Archive for December, 2010

The Doty Twins Tragedy

Saturday, December 25th, 2010


Weston and Winston Doty; the lost twins from “Peter Pan”





By Allan R. Ellenberger


For nineteen years, Winston and Weston Doty, twin brothers, lived together, went together and developed the close comradeship that comes only to boys of their kind until the Montrose flood swept down on them during a New Year’s Eve party and ended their lives.


Weston and Winston, the twin sons of Clarence “Jack” Doty – radio actor and one time leading man for Edna Park – and Olive Nance Naylor, were born on February 18, 1914 in Malta, Ohio. Before the twins were five years old, their parents separated and Olive moved the family to Los Angeles where she gained employment at the Palmer Photo Play Corporation. It was here that she formed connections to get the twins into films. Weston was originally named Wilson at birth; however once he began appearing in films with his brother, his name was changed.



Winston and Weston Doty in “One Terrible Day” (1922)


The Doty twins film credits included a few Our Gang shorts and as the twin Lost Boys in the 1924 version of Peter Pan starring Betty Bronson. The pair were talented radio performers and, at the age of 15, they graduated from Venice High School. In 1931-32 they attended the architectural school of the University of Southern California where they gained more fame as cheer leaders for the Trojans’ football team. Unfortunately after two years they had to drop out to earn enough money to complete their schooling.


On Sunday evening, December 31, 1933, the boys left their home at 1026 Amoroso Place, Venice to attend a New Year’s party given by Henry Hesse at 2631 Manhattan Avenue in Montrose. Weston escorted Mary Janet Cox to the party and Winston took Gladys Fisher. A steady rain had been falling in Los Angeles since early Saturday morning. The chief topic that evening – besides the rain – was the next day’s Rose Bowl game between Stanford and Columbia Universities.


At midnight, the twins called their mother and wished her a happy new year.  It was the last time she would hear their voices. A short time later, Henry Hesse heard water rushing around the house. He stepped to a rear door, just in time to see the porch swept away. Rushing inside he grabbed his wife, ran for another exit and shouted: “Everybody get out!”


As the party guests reached the outside, they stepped off into several feet of swirling water as the walls of the home crumbled. Hesse said he held to his wife and battled the constantly rising waters to the street, then grabbed a floating tree trunk, placed his wife astride it and started to swim. Three blocks from their demolished home the log rammed into a concrete wall, where the two held on safely until the waters subsided.



Above is Manhattan Avenue, Montrose after the New Years flood in 1934 where the Hesse house once stood and where the Doty twins lost their lives (lapl)



On New Year’s Day, searchers found Winston and Weston’s bodies lying close together in the debris in the Verdugo Wash. Mary escaped the flood but Gladys was also drowned. Once the flood waters had subsided, a total of 35 people had lost their lives that night.




Funeral services for 19 year-old Winston and Weston Doty were conducted at the Union Congregational Church in Venice followed by cremation at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica, where they are interred. The following year, their father Jack died alone from a heart attack in a Chicago hotel.








Holiday Greetings

Saturday, December 25th, 2010


Merry Christmas from Hollywoodland





Celebrity Christmas Cards

Friday, December 24th, 2010


Hollywood Christmas Cards




By Alma Whitaker
Christmas 1928


Christmas Eve round the fire – opening joyous piles of Christmas cards. Perhaps not quite so many utterly luxurious ones from Hollywood this year – because, oh, well, the “talkies” and other things have marred the prosperity of a few.


Five beautiful religious ones. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner (Louise Dresser) send an exquisite Madonna and Babe, with lambs, against a Holy Land background, the whole giving a church window effect. Mr.  and Mrs. Antonio Moreno, a blissful Holy Baby, seemingly sleeping in a celestial spotlight. Ramon Novarro an impressionistic version of the Madonna and Babe, outlined in heavy blue with golden haloes. John Boyce Smith, a white embossed view of the Holy Land, with camels and donkeys, palms and mosques, against a golden sky.


Lina Basquette, a snow mountain against a black sky, with two elongated emaciated sleighers floating down it. Doris Dawson, gilded Christmas trees against a turquoise sky and an unknown animal. Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Lowe, two elongated attenuated dancers on a few blue leaves.


Tec-Art Studios go in for heavy parchment, a terra cotta city and a palm higher than a church steeple. Billie Dove and Irving Willat send three emaciated reindeer racing down a black rainbow across a purple sky, with a yellow moon. Fanchon Royer’s card, red on silver, shows a very Mephistophelian gentleman apparently making offerings to some Christmas candles. Warner Baxter goes in for black and gold voluptuous architecture against a gray sky striped with red and gold.


Elegant simplicity is favored by Dick Barthelmess – white embossed crest on an expensive white background, and no vulgar originality about the greeting. Bebe Daniels has a gold crest on aristocratic gray, winged griffin rampant, motto, “Semper Paratus.” Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Goldwyn’s crest on gold and red is made up of a red S and gold G. Lois Weber and Harry Gantz send chaste open-work greetings in gold. William Cowan and Leonore Coffee’s crest is apparently a fist with a laurel wreath – motto, “Invictus maneo.” Estelle Taylor leaves Jack [Dempsey] off her cards and sends “Estelle” laced into a tulip leaf.


Now we come to the intentionally comic. Distinctive among these is a regular bill poster from James Cruze and Betty Compson, filled with naughty caricatures of their guests. That one deserves a story all to itself. Every kind of guest gets a dirty dig – the one who drinks too much, stays too late, sits on good chairs in wet bathing suits, makes tactless remarks, ruins flower beds, et al. Well, the only time they invited me, they forgot – and had already dined. I’m going to get a naughty one out on hosts one of these days.


Johnny Hines pictures himself playing golf and shouting “Fore” – “for good times”… which, really now, might be telling ‘em to get out of the way. Colleen Moore, made up as Topsy, is gazing woefully at us from a green card, and the greeting properly Topsyish – in Colleen’s own hand-writing. Katherine Albert sends greetings in ten languages – but no English. Francine and Morse Mason come violently cubistic and very nude. The Milton Sills send three pairs of socks on a laundry line – ostensibly belonging to Milton, Doris and Baby. Dorothy Yost and Dwight Cummings give us a Christmas scenario of ourselves. Ida Koverman could not resist a touch of politics – big candles, elephants, amongst the persiflage, on wrapping paper. Some of the other “comic” ones are a trifle labored, so we won’t expose them.


And then come the pile of the simple little ordinary cards – the kind I send myself. Some of them with darling little personal messages, all of them sweetly sentimental, some of them home-made – every whit as precious as the expensive, gorgeous ones. Most of those listed above are frightfully stylish, and came in envelopes as grand as the cards themselves. I counted fifteen that cost over 10 cents postage!



Name the starlets!

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010


From Hollywood!







Okay, how many did you guess. Most everyone recognized Shelly Winters but what about the rest. Here they are:
Christmas was held at the Hollywood Canteen with Santa giving gifts to each serviceman attending. Group photo taken of starlets Shelly Winters, Lynn Merrick, Maxine Fife, Leslie Brooks, Santa Claus (Eddie Cantor), and some of the servicemen at the Canteen Christmas celebration.
Photo dated: December 27, 1943.



Steve Landesberg’s Obituary

Monday, December 20th, 2010


Steve Landesberg dies; comic actor played intellectual detective on sitcom ‘Barney Miller’



The New York native joined the cast in 1976 as Dietrich, whom a Times reviewer once referred to as ‘infuriatingly cerebral.’


By Keith Thursby
Los Angeles Times
December 21, 2010


Steve Landesberg, a comic actor who played the intellectual Det. Arthur Dietrich in the long-running ABC sitcom “Barney Miller,” has died. He was believed to be 74.


Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Steve Landesberg



An oral history by Sally Taft Teschke

Saturday, December 18th, 2010


“When Hollywood and I were babies”



By Sally Taft Teschke
December 2, 1934


They called me Hollywood’s “first while child,” which is not true, of course, since the Spanish Californians were there before us and quite as “white” as I. But I am the first Anglo-Saxon to be born in that part of the Cahuenga Valley now called Hollywood, and I am not a doddering pioneer either!


That is the remarkable thing about this city of Hollywood, familiar as it is to people everywhere in the world. It is so young that a person just approaching middle-age like myself can be the first child and not have to mumble recollections of the “old days” through toothless gums.


My father is Alfred Z. Taft, now living in Nogales, Arizona. Our family home was at Fifth and Hill Street but the city was becoming too crowded in 1892 so with the spirit of the pioneer, he moved out into the Cahuenga Valley.  On a picnic one day before the removal my father and mother were eating their lunch on the present site of the Griffith planetarium (Observatory). Investigating a mewing noise in the brush they found some mountain lion cubs. The lions often came down into the chicken yards at night.


Even such a wild setting did not disturb those folks of mine. They established our new home where Taft and Hollywood Boulevard intersect today. And there, in the year of the World’s Fair at Chicago, I was born.


An early recollection was of the “dummy” steam engine which ran along Hollywood Boulevard (then Prospect Avenue). There were seven Taft children and the engineer of that primitive street car always had to stop in front of our house to remove one or more of the Tafts from his track.


In 1905 we had a snowstorm which blanketed the hills and groves of the valley with a white, cold substance quite strange to us. It seems to me that the snowfall was much heavier than the one of 1932. Of course we had read about snow men, and every yard had one that day.


While oranges were very popular with the tourists who came out via the Pacific Electric’s “balloon” route excursion the most profitable crop grown in Hollywood were lemons.  From less than ten acres my father one year received an income of $17,000. In and about the streets today you can still catch a glimpse of the relics of the famous old citrus orchards which once flourished here.  Another valuable crop was tomatoes, the corner of Highland and Hollywood being purchased one year for $2,500, the money being made by the buyer from five acres of tomatoes planted there.


One of the features of the Pacific Electric’s excursion among the orange groves was that the tourist was told he could actually pick a real orange off the tree.  So when the cars came through each day we would have to protect our groves from the devouring hands of tourists.


The original boundaries of Hollywood were the present Normandy, La Brea and Fountain Avenues with the hills on the north making the fourth side.  It was Mrs. H. H. Wilcox, later Mrs. Philo T. Beveridge, who first named the Cahuenga Valley settlement, Hollywood. She chose it because of the beautiful western holly bushes which were as thick as sage brush everywhere.


We had no need for a newspaper in Hollywood. Our telephone was a ten party line, each subscriber having a “ring.” Ours was one long and four short. You can imagine how thrilling it was to count each ring and calculate who was getting a message. Sometimes when you said “hello” you could hear nine more faint clicks as receivers all along the line were lifted.


Hollywood High School started in a store under a Masonic Hall on Highland Avenue in 1903. I went there, when I came of age, and my father was a member of the board of trustees. When the question of annexation to the city of Los Angeles came up the school board decided to sort of even up accounts.  Since the Hollywood village tax rate was very low and, by annexation, the residents would be assuming the higher Los Angeles rats, the board figured we might as well have a fine, large school. So they voted a large bond issue to purchase the present school properties at Sunset and Highland and the city of Los Angeles had to take it over along with our other debts and assets.


The principal of our grammar school was a jolly soul. He had musical inclinations and took them out on his classes. I can see him entering our room, asking if we had a great deal of work to do, then bringing in his banjo and entertaining us for the rest of the day. Today this affable gentleman is an assistant superintendent of city schools and probably would not approve of such informal education.


Incidentally, discussions of early land prices while rather overdone now still intrigue some. My grandfather bought the entire block between Fourth and Fifth, Hill and Olive Streets for $9.80 at a tax sale. It was on this site that Henry Hazard’s Pavilion later stood. It was the show place of the town. I know that before buying in Hollywood my father debated the purchase of a place between Twelfth and Pico Streets on Hill, but decided that $200 was too high.


Before the advent of the movies Hollywood was almost a pastoral setting. We lived a country life, almost like that of an English countryside. I regret the loss of that atmosphere, naturally, but I do not particularly resent the evolution into what we have now.


The present Hollywood Boulevard is the most disillusioning street in the world. A great opportunity was lost in not retaining its simplicity and natural beauty. For a world famed street it is probably the ugliest.


One thing that has made my blood boil was the wanton destruction of trees and landmarks in the name of progress. The dynamiting of the old homestead in Hollywood where General Cahuenga signed a treaty in the famous battle of Fremont to my mind was almost criminal.


That urge to do away with the past did not exist in the Hollywood of thirty years ago. I cannot help but think that our town banker was more interested in the character and integrity of the men to whom he loaned money than in their financial standing. Our merchants were the same way.


Hollywood was a very moral and temperate center. No saloons, pool halls, gambling or card playing were permitted. In fact one man was tried in court for taking a drink in the Hollywood Hotel. Perhaps we were strait laced. Those who wanted to do these things could step over into nearby communities.


But with the movie invasion all this changed. At first the residents tried to stop these strangers from taking over our streets and homes in the machinations of their queer business. We, or out families, were afraid that their children would be thoroughly demoralized.


Like all children we youngsters delighted in watching movies in the making. And soon the excitement began to spread to the parents. After all it was quite thrilling to see your own home on the screen. And to comment on how poorly the neighbor’s homes looked in certain scenes.  The money paid for rental of a property was a subtle poison that finally broke down all barriers against the studios.


I had a natural flair for dramatics. When the old Universal Studio first began operating I had a terrific ambition to become an actress. So I took full advantage of the opportunity and applied at Universal. I appeared in three pictures before my teachers and family caught on. When my shame was discovered you may be sure that the penalties were in accord.


One thing I have noticed in travelling is a universal curiosity about Hollywood’s “wild parties.” People will not believe me when I tell them I was born and brought up here, have friends and circulate in studio circles and have never witnessed nor actually talked with those who were alleged to have participatge in one of these much publicized orgies. Our Hollywood wild parties started usually with roller skating and ended with taffy pulls.



NOTE: Sarah “Sally” Taft was born to Alfred Z. Taft and his wife Blanche on July 5, 1893 in Hollywood near the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Taft Avenue, which was named for her family. Her father built the Taft Building on the southeast corner of Hollywood and Vine, which still stands. Sally married Ludvik Teschke. a contractor, around 1914 and had three children. She died on September 24, 1973 at the age of 80. She wrote the above article for the Los Angeles Times in 1934.



Nita Naldi Lives!

Friday, December 17th, 2010


Nita Naldi goes live!




If you’re a fan of Nita Naldi, click below to check out the new blog honoring the silent film vamp




Blake Edward’s Obituary

Thursday, December 16th, 2010


Blake Edwards dies at 88; ‘Pink Panther’ director was master of slapstick comedy



Writer-director Blake Edwards was also known for his legendary disputes with studio chiefs, inspiring his Hollywood satire ‘S.O.B.’ He collaborated in film with his wife, Julie Andrews, and his movie ’10’ was a cinematic sensation in the 1970s.


Dennis McLellan,
Los Angeles Times
December 16, 2010


Blake Edwards, a writer-director whose “Pink Panther” comedies with Peter Sellers earned him a reputation as a master of sophisticated slapstick comedy and whose legendary disputes with studio chiefs inspired his scathing Hollywood satire “S.O.B.,” has died. He was 88.


Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Blake Edwards



Neva Patterson’s Obituary

Thursday, December 16th, 2010


Neva Patterson dies at 90; actress played Cary Grant’s fiancee in ‘An Affair to Remember’



Patterson’s career spanned six decades and more than 100 film and TV roles. She played an ambitious mother in the science-fiction NBC-TV movie ‘V’ and its sequel, the miniseries ‘V: The Final Battle.’


By Valerie J. Nelson
Los Angeles Times
December 16, 2010


Neva Patterson, a character actress who portrayed Cary Grant’s fiancee in the 1957 movie “An Affair to Remember” in a career that spanned six decades and more than 100 film and TV roles, has died. She was 90.


 Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Neva Patterson



Gwyneth Paltrow gets a Star

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010


Gwyneth Paltrow Gets Star on Walk of Fame


(Eric Charbonneau, WireImage)


Joined by Country Strong co-star Tim McGraw, director Shana Feste, and Faith Hill, Gwyneth Paltrow received the 2,427th star on the Walk  of Fame on Monday in Hollywood. 


In Country Strong, Paltrow plays down-on-her-luck country singer Kelly Canter, while McGraw plays her husband/manager. 


During the ceremony, McGraw told the crowd that Paltrow “sings beautifully” and that she “Inspires goodness and that’s the best kind of friend to have.”


After being asked about how she would celebrate if Country Strong was nominated for a Golden Globe, Paltrow joked, “With a joint, hanging out with my girlfriends, I don’t know, I don’t expect anything from that.” 


Paltrow recently announced her return to Fox’s Glee, reprising her role as substitute teacher Holly Holiday. She also displayed her singing ability with a cover of Cee-Lo Green’s hit, “F–k You.”