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Movieland Mystery Photo

June 11, 2011 |  9:26 am





  June 11, 2011, Mystery Photo  
  Los Angeles Times file photo  


You may recognize this photo because I ran it a few years ago. But it’s one of my favorites. This fellow was branded with a very certain stereotype that he played in countless films, so I like to see him out of character.

As some of you know, the Daily Mirror is being killed by The Times in a pruning of blogs with low traffic. I’ll post a longer farewell next week, but I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for participating in the mystery photos. They were my most popular feature.

Through the mystery photos, I got to know “the brain trust,” a corps of readers with a humbling knowledge of film. My first criteria in selecting mystery guests was that I didn’t know who they were, so in almost every case (aside from my two-week binge on Lucille Ball and a few other exceptions) I couldn’t identify any of them. And they proved to be a wonderful history lesson for me: Trixie Friganza … Jack Mulhall … Julian Eltinge … Pier Angeli. 

I had an agenda with these pictures, though I don’t think anyone ever realized what I was up to. Most people saw the pictures as a daily movie quiz that was (at least ideally) fairly challenging. And that was fine.

But the mystery pictures were actually a years-long photo essay on fame and forgetfulness. Nearly every image I posted was of someone who was once a prominent performer – and yet look at  how dimly most of them are remembered. 

In some ways,  the indignant responses were the most perversely rewarding:  “Am I supposed to know who that is?” No, you’re not. That’s the point: The stars of today are the obscure nobodies of tomorrow. Alas, that’s a lesson that some of Hollywood’s current problem children haven’t learned.

Thanks for reading.... Keep checking next week for a final farewell post that ties up all the loose ends from the last four years.




 
  March 19, 1941, Comic  



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