The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: Television

The Incomparable Stan Freberg, II

Aug. 9, 1960, Stan Freberg

Aug. 9-10, 1960: Here are Parts 2 and 3 of Ursula Baumann’s profile of Stan Freberg.

"Mad Men" please take note: “I'm a bitter pill to Madison Avenue because I represent originality and freshness of approach -- the kind of thing that seldom sees the light of day in advertising. The best things done on Madison Avenue are still in the desk drawers of the copywriters who wrote them."

He says he would starve before he played Las Vegas. "I don't want to help people lose money they can't afford. And that's all an entertainer is there for -- to be a professional shill."

As for being a perfectionist: "The worst two phrases in the world today are 'It's good enough' and 'Nobody will know the difference.' If it isn't perfect -- or as close as you can make it -- it's NOT good enough. And somebody WILL know the difference."

Baumann says: Freberg credits much of his success to his meticulous craftsmanship, but adds: "It was chance and luck. And I think God has a lot to do with it -- I give God a lot of credit for my success."

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The Incomparable Stan Freberg


Young persons: If you have never heard of Stan Freberg, you are in for a delight. His comedy sketches from the 1950s and ’60s were sharp, clever and polished and many of them make “Saturday Night Live” look like a high school talent show.   Speaking of talent, Freberg had the best: June Foray (the voice of Rocky the Squirrel and Natasha Fatale) and Daws Butler (the voice of Quick Draw McGraw and Yogi Bear). [Note: a previous version of this post said Yogi Berra. We should know better. We remember Yogi Berra and Yogi Bear and we remember the difference unless we are having a senior moment].

By 1960, Freberg, Butler and animator Bob Clampett had worked on “Time for Beany” a  popular children’s show in the early days of television (be warned: The shows are primitive). Freberg had also pioneered a series of comedy records like “St. George and the Dragonet” (with Foray and Butler)  and hosted a radio show that was canceled after 15 episodes.

In the first of a three-part series from August 1960, Freberg tells the Mirror’s Ursula Baumann “I’d like to become a great humorist.”  In fact, he already was one.

Fortunately, much of Freberg’s material is available at, like his 1957 show on CBS. Freberg also created a series of comedy ads for Chun King Chow Mein, like this one from 1966.
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Police Detective Alleges Corruption

Sept. 26, 1979, Donald Wicklund
Sept. 26, 1979

June 27, 1980, Donald Wicklund


June 27, 1980: After more than 1,000 hours of investigation, the district attorney's office closes its inquiry into Det. Donald Wicklund’s charges of misconduct in the Los Angeles Police Department, ending a messy, complicated case involving a TV production company’s loan to a police official and the unauthorized leak of police files for a movie script. Deputy Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti, who was then the head of the special investigations division, said none of Wicklund’s allegations had been substantiated.

The accusations,  which gradually emerged after Wicklund’s Sept. 26, 1979, interview on KABC-TV Channel 7, involved a 1976  internal affairs investigation he helped conduct in the unauthorized release of the “Skid Row Slasher” files by Deputy Chief George N. Beck, one of the senior officers in the case. Beck was suspended for 10 days and demoted from assistant chief to deputy chief over the incident, The Times said. Police Chief Daryl Gates, who led the investigation of the release of the “Slasher” files when he was assistant chief, said Beck was guilty of nothing more than using bad judgment.

"The investigation revealed that Beck had obtained a $42,500 loan for use in the construction of a new home from an executive of a television production company,” The Times said on Oct. 10, 1979. "Help in arranging the loan, which was repaid shortly after being made, came from Sanford Lang, a television production assistant who often golfed with Beck."

"Wicklund has described Lang as the connection between Beck and two men allegedly associated with organized crime figures," The Times said.   Lang told The Times: "I don't know anybody in organized crime."

The investigation of Wicklund’s corruption charges also cleared two police supervisors in the North Hollywood Division, Police Capt. Norman Judd and Police Capt. Stephen Gates, the brother of Chief Gates.

As the case unfolded, Chief Gates sharply criticized the Herald Examiner and KABC-TV for unfair and inaccurate reporting.  Chief Gates said of the accusations against Judd: "We knew when it was first brought to the news media's attention that there was absolutely no truth to these allegations ... but for some newsmen to pick up on those kinds of accusations have done nothing but punish the reputation of a very fine officer."

After the dust had settled, Gates said he never doubted Wicklund’s sincerity  but said the detective should have gone to the proper authorities instead of making his accusations on a TV show.

Beck later filed a $3-million defamation suit against KABC-TV, although a search of the clips fails to show any resolution of the case.  In October 1980, a judge dismissed a class-action libel suit by all uniformed LAPD officers against ABC and Channel 7 Eyewitness News, ruling that case law prohibits a large group from recovering damages for defamation.

On the jump, The Times’ stories on the Wicklund case, beginning the day after the TV program aired.

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On the Frontiers of Medicine, June 13, 1960

June 13, 1960, Editorial Cartoon

June 13, 1960: The gist of Bruce Russell’s cartoon seems to be that speeding is bad. Either that or driving through a huge skull is dangerous.

On the jump, bone marrow injections offer hope for cancer patients, and TV viewers request a rerun of a "The Margaret Bourke-White Story" starring Teresa Wright with Eli Wallach as Alfred Eisenstaedt.
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Kennedy, Reagan Take California Primaries

June 4, 1980, Reagan

June 3, 1980, Reagan

June 4, 1980: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and former California Gov. Ronald Reagan take the California primaries in the presidential race. A Times poll finds that two-thirds of the Democrats who voted in the primary say Kennedy should drop out in the interest of party unity now that President Carter has enough delegates to clinch the nomination.

On the jump, a bomb explodes in the Story Room in the base of the Statue of Liberty. The blast occurred at 7:25 p.m., after the last ferry boat of the day had left Liberty Island, The Times says. The bombing was later attributed to Croatian terrorists.

And TV columnist Howard Rosenberg looks at changes in the way television covers elections. In case you’re wondering, Rosenberg refers to "Death of a Princess," a sensational British TV dramatization -- now mostly forgotten -- about the 1977 execution of Saudi Arabian princess Mishaal, 19, for adultery. Mishaal was killed by a firing squad and her lover was decapitated. “Princess” is not on Netflix, but you can watch it here.

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Voices, Gary Coleman, 1968 – 2010

Nov. 3, 1978, Diff'rent Strokes
“Diff’rent Strokes” premieres, Nov. 3, 1978

March 2, 1979: "It's always the same. Three minutes. And me and George Carlin was just gettin' into it," Gary Coleman tells Howard Rosenberg about an appearance on "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson."

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Make Way for Tomorrow

May 25, 1950, Gilmore Stadium Sold

May 25, 1950: Gilmore Stadium, a major link to the history of sports in Los Angeles, will be demolished to make room for the new home of CBS television.

"Nobody knows how big this television industry is going to be," a CBS spokesman told The Times. "But we have to be prepared."

There were few details about CBS' plans, but The Times' front-page story noted that the facility would produce "full color television."

What was clear was the end of Gilmore Stadium. The facility was a busy and well-used site for decades, having been host to football, boxing, wrestling, rodeos, bicycle and motorcycle races and for a short time minor league baseball. Among the college football teams affected by the sale of Gilmore Stadium were Loyola University and Pepperdine College, as the schools were then called.

The Times noted that the sale of Gilmore Stadium would not affect Gilmore Field, the home of the Pacific Coast League's Hollywood Stars. Of course, it would be only a matter of time before Gilmore Field and the Stars would be gone as well.

-- Keith Thursby

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Man Gets 20 Days for Hitting Physicist Edward Teller With Pie

May 24, 1980, Teller


May 24, 1980: Jerry Rubin (no, not the Chicago 7 Jerry Rubin) gets 20 days in jail for hitting Edward Teller in the face with a cream pie during a UCLA lecture.

On the jump, the Soaps column by the late Jon-Michael Reed (d. 1986) with the latest on GH and Y&R! 
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Movie Star Mystery Photo

May 17, 2010, Mystery Photo 
Los Angeles Times file photo

I’m calling this series of mystery photos “Lucille Ball and Friends.” In going through The Times’ files of Ball photos, I was struck by the number of unfamiliar images.  We’ve all seen the stills of Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory.  These photos were different – the unknown Lucy.

I especially like this photo because it shows Ball with a group of aspiring actors and actresses she had under contract in her project to provide the kind of training she received early in her career. Here they were in 1959, having achieved some measure of success, and yet I didn’t recognize a single one of them. And aren't the outfits great? So 1950s!

The Times’ clips provide the names of the Desilu Workshop Theater members, but the people aren’t identified on the back of the photo. See if you can match the names with the faces:

Jerry Antes, Bob Barran, Majel Barrett, Janice Carroll, Carole Cook, Georgine Darcy, Dick Kalman, Marilyn Lovell, Fran Martin, Gary Menteer, Johnny O'Neill, Bob Osborne, Roger Perry, Howie Storm, Mark Tobin and Bob Trevis.

And yes, there are 14 unidentified people and 16 names. Welcome to the world of unlabeled photos.

May 17, 2010, Mystery Photo 
Los Angeles Times file photo

May 17, 2010, Mystery Photo
Los Angeles Times file photo

Just a reminder on how this works: I post the mystery photo on Monday and reveal the answer on Friday ... or on Saturday if I have a hard time picking only five pictures; sometimes it's difficult to choose. To keep the mystery photo from getting lost in the other entries, I move it from Monday to Tuesday to Wednesday, etc., adding a photo every day.

I have to approve all comments, so if your guess is posted immediately, that means you're wrong. (And if a wrong guess has already been submitted by someone else, there's no point in submitting it again).

If you're right, you will have to wait until Friday. There's no need to submit your guess five times. Once is enough. The only reward is bragging rights. 

The answer to last week's mystery star: Lucille Ball and friends! The weekend mystery guest was Otis Chandler!

There’s a new photo on the jump!
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Charles Champlin on ‘Haywire’

May 14, 1980, Haywire

May 14, 1980: Charles Champlin on the making of “Haywire,” the TV movie based on the book by Brooke Hayward. The project, which was scaled back from a mini-series to a three-hour show, evoked painful memories for the surviving family members, Champlin says.  The show includes a credit to “Ivan Davis,” a pseudonym, and casting was quite problematic. Bill Hayward wanted Jane Fonda to play Margaret Sullavan, but Fonda didn't like "Haywire" for undisclosed reasons and wasn't approached, Champlin says.

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Talking With Sid Caesar

May 9, 1980, Sid Caesar

May 9, 1980, Sid Caesar

May 9, 1980: Times’ Pulitzer winner Howard Rosenberg, in top form, interviews Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. Caesar talks about Mel Brooks … and “Saturday Night Live.”

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Talking With the Dodgers’ Vince ‘the Voice’ Scully

May 8, 1960, Vin Scully
May 8, 1960, Vin Scully

May 8, 1960:  The headline would make any Dodger fan shudder: "Vince Scully Turns Back Pages to Worst Moments Before Mike."

The story by The Times' Jeane Hoffman actually was an entertaining conversation with the Dodgers' broadcaster about his career. The Dodgers had been knocked off the radio for three innings during a game at the Coliseum April 30 so the story's hook allowed Scully to tell about other mishaps.

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