The Daily Mirror

Los Angeles history

The Daily Mirror Is Moving

  Feb. 27, 1931, Bekins  

I’m moving to

Henry Fuhrmann, one of the assistant managing editors at The Times, likes to say: “Always take the high road. The view is nicer up there.”

Henry is my friend, as well as my supervisor, and he and Mark McGonigle, my boss, have been strong supporters of the Daily Mirror, even when the decision was made at a higher level to shut it down. (And don’t worry; I’m still working as a copy editor on the Metro desk.)

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Movieland Mystery Photo

  June 11, 2011, Mystery Photo  
  Los Angeles Times file photo  

You may recognize this photo because I ran it a few years ago. But it’s one of my favorites. This fellow was branded with a very certain stereotype that he played in countless films, so I like to see him out of character.

As some of you know, the Daily Mirror is being killed by The Times in a pruning of blogs with low traffic. I’ll post a longer farewell next week, but I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for participating in the mystery photos. They were my most popular feature.

Through the mystery photos, I got to know “the brain trust,” a corps of readers with a humbling knowledge of film. My first criteria in selecting mystery guests was that I didn’t know who they were, so in almost every case (aside from my two-week binge on Lucille Ball and a few other exceptions) I couldn’t identify any of them. And they proved to be a wonderful history lesson for me: Trixie Friganza … Jack Mulhall … Julian Eltinge … Pier Angeli. 

I had an agenda with these pictures, though I don’t think anyone ever realized what I was up to. Most people saw the pictures as a daily movie quiz that was (at least ideally) fairly challenging. And that was fine.

But the mystery pictures were actually a years-long photo essay on fame and forgetfulness. Nearly every image I posted was of someone who was once a prominent performer – and yet look at  how dimly most of them are remembered. 

In some ways,  the indignant responses were the most perversely rewarding:  “Am I supposed to know who that is?” No, you’re not. That’s the point: The stars of today are the obscure nobodies of tomorrow. Alas, that’s a lesson that some of Hollywood’s current problem children haven’t learned.

Thanks for reading.... Keep checking next week for a final farewell post that ties up all the loose ends from the last four years.

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Movieland Mystery Photo [Updated]

  June 6, 2011, Mystery Photo  
  Los Angeles Times file photo  

[Update: Elisabeth Bergner: The German star, seen previously here as "Catherine the Great," displays her versatile genius in "Escape Me Never," at the Four Star, her art being hailed as more exquisite on the screen, even, than in the stage play, in which she appeared recently in New York, in a photo stamped June 16, 1935.

[Update: Please congratulate Dewey Webb, Eve Golden, Steve Stoliar, Steven Bibb, Anne Papineau, Mike Hawks, Gregory Moore, Jenny M and Mary Mallory for identifying our mystery guest!]

Here’s our mystery gal!

There’s a new photo on the jump!

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Army Clears Strikers at North American Aviation


  June 10, 1941, Comics  

  June 10, 1941, North American Strike  

June 10, 1941: Bill Henry files a color story on soldiers using rifles with bayonets to herd strikers away from the North American Aviation plant. Unfortunately, my new optical character recognition software can’t handle these old clips, so I have to post the images of the stories. Henry’s story is worth reading.

Also on the jump, Ethel Waters stars in “Cabin in the Sky.”
Jimmie Fidler says: On the newsstands this month is a magazine which features an astrological analysis of Cary Grant's present status and future prospects... The birthday used in preparing Grant's chart was 1909, a date given out in a studio publicity department biography. Cary's real birth year was 1904!

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Found on EBay – 1909 Mayor's Race

Aug. 2, 1916, George A Smith Obituary March 12, 1909, George A. Smith


A campaign button for George A. Smith has been listed on EBay. The vendor mistakenly identifies the individual as Mayor George Alexander.

Actually, this is onetime Councilman George A. Smith, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in  1909 against Alexander.

The button is listed as Buy It Now for $7.39.

Coming Attractions – 'Hollywoodland'

Hollywoodland Mary Mallory Mary Mallory, a key member of the Daily Mirror’s “brain trust,”  will be signing copies of her new book “Hollywoodland” from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 11, at Chevalier's Books, 126 N. Larchmont Blvd. More information is available here.

Jim Murray, June 9, 1961

  June 9, 1961, Day In Sports  

  June 9, 1961, Jim Murray  

June 9, 1961: Wrestling isn't even a sport at all. It's a drama in three acts in which a lot of nice old ladies get rid of all their hostilities and aggressions occasioned usually by the fact their daughters-in-law don't make pies the way they used to or won't let them give fudge to the grandchildren.

Wrestling today still has the simple basic plot of a medieval morality play. There's a good guy and a bad guy. The good guy loses all the way up to the end when the bad guy goes too far. Thereupon, the good guy tears him apart like a cat looking for a mouse in a sofa.

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North American Aviation Strike

  June 6, 1941, North American Aviation Strike  
  Photograph by the Los Angeles Times  

Labor activists picket the North American Aviation plant in a photo published June 6, 1941.

  April 17, 1941, Reds  

June 7, 1941, Industrial Freedom One of the first challenges in studying the 1941 North American Aviation strike is using The Times as source material.

The newspaper had been a vocal opponent of organized labor since the 19th century and became even more strident after the 1910 bombing of The Times Building by union activists. The motto “True Industrial Freedom” appeared on the nameplate for years and “TRVE INDVSTRIAL FREEDOM” is carved into the building.  

April 17, 1941, Reds Given its other pronouncements, I wouldn’t expect The Times editorial page to be impartial, but news stories ought to be a different matter. Here’s what I consider an example of dubious reporting. This April 17, 1941, Times story leads with the statement that a UAW contract proposed for North American Aviation workers would forbid "barring of Communist Party members."

Further down, the story quotes the precise wording of the contract, which is a far broader statement forbidding discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, political affiliations “or nativity of his parents or ancestors.”  Notice that it doesn’t mention anything about gender. In this era, of course, loyalty oaths were supposed to weed out subversives – but that’s another story. 

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Mayor Accuses LAPD of Spying on Political Supporters

  June 9, 1961, Comics  


June 9, 1961: Mayor-elect Sam Yorty comes out swinging, with charges that the LAPD was spying on his supporters, and he takes a little shot against The Times. Police Chief William H. Parker quickly disputed Yorty's allegations, saying they were "patently false." 

The relationship between the mayor of Los Angeles and the police chief is one of the most essential – and conflicted – in local  government (think of Chief Daryl F. Gates and Mayor Tom Bradley, who didn’t even speak to each other).  And I cannot recall a honeymoon that was shorter than the one between Yorty and Parker.

ps. That ticking time bomb you hear is the Watts riots, set to explode in August  1965.

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Random Shot – Downtown

  Banksy Vanished  
  Photograph by Larry Harnisch / Los Angeles Times  

Don’t go looking for this. It’s gone. I found it the other day while walking from The Times to the library, but when I went back Tuesday to show it to someone, it had been painted out. 

'Hunchback Killer' Arrested, June 8, 1941


  June 8, 1941, Hunchback Killer  


June 8, 1941: For some time, I have been coming across stories about Alfred Horace Wells in going through the 1941 clips -- “hunchback killer” is not a nickname that’s easy to forget. But I haven’t done anything on him until now because the story is strange and complicated. Here’s a hint: It was so lurid that during Wells’ trial, the courtroom was cleared of minors because it involved what The Times demurely described as “an unnatural relationship.” It’s not quite in Ma Duncan territory, but what is?

Jimmie Fidler says: If you are posted on Hollywood doings, you know that every studio is now staging an intense, high-pressure production drive.... Why all this rush? ... It looks to me as if the studios are concentrating production now with the intention of shutting down for three or four months next fall.
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From the Stacks – 'In the Wrong Rain' (1959)

  Wrong Rain Title  

Hope died in the opening lines of “In the Wrong Rain,” and optimism succumbed a few pages later. Duty ground stubbornly ahead for a chapter or two before collapsing as well. Curiosity thumbed randomly through the book and then tossed it aside with a sigh of regret. It is often said -- at least by me -- that failure is sometimes more interesting than success, rather like reassembling the wreckage of a jetliner to determine why it crashed, killing everyone on board. 

This is not one of those times. 

“In the Wrong Rain” is dismal union of two musty themes of the 1950s. Think of it as “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit Meets Lolita.” If this were to be made into a film, it would star Jeff Chandler, Laurence Harvey or some other wooden leading man of the era as the inwardly tortured postwar executive; June Allyson or Donna Reed as his two-dimensional, cardboard wife; and Sandra Dee as the teenage jailbait daughter of an old college friend who comes to town.


Robert R. Kirsch on Raymond Chandler

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