The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: LAPD

Philip K. Scheuer, Town Called Hollywood, Jan. 12, 1941





  Jan. 12, 1941, Comics  


  Jan. 12, 1941, Vice Raid  


Jan. 12, 1941: Fantasound -- by its own name or any other name -- is here to stay, and Walt Disney is going right ahead with plans for it. I had a long talk with him last week and he made this plain, among other things. Meanwhile, the uproar over "Fantasia" and Fantasound in New York is only now beginning to subside. It hasn't even started in Los Angeles, which will have an opportunity to rave (one way or the other) at month's end, when film -- and equipment -- take over the Carthay Circle.

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Another Good Story Ruined – The Black Dahlia

It is deceptively difficult to write with any degree of accuracy about the Black Dahlia case. Here’s a recent example of a mangled account by Scott McCabe of the Washington Examiner:

On this day, Jan. 9, 1947, Elizabeth Short, anaspiring actress, disappeared, triggering a criminal investigation in which she was dubbed the "Black Dahlia."

--In fact, there was no investigation until her body was found. Short was so disconnected from society that nobody realized she had vanished. [And yes, bonus points for the typo.]

A week later, her body was discovered cut in half and mutilated in a Los Angeles parking lot.

--In fact, the body was discovered in a vacant lot.

 

Jimmie Fidler in Europe, Jan. 8, 1941





  Jan. 8, 1941, Tobruk  

  Jan. 8, 1941, Vice Raid  


Jan. 8, 1941: Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, the “perfect lovers,” had an out-loud row just before sailing for Europe -- and almost went in opposite directions, Jimmie Fidler says.
 
Keeping reading for more on the vice raids on nightclubs in Little Tokyo and along Central Avenue….

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The Black Dahlia -- Another Good Story Ruined






dropcap_T_1910he anniversary of Elizabeth Short’s killing is Jan. 15, so I thought I would try to anticipate the annual rehash of fiction and mistakes with a post commenting on potential sources on the 1947 case. 

People often ask me which book I recommend to learn about the crime. My answer is always the same: None.

All of the books are terrible and if you read them, you will only have to “unlearn” everything that’s wrong. Understand that I’m not just talking about the usual suspects (“Severed,” “Daddy Was the Black Dahlia Killer,” “Black Dahlia Avenger” and “The Black Dahlia Files”) but also books that touch on the case, like Jack Webb’s “The Badge,” James Richardson’s “For the Life of Me” and Agness Underwood’s “Newspaperwoman.”

People should especially avoid Will Fowler’s “Reporters” and Kevin Starr’s dreadful account in “Embattled Dreams,” which draws heavily on Fowler’s book, but confuses Fowler with his father, Gene!  

To be fair, “For the Life of Me” and “Newspaperwoman” have some value, but their accuracy is mixed and without knowing where Richardson and Underwood go wrong, it’s best not to read them.

I used to recommend “Farewell, My Black Dahlia,” by Tod/Todd Faulkner, which appeared in The Times on March 28, 1971, but I have decided that its errors outweigh any value it might have. For one thing, whoever wrote the introduction to the story gave Short the middle name “Ann,” an error that has gone viral in the ensuing decades and even made its way onto the label of her FBI file. In fact, she had no middle name, regardless of what you may read anywhere else.

Well, then, what about her FBI file? It is online and readily accessibly, but it’s extremely problematic. The file is heavily censored and because the FBI had no jurisdiction in the case, there is nothing in the way of original crime reports. A great deal of the file consists of wire service stories clipped from various East Coast papers. It is interesting (to a research drudge, anyway) to see how the “buro” played the Los Angeles newspapers against one another, but most people aren’t going to care about such “inside baseball” details.

How about “Childhood Shadows?”Mary Pacios is a friend and I like her. But I can’t recommend her book.

”Exquisite Corpse?” There are some books that aren’t allowed in my house. That’s one of them, along with William T. Rasmussen’s “Corroborating Evidence.”  For years, “Severed” had to stay in the garage, but I spent so much time having to debunk the book that I finally brought it inside.

The websites? Ignore them all, especially the WikiPedia article. I won’t dwell on my experience with WikiPedia, as it deserves its own post, but as far as I’m concerned WikiPedia is sinkhole of rumors and misinformation run by crackpots, factoid zealots and coding tweakers. Over the years, various “trolls” have adopted WikiPedia’s page on the Dahlia case and fought off all attempts to restore sanity. I’ll refrain from recommending my own website because it’s out of date and I want to remain above-board and avoid accusations of advocating my own research.

So what do I recommend?

I always suggest the same thing. Anyone truly interested in the case and not a collection of mistakes  and fiction should read the first few months of the Los Angeles newspaper stories, from Jan. 15, 1947, up to about March. The newspaper coverage isn’t perfect, but there are fewer errors than in any other resource.

I would recommend reading the Examiner, then the Herald-Express, The Times and the Daily News, in that order. I wouldn’t bother with any of the small suburban papers in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Pasadena, etc. 

The Times is online via ProQuest and via The Times' website. The others are in the microfilm collection of the Los Angeles Public Library. Perhaps a bit inaccessible, but anyone who is truly interested in the factual account should be prepared to do some pick and shovel work. I was told some years ago that the January 1947 microfilm of the Examiner is pretty battered and that part of the film is missing. With luck it’s been replaced by now.

And by the way, I always mark the anniversary of Elizabeth Short’s death with a donation to Heading Home, an agency that works with abused women and the homeless in her hometown of Medford, Mass. 
 
ALSO

“Black Dahlia Avenger” on the Daily Mirror




Paul Coates, Jan. 2 1961

 

 




  Jan. 2, 1961, Mirror Cover  


Jan. 2, 1961: Paul Coates (yes, he’s a native New Yorker) compiles a list of civic sins – Bloody Christmas and the county grand jury, included – but declares for the new year that he actually likes the place.

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Major Crimes Increase in L.A., 1960




 
 
  Dec. 31, 1960, Laos Invaded  

  Dec. 31, 1960, Comics  


Dec. 31, 1960: Most crime, except for drunk driving, increased in 1960, according to Police Chief William H. Parker. The 4.2% decrease in DUI was probably due to longer jail sentences, Parker said. "In other words, it takes habitual drunkards longer to get out and get drunk again," he said.

Homicides are up 10.9%, from 134 to 149, the LAPD says. Robberies showed the largest increase, 39.4%, to 6,160. 

ALSO

Crime statistics on the Daily Mirror

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Grim Sleeper Photos – Another Look





  Grim Sleeper No. 164  



I thought it would be interesting to visit the LAPD’s website to see how many images had been removed from the Grim Sleeper photos, presumably because the women were identified.

I discovered that Nos. 164, 165,  169 and 175 varied from what is on The Times’ site. Most of the Grim Sleeper photos on latimes.com are the same as what’s posted by the LAPD, but I’m told that these four photos were cropped by The Times to show the women’s faces in greater clarity.

One new bit of information from the uncropped photos is that three of them are dated March 1985.

Further examination revealed that two photos posted on The Times website show women’s nametags, No. 96-97 (Maxine) and No. 166 (Ms. D. Johnson) that were cropped out on the LAPD’s website. 

Of the 180 photos that were originally released by investigators, 151 remain on the LAPD’s website.

The LAPD’s photos are here

ALSO

Grim Sleeper, Interiors
Grim Sleeper, Interiors 2
Grim Sleeper, Interiors 3
Grim Sleeper Nos. 4 and 52
Grim Sleeper Nos. 48-49

Grim Sleeper Nos. 51-53
Grim Sleeper Nos. 56-57
Grim Sleeper Nos. 59 and 81
Grim Sleeper Nos. 75-78, labrets
Grim Sleeper Nos. 75 and 77, Kendreay
Grim Sleeper No. 91
Grim Sleeper Nos. 96-97, Maxine
Grim Sleeper No. 199, Details, Janecia
Grim Sleeper No. 139, The Mail Slot
Grim Sleeper Nos. 141-142, Deborah B. Cleveland
Grim Sleeper No. 149
Grim Sleeper No. 166, Ms. D. Johnson

Continue reading »

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.

ALSO

LAPD crime statistics on the Daily Mirror




Matt Weinstock, Dec. 23, 1960




 
 
  Dec. 23, 1960, comics  

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash
an' Kalamazoo...
Nora's freezin' on the trolley
Swaller dollar cauliflower
Alleygaroo!



Dec. 23, 1960: One of the ugliest moments in the annals of the LAPD -- the "Bloody Christmas" of 1951 -- is told in full for the first time in Man magazine [probably Man's magazine--lrh] for February 1961, Matt Weinstock says.


DEAR ABBY: I am engaged to a man with whom I have gone for two years. We aren't kids. I am 28 and he is 36 (This will be the second marriage for both of us.) We like the same things and he is very easy to get along with. One thing worries me. He loves to....

ALSO

 “Bloody Christmas” on the Daily Mirror
Continue reading »

Santa Claus Is No Ordinary Man!





  Dec. 23, 1960, Comics  


Dec. 23, 1960: Take that, Sluggo, you gender-stereotyping clod!

On the jump, a “legless World War II veteran” is charged with having 250 reels of stag films…. Jack Smith goes Christmas shopping and finds his fellow human beings a bit lacking in the holiday spirit … bridge expert Alfred Sheinwold says the four of clubs is a card of warning … and Pope John XXIII reads his Christmas message.

The Times said: “The pontiff dedicated much of his message ... to the subject of truth.  He especially appealed to all engaged in mass communication -- press, radio, television, movies -- to dedicate themselves to it.”


ALSO

7 Men, Woman, Arrested in Lewd Film Racket, Oct. 24, 1957

King of Obscene Films Kills Self in Chicago, Sept. 14, 1947

Continue reading »

Grim Sleeper No. 119, Details





Grim Sleeper 119, Detail Grim Sleeper 119, Detail

A curtain or some type of fabric can be seen in Grim Sleeper No. 119, which has been identified, according to the Daily Beast, as victim Janecia Peters. I thought it would be interesting to see if I could find a similar background in any of the other photos, but I couldn’t. The LAPD has removed this photo from its website and although it’s still in The Times’ photo gallery, I felt there was no point in reposting it in its entirety. 

ALSO

Grim Sleeper, Interiors
Grim Sleeper, Interiors 2
Grim Sleeper, Interiors 3
Grim Sleeper Nos. 4 and 52
Grim Sleeper Nos. 48-49

Grim Sleeper Nos. 51-53
Grim Sleeper Nos. 56-57
Grim Sleeper Nos. 59 and 81
Grim Sleeper Nos. 75-78, labrets
Grim Sleeper Nos. 75 and 77, Kendreay
Grim Sleeper No. 91
Grim Sleeper Nos. 96-96, Maxine
Grim Sleeper No. 139, The Mail Slot
Grim Sleeper Nos. 141-142, Deborah B. Cleveland
Grim Sleeper No. 149
Grim Sleeper No. 166, Ms. D. Johnson




Grim Sleeper, Interiors 3




  Grim Sleeper 118  
  Grim Sleeper No. 118  

Although some images show a window blocked with tinfoil (Interiors, 2) a few photos show windows blocked with  what appears to be a paper bag attached with blue masking tape.

ALSO

Grim Sleeper, Interiors
Grim Sleeper, Interiors 2
Grim Sleeper Nos. 4 and 52
Grim Sleeper Nos. 48-49

Grim Sleeper Nos. 51-53
Grim Sleeper Nos. 56-57
Grim Sleeper Nos. 59 and 81
Grim Sleeper Nos. 75-78, labrets
Grim Sleeper Nos. 75 and 77, Kendreay
Grim Sleeper No. 91
Grim Sleeper Nos. 96-96, Maxine
Grim Sleeper No. 139, The Mail Slot
Grim Sleeper Nos. 141-142, Deborah B. Cleveland
Grim Sleeper No. 149
Grim Sleeper No. 166, Ms. D. Johnson



 

  Grim Sleeper 88  
  Grim Sleeper No. 88  




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