United Artists Holds A Party. Who Is The Guest Of Honor?
United Artists Pictures executives, stars and their families attended this dinner party at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles on April 8, 1925. This was an enormous display of Hollywood power brokers in one small room. What was the reason they were there?
Silent screen idol Rudolph Valentino had signed a contract a month earlier with United Artists. When this photograph came up for auction several years ago, it was attributed in the auction that Valentino was the recipient for this gathering.
But that is not the case. Continue reading
Rudolph Valentino Is Not Acting, He’s Actually In Court – 1925
Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguella – aka Rudoplh Valentino, one of the world’s biggest film stars in 1925.
As big as a film star Valentino was it would not prevent him from being compelled to show up in court against his wishes to answer a speeding violation. His crime: going 38 in a 20 mile per hour zone in Santa Monica.
The news caption reads:
Valentino in Court in Screen Costume – Fined $50
Rudolph Valentino, failing in an attempt to have a representative answer speeding charges in court asked to have court held at his studio pleading business pressure. Justice Marchetti became angered demanded Valentino’s appearance and fined him $50. Photo of “The Sheik” in the costume of his latest screen vehicle – 9-11-25 (photo Wide World)
Valentino was not being a prima donna asking the court to come to the studio. Shutting down production for one day of the film he was starring in, “The Eagle” would cost $10,000. More importantly the people who could least afford it, all the extras involved in the filming, would have lost a days wages
On September 8 Justice Marchetti said, “I am sorry that anyone should lose money or be inconvenienced, but the court can show no partiality. Before the law a famous actor is in the same situation as anyone else. The dignity of the law would be compromised, the courts would be made a laughing stock, were I to set up legal machinery in a studio.” Continue reading
6 ½ Hours From L.A. to Santa Barbara (And That’s With No Traffic!)
What has four cylinders, 24 horsepower, weighs 2300 pounds and gets you from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara in just under 6 ½ hours?
A 1904 Peerless automobile. Future millionaire Norman W. Church took out this ad for Peerless in the Sunday, June 5, 1904 Los Angeles Times.
For a trip that today can take three hours with moderate traffic, 6 ½ hours in 1904 is a miracle. The “roads” in 1904 were in a primitive state to say the least. Rural roads were frequently dirt paths filled with rocks and sand. Many times you’d have to drive through a field to get from place to place. Paved roads in California were a rarity, usually found in cities.
The interesting thing about the ad is that the Peerless will make the trip “without a single mechanical adjustment.” That indeed was a rarity as automobiles were constantly being tinkered with. You had to be your own mechanic or bring one with you, as breakdowns were frequent.
You may be wondering if the Los Angeles to Santa Barbara trip took six and a half hours, how quickly in the early 1900s could you drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco? Continue reading
Bennett, Roland, Davies and Fairbanks Party at The Cocoanut Grove -1937
Looking at this picture the first thing you notice is, “It sure looks like these elegant people are having a lot of fun.”
The date is February 10, 1937 and the place is the Cocoanut Grove nightclub located inside the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The people partying were at the time among the biggest stars of Hollywood, past and present. From left to right, Constance Bennett, Gilbert Roland, Marion Davies and Douglas Fairbanks.
Who the party was for I could not find out, but almost every night there was a party at the Cocoanut Grove. In 1940 the Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Cocoanut Grove. The Ambassador Hotel closed to the public in 1989. Amid outcries from preservationists, the hotel was demolished in 2006 with the promise that portions of the hotel would be retained for the future, including the Cocoanut Grove. But due to the poor structural condition of the Cocoanut Grove most of the nightclub was eventually demolished leaving behind just one wall that still stands.
A brief note about the people in the photograph. Continue reading
The First Time It Snowed In Hollywood (and Los Angeles)
Hollywood woke up early yesterday morning (Friday January 15)to welcome the first real snow storm in Southern California’s history. Judith Wood, Paramount screen player who is recovering from an automobile accident, forgot the doctor’s orders and dashed out into the storm shortly after five o’clock. (photo – Paramount, January 15 1932)
Los Angeles Times Jan, 16, 1932 photo coverage of storm (click to enlarge)
When you think of snow, you usually don’t think of Los Angeles. But 84 years ago today Los Angeles residents awoke and were shocked to discover a city covered in snow.
The surprise snowstorm began at 5:00 a.m. and continued for over two hours. The Los Angeles Times said it was “the first official snowfall recorded in the United States Weather Bureau’s fifty-four year existence in the city.”
Snow had fallen before in Los Angeles but never in measurable quantities. Claude Luce, a Los Angeles resident since 1875, said he remembered one inch of snow falling in 1880. Continue reading
Before The Mouse, Humble Beginnings
Robert Disney, Walt Disney’s uncle lived at 4406 Kingswell Avenue in Los Angeles. In the rear of the residence, this garage pictured above, housed the first studio that Walt and Roy Disney used to create their famous cartoon creations.
In the summer of 1923 Walt Disney constructed his first animation camera here and The Disney Bros. Cartoon Studio came into existence. Walt Disney and animator Ub Iwerks created Mickey Mouse five years later in 1928. Today the Disney Company is worth an estimated $141 billion.
The Iron Horse Takes Some Time To Play With The Boys
After the New York Yankees swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1927 World Series, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig went on a barnstorming tour across the country.
This news photograph’s caption reads:
Back To Sandlot Days
Los Angeles- Lou Gehrig, Yankee slugger, is shown here at bat during a sandlot game between kid teams. On his barnstorming trip with Babe Ruth, Lou finds himself as much an idol with the kids as the great Bambino himself. And look at the kid behind the plate, ready to help his pitcher strike out Lou. ——11-2-27
Why Go To The Museum of Contemporary Art or The Getty?
If you live around Los Angeles you may be too busy to go to a museum to see paintings. Luckily or unfortunately depending on your point of view, you can always get your fill of “art” while driving to work.
On the constantly congested 110 Freeway, one can take in up close the utter decay of the city every 6 to 30 feet. That is the range of distance between the supporting pillars of the freeway on the median. There you can admire the ugly, illegible scrawls of grade school drop-outs.
The “Lovely Artwork”
Observations On Hollywood Trash
Director Joseph H. Lewis
Peter Bogdanovich early in his career was a film writer for magazines. Over the years he interviewed many people in the film industry and continued to do so even after becoming a successful director himself. The interviews with directors are compiled in a great book: Who The Devil Made It Conversations With Legendary Film Directors by Peter Bogdanovich (Knopf; 1997).
He interviewed director Joseph H. Lewis (1907-2000) an adept filmmaker best known for his 1950 movie Gun Crazy, a precursor to Arthur Penn’s landmark film, Bonnie and Clyde (1967).
Bogdanovich asked Lewis in 1994, to “define the change that had happened in Hollywood.”
Lewis was able to clearly answer him:
“Yes, I define it one way. When I was a little boy I worked at MGM: I loaded film; from there I became an assistant camera boy; from there, an assistant cutter; from there, the head of a cutting department; from there I became a director. These things don’t happen today. A guy comes up and, yes, he has a script- he wrote it; he’ll let them do it, providing he can direct it. And they go for it.” Continue reading
Dodgers Manager Goes Through Various Emotions – 1955
2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the Los Angeles Dodgers playing at Dodgers Stadium. For the first fifteen of those years at Chavez Ravine, the manager was Walter Alston who was most notably retained by the Dodgers management on a series of one year contracts throughout his career.
Alston started managing the Dodgers in 1954 when they were still in Brooklyn and retired after the 1976 season at the age of 64. During that time Alston won seven NL pennants and four world championships.
This news composite photograph shows Alston managing on June 16, 1955 in Brooklyn against the Cincinnati Reds. Alston shouldn’t have worried so much. After the Reds tied the game 4-4 in the top of the ninth, the Dodgers won the game 5-4 in the bottom of the 9th on a Duke Snider solo homerun, his second homer of the game. Clem Labine picked up his 9th win and the attendance was 6,655.
The Brooklyn Dodgers won only one World Series while in Brooklyn. 1955 would see Alston and the Dodgers defeat the hated New York Yankees in seven thrilling World Series games, sending all of Brooklyn into a delirious state of happiness.
Walter Alston was inducted to the Baseball Hall-of Fame in 1983 and died in 1984 at the age of 72.