The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: December 2010

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Matt Weinstock, Dec. 29, 1960

  Dec. 29, 1960, Comics  

Dec. 29, 1960: The Information Please Almanac for 1961 lists Los Angeles fourth in population in the nation behind New York, Chicago and Brooklyn. Yes, Brooklyn. Maybe reprisal for swiping the Dodgers, Matt Weinstock says. 

CONFIDENTIAL TO DOTTY ON STATE STREET: Be careful with "half-truths" -- you may have been told the wrong half.

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Paul Coates, Dec. 29, 1960

  Dec. 29, 1960, Mirror Cover  

Dec. 29, 1960: Paul Coates has the goods on a couple of fast-buck artists who weren’t quite fast enough.  The crooked shoeshine man and the gents who let sailors take out payday loans on wallets have vanished, so all we have are these stories of how they used to operate.

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Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood, Dec. 29, 1941

  Dec. 29, 1941, Manila Bombed  

  Dec. 29, 1941, Cameras and Radios  

Dec. 29, 1941: Funny that Carole Landis should just now be dating Cary Grant; he was her "silent crush" for years, Jimmie Fidler says.

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Movieland Mystery Photo -- Updated

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

[Update: This is “High Sierra,” as recognized by hockeykevin and RJ. The published caption, dated Jan. 2, 1941, is not terribly helpful: "High Sierra," wherein this encampment setting is revealed, is rated for academy honors. This woodland scene possesses alluring reality. ]

There’s lots of details in this mystery photo. Let’s go in for a closer look….

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Restaurants and Their Critics

  Dec. 29, 1980, Comics
Dec. 29, 1980, Restaurant Critics

Dec. 29, 1980: A few days after the incident involving Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila at Red Medicine, I came across this piece by the late David Shaw on the relationship between restaurants and restaurant critics.  Long-established restaurants are almost impervious to bad reviews, while other establishments languish or close despite favorable coverage, Shaw said. He also noted that most new restaurants in Los Angeles County don’t last a year. Shaw,  a Pulitzer Prize winner who died of brain cancer at the age of  62, was quite a bon vivant and I’m sure he relished the reporting on this story. 


Food Critic Outed and Ousted From Restaurant

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Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood, Dec. 28, 1940

  Dec. 28, 1940, Nazis Blast London  
Dec. 28, 1940, Redondo Beach

Dec. 28, 1940: Stellar Routine --  She goes to the Brown Derby for "luncheon," then sits and uses the telephone for hours, depriving hungry people of a booth ... She changes the color of her hair from a nice brown to a carroty pink ... She announces that "this marriage is the real thing" -- and starts calling her lawyer before the rice has been swept off the church steps ... She tells the loyal fan club that helped boost her to success that "her studio has requested that she not have a fan club" ... Her destitute father (and sometimes her mother) must sue her for support ... She refuses to date anyone less important than a leading man or associate producer, Jimmie Fidler says. 

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Movieland Mystery Photo -- Updated

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

Here’s our mystery film scene. Hm. I wonder where they are shooting….

[Update: I often describe Daily Mirror readers as “the brain trust” and it’s true. Please congratulate Mike Hawks for identifying this photo! (Yes, he really did!) It’s “Seven Days”

[The caption information says: "This roof is in the Hollywood Studio, with Lillian Rich, Creighton Hale, Lilyan Tashman and others doing the Mary Roberts Rinehart play 'Seven Days' which will reach the screen as an Al Christie feature comedy." ]


Creighton Hale on the Daily Mirror

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Amazing Predictions for 1961!

  Dec. 31, 1930, New Year's  

dropcap_w_1934hile the rest of the news business spends the final days of December looking back at the major events of the year, the Daily Mirror is peering forward, and for us at least, the future is clear: 1961 brings the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs invasion. “The Apartment” will win the Academy Award as best picture. Gary Cooper will die of cancer and Ernest Hemingway will kill himself.   

We are also looking ahead to the last full year of the evening Los Angeles Mirror and the morning Los Angeles Examiner, both of which folded in January 1962, giving The Times supremacy in the morning market. The reconstituted Herald Examiner (d. 1989) struggled for survival as a feisty, sensational afternoon paper,  racked by labor problems and increasingly irrelevant to Americans’ changing lifestyles and preference for TV news.

What else can we see? 1921 is the year of the Fatty Arbuckle case and 1941 brings us the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II. And in 1981, we have the dawn of the Ronald Reagan era.

As I often say, “so many stories and only one Larry Harnisch.” Where shall we go and what shall we do in the coming year?

Mystery photos? Of course, they’re one of my favorite parts of the blog. Paul Coates and Matt Weinstock? Yes. And Tom Treanor. I’ll try to do more with some other Times columnists who have only appeared fleetingly in the Daily Mirror: Lee Shippey and Timothy Turner, for example. And perhaps the mysterious 1930s film columnist Tip-Off.

The Daily Mirror has evolved quite a bit since I began the blog nearly four years ago. There’s more on Hollywood and film, and a bit less on crime. Part of the reason is my need for variety and part of the reason is what I find – or don’t find -- in the old papers. The crimes of the 1950s are fascinating and 1957 was a great year, but by mid- to late 1959, The Times’ coverage seemed to shift away from detailed reporting on the police blotter, a trend that continued into 1960. Perhaps the crimes weren’t as interesting to The Times editors as they were in the 1940s and early '50s, or The Times was devoting more of its resources to subjects like politics.

One thing I hope to explore in the coming year is a theme I touched on in a series of posts I called “Another Good Story Ruined.” Why is Los Angeles history so hard to get right and so easy to get wrong? I sometimes think the books on Los Angeles are nothing but a catalog of errors.  It might be worthwhile to examine some of the more common mistakes and myths about our past and see if I can find the origins. Authors of books about Los Angeles can expect the Daily Mirror to do a bit random fact-checking, which should fun and, I hope, illuminating.

I do need to pick my shots carefully. Extended coverage like Nikita Khrushchev’s visit to Los Angeles or the 1960 Democratic National Convention is labor-intensive and such projects seem to hold little interest for Daily Mirror readers. I’m not sure why, as they are significant events in local history, but they tend to be a lot of work for very little return.

And now it’s request time.

Daily Mirror readers are a loyal bunch. In fact, statistics show they spend an amazing amount of time on the blog. What would you like to see in the year ahead?

ps. Only four years to the Watts Riots.

E-mail me

Lina Romay on the Daily Mirror

Los Angeles Times photo

You may recall that Lina Romay was a mystery guest in October 2009. Here’s a reprise of her post. Romay died Dec. 17 at the age of 91.

Sept. 25, 1945: Lina Romay photographed by Harmon D. Toy of the Los Angeles Times.


Update: Our guest star is Lina Romay!

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: Jobyna Ralston!

Oct. 13, 2009, Mystery Photo Los Angeles Times file photo
Update: Lina Romay in "Adventure," Dec. 23, 1945.

Here's another photo of our mystery star. Please congratulate Gerald McCann, Jeff Hanna, Paul Cardinal, Nick Santa Maria, Steven Bibb, "Laura" fan Waldo Lydecker and Mike Hawks for identifying her.
Oct. 14, 2009, Mystery Photo Los Angeles Times file photo

Update: Lina Romay, March 10, 1949.

Here's another picture of our mystery guest! Please congratulate Mary Mallory and Amy Richardson-Brown for identifying her.

Oct. 15, 2009, Mystery Photo Photograph by Tony Barnard / Los Angeles Times

Update: Lina Romay, at Hollywood Park, provides racing results in Spanish for Spanish-language radio stations. 

Here's another photo of our mystery star! Please congratulate Steffi Sidney for identifying her.

Oct. 16, 2009, Mystery Photo
Los Angeles Times file photo

Bandleader Xavier Cugat with a caricature of Lina Romay, April 8, 1943.

Please congratulate Christa, Thom B, Christine Bamberger, Carmen and Randy Skretvedt  for identifying her.

L.A. Crime Rises in 1967

  Jan. 7, 1968, Crime Statistics  

Jan. 7, 1968: Joel Rubin and Robert Faturechi are reporting that homicides in Los Angeles have fallen to the lowest level since 1967. Interestingly enough, at that time the LAPD reported homicides were up 27.5%. over 1966. The LAPD has kept extensive crime statistics for decades. There’s quite a portrait of the city in all those numbers.


LAPD crime statistics on the Daily Mirror

Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood, Dec. 27, 1940


  Dec. 27, 1940, Russian Army
Dec. 27, 1940, Wodehouse

Dec. 27, 1940: P.G. Wodehouse is being held by the Nazis – stay tuned for more about him in 1941,when he goes on German radio.

Earl Carroll planning a Jimmy Durante "Nose Night" with any customer boasting a bigger nose than Jimmy's to eat "on the house," Jimmie Fidler says.

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Movieland Mystery Photo [Update]

  Dec. 26, 2010, Mystery Photo  
  Los Angeles Times file photo  

Isn’t this a great picture? More details on the jump.

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