Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
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Seco Street, Pasadena, in the vicinity of the killing, via Google maps' street view.
George T. Judd lived a model life as far as anyone could tell. He was a respected financial executive, and he and his wife, Margaret, were often listed in The Times' society columns. Judd belonged to the Kiwanis, was active in the Republican Party, supported the Pasadena Playhouse and attended All Saints Episcopal Church. He and his wife raised a son and a daughter in a home on Lagunita Road in an upscale Pasadena neighborhood.
When he was killed in 1948 at the age of 55, Judd was vice president of West Coast Bond and Mortgage Co. and living alone at 840 Seco Street, a new, 2,200-square-foot home near the Rose Bowl. His wife, Margaret, had died in 1945 and another life, one he had been leading all along in great secrecy, took over.
We don't know for sure that Judd was gay, although it would explain what happened to him. The Times never addressed the question directly, but left the strong implication that he was. One story said he "had no particular women friends" since his wife's death and quoted Pasadena homicide Detective Lt. Cecil H. Burlingame as saying: "We are not looking for a woman in the case."
What we do know is that Judd had a history of being beaten and robbed by men he picked up hitchhiking or in bars, and eventually one of them killed him.
The first incident reported in The Times occurred in San Francisco 20 years earlier. As he recovered at University of California Hospital, Judd told police he picked up a stranger who offered him a "headache tablet." The pill made him sick and the stranger beat him and took his car, which police recovered outside the city. In reporting the attack, The Times noted that Judd had gone to a Mill Valley ranch the previous summer after resigning from his job at a Pasadena bank due to health problems.
Nothing appeared in the paper for two decades, but homicide detectives learned that he had been beaten by two hitchhikers about 1936 during a trip to San Francisco.
The beatings and robberies became more frequent in the year before his death. On Aug. 30, 1947, Judd met two men in a bar and had them drive him home. He told police that one of the men, named Tex, threatened him with a knife and when he ran for help, the men stole his car, which police found wrecked. He also told police he suspected the men of burglarizing his house.
Although he never reported anything to authorities, friends told homicide investigators that in the six months before he was killed, Judd had been beaten and robbed several times, with his attackers usually taking his wristwatch.
Two days before his death, Judd contacted a neighbor who was a building contractor to see about getting a shower head replaced. He explained that he let three men spend the night at his house and one of them had broken the fixture.
His daughter found him Jan. 29, 1948. She came over in the morning, looked through a window, saw him in bed and assumed he was sleeping. She returned in the afternoon, went in and found him dead. She contacted one of her father's business associates, who called the police.
Although Judd was strangled and stabbed in the neck, and a bloody fork and a carving knife had been left in the kitchen sink, the daughter assumed Judd died of natural causes, "pulled a sheet over her father's body and 'tidied up a bit' while waiting for the doctor," The Times said.
Homicide investigators soon focused on the gritty bars around Hill and 3rd streets in downtown Los Angeles because Judd "often visited resorts below his social status," The Times said.
Judd's home was thoroughly checked for fingerprints that might have survived his daughter's cleaning and his friends were fingerprinted to eliminate their prints from the killer's.
In October 1948, police arrested a suspect at 6th and Hill streets: a 19-year-old drifter from Yakima, Wash., named Edgar Eugene Bentley. An off-duty detective recognized Bentley from a photo released by Pasadena police based on leads from the downtown bars Judd patronized. A crime scene investigator matched Bentley to fingerprints found on the refrigerator in Judd's home and on a bottle of soda water.
According to police, Bentley said: "I met Mr. Judd at the tavern and we went to his home at 840 Seco Drive, Pasadena. We had several drinks. Mr. Judd made a sudden lunge at my throat -- and from then on I can't remember.... I sort of blacked out."
Bentley also told police: "I must have done it -- there was nobody else there but me ..."
Under questioning, Bentley said he hitchhiked out of Los Angeles the next day. He pawned Judd's wristwatch in New Orleans, then sold the ticket for $5. Within a few days, police traced the watch to a shop whose owner "forgot" to report it.
On Jan. 14, 1949, Bentley pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to five years to life at San Quentin. In 1958, he and two companions escaped from a remote prison honor camp at High Rock in Humboldt County. The men held up a bar in Redding, Calif., took $250 and forced 11 people into a washroom. Bentley was captured during a police chase after the men ran a Highway Patrol roadblock in a stolen 1956 Mercury.
In 1969, Bentley escaped from the Miramonte Conservation Camp, a minimum security facility east of Fresno, and was captured several hours later. Washington death records list an Edgar E. Bentley who died July 11, 1995, at the age of 65.
Judd was survived by his children, mother, sister and half brother. He was cremated at Mountain View Mausoleum in Altadena after funeral services at All Saints.
Note: Thanks to Dick Morris for help in research with this post.
July 6, 1899: The Times reminds tourists to watch out for pickpockets.
July 6, 1899: Look who's playing at the Orpheum. It's Houdini, with his wife, doing the Oregon boot routine.
There's also a female impersonator named Tacianu. On May 30, 1897, The Times said: "Taciano is a phenomenal male soprano after the style of Stuart, the male Patti. He is reputed to be a real artist in the matter of female impersonations and the possessor of a sweet, rarely beautiful voice located high on the upper register, on the plane usually monopolized by prima donnas.
On June 1, 1897, The Times said: "[Alexander] Tacianu is a wonder. He not only sings with a soprano that is sweet and round and rich in tone, but changes it to a melodious baritone that is sufficiently good voice in itself for any man to travel on. We have had female impersonators of all grades and varieties, and usually they have been of the sort that combines the falsetto of the guinea hen with a certain offensiveness of personality that is difficult of description. But not so with Tacianu. His singing is a finished performance, a work of the voice that shows quality of tone and a liberal amount of expression that could only result from good training and his personality while a simulation of the feminine is wholly without coarseness or offense of any sort. He is one of the very best features yet exploited by the Orpheum management."
Very little appears to have been written about Tacianu except that he flourished from 1897 to 1899 and performed in the U.S. and Europe. He predates Julian Eltinge by a few years.
|There's a lot of rambling, self-important navel-gazing in "Holy Barbarians" and although these meandering insights are vital to the people in the book, they can be fairly tedious reading. |
But there are also rewards. Here's an account of a group of people tending to a gay man who was evidently beaten by the police after a raid on a gay club called the Casbah. In this instance, author Lawrence Lipton's "I Am a Tape Recorder" approach brings us into this tiny converted garage in Venice where several people are nursing Ron Daley.
Page 120-123, "Holy Barbarians"
(Scene: Ron Daley's pad. A made-over garage. Ronny has fitted it out with redwood panel walls and laid straw mats over the cement floor wall to wall. Two mattresses on the floor are covered with Japanese fabrics and strewn with cylindrical and three-cornered cushions of pastel colors. The bookcases are boards and glass bricks. Two lamps hang from the ceiling, parchment lantern shades of modern design derived from the Japanese. The components of the hi-fi are unenclosed. In one corner, a triangular private shrine holding a single rosebud in an Oriental vase, over it a rice paper print of the Buddha in contemplation, a Buddha of Zen simplicity. Partitioned off with bamboo and rice paper screens is a tiny kitchenette, all the utensils neatly hung on the wall, copperware, shiny bright, and the dishes set up on the shelves, a spartan kitchen, clean, monastically clean).
Ronny is lying on the bed, swathed in bandages. He was brutally beaten up by vice squad officers during questioning at the police station after a raid on the Casbah, a gathering place for homosexuals, and is out on bail. Gilda Lewis has moved in to do nursing duty. She is busy in the kitchen making some broth for Ronny. He is telling me about the incident. His voice, always low and modulated, is almost a whisper.)
RON: It wasn't like anything I had ever experienced before, Larry. His eyes were hazel, with little golden flecks in them. I must have been pretty high at the time and I guess he was, too. But it wasn't the pot altogether, I'm sure of that. It wasn't physical so much as it was spiritual, something inside us or outside, out there, who knows what it is, really? drawing us together. And he was talking. Art. Music. Philosophy. Poetry. I can't recall what he said, exactly. It wasn't what he was saying. It was a kind of spiritual presence. I felt as if I had finally found someone who was like that other dark side of me, myself, and I was looking at myself as in a mirror. And discovering myself in ways I had never known before. I'm sure it isn't a unique experience. Others must have known it -- I remember vaguely having read about such a meeting once in was it Shelley? Or something in Gide?
(Gilda comes in with a cup of broth. I help to prop him while she spoon-feeds him, slowly and very gently. His face is badly cut up under the bandages. The doctor told me as he was leaving that he might be badly disfigured for life. After the broth he continues with his story. So far he has said nothing about the police beating, only about the young man he met at the Casbah that night and what happened before the raid.)
RON: There was something in his voice that I remember. It seemed to be coming from somewhere far out. And I was enveloped in it, like a palpable thing. Like he was an extension of myself ... the mystical being ... the Other ... Narcissus' reflection in the pool come to life and assuming an existence of its own. And yet separate and different in some wonderful, mystical way ... Something I had always dreamed might happen to me....
(He goes on like this for some time, his voice trails off into silence. He may be asleep. About the police beating nothing now or at any time since then, to me or anyone that I know of. Angel Dan Davies is at the door with Dave Gelden and Rhonda Tower, the chick Angel has been making it with lately. They take off their sandals and leave them at the door before entering, as Ron always does. Rhonda has bad news. The prominent lawyer she knows has refused to take Ron's case.)
RHONDA: You could have knocked me over with a feather. Like I was sure he'd take the case. He's taken other cases where there wasn't any money. Liquor cases and labor cases, things like that. But when I told him how the vice squad goons beat up Ronny and the homosexual thing man, he just flipped. What kind of a friend was I, trying to drag him into a scene like this!
DAVE: Like I told you, you were wasting your time going to a cat like that. He's a square, man, and you don't catch a square sticking his neck out.
RHONDA (to me): Do you know any hip lawyers? (I shake my head and smile) See, you've got to go to a square in a case like this, whether you like it or not. They've got you over a barrel.
GILDA: Even the doctor was afraid to come when I told him what it was, and where it was.
ANGEL: It's like money. Did you ever try sounding a square for money? He'll take you to a fancy restaurant and spend ten bucks but you can't sound him for money to buy food for your wife and kids. They'll buy you drinks in a bar but sound them for a buck to buy groceries and they'll act like they're embarrassed they'll hem and haw and Christ! -- You'd think you'd asked them to take their pants off in public or something.
DAVE: That's what it is, man. Like they can't admit it, even to themselves, that there's such a thing as real starvation in the world. Or like this lawyer the cat can't face it, that a couple of cops will beat up on a cat just because he's a homosexual. They've got to prove it to themselves and to each other that they're real he-men.
RHONDA: Do you suppose the Civil Liberties Union lawyers might do something?
ANGEL: The Liberals? The political cats? They're the biggest squares of all when it comes to sex. Homosexuals yet -- wow! We got to find a lawyer who isn't prominent, or political or social. Some shyster who's mixed up in the rackets, maybe. He's the only kind that'll have the guts to mix it up with the cops in a police-beating case. He's beat, in a way, so he doesn't have to worry what the country club boys or the PTA is going to say about him. He doesn't have any illusions about justice or civil rights or the Constitution.
RHONDA: I know a prostitute that works up on the Strip --
DAVE: Now you're talkin, Get ahold of this chick and she'll know what to do, who to go to.
ANGEL: Like when I was on the road and I landed in a town broke, I learned one thing: never go to the local minister or the rabbi or the social agencies. All they'll want to know is who you've got back home that they can ship you back to if somebody back home is willing to wire them the money. Go to the first whorehouse you can find and talk to the madam, or to some saloonkeeper in the slum part of town, I remember a whore in Terre Haute once--
DAVE: They're the original hipsters the outlaws, the outcasts. The square, like he's got all these official lies he's got to believe, the schoolbook story and the church story and all that shit --
(Ronny stirs a little. Angel lights a stick of tea and holds it to Ronny's lips to take a drag on. Ronny smiles and tries to nod his thanks. It hurts.)
DAVE: (looks over at me and shakes his head): Like I told you, Larry. The squares talk about their religion, their laws, their justice, their charity, but sooner or later it always turns out to be the man with a gun on his hip.
The text of the entire book is here in plain text and in pdf format.
||The inaugural January 1953
issue of One magazine, published in Los Angeles, has been listed on
EBay. One was a historic magazine that dealt with gay issues. It was declared obscene by the Postal Service, resulting in a landmark 1st Amendment ruling. Bidding starts at $9.99.
Update: This item sold for $455.
Eating Ants Might Spice This HamI've been dabbling in the nether regions of the public eye for quite some time now.
To show you how far back I go, I was the father figure on a panel television show called Bachelor's Haven with a moppet named Zsa Zsa Gabor, who today -- according to her press release -- is still 10 years younger than Shirley Temple.
I pre-date vegetable peeler commercials, 1932 English movies starring Gracie Fields, and Hopalong Cassidy.
The viewing public has seen me, lot of me. It's been given the chance to take me as its idol or reject me.
And its decision -- or more accurately, indecision -- has been a matter of keen disappointment both to me and my mother, who's closer to me than the William Morris Agency will ever be.
For years, it's been a mystery to both of us why I've never been tapped for stardom -- why people still come up and say, "I know you. You were the one withZsa Zsa Gabor."
It was just this week, however, when I realized why they had discovered her and not me.
She has a gimmick.
And, after reading TV Guide, I know now for sure that a gimmick is essential for all of us in this racket.
The current issue has an article entitled, "He Eats Bees, and Sometime, Ants."
It reviews the proverbial rags-to-riches success of a Jack Webb protege named John Compton, whom, in my ignorance, I had never heard of before, and whom the magazine describes as a "handsome 36-year-old actor who plays the lead inNBC's "The D.A.'s Man.'"
In the article, Compton not only confesses to eating live bees and live ants, but he admits to having munched an occasional blue jay when the mood moved him.
With red ants, he is quoted saying:
"You've got to be a little careful. Chew 'em dead with your teeth else they'll bite the insides right out of you."
Now, possibly too late, I see my error.
A performance just can't get anywhere in show business without the gimmick.
Compton eats ants. Welk has a prop baton. Sandra Giles has a fur-covered ear. And then there's Desi with that phony accent of his.
Everybody's got something but me.
Actually, when I first started out in this peculiar game, I did have one little quirk which made me stand out from the average actor like Ed Sullivan.
I didn't smile either, but I had an eyebrow which raised provocatively.
I never coached or cultivated it.
However, that, as I said, was back in the days when Zsa Zsa was a girl and I was a somewhat older boy.
In Twilight of My Youth
With the passing of time, my whole damn face has fallen, eyebrow and all.
Today, I am aged and in need of a theatrical gimmick that will soar my weary frame to stardom.
And, if eating red ants will bring me to the attention of an impresario like Jack Webb, I'll do it -- even though my teeth aren't what they should be and there's a chance that the ants may eat me first.
A Fellow to Whom We Should Subscribe
Normally, I don't go around hawking newspapers.
Especially other people's newspapers.
But today, I make an exception.
Right now, this minute, I'm hustling sheets. At no commission.
Like I say, it's not The Mirror News I have tucked under my arm.
It's smaller. Only a four-page weekly. It's put out in the little Mississippi town of Petal. (If you've heard of Petal, you're a well traveled individual.)
The paper, appropriately, is called "The Petal Paper."
It's a one-man operation -- written, edited and printed by 37-year-old native Mississippian by name of P.D. East.
Not so appropriate is the fact that the paper's readership in Petal is, according to today's Audit Bureau of Circulation, zero.
Five years ago, it was 2,300.
But it was shortly after that, that Mr. East began writing the news as he saw it -- not as his advertisers wanted him to see it.
News that included some pretty shocking copy about the "rights" of Negroes in his home state.
With naive honesty, he reported the facts. All of them.
And, when he felt that his fellow townspeople were becoming overly emotional to the point of mob violence about certain race issues, he told them so, editorially.
That's how he fell out of favor.
He was branded a traitor, damnyankee and a few other things not quite so genteel.
But P.D. East kept on cranking his printing press. And, gradually, he built up a circulation outside of Mississippi. It's back to the 2,000 mark now.
Yesterday, I met P.D. East for the first time, and if you want my first impression of the man, the folks down in Petal have mislabeled him, Badly.
Yet, I made a similar misjudgment. I called him a crusader.
"I'm not a crusader," he informed me indignantly.
"I'm not an integrationist, either," he added. "I'm simply against discrimination."
East told me that his troubles began in 1954, right after the United States Supreme Court ruled on integration in the public schools and he began using his paper in the battle against racial hatred.
"And why the fight?" I wanted to know.
"Well," he began, "it was mainly a matter of conscience. I couldn't keep still and let people tear down this country's constitutional government.
East didn't make any home town friends when he published a picture of a Mississippi school for white children alongside one for young Negroes and asked his readers to guess which was which.
The answer was all too obvious. One was a bright new facility; the other little more than a dilapidated shack.
"What kind of social life have you led since you make your views public?" I asked East.
"On Christmas Day of 1956, my wife and I were invited out. That was the last time," he answered bitterly.
I asked him about old friends.
"There are several people," he explained, "People I went to school with. They won't even say hello when we meet on the street. "And I sure wish they would," he added, "because I'd like the privilege of ignoring them."
Living Always Takes Eating
There are some who wonder how East has managed to stay alive. Why some rebel hothead hasn't mowed him down.
"I wonder myself sometimes," he confesses, but adds that he hasn't much time to consider threats of physical violence.
"But what about your wife?" I said.
"She just wishes the whole thing were over and done with. That everybody, including me, would shut up."
But P.D. has refused to be stilled. He wants to continue shouting in print. And he wants, most of all, your help.
He wants you to join the other 2,000 subscribers. It'll cost you five bucks a year, which seems a small price to pay for somebody else's courage.
|Highlights from the ONE Archives' film and videotape collection will be shown at 7 p.m. April 19 at the Billy Wilder Theater. A panel discussion will feature Malcolm Boyd, Lillian Faderman, Joseph Hawkins, Don Kilhefner and Mark Thompson. Tickets are $10.|
Christine Jorgensen and Howard J. Knox attempted to get married, but could not obtain a license.
The nondupe features "the large colony of acknowledged homosexuals in this city."
The Lakers defeated the New York Knicks, 128-111, at the Forum and were headed for the playoffs against the San Francisco Warriors. But they were already talking about potential opponents in the NBA finals.
Jerry West made news the following day at a weekly sportswriters' luncheon by dismissing the Boston Celtics' chances. "They're not a good scoring club anymore," West said. "If they don't get a good scoring game out of Bailey Howell, they're in trouble."
Somewhere in Boston, a bulletin board just got another clipping.