The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: Gays and lesbians

Billy Sunday Packs Shrine Auditorium, February 15, 1909


"I am the sworn, uncompromising enemy of the liquor business."
Evangelist Billy Sunday fills the house at the Shrine Auditorium. The former baseball star died of a heart attack in Chicago in 1935.

"You hear a great cry up and down the land about personal liberty.
Has liberty fallen so low that you have to go into the hellhole of a saloon to
hear its name spoken?" --Billy Sunday
If you watch this video, you'll hear Billy Sunday say that most of the bootleggers and lawbreakers are illegal immigrants.

For some people, the early 20th century is an acquired taste -- in fact, some people never acquire it. But I find it fascinating, because a researcher only needs to stick a shovel in the ground to strike gold.

Unfortunately, the Sunday article is fairly hard to read. If I had the time I would transcribe it, but alas, so many stories, only one Larry Harnisch.

At left, the headline that caught my eye. Lillie Winters lived for years as a man and was discovered only after being arrested.

Unfortunately, The Times never published a follow-up story, nor can I find anything in the online newspaper archives. There's a book in her for someone, as there was with Billie Tipton.

Dick Ferris and the crews of his balloons, the American and the United States.

A wonderful description of Los Angeles by air, 1909. Notice especially that with recent heavy rains, the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers cut new channels because in 1909, the beds weren't lined with concrete.

Aviation pioneer Dick Ferris dies in 1933.

Police investigate Sunset Strip Club, January 1959

Photograph by Larry Harnisch / Los Angeles Times

On a recent trip to the city archives, the Daily Mirror looked into the agenda packets for the Los Angeles Police Commission. We found an investigation of an application for a cafe permit at Pandora--later Pandora's Box--8118 Sunset Blvd. The file reveals attitudes toward gays, includes an account of an arrest for prostitution, takes a look at jazz (those cats were noisy), describes the neighborhood (which also included the Garden of Allah and Sherry's) and shows the challenges faced by restaurant operators--and police--in the 1950s.

"Location frequented by prostitutes and homosexuals," hearing examiner said. 


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Dwyane Hickman to star in 'Dobie Gillis,' Dodger Pee Wee Reese retires, December 19, 1958


Hedda Hopper announces that Dwyane Hickman is leaving the "Bob Cummings Show" to star in "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," one of the biggest hits of the 1950s and early '60s. At left, a clip of Hickman with Bob Denver as Maynard G. Krebs and guest star Barbara Bain. The series also featured Sheila Kuehl, the first openly gay person elected to the California Legislature.

1958_1219_sports I couldn't help but wonder reading The Times' story about Pee Wee Reese retiring from the Dodgers. How much bigger a story would it have been a year earlier in Brooklyn?

Reese was one of the veteran Dodgers who came with the team to Los Angeles in 1958. He clearly was not the same player who was a perennial all-star during his tenure as the Boys of Summer's shortstop. Reese played only 59 games for the Dodgers in 1958, hitting .224.

The retirement story led the sports section, but it just didn't seem like enough of a send-off. Even the headline, "Reese Finally Retires," missed the marked. Finally?

"He could have remained on the active roster of another big league club but the Dodgers, in rebuilding, must make room for another youngster," general manager Buzzie Bavasi told The Times. "That's baseball." Reese stayed with the Dodgers as a coach, a logical step for a player long praised for his leadership skills.

"A boy has more self-respect
when he's clean-shaved."
"He was the heart and soul of the Boys of Summer," Vin Scully was quoted as saying in Reese's 1999 Times obituary. "He was the rare man who had the voice of authority and was still loved by his teammates."

Reese played a key role in helping Jackie Robinson when he joined the Dodgers in 1947. Tot Holmes, a baseball historian, recounted an incident in Cincinnati when the Dodgers were on the field and Robinson was being verbally abused.

"Reese had enough of the abuse, called time and walked over to Robinson and simply put his hand on his shoulder," Holmes said in Reese's obituary. "Eyewitnesses said the crowd quieted as if a lightning bolt had struck."

Reese, whose full name was Harold Henry, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984. 

--Keith Thursby

Found on EBay --Harvey Milk

The new movie about San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk has brought a bit a ephemera to EBay. Here's the extra the San Francisco Examiner brought out the day of the shooting. Bidding started at $9.99 and rose quickly.

Found on EBay -- One Magazine

Here's a February 1955 issue of One Magazine, published in Los Angeles, listed on EBay for $9.99. One Magazine began in 1953 and was declared obscene by the Postal Service, resulting in a landmark 1st Amendment ruling.

Lasorda's Dodger forecast, November 13, 1968


Above, "Therese and Isabelle," 1968.


"Reminds us anew that there's nothing quite so puritanical as a dirty picture."
-- Kevin Thomas

Some clips on YouTube for the curious.,,,

1968_1113_sports Part of the pleasure in plowing through old sports stories is reading about the future and knowing how things really turned out.

It's like the familiar movie plot where the character time-travels with a handy newspaper so he can bet on last year's big game. Of course, no money was waged in researching this post.

John Hall's column in The Times devoted a section to Tom Lasorda, then a manager in the Dodgers' minor league system, who called the columnist to defend the organization's prospects. Lasorda had been working in the Arizona instructional league.

"Remember these names," he told Hall. "Ted Sizemore, Billy Buckner, Steve Garvey and Bob Valentine. They're all eventually going to be tremendous hits in Los Angeles."

How'd Lasorda do? All four had a big impact on the Dodgers. Three of the four were involved in big trades.

Sizemore was rookie of the year in 1969 but was traded with another player a year later to St. Louis for Dick Allen. Buckner was traded to the Cubs in 1977 in a deal that sent Rick Monday to the Dodgers. Valentine was part of a big swap with the Angels in 1972 that included Andy Messersmith, Frank Robinson and Ken McMullen, among others.

Garvey had the longest career with the Dodgers, leaving in 1982 to sign as a free agent with the Padres.

To be fair, Lasorda didn't pitch a perfect game with his predictions. "Besides the kids, I've also got Bill Sudakis, Willie Crawford and Paul Popovich with me in Arizona and they've been looking great," he said. "Sudakis is for real."

-- Keith Thursby

Movie star beaten to death, November 1, 1968


Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

Newsmen gather outside Ramon Novarro's house, 3110 Laurel Canyon, after he was found beaten to death, 1968.

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The 3100 block of Laurel Canyon, where Ramon Novarro lived, via Google maps' street view.
1968_1101_runover Ramon Novarro, a wealthy movie star of the silent era, is beaten to death in his Hollywood Hills home, 3110 Laurel Canyon. Note that The Times couldn't say he was gay so we used the code phrase "a lifelong bachelor who lived alone."

Novarro was found naked on a disarranged bed. The garbage cans were full of liquor bottles and bloody men's clothing was found on a neighbor's fence, The Times says. 

In 1969, brothers Tom and Paul Ferguson were convicted of the killing and sentenced to life in prison. Paul R. Ferguson won a PEN award in 1975 while still incarcerated.   According to Internet sources of unknown reliability, they were released.
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Dodgers and Philadelphia in the playoffs, October 4, 1977

Note the Dial Torgerson byline in a story datelined Jerusalem. Torgerson and freelance photographer Richard Cross were killed in Honduras on June 21, 1983, when their car drove over a U.S.-made landmine evidently placed by Nicaraguan forces.
1977_october_04_sports By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

Looking back at The Times on Oct, 4, 1977, when the paper looked ahead to the playoff series between the Dodgers and the Phillies:

--Don Merry writes about Dodger starter Tommy John, who threw out the first pitch in the 1974 series against the Pirates with his right hand. It had been only two weeks since the left-hander had the innovative operation that's now referred to as Tommy John surgery. "I'd much rather see Frank Sinatra throw out the first ball," says John, who will face Steve Carlton in the opener.

--Charles Maher talks with Philllies Manager Danny Ozark, a former Dodger coach. "From what I've read their only weakness is that Tommy Lasorda has been putting on weight," Ozark jokes about the Dodgers.

--Both teams have power to spare. The Dodgers became the first team with four players (Steve Garvey, Reggie Smith, Roy Cey and Dusty Baker) who each hit 30 or more home runs. The Phillies are led by Greg Luzinski (39 home runs) and Mike Schmidt (38), who are profiled by the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell.

--The Dodgers are 2-3 favorites to win the series and face the Yankees, who are favored to defeat the Kansas City Royals.

--Lasorda says he's pulling for the Yankees: "It's strictly a personal thing. Billy [Martin, Yankees manager] and I are friends."

Bonds slams the Dodgers

June 26, 1968

By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

Dropcap_its_1922 difficult to imagine a better debut than Bobby Bonds' first game for the Giants against the Dodgers.

Bonds, described in Dan Hafner's story as a tall, rangy youngster from Riverside, hit a grand slam in his first major league game, a 9-0 victory in San Francisco. Only once before had a player hit a grand slam in his first game.

"I couldn't believe I had hit a home run. I just ran around the bases," Bonds said in The Times' story. "Maybe it will dawn on me tomorrow."

Hafner mentioned that Bonds was considered the eventual replacement for Willie Mays, still playing center for the Giants and the face of the franchise. Nothing like a little pressure. Bonds was a three-time all star with the Giants, but he was traded to the Yankees in 1974 for Bobby Murcer, who had been expected to be the next Mickey Mantle.

Bonds bounced around after that, playing for the Angels, White Sox, Rangers, Indians, Cardinals and Cubs before ending his career with the Yankees. His son, Barry Bonds, of course, is currently out of baseball after setting the major league career home run record.

May 30,1958


At left, a quote from a 12-part series running in The Times. Howard Whitman is identified as a "noted writer and commentator." After filing stories from wartime London in 1944 and the D-day invasion, Whitman returned to such fare as "Smoldering Youth" (1946), "Sex Education Grows Up" (1948) and "What Makes Good Girls Bad?" (1949).

"Modern science for the most part views homosexuality as a personality disease, comparable to alcoholism or drug addiction"

-- Howard Whitman," from "Crisis in Morals"

After "Crisis in Morals," Whitman wrote "Our Drinking Habits" (1958), "Frontiers in Living" (1960) and "The U.S. Way of Love" (1964).

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May 29, 1908



May 28, 1908


May 29, 1908


We will have to trust the Los Angeles Times when it says Peje Storck was a famous pianist of his day. According to The Times, the pianist arrived in town in 1903 with English violinist Herbert Ritchie, who studied with violin virtuoso Eugene Ysaye. (The Times refers to Storck as Norweigian in some articles in and Swedish in others).

The duo performed many concerts in Los Angeles and received glowing reviews in The Times. "Mr. Storck's art is finished, his tone limpid, lucent, pure, his intellectual force unusual, his execution flawless and his mental attitude that of a poet and idealist," The Times said Nov. 21, 1903.

But we will have to trust the Los Angeles Police Department that Storck was gay--of course even as late as the 1940s, newspapers didn't dare use words like "homosexual."

Instead, The Times tiptoed around the matter, saying: "Storck was arrested in a small private room of the 4th Street depot of the Los Angeles-Pacific Railway Co. Seven other men were arrested at the same time, all charged with vagrancy. The real offense was that attributed to Oscar Wilde."

"... police received complaints ... that a number of well-dressed, well-appearing men were making themselves obnoxious at the 4th Street station. Officers Cline and Cook were sent to the station to watch. They arrested the men one at a time, whenever they could secure direct evidence and Storck was taken with several others."

Despite the intercession of many prominent individuals, Storck was sentenced to six months on the chain gang, where he was forced to work with "Negroes, cholos and tramps," The Times said.

After that, Storck vanishes from The Times. All we know is that in January 1909, state Sen. Estudillo of Riverside introduced a bill calling for a year in prison for the "unmentionable offenses" so that "degenerates of his class" would "not get off so easily in the future."

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May 13, 1958


Above, President Eisenhower tells African Americans to be patient about gaining civil rights ... Below, Dr. Lawrence Michael Dillon, formerly Dr. Laura Maude Dillon, who was apparently the world's first trangendered man, is interviewed in Philadelphia. In 1945, Dillon began a series of operations to change his sex, The Times said. Dillon was a member of the British nobility and his change was noticed by readers of books on British peerage. According to the Gender Centre website, Dillon fled after his operation was revealed and eventually became a Tibetan monk in Bengal, taking the name Lobzang Jivaka.



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