The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: Stage

Matt Weinstock, March 29, 1961


  March 29, 1961, Comics  

March 29, 1961: Brendan Behan’s play “The Hostage” is opening in Los Angeles and Matt Weinstock has a few lines about the playwright …  The gagged-up menu at the Writers Guild awards dinner included "Great Impasta," "Aspartacus with Hollandaise Sauce," "Pie Alamo" and "Elmer Gan Tea."
DEAR ABBY: My son is only 17 but big for his age. He is running around with a woman who is far too old for him. She has given him money, bought him gifts and lets him drive her car. Is it any wonder he thinks she is wonderful? Lately he has been spending more time with her than at home. At first, he said she was only a friend, but now...

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Movieland Mystery Photo [Updated]

  March 19, 2011, Mystery Photo  

  Los Angeles Times file photo  

[Update: Yes, this is Portland Hoffa, the wife of radio comedian Fred Allen. I discovered Allen’s radio shows after his death in 1956 and always wondered about the women named Portland Hoffa. In scanning these pictures, I came across news photos that were taken after Allen collapsed and died while out for a walk in New York.  He was 62.]

Nobody identified last weekend’s mystery lady and these are all the photos I had. What to do? Answer: Mystery companion!] 

Here’s our weekend mystery lady….

There’s a new photo on the jump!

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Ex-Columbia Student Blames Drugs for Shooting at Actress

  March 23, 1901, Nameplate  

  March 23, 1901, Shirts  

  March 23, 1901, Wild Act of Youth  

March 23, 1901: The Times has grown to an 18-page paper. One front-page story reports a shooting in the Rathskeller of the Pabst Hotel (d. 1902) at 42nd Street and Broadway in New York, where former Columbia student Robert H. Moulton fired five shots into a party of actors and friends in a booth, slightly injuring a theater manager. Police originally assumed that Moulton was obsessed with  actress May Buckley, who was appearing in “The Price of Peace,” but investigators determined that Moulton had taken so much morphine that he had no idea what he was doing.

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Another Good Story Ruined -- The Black Dahlia

Mady Comfort I received a news alert the other day about an upcoming play titled “The Chanteuse and the Devil’s Muse” in which Daniele Watts will portray Mady Comfort, at left, purportedly “Elizabeth Short's best friend.”

I honestly don’t know how such nonsense gets started.

Mady Comfort was not Short’s “best friend.” There is nothing in any original newspaper accounts or in any official documents to show they ever met.  Comfort did nothing more than pose for photos for Dr. George Hodel, according to “Black Dahlia Avenger.”     Any attempt to link Comfort and Short is nothing but lunacy.

Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood, March 10, 1941

  March 10, 1941, Reds Mass Troops Near Turkey  

  March 10, 1941, Comics  

March 10, 1941: Lee Shippey notes the passing of the Lyceum Theater, formerly the Los Angeles, built in 1888.
Tom Treanor has the story of four visiting opera singers who are so engaged in their discussion of that night’s performance of “Rigoletto” that they don’t notice … but why spoil Treanor’s story?

Jimmie Fidler says SHE'S SLIPPING WHEN: Her producer hints that small parts can be more important than leads ... Nightclub photographers give her a cordial "hello" but save their film ... She begins scoffing at the "artificial pretense" of Hollywood and moves to a smaller house …

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Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood, Feb. 22, 1941

  Feb. 22, 1941, Flooding  

  Feb. 22, 1941, Comics  

Feb. 22, 1941: Los Angeles gets nearly 2 inches of rain in 24 hours, leaving Reseda and Canoga Park virtually cut off because of rising floodwaters, The Times says.

Dr. E.H. Pitts of Sacramento writes a letter to The Times praising countries with sterilization laws that “prevent the birth of babies doomed to lives of misery. These nations  act similarly with their criminals, their blind, their carriers of other inherited diseases.”
Tom Treanor is off again today, so we have another column by Lee Shippey, author of “It’s an Old California Custom” and “Luckiest Man Alive,” among many other books.  Shippey talks about writer Robert Sherwood, whose play "There Shall Be No Night” was about to open.

Hit Parade: "Andy Hardy's Private Secretary." Topper of the Hardy Family series, made more important by the debut of a sure-fire coming star, Kathryn Grayson, Jimmie Fidler says.


Lee Shippey on the Daily Mirror

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On the Trail of the Keystone Kops

  Oct. 25, 1915, Costume Ball
Dec. 11, 1914, Keystone Comedians

  Feb. 28, 1913, Keystone  

Oct. 25, 1915: Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle … and Mayor Sebastian?

The ad for the costume ball is the earliest reference to the “Keystone Kops” that I can find in The Times. However, a little more digging turned up a Dec. 11, 1914, ad that refers to a live performance featuring the Keystone Comedians with the Keystone “Cops.”

One of the first references I found to the Keystone Comedy Co. is a Feb. 28, 1913, article about Mack Sennett taking over a mile of streetcar tracks around Central and Vernon for a picture (possibly “The New Conductor”) starring Ford Sterling.

The earliest reference I can find to Sennett in The Times is the Feb. 20, 1913, story of Barney Oldfield speeding him to rescue Mabel Normand, who had been tied to the railroad tracks. 

Movieland Mystery Photo

 Aug. 28, 2010, Mystery Photo
Los Angeles Times file photo

Photograph by George Lacks / Los Angeles Mirror 

OK, here’s another picture of our mystery woman. And yes, the photo is from the Mirror files.

Update: On the jump, the identity of our mystery guest. Although she was an entertainer, she’s not exactly like our other folks. She has quite a story, though, especially if you have never read about her. I thought she would be a nice change of pace for noir fans who may be a little weary of  The Times bombing.

Here’s our weekend mystery guest. I like to keep things more informal on the weekends so I’ll post all the comments as they come in rather than waiting.

This week’s mystery guest was Aline MacMahon. Her mystery companions were: Marie Nordstrom in Sid Grauman’s stage production of “Once in a Lifetime,” Kaufman and Hart’s satire on Hollywood; Guy Kibbee;  an unidentified fellow; and Robert Knapp, who appeared with her on stage in "The Madwoman of Chaillot."

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L.A. Makes Theater Censor Billboards for Play

Aug. 3, 1910, Budweiser

Aug. 3, 1910: Remember that beer is a health drink – like “liquid bread.” On the jump, the manager of the Grand Operahouse is arrested for violating the city’s billboard laws over posters for “Queen of the Highway.” Accompanied by a police officer, a worker went around Los Angeles and covered up the offending portions of the posters, “showing pictures of holdups, fights and other scenes in which weapons were freely exhibited.”

Unfortunately, I’m unable to locate any copies of these posters. It would be interesting to know what they looked like.

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The Fight of the Century

July 1, 1910, JackJohnson

Jeffries to Win

July 3, 1910, Pray for Johnson

July 5, 1910, Great White Hope

July 5, 1910, Jack London

July 1-5, 1910: The Times’ Harry Carr writes from Reno: "The 'battle of the century' made me think of nothing so much as the butchery of an old bull.

"When, at the end of the 15th round, old Jeff lay, half through the ropes, smeared with blood, the light all gone out of his eyes, stricken and helpless, I half expected him to give the 'moo' of a dying bull.

"When the moving pictures are shown I think you will see a strange thing -- that Jeffries lay in the exact attitude of the statue ‘The Dying Gladiator,' as he was being counted out, with this addition: The group will have another figure, a tigerish, fierce black giant standing over the bleeding gladiator, his terrible fists waiting.

"I felt sorry for poor, old Jeff, but most of my pity went out to the black man.

"I never before saw any human soul so shaken with fear.

"When the fight began Johnson was so frightened that his face was a deathly, ashen gray. His lips were dry and his eyes were staring with a sort of horrified terror. He seemed utterly friendless.

"Out of that enormous pack of humanity I saw only one face that turned up to him in sympathy. That was the drawn, tragically beautiful face of the white woman who is Johnson's wife."

Here's Johnson's 1931 account of the fight.

On the jump, stories by Jack London and Harry Carr.
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Pavarotti in ‘La Boheme’

June 6, 1980, Pavarotti

June 6, 1980, Pavarotti 

June 6, 1980: With the skill of a surgeon, Martin Bernheimer dissects a performance by operatic sensation Luciano Pavarotti (d. 2007). “He conquered. He came. He sang. In that order,” Bernheimer says.

Notice that in return for agreeing to use a dress rehearsal as a preview, Pavarotti demanded that protege Madelyn Renee replace Diana Soviero as Mimi for one performance. Soviero was understandably upset and told Bernheimer: "I hope I never see San Diego again.”

Oct. 14, 1897, La Boheme

You knew “La Boheme” had its U.S. premiere in Los Angeles, right?  (Oct. 14, 1897).

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On the Frontiers of Medicine, 1910

June 6, 1910, Los Angeles Theater 
Anne Blanche in “Freckles” at the Los Angeles Theater. 

June 6, 1910: Exhibit 1 in the argument that the past was not a kinder, simpler time is Abraham Flexner’s book “Medical Education in the United States and Canada.” The Times reports on Flexner’s shocking and brutally honest study about the dismal quality of many medical schools in the United States. Please notice that in California at this time, medical students weren’t even required to have a high school diploma.  

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