The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: Animals

A Public Service Announcement From Pier Angeli

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

Pier Angeli and friend remind you to turn your clocks back!

Found on EBay – Selig Zoo

Four photos from what the vendor says is the Selig Zoo have been listed on EBay. Three of the images show lions and the fourth shows ostriches. Bidding starts at $9.75.

From the Vaults: 'Cat People' (1982)

Catposter Remake time! Although apparently director Paul Schrader ("American Gigolo"; also the writer of "Taxi Driver") insisted that he didn't intend "Cat People" as a remake of the 1942 film. Still, it's got main characters named Irena, Oliver and Alice, who all have roughly the same relationships with each other. And it's got the same conceit: that Irena, if aroused to physical passion, will transform into a panther and kill her lover. But rather than a shadowy thriller, Schrader turns that material into an erotic sort of psychodrama. Does that count as a remake? You decide!

Schrader makes Irena's duality -- sweet virginal girl/homicidal cat person -- much more literal by giving her an older brother, Paul (Malcolm McDowell). As the film opens, Irena (Natassja Kinski) is meeting him for the first time; she's been raised up north by foster families but has come to live with Paul in hot, sweaty New Orleans. Paul knows about the cat-people thing and embraces it, but Irena's got no idea. I wouldn't have thought it, but these two do make a sublimely feline pair: McDowell leaps lithely onto railings, Kinski wriggles kittenishly, and both of them gaze around with their huge, hypnotic eyes. Meow!

Shortly after Irena's arrival, Paul disappears, and Irena becomes fascinated with the new black leopard at the local zoo. Irena in turn fascinates zoo boss Oliver (John Heard), to the irritation of his colleague Alice (a sublimely beautiful Annette O'Toole). Let the sexual drama begin!

It may all sound tawdry and godawful, but remember that the 1942 film was considered a B movie. Schrader's film is a rocking good time if you can manage the premise. It's a big pop mashup of myth and sex and blood and fun. My expectations were rock-bottom, but I had an absolute blast watching this. How can you not love a movie that opens and closes with David Bowie's voice?

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From the Vaults: 'Cat People' (1942)

Catposter I really didn't plan a cat theme, but someone mentioned this movie a few months ago and I thought "hm, if I ever ditch the idea of sticking to movies from specific years, I will have to write about that one." So, done and done! It was a pleasure to sit down last night and rewatch this. Producer Val Lewton (supposedly an ailurophobe himself) created a B-movie classic with his hastily-assembled "Cat People."

Adorably kittenish Irena (baby-faced Simone Simon) meets aw-shucks nice guy Oliver (Kent Smith) outside the panther cage at her local zoo, and quickly has him captivated. But she refuses to let him kiss her, and after their wedding, she expresses a trembling fear of marital intimacy, which Oliver is way too nice to pressure her about. Irena, it turns out, comes from a village in Serbia that's the legendary home of evil, shapeshifting "cat people"; she's afraid that if she surrenders to physical passion, she'll transform into a lethal cat and tear Oliver to shreds. Yoicks!

At first the film seems like a lurid but relatively plausible little psychodrama. A shrink is called in, the oily Dr. Judd (Tom Conway), who taps his cigarette ash and smiles: "These problems are relatively simple for psychiatrists." But then Oliver starts confiding in beautiful colleague Alice (Jane Randolph) about his marital problems -- and Alice soon finds herself menaced by something that's definitely not human.

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A Notable Absence – Updated

Sept. 16, 1910, Mexican Centennial

Sept. 16, 1910, Mexican Independence

Note: A bloodless bullfight at Schuetzen Park. [Update: Schuetzen Park was renamed Rose Hills Park about 1923.]

Sept. 16, 1910: Many writers have noted that Gen. Harrison Gray Otis wasn’t in Los Angeles when The Times was bombed but almost no one examines the reason. Here’s what happened:

Otis was one of the prominent Americans representing the U.S. for Mexico’s centennial celebration in Mexico City. Other goodwill envoys included Massachusetts Gov. Curtis Guild Jr.; Judge James Watson Gerard; Sen. Lee Slater Overman of North Carolina; Rep. Edwin Denby of Michigan; Rep. William Marcellus Howard of Georgia; Col. Charles A. Rook, founder of the Pittsburgh Dispatch; Sen. Coe Isaac Crawford of South Dakota; and Rep. David J. Foster of Vermont. 

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Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood, Aug. 29, 1940

Aug. 29, 1940, Draft Voted by Senate

Aug. 29, 1940, Cadets

Aug. 29, 1940: Add strange mishaps: The hundreds of dollars of damage done to furnishings in the Beverly manse of Ann Sothern's mamma when Ann's dog fell into a bucket of paint and ran wild through the house, Jimmie Fidler says. 

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Found on EBay: 'The Equine Detective'

Selig Polyscope
I don’t usually mention reproduction items and I’ve ignored similar posters for other Selig Polyscope films. But "The Equine Detective”? What was it, the “Sherlock Holmes of the Stable” going undercover pulling a wagon? The possibilities are almost endless.

In fact, according to a 1914 article in The Times, Arabia was a well-known horse who performed in vaudeville and also appeared in films by Universal.

Bidding starts at $7.99

Brave Officer Halts Runaway Horse

 Aug. 2, 1910, Runaway Horse

Aug. 2, 1910, Officer Green

Aug. 2, 1910: Patrolman R.M. Green was directing traffic at 3rd and Main streets when a runaway horse pulling a light wagon plunged toward the intersection. Green jumped into the back of the wagon and made his way to the driver’s seat and then onto the horse’s back, halting the animal.

"A dozen collisions were narrowly averted and people fled in terror from the path of the runaway, only to turn on the sidewalk and stare in amazement at the strange spectacle of this man in blue hanging over the neck of the horse, much as a mountain lion would have done," The Times said.

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Death of a Mad Dog


June 8, 1910, Furniture

The dealer says this Arts and Crafts furniture will last for a century,

June 8, 1910: A Wyoming rancher tracks down and kills a wolf nicknamed “One Toe,” a notorious killer of cattle that was too wary for traps … and a police officer  bravely captures and kills a mad dog found in the gutter at 1st Street and Bunker Hill. There was no antidote for rabies at this time, and if the officer had been bitten he would have died.

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Found on EBay – Alligator Farm

Alligator Chute


Although the ostrich farms get more attention, Los Angeles also had alligator farms, shown above in an image from USC’s digital archive. The postcard at left showing alligators at play has been listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $5.95.

Unions, Employers ‘Ready for War’ in Metalworkers’ Strike

June 5, 1910, Kilflea Dog Soap
Kilflea Dog Soap does the job!

June 5, 1910: The battle lines are becoming increasingly firm in the metalworkers’ strike and the attempt to unionize Los Angeles’ foundries, rolling mills and machine shops.

The Times says: "There is no secret about the laborite plan. [San Francisco union official Andy J.] Gallagher and other trouble-making bosses of the metal trades announced the programme. For fear that some of the local agitators might prove too soft-hearted, the work of unionizing the foundries and machine shops has been intrusted to the San Franciscans.

“These fellows boast that there will be a concerted move tomorrow. They say peaceful measures are useless; that Los Angeles must taste of bloodshed and riot before she yields to the labor-union anarchists.”

"Work at the Baker Iron Works has gone ahead without interruption," company official Fred Baker says. "Personally, I would rather raze our plant to the ground and sell the land for city lots than give in."

The Times also reports in the brewery strike that picketers' calls of "Unfair beer!" on South Main and Los Angeles streets "have acted as a stimulus to the thirsty."

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Man Hospitalized After Shooting Himself


Not one, but two ostrich farms in the Los Angeles area!

June 1, 1910: "The next thing I knew, I heard a shot and I ran to where he was. I saw him, blood all over, and his shirt was burning. I screamed and ran to the telephone to ring up the police," Mrs. E.C. Trabant says of a suicide attempt by her brother Herbert Cooper.

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