daily Mirror reader Mike Hawks.

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 reward is bragging rights. 

The answer to last week's mystery star is Evelyn Nesbit!

There’s a new photo on the jump!
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From the Vaults: 'Inferno' (1980)

Infernofire OK, here's where I alienate all you nice "His Girl Friday" fans from last week; sorry. This week's movie does not have Cary Grant, but it does have a man being eaten alive by rats!

"Inferno" is the second in Dario Argento's loose trilogy "Three Mothers," following his 1977 masterpiece "Suspiria"; the third, "Mother of Tears," wasn't released until 2007. None of the movies share characters, just a concept: three evil female forces (fates? witches?) lie waiting, each in her own building, in her own city. People who come asking questions feel her wrath, often in gruesome ways! In "Inferno," the Mater Tenebrarum (Mother of Darkness, or Shadows) lurks in a massive New York apartment building. One of the residents starts asking questions, and -- uh-oh.

It's barely a plot, just a flimsy structure to hang some of Argento's beautiful horror sequences around. But those sequences are why you're here, and Argento delivers magnificently. My favorite is the first big death scene: a young couple is in a big apartment listening to opera (Verdi's "Va' pensiero...") when the power starts flickering -- the lights switch off and on, and eerily, so does the music. The guy heads down to check the fuse box, and if you've ever seen a horror movie, you know how this ends up. Ciao, young couple! But the scene is played so elegantly, it's unforgettable.

As the movie goes on, the deaths get increasingly zany: A countess (Daria Nicolodi, Argento's then-partner) gets attacked by a pack of vicious cats in a sequence that actually reminded me a bit of "Night of the Lepus." (It just takes some careful framing to make it look like cats are biting someone. The camera kept cutting to a cat's claws on the floor.) An antiques dealer (Sacha Pitoeff) falls victim to the rats. A butler's eyes pop out. A concierge catches on fire. There are plenty of stabbings.

As Argento movies go, it's actually pretty tame; there's nothing quite as melodramatic as the stabbing/hanging that opens "Suspiria," or the fabulous bit in "Mother of Tears" in which the museum employee (Nicolodi again, bless her oops, it's Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni; many thanks, M Frost) is strangled with her own entrails; but the deaths are still pretty creative. Argento, as always, walks the line between gonzo and baroque. (Lamberto Bava, son of "Black Sunday" director Mario, was an assistant director. I got to see Lamberto on an Italian-horror panel at Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors last year, and he was cute as a button! But I digress.)

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Pages of History [Updated]


Central Park, later named Pershing Square, and Philharmonic Auditorium.

March 1, 1925, Pershing Square 

One of the most influential books ever written about the city is Morrow Mayo’s 1933 “Los Angeles.” It is, in fact, easy to argue that Mayo was the father of an entire school of caustic, iconoclastic writing about L.A., even shaping the views of contemporary authors who are unaware that they are following his well-beaten path.

In curious contrast to the continuing prominence of “Los Angeles,” very little is known about the author, born George Morrow Mayo about 1897 (some sources say 1896) in Kentucky. Mayo was an itinerant reporter who arrived in Los Angeles in the mid-1920s after working as a railway clerk and a partner with his father in the Hy Art Master Plays Co. of Washington, D.C. He served as a Navy gunner’s mate during World War I and wrote a widely published poem titled “Sons of the Flag” that was used as the lyrics of a popular song.

While in Southern California from about 1925 to about 1931, Mayo worked for the Pasadena Star-News and contributed pieces to The Times.  Evidently he was also working on the book, judging by a 1928 essay in  a journal titled Plain Talk, “Los Angeles – City of Dreams.” (This should not be confused Harry Carr's 1935 book "Los Angeles -- City of Dreams.")

It’s worth noting that Mayo evidently went back East by the time “Los Angeles” was published in 1933. A 1931 issue of American Mercury says: “Morrow Mayo was formerly a newspaperman in Atlanta and Los Angeles and a staff editor of the Associated Press in New York. He has contributed to the New Republic, the Nation and Plain Talk.” The New York Times 1933 review of "Los Angeles" says "he probably cannot now return without a regiment of infantry to protect him."

Mayo continued to appear in magazines and journals on an irregular basis up to 1952, when he wrote an article on Houston for the New York Times. No obituary appeared in the New York Times, nor in the Los Angeles Times.

Note: Expect to pay a good bit of money for "Los Angeles" if you can find a copy.

On the jump, Mayo’s 1925 sketch of Pershing Square.

[Update, Jan. 27, 2011: A previous version of this post said that The Times did not review Mayo's book. In fact, the paper reviewed the book, but ProQuest's search engine has trouble finding the item. The review appeared March 26, 1933, and will be the subject of an upcoming post.]

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Matt Weinstock, June 27, 1960

June 27, 1960, Comics

June 27, 1960: More people are taking vacations in smalltown America to look for a getaway from the rat race, but find that the other rats have already beaten them to it, Matt Weinstock says. 

CONFIDENTIAL TO "UNDERAGE AND DESPERATE": I can't help you unless you send me your name and address. I offer advice and refer people to the proper agencies; I do not "turn them in," Abby says.
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Paul V. Coates – Confidential File, June 27, 1960

June 27, 1960, Mirror Cover

June 28, 1960, Elevated Car

June 27, 1960: Paul Coates has the day off. Notice that engineer Irvan F. Mendenhall has proposed a 75-mile system of electric cars with rubber tires running on elevated concrete tracks.

On the jump, The Times’ coverage of the transportation plan and a comparison of what we have today.
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Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood, June 27, 1940


June 27, 1940, GOP Convention

June 27, 1940: “Lillian Roth, early talkie screen glamour gal, is combing Hollywood for nitespot billing and a film comeback,” Jimmie Fidler says.

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Police Detective Alleges Corruption

Sept. 26, 1979, Donald Wicklund
Sept. 26, 1979

June 27, 1980, Donald Wicklund


June 27, 1980: After more than 1,000 hours of investigation, the district attorney's office closes its inquiry into Det. Donald Wicklund’s charges of misconduct in the Los Angeles Police Department, ending a messy, complicated case involving a TV production company’s loan to a police official and the unauthorized leak of police files for a movie script. Deputy Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti, who was then the head of the special investigations division, said none of Wicklund’s allegations had been substantiated.

The accusations,  which gradually emerged after Wicklund’s Sept. 26, 1979, interview on KABC-TV Channel 7, involved a 1976  internal affairs investigation he helped conduct in the unauthorized release of the “Skid Row Slasher” files by Deputy Chief George N. Beck, one of the senior officers in the case. Beck was suspended for 10 days and demoted from assistant chief to deputy chief over the incident, The Times said. Police Chief Daryl Gates, who led the investigation of the release of the “Slasher” files when he was assistant chief, said Beck was guilty of nothing more than using bad judgment.

"The investigation revealed that Beck had obtained a $42,500 loan for use in the construction of a new home from an executive of a television production company,” The Times said on Oct. 10, 1979. "Help in arranging the loan, which was repaid shortly after being made, came from Sanford Lang, a television production assistant who often golfed with Beck."

"Wicklund has described Lang as the connection between Beck and two men allegedly associated with organized crime figures," The Times said.   Lang told The Times: "I don't know anybody in organized crime."

The investigation of Wicklund’s corruption charges also cleared two police supervisors in the North Hollywood Division, Police Capt. Norman Judd and Police Capt. Stephen Gates, the brother of Chief Gates.

As the case unfolded, Chief Gates sharply criticized the Herald Examiner and KABC-TV for unfair and inaccurate reporting.  Chief Gates said of the accusations against Judd: "We knew when it was first brought to the news media's attention that there was absolutely no truth to these allegations ... but for some newsmen to pick up on those kinds of accusations have done nothing but punish the reputation of a very fine officer."

After the dust had settled, Gates said he never doubted Wicklund’s sincerity  but said the detective should have gone to the proper authorities instead of making his accusations on a TV show.

Beck later filed a $3-million defamation suit against KABC-TV, although a search of the clips fails to show any resolution of the case.  In October 1980, a judge dismissed a class-action libel suit by all uniformed LAPD officers against ABC and Channel 7 Eyewitness News, ruling that case law prohibits a large group from recovering damages for defamation.

On the jump, The Times’ stories on the Wicklund case, beginning the day after the TV program aired.

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Navy Subs Pay Port Call in Los Angeles

June 27, 1910, Submarine

June 27, 1910: The Navy submarines Pike and Grampus pay a port call in Los Angeles. The Times says about 1,000 men, women and children visited the Pike and explains the challenges women had in navigating the small space in the sub. Interestingly enough, the C.O. of the Pike is an ensign, James P. Olding.The Grampus was decommissioned in 1921 and sunk as a target in Manila Bay. The Pike was decommissioned in 1921 and used as a target.

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Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood, June 26, 1940

June 26, 1940, Air War Rages Over Britain

June 26, 1940, Herbert Hoover

June 26, 1940: Wallace Beery will build a hunting lodge in Wyoming's Jackson Hole country, Jimmie Fidler says.

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