Archive for the ‘Book/Film News’ Category

“The Scarlet Hour,” featuring Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Saturday, October 3rd, 2020

To fill the demand by film exhibitors for new movie faces, Paramount produced The Scarlett Hour which opened on April 19, 1956 at the downtown RKO Pantages Theater. This routine thriller presented in leading roles three newcomers: Carol Ohmart, Tom Tryon and Jody Lawrance, who strove under Michael Curtiz’s direction with mixed reviews.

The Scarlet Hour was a test case as to whether untried players should be placed in a production that get top spot on theater programs.

The Scarlet Hour offers a familiar story. Ohmart plots to hijack some jewelry, using Tryon’s infatuation for her as a springboard. James Gregory, playing her husband, is killed accidentally in the fracas. It is at his funeral where this story finds its interest. It was filmed at Paramount’s next door neighbor, Hollywood Cemetery, where we will take a look, then-and-now.

This is the opening scene for the funeral filmed at what was then called Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery.
In this close-up scene Tom Tryon and Carol Ohmart are exchanging guilty looks. Behind them, the white arrow is pointing to the obelisk for the Los Angeles Times founder, Harrison Gray Otis.
A close up of the service, in the upper left and between the trees, you can see the cemetery office building.
The road where the cars are parked was filled in years ago and there is now a meandering walkway with a fountain midway where cremations are interred. The white arrow is once again the Otis obelisk.
This is a longshot of the service, with the now-filled-in roadway on the left. The cross in the lower left corner is a movie prop. The palm tree pointed out by the white arrow is still standing today, and can be seen in the next photo.
The white arrow points to the same tree, though much taller, sixty-four years later.
This is a scene of one of the detectives standing in the roadway watching for suspicious behavior at the funeral. Please note the white arrow pointing to the concrete bench.
Note the same bench today with the same foliage covered wall, trees and grave markers.
At the funeral service. Note the cemetery office building pointed out by the black arrow.
Photo taken from the same spot present day. The thin tall palm trees on the right are still standing.
Tryon and Ohmart leaving the service and entering a car on the now filled-in road. Please note the row of grave markers on the right that were on the edge of the road.
The spot today with the same grave markers, but no longer on the edge of the road. Our friend the palm tree is still standing to the right.
People leaving the service. Please note the white arrow pointing to the standing grave marker with an opening in the center, standing between the actors.
This photo taken from the same spot showing the same distinguishable grave marker and once again our friendly palm tree on the left.
The white arrow points out the location in the cemetery where the scene was filmed.

The film received mixed reviews from critics. The Times wrote, “It is a very drab hour and a half, in the company of actors who have not yet established their reputations and are unlikely to achieve them as a result of this movie. The story combines a rather unsavory triangle with a jewel robbery and the director Mr. Curtiz has achieved a certain amount of suspense but little else.”

David Bongard of the Herald Express wrote that “Carol Ohmart is the sultry boss’s wife. She has an amazing physical resemblance, in some angles, to Barbara Stanwyck. Obviously, she’s Curtiz’s Galatea in the acting field. If the material were not so childish and over-dramatic, she might have made a bull’s-eye with this. She soon might be capable of the stuff of a Stanwyck or a Bette Davis.”

If you are interested in watching the film, please CLICK HERE

Pepi Lederer: ‘Marion Davies’ Niece’

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

As Gay Pride Month winds down, here is a look at Hollywood Forever Cemetery resident, Pepi Lederer, the niece of actress Marion Davies. What little that is known about Pepi comes from Louise Brooks’ autobiography, Lulu in Hollywood. In it, she devotes an entire chapter to Pepi, Marion and William Randolph Hearst.

Pepi was born Josephine Rose Lederer in Chicago, Illinois on March 18, 1910. Her mother, Reine was the older sister of Marion Davies, and an actress and writer in her own right; she was the first to use the Davies name professionally. Married twice, first to Broadway producer and director, George Lederer, they had two children – Pepi and Charles, who later became a successful screenwriter. Reine divorced George when Pepi was two years-old and later married actor George Regas.

Pepi was given the nickname “Peppy” as a child because of her high spirited personality. When she turned 18, she changed the spelling to Pepi and made it her legal name. She seldom saw or spoke about her father, and was embarrassed because he was Jewish.

Pepi and her brother Charlie were favorites of Marion and Hearst. They in turn, preferred Marion to their own mother. When she turned twelve, Pepi was spending most of her time with Marion at San Simeon and the Lexington Avenue mansion in Beverly Hills, rarely seeing her mother. Years later, when Pepi was living in a New York apartment building owned by Hearst, Reine unexpectedly stormed in drunk, calling Marion a scheming bitch for having robbed her of her children. The episode left Pepi sobbing and racked with guilt.

At San Simeon, Pepi had free run of the ranch. Visitors usually had to obey Hearst’s rules about liquor rationing (because of Marion’s excesses) and the insisted-upon early rising to have breakfast. Pepi, however, had no problems obtaining liquor since she had her own private boot-legger – Hearst’s executive secretary who had keys to the wine vaults and could not resist Pepi’s charm and flashing blue eyes. Louise Brooks said that Pepi “and her group of pansies and dykes could drink and carry on all night…” As long as Marion’s drinking was under control and no one was breaking up Hearst’s art collection, he didn’t care about their drinking or sexual activities.

In the great dining hall at San Simeon, Pepi and her friends would sit at one end of the long wooden table while Marion and Hearst would face each other surrounded by their guests in the middle. Pepi’s friends usually included her brother Charlie, Louise Brooks, Sally O’Neil, William Haines, and Lloyd Pantages, son of the theatre mogul. The guests called them the Younger Degenerates.

Pepi‘s sense of humor gave her every chance to expose a guests vanities while humoring the rest. Claire Windsor’s falsies and writer Elinor Glyn’s red wig would mysteriously disappear from their bedrooms while they slept. An “exclusive” item would appear in Louella Parsons’ syndicated Hearst column, which would later have to be retracted. Once, when a group of Hearst editors, dressed in business suits and seated at a liquor-loaded table visited the ranch, Pepi organized a chain dance. Ten beautiful girls in wet bathing suits danced round their table, grabbed a bottle here and there, and then exited, leaving a room full of astonished men, who inquired, “Does Mr. Hearst know these people are here?”

Pepi was charismatic, but undisciplined with a gluttonous appetite for rich food, alcohol and eventually drugs – specifically cocaine. Once, in an attempt to lose weight and quit liquor, she convinced Louise Brooks, who she first met at San Simeon in 1928, to join her at a friend’s duck blind in Virginia, where she hoped the seclusion away from her temptations would help kick her habits. Upon their arrival, she had the liquor cabinet locked and spent her time listening to Bing Crosby recordings. After only a few days, she raided the kitchen, eating cold chicken and half an apple pie, then went for the liquor and was shocked that it was locked up. “You told him to lock it,” Louise told her.

“I’ll fix that,” she mumbled, and went to the kitchen and returned with a hatchet, and with three robust whacks, opened the door.  For the remainder of the week, she satisfied herself with good whiskey, mouth-watering Southern cooking and Bing Crosby songs.

Pepi was a lesbian. Though Louise Brooks never publicly admitted to an affair with Pepi, she once told a friend that Pepi said, “Let me just fool around a bit,” and Louise said, “Okay, if it’s anything you’re going to get some great enjoyment out of, go ahead.” And so they fooled around, but said she got nothing out of it.

A scene from The Cardboard Lover. Pepi is the girl in white next to her aunt Marion.

Pepi secretly yearned to be an actress and was thrilled when she was given a small comedy part in Marion’s picture The Fair Co-ed (1927) directed by Sam Wood. During filming, she was told how good she was, but when the film premiered, her part had been cut. Marion consoled her with the promise of a better part in her “next” picture which was The Cardboard Lover (1928) where she had a small bit as a flapper. That was the extent of her film career. Pepi realized that no one had been serious about her career and that it was a joke.

In 1929, Pepi visited MGM during the last day of filming of King Vidor’s Hallelujah. Conveniently, Marion, Charlie, and Rose were absent; so on an impulse, Pepi invited several of the cast members, including Nina May McKinney, to the house on Lexington Avenue. After three days, a neighbor, shocked by the sight of black people running in and out of the mansion, telephoned Marion, who sent Ethel to end the party. Pepi told friends she would never forget the look on her aunt’s face when she opened the door and found Pepi in bed with Nina May. Pepi was immediately banished to New York as a punishment.

At the end of March 1930, Pepi was in New York and was concerned that she had not menstruated in three months. Finally, desperate for a reason, she called Marion about her condition. Marion told her to stop wasting time and to make an appointment to see an abortionist at once. He found that Pepi was pregnant, and aborted the fetus the next day.

A few days later, Louise Brooks visited her and found her in bed, sick, feverish, and frightened. She was hemorrhaging badly and told Louise about the abortion. “This was the most astonishing piece of news since the Virgin birth,” Louise said, “because, as far as I knew, she had never gone to bed with any man.”

Pepi Lederer

When Pepi explained, Louise asked if she knew who the man was. “No I don’t,” Pepi said violently. “And I don’t want to know the name of a man who would rape a dead-drunk woman.” Pepi continued, explaining that it had to happen on New Year’s Eve, when she got drunk at a party given by Lawrence Tibbett and someone had to take her home. “But I don’t remember who it was,” she said, “and I don’t want to remember who it was and that’s the end of it.” (After Pepi’s death, a mousy, deranged friend of hers told Louise with a smirk that it was he who had taken her home on that 1929 New Year’s Eve and raped her. He also admitted to escorting other drunken women home and performing in the same manner).

The following June, a recovered Pepi accompanied Marion and Hearst to Europe on the Olympic. While in England, she convinced Hearst to give her a job on one of his English magazines, The Connoisseur and ended up staying for five years. In London, she wrote to Louise that she was now a person in her own right, not a way station for would-be friends of Marion and Hearst. And she said that she found a lovely companion, Monica Morris, who now shared her flat, her generous allowance, and Marion’s charge accounts.

Louise was apprehensive of Pepi’s taste in girlfriends and asked around about Monica Morris. When asked, one friend exclaimed: “My God, the Stage-Door Ferret! Don’t tell me Monica has latched onto Pepi!” It seemed that Monica had earned her nick-name because she was the most predatory among the group of girls who had fought over Tallulah Bankhead when she became a star of the London theatre in 1923.

Regardless, they remained an item until Pepi’s return to the United States on April 15, 1935. They spent two weeks in a suite at Hearst’s Ritz Tower Hotel on Park Avenue before going to Hollywood. It was Monica’s first time in New York but the first thing she asked Louise after they met was “Will you take me to Harlem to get some cocaine?” She evidently lost her stash while on board the ship and was most urgent to replace it. Louise referred her to Tallulah Bankhead at the Gotham Hotel, and Monica hurried out, leaving Pepi and Louise to have their last serious talk before Pepi’s death.

Though they laughed together, Louise could see the cocaine addiction in her eyes and the reason why she wanted to avoid Marion and Hearst. She had also lost weight, which Louise attributed to the cocaine.

When Pepi and Monica arrived in California, they stayed at the Lexington Avenue house. Marion and Hearst were at San Simeon but no directive came for Pepi and Monica to join them there. Weeks passed and there were no fancy parties, and Monica grew ever more bored among the Davies relatives. Then, without warning,  Marion and Hearst decided to have Pepi committed to the psychiatric section of Good Samaritan Hospital for a drug cure. Pepi only had time to slip her diamond ring (a present from Marion on her 18th birthday) from her finger to give it to Monica before she was taken away.

A few days later, on June 11, 1935, Pepi was propped up in bed reading a movie magazine in her sixth floor room at Good Samaritan when she asked her nurse for something to eat. The nurse stepped to the doorway to call a floor nurse and order something, when suddenly, she heard a noise and turned to see Pepi plunge through the window, carrying the screen with her.

Six floors below, in a thicket of shrubbery, Pepi’s body was picked up. Hospital attendants said she only lived a few minutes. She was dead before they could carry her to an operating room, her neck broken.

Marion, Hearst and Reine were at San Simeon when they received the news. Reine took the news more calmly than Marion, who lost control, as she always did when confronted by death. Louise Brooks was in her dressing room at the Persian Room of the Plaza, getting ready to open her new act when she was informed of Pepi’s death. “Looking in a mirror as I checked my hair, makeup, and costume for the dinner show” Louise said, “I thought, her dreaded visit to Hollywood had lasted exactly six weeks.”

Pepi Lederer’s death certificate (click to enlarge)

As for Monica, her trunk was searched by Hearst’s people and a bundle of Pepi’s letters was taken from it – she felt it was because they feared blackmail. The ring that Pepi had given her was snatched from her finger. She was given a steamship ticket to Southampton and a thousand dollars in cash and was told she was being deported immediately after the funeral.

 

St. Mary’s of the Angels Church, 4510 Finley Avenue, Hollywood where Pepi Lederer’s funeral was held

Newspaper reports said that Pepi was suffering from acute melancholia, the usual public reason for drug abuse. Pepi’s funeral was held at St. Mary’s of the Angels Church in Hollywood. Her bronze casket was placed in a crypt in Marion’s private mausoleum at Hollywood Cemetery.

 

 Marion Davies’ private mausoleum at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Pepi’s is the first column, middle crypt to the left of the door.

Information for this article was taken from “Marion Davies’ Niece” by Louise Brooks and from “Louise Brooks” by Barry Paris (1989).

Sir Guy Standing’s mythical death

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

One definition of a myth is a popular belief or story that is associated with a person, institution, or occurrence. Hollywood, the land of make believe, is full of myths – and this is one: Actor Sir Guy Standing died from a rattlesnake bite while hiking in the Hollywood Hills.

Sir Guy Standing was born on September 1, 1873 in London, the eldest son of actor Herbert Standing and his wife Emilie, and one of several actor brothers (Wyndham, Herbert Jr., Percy and Jack Standing) to appear on stage. His acting debut was in Wild Oats at London’s Criterion Theatre, using the name Guy Stanton.

His first New York acting job was at age 19 as Captain Fairfield in Lena Despard at the Manhattan Opera House. In 1897, he joined Charles Frohman’s company at the Empire Theatre, where he appeared in several plays.

Guy Standing as a young stage actor.

Among the plays he appeared in before World War I were, The Sorceress, Mrs. Leffingewil’s Boots, The Duel, Hedda Gabler, with Nazimova in 1907, and a tour of The Right of Way in 1909. After seventeen years in the States, he returned to England for four years to appear in a steady run of plays.

Standing returned to the United States in 1913, and appeared in Daddy Longlegs at Chicago’s Powers Theatre. Afterward, he signed a contract with Famous Players to star in the film, The Silver King. While preparing for the film, World War I broke out. He asked Adolph Zukor for permission to break his contract, thinking he would come back soon.

Returning to England, he offered his services, which eventually included membership on the British War Mission to the United States. He also served as a commander in His Majesty’s Navy in the Dover Patrol. For his performance of these duties he was created a Knight Commander of the British Empire in June 1918 by King George V.

The Story of Temple Drake, from left, Sir Guy Standing, William Gargan carrying Miriam Hopkins.

In November 1925, after an absence of eleven years, Standing returned to the American stage in The Carolinian, at New York’s Sam H. Harris Theatre; two years later he appeared with Ethel Barrymore in The Constant Wife.

His stage work continued until 1932 when he met Albert Kaufman of Paramount while on tour in Los Angeles. This led to a contract for his film debut at the age of 60 in The Story of Temple Drake (1933), with Miriam Hopkins. Other films followed: Death Takes a Holiday (1934), The Witching Hour (1934), The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935), Lloyds of London (1936), and his last film, Bulldog Drummond Escapes (1937). He was planning to revise his role as Col. Nielson in the next Bulldog Drummond film, Bulldog Drummond Comes Back (1937), at the time of his death.

Standing took an active part in Hollywood social life as president of the Malibu Lake Club, and boasted that his baseball team, The Paramount Cubs, was the only one in the world with a British president.

Standing was married three times, first in 1895 to Isabel Urquehar, a stage actress, who preceded him in death. The second, Blanche Burton, also died before him. His third wife was Dorothy Hammond (died 1950), an actress and the mother of his three children, Guy, Jr., Katherine (Kay Hammond)–both actors–and Michael, the first live BBC cricket commentator and live radio commentator, among other accomplishments.

The building was originally Hillcrest Motor Company, a car dealership. The second floor, which now houses a Marshall’s, was where the automobiles were parked. The first floor, the site of Standing’s death, is now a souvenir store. (click on image to enlarge)

On Wednesday, February 24, 1937, Standing was at the Hillcrest Motor Company at 7001 Hollywood Blvd. (across from the Roosevelt Hotel) to make a payment on his car. He was chatting with a salesman and was asked how he felt.

“Excellent,” he responded. “In fact, I never felt better.”

A moment later, his legs gave out and he was on the floor clutching at his chest and writhing in pain. He never spoke another word.

Doctors arrived from Hollywood Receiving Hospital and administered adrenaline and other restoratives, but he failed to respond. Standing died a few minutes later. His body was taken to the hospital where his brother Wyndham filled out the death certificate. Afterward, he was removed to the Le Roy Bagley Mortuary (5440 Hollywood Blvd. – demolished) pending funeral arrangements and word from his wife who was in London.

Close friends at Paramount claimed his death was related indirectly to a black widow spider bite he received two years earlier on location for The Lives of a Bengal Lancer. Standing apparently responded to treatment but took the poisoning lightly, according to friends.

Shortly before his death he complained of having leg pains and he walked with a limp. For whatever reason, he neglected medical help, feeling he would recover. The New York Times consulted an expert at the Bronx Zoo who said it was difficult to believe that the cause of Standing’s death was indirectly connected to the insect bite he received two years earlier. He said that he had never heard of a person dying of either a black widows bite or even a snake bite so long after the infliction of the wound. Perhaps this is where the myth of Standing’s death from a snake bite originated. Later reports, and Standings death certificate, noted that the actor died from a heart ailment.

Sir Guy Standing’s death certificate (click on image to enlarge)

Standing’s funeral was held the following Sunday at St. Stephens Episcopal Church’s (6129 Carlos Street) chapel where more than 250 friends heard Dr. Philip Easley read the ritual. Pallbearers included Philip MacDonald, Henry Herzbrun, Nat Deverich, Christopher Dunphy, Albert Kaufman and Bayard Veiller. At the same hour, employees at Paramount Studios bowed their heads for a five minute period of silence and prayer.

Sir Guy Standing’s grave marker at Grandview Cemetery.

Newspapers reported that Standing’s body would be returned to London for burial, however, that never happened. Instead, Sir Guy Standing was buried at Glendale’s Grand View Cemetery (His son, Guy Standing Jr. is also buried there, reportedly in an unmarked grave). His father, Herbert Standing, died in Los Angeles in 1923, and his cremains are in a vault at the Chapel of the Pines.

Sir Guy Standing did not die from a rattlesnake bite as many biographies state (Imdb lists his death was from a rattlesnake bite). Nor did he die from the bite of a black widow spider as some friends noted after his death. Is that how the myth began – progressing from a spider to a snake bite over the past eighty years? We may never know.

Harry Addison Love; hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

Friday, May 8th, 2020

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Santa Monica’s Del Mar Club, the site of jealous rage and murder (LAPL)

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A bitter, unyielding battle between two women—one the mother and the other the wife—was to blame for the death of Harry Addison Love, a 46 year-old businessman.

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Harry Love, who was born on October 7, 1890, was the son of Charles (d. 1923) and Cora Adkins Love, and the brother of Esther Love Spencer (d. Dec. 7 1929). Esther’s widowed husband Howard and their two daughters, Virginia and Janice, now lived with Cora and Harry at the family home at 457 South Harvard Boulevard (demolished).

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Reportedly, Love married 31-year-old Helen Wills in a small Mexican town on May 3, 1936. On their return to Los Angeles, Helen expected Love to reveal their marriage to his mother. He refused, threatening Helen. Instead, he rented her a house at 3613 West Fourth Street, but did not live there all the time, alternating between time with Helen, and his mother’s home.

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Helen pleaded with him to acknowledge her as his wife, but he was adamant. She knew that her new husband had plenty of money, but he was secretive about his affairs. Helen did not care. “All I wanted was to be acknowledged as his wife,” she said.

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In September 1936, Helen became ill (she said it was from worry) so Love sent her to New York for two months. When she returned, she discovered their framed marriage certificate had disappeared. Love told her he placed it in a safety deposit box for safe keeping.

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When the holidays came, she wanted to spend them alone with Love but he insisted that they have Christmas dinner with his mother. Love took his wife home for Christmas but did not introduce Helen as his wife. After dinner, Love and his mother politely sent Helen home alone while they went to church to listen to Christmas carols.

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The next day, Helen was pleased when Love promised that they would spend New Year’s Eve together at a Glendale club. “I was almost delirious with happiness,” Helen said. “I bought a new gown. I showed it to his mother.” Wrong move.

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Helen’s happiness was short-lived. Without warning, Love told his wife that he had included his mother in their New Year’s plans. The three of them would go to the Del Mar Club (Casa Del Mar) in Santa Monica. Helen was disappointed. “Since when do we need a chaperone?” she asked.

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“You don’t understand my mother,” he said.

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“I do understand her,” she told her husband. “She is intensely jealous.”

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When an argument ensued, he told her that because of “financial matters,” he would be going to dinner at the club with his mother, and she would have to make other plans. Then he left.

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On New Year’s Eve, Helen met with Love at a building his mother owned at 3020 Main Street. Once again, he refused to take her to the party that night and drove her to a garage where he left her, instructing the attendants that no one was to use the car but him.

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Helen sat in the car for hours. Finally, an attendant told her it would be better if she went to the office, which she did, but not before taking a pistol that Love kept in the car’s glove box. She went home, and then took a taxi to the Del Mar Club. She had the gun with her. When she arrived, the clerk told her that Love and his mother had not yet arrived. She would wait.

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Shortly, Love came from the dining room. “Hello darling,” she said to her husband.

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“What are you doing here?” Love asked her.

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“I told you I was going to spend New Year’s with you and I meant it.”

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They quarreled, and he returned to the dining room where his mother was waiting. Mrs. Love turned white when she saw Helen and said, “This is no place for you. You are not invited! See me tomorrow.”

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“Tomorrow will be too late,” she told her, and left. Harry followed her to the cab. He asked her if she had a gun. At first she told him that she did not, and then said, “You’re a big man. Why should you be afraid of a gun?”

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Then, when Helen reached into her purse, Love screamed and turned to run. With the gun in hand, Helen ran after him. Love reached the steps of the club when Helen fired. Love fell back down the steps, jumped up and ran. Helen followed him as he circled around the block, firing two shots at him as he fled. Love dashed towards the Del Mar Club’s entrance. A third bullet felled him on the sidewalk just in front of the doors.

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Street side of the Del Mar Club as it looks today. Red arrow shows general area where Harry Love collapsed after being shot by his wife, Helen Wills Love.

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Employees of the club carried him into the lobby and placed him on a couch. Helen followed them into the lobby and stared dazedly at her dying husband. She later told police, “I loved him so that I was not going to give him up.” Harry Love died in the ambulance on the ride to Santa Monica Hospital.

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Later, when Helen was taken to the women’s quarters of the Santa Monica City Jail, she knotted a silken scarf around her neck and lashed the other end to a bar of the prisoner’s room in an attempt to take her life. Once revived, she was taken to County Jail.

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Helen Wills Love being booked after shooting her husband (LAPL)

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Harry Love’s viewing was at Garret Brothers Mortuary on Venice Blvd. There, Helen was permitted to say her good-byes to her slain husband. Sobbing and stroking his hair as he lay in a gray broadcloth coffin, she kissed him and cried, “You’re happier than I am, darling.”

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Helen Wills Love kisses her dead husband, Harry A. Love, goodbye in his coffin.

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Death Certificate for Harry Addison Love

(click to enlarge)

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Funeral services for Harry Addison Love were conducted at St. James Episcopal Church (Wilshire and St. Andrew’s). His body was cremated and his cremains were placed in the family niche, along with his father’s, in the foyer of Hollywood Cemetery’s Cathedral Mausoleum.

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Red arrow shows location of Harry A. Love’s niche at the Cathedral Mausoleum

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Over the next several months, Helen was arraigned and put on trial during which the prosecution contended that the shooting was a planned murder, motivated by the fact she was a “woman scorned.” But the defense attempted to show it was a hysterical and accidental episode arising from the jealousy of Cora Love, mother of the slain man, who would not acknowledge her daughter-in-law and fostered the estrangement.

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Helen testified that she had been intimate with Love for many months and became pregnant with his child which resulted in their secret marriage in Ensenada, Mexico. Evidently, she lost the baby shortly after. From then on, Cora Love estranged her son’s affections (which Helen called a “mother complex”) in a series of acts which reached a climax on New Year’s Eve. She testified that the shooting was accidental because the gun went off as Love attempted to take it from her. The prosecution, however, produced eye witnesses who claimed that Helen pursued her husband outside the club and deliberately shot at him.

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Helen Willis Love on trial (LAPL)

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Cora Love testifying in the murder trial of her son, Harry. (LAPL)

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Helen Wills Love was convicted of Second-degree murder by a jury of eight women and four men. Helen, who wore the same black outfit throughout the trial, appealed to the judge to pronounce sentence at once so she could change her plea to murder because of insanity.

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Helen believed she would receive a new trial because one juror was declared to be intoxicated during the trial by the County Jail physician. The juror was dismissed (sentenced to five days in jail and fined $100) and an alternate took her place. She was also told that some jurors read newspapers during the proceedings and was told by a stranger he was told of the verdict prior to the end of the trial.

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But sentencing would have to wait. That morning, Helen was found to be in “self-imposed state of coma.” Evidently, she had told cellmates that she could end her own life by merely willing herself to die. Physicians tried everything to awaken her and were mystified at her condition. Finally, after more than a week she was revived and pronounced sane. The next day, Helen was brought into court on a wheelchair and sentenced to Tehachapi prison for from seven years to life.

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Oddly enough, the following year, Cora Love obtained a permanent injunction against Helen using the name Love. She was restrained from representing herself to have been the lawfully wedded wife of Harry A. Love, or his widow and from representing herself to be the daughter-in-law or related to, Cora Love. Since Love had allegedly put their marriage license in a safety deposit box for “safe-keeping,” Helen had no proof to defend herself.

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Full niche of the Love family. Notice that Cora’s maker (top) is blank.

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Cora Love died on November 11, 1950, while vacationing in Palm Springs. For some reason, her niche at Hollywood (Forever) Cemetery was never marked, even though she had two granddaughters that survived her.

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Over the next few years, Helen applied for parole a couple of times, once in 1938, but was denied. She was told she would be eligible to apply again but it is unknown when she was actually paroled. Helen, if counting her “marriage” to Harry Love, had four spouses throughout her life. She died at 95 years of age as Helen S. McCullough on November 2, 2000 in Northern California. She is buried at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma, California.

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Marguerite Favar, that dainty dancy soubrette

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

 She’s now a forgotten name but in the early 1900’s, Marguerite Favar was widely known as a dancer, and for several years toured vaudeville circuits in the South and West. She was born Adelaide Farvarth in 1887 and came to the United States from Australia with her mother Alice around the turn of the last century.

Marguerite first began appearing in music halls until 1905 when she created a sensation in Portland at the Lewis and Clark Exposition as the “Peacock Girl” at the Turkish village. She then toured the United States on several vaudeville circuits, making a name by her charm and daintiness.

In 1908, Marguerite and her mother moved to Los Angeles from St. Augustine, Florida. That same year she appeared at the old Empire Theatre and also had an act on the Pantages circuit called “Marguerite Favar and her Dolls.” In August she costarred in the comedy, Paris Upside Down, as a “soubrettish young person.” The following month she was in Little Robinson Crusoe at Mishcer’s Theatre in Los Angeles. One reviewer said, “Miss Favar is a lively dancer and creates a demand for more of her work…”

Although beautiful in every feature, Marguerite’s attractiveness lay in her large brown eyes, which sparkled across the footlights and won the hearts of her admirers.

“All Miss Favar would have to do was to look at a man,” said one of the chorus girls in her company. “Men seemed to be hypnotized by a glance of her eyes. Of course, on the stage she made good use of her crowning beauty – her wonderful brown eyes. After a performance the stage door used to be crowded with men just waiting for a chance to see Miss Favar off stage.”

Marguerite Favar ad

It’s believed that Marguerite may have been married twice. Her first marriage was reportedly to a man known as Creatore, a famous bandleader of the day. However, after her death Creatore’s manager declared that Favar was never the bandleader’s wife but that she may have been the wife of a musician who had recently been enjoined from giving performances under that same name.

In any event, Marguerite was married in August 1909 at the Episcopal church in Santa Ana to Captain Frank D. Tompkins, a retired army officer. Tompkins had enlisted in the Hospital Corps as a volunteer in the Philippines and was given an officer’s commission for distinguished bravery in action. He retired in 1908 and came to California. He stopped for a while in Oakland with his uncle, formerly a warden of San Quentin, and then came south to Los Angeles where he found a job as chief of the property division for the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Soon after their marriage, Marguerite had a try at the new industry in town – motion pictures. It must have a been a brief career because there are no records of her film appearances. However, she probably worked at one of the studios in Edendale because in early May 1910, she was thrown from a buggy while filming near Elysian Park which is nearby. She was severely injured and had to stay at home for two weeks.

On May 19, Marguerite kissed Frank good-bye and returned to her first day of filming since her accident. She noticed that Frank appeared sick but left the house with no foreboding. He seemed to be suffering from nothing more serious than an attack of the stomach flu. Several hours later, Marguerite’s mother arrived at the house and found Frank in convulsions and called for help. Marguerite was notified at the studio and raced home, but it was too late; Frank was dead at the age of 36. It was later determined that Frank committed suicide by taking poison,  however the reason for the act was never known.

Marguerite confided to a friend that she loved Tompkins sincerely and his death caused her great sorrow. “His death resulted practically in Miss Favar forming a barrier against marriage,” her friend stated. “She said she would never marry again. And I know she kept this vow.”

After Frank’s death, Marguerite returned to the stage; at first as a solo act, she was billed as ”Marguerite Favar, That Dainty Dancy Soubrette.” Soon she put together a dance company and called herself, “Miss Marguerite Favar and Her Dainty Dancing Dolls,” and began touring the country. During one performance, a moving picture of the breaking sea at Atlantic City played in the background as the “dainty dolls” pretended to plunge into the surf.

Alice Favar

Marguerite’s mother died in November 1913 and was laid to rest at Hollywood Cemetery. The following March she brought her act back to Los Angeles to the Republic Theater as “Marguerite Favar and her Dancing Darlings.” The Los Angeles Times reviewed her act and reported the following:

“Girls are the principal attraction at the Republic Theater this week, for Margaret (sic) Favar and her seven dainty dancing girls are presenting a veritable feminine vaudeville turn de luxe. Magnificent stage settings, elaborate costuming, comely maidens, new songs, novel dancing and catchy music make it one of the biggest and best girl acts seen here for a long time. Miss Favar is clever and pretty, and quick with her feet, and her support is none the less agile.” – (Los Angeles Times, March 24, 1914).

Marguerite was a success and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. Her alluring beauty caused men in every city she visited to become infatuated with her. In letters to a close friend she continually referred to her many suitors that she encountered. Many wealthy men promised her happiness if she would become their bride. In her letters she made light of these proposals. Her friend warned her that this would mean that she would get in trouble one day and that it would be better if she married and settled down. She laughed at his warning.

In early 1915, Marguerite and her act was touring the south when they arrived in Greenwood, Mississippi. While there, disagreements arose between the young women and the act was disbanded. During her stay, Marguerite met James C. Crowell, millionaire manager of the Buckeye Cotton Oil Company, and the two began an affair.

Marguerite went to Memphis in August to direct a musical performance for a fraternal organization, and stayed on in that city to conduct private dancing lessons. Crowell soon joined her in Memphis where on September 21, 1915 she gave a dancing exhibition at the Women’s Club Building. After the performance, Crowell met Marguerite backstage and dismissed her chauffeur, Thomas Porter, saying he would drive the car himself. They returned to the Benham Flats apartment house where Marguerite was staying and they presumably retired for the night.

Shortly after sunrise the next morning, firemen were summoned by a janitor who discovered the apartment occupied by Favar was on fire. After putting out the blaze, they found Marguerite’s body lying on a bed, her skull crushed by the blow of a blunt instrument and her feet charred by the fire which had enveloped the bed. Crowell’s body was found in a hallway just outside her room. His head was badly battered and his throat was cut.

The room was in disorder, and the drawers to a dresser was ransacked, which the police at first believed confirmed a theory that burglars committed the crime. This, however, was partially discredited when jewelry valued at several thousand dollars was found.

Other residents of the apartment building reported that they heard a slight disturbance shortly before daylight, but the commotion ceased within a few minutes, and they knew nothing of the murders until they were aroused by the janitor when he discovered the fire.

The next day Guy Palmer, the janitor who discovered the fire and Thomas Porter, Marguerite’s chauffeur, were arrested for the murders. According to police, it was Palmer’s duty to go into the building about 5 am each morning and light a hot water heater, but on the morning of the murder, he claimed to have overslept. With very little else to go on, no formal charges were lodged against them and they were eventually released. Over the next two months four other men were questioned about the murders but were released for lack of evidence.

Marguerite Favar

 Marguerite Favar

When news of Marguerite’s murder reached Los Angeles, friends here were quick to set detectives on the track of the slayer, but the evidence they provided was not considered sufficient to warrant the arrest of a suspect. They were convinced they knew who the guilty man was but could not supply enough evidence to place before a jury with a reasonable hope of obtaining a conviction. It was their belief that Marguerite, who aroused many storms of jealousy during her stage career, was, with Crowell, the victim of a slighted lover who followed them from Greenwood to Memphis.

Memphis police were baffled by the murders. They finally began working on what they termed the “love trail,” which they hoped would lead them to the jealous mad lover of the actress who committed the murders. Members of Marguerites former dance troupe were questioned and all agreed that the actress played with love.

“She would encourage one man just long enough to make him a jealous suitor,” said Lovis Heyman, one of Marguerite’s Dainty Dancers. “Then she would turn to the next. She seemed to be proud of her ability to lure men to her. She cared no more for one than the other. It was certainly love of a man for her that resulted in the tragedy.”

Crowell’s body was released and returned to Greenwood the day following the murder. Marguerite’s body had to remain in Memphis until all legal matters were settled. As the actress apparently left no will and had no living relatives, friends arranged to have the body buried at the side of her mother in Hollywood Cemetery. It took some time to arrange for this, as legal matters connected to her estate had to be settled. Finally, after lying in the Memphis morgue for six months, the body of Marguerite Favar was returned to Los Angeles for burial.

The service was held at 2 pm on March 23, 1916 at the cemetery where friends gathered in the open air beside the Favar plot. Rev. Dr. James A. Francis of the First Baptist Church officiated. Earle C. Houck, who sang at Marguerite’s mother’s funeral, sang a similar tribute at her funeral.

Marguerite Favar’s killer was never found.

_________

 

  Favar directions

How to find Marguerite Favar’s grave

Marguerite Favar’s grave is located in the southern section of the Chandler Gardens (section 12). Drive down the road that parallels Paramount until you see the granite marker HELM (left) about 10 feet from the road. Stand at the right side of this marker and take about 18 steps and look down on your right and you will see Marguerite and her mother’s tombstones.

_________________________________

Judy Garland: her death and afterlife

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019


This is an encore post in memory of Judy Garland on the 50th anniversary of her death.

On the morning of June 23, 1969, the Los Angeles Times and New York Times both declared the same event with the same headline: “Judy Garland, 47, Found Dead.”

The actress died in her London apartment early on Sunday morning, June 22, 1969. Mickey Deans, her husband of three months, found her behind a locked bathroom door. When the police arrived, they viewed Garland’s body slumped on the toilet, with her head resting in her hands.

Judy Garland’s British death certificate (click on image to enlarge)

An autopsy revealed that the cause of her death was due to barbiturate poisoning, “an incautious self-overdosage of sleeping pills,” said Coroner Gavin Thurston. “This is quite clearly an accidental circumstance to a person who was accustomed to taking barbiturates over a very long time. She took more barbiturates than she could tolerate.”

Back in the States, Garland’s daughter, actress and singer Liza Minnelli, by her second husband Vincent Minnelli, was staying with friends in the Hamptons along with her husband, singer and songwriter, Peter Allen. Early that morning, Allen took a phone call from Liza’s secretary. When Allen woke Liza, she suspected bad news but thought there was something wrong with her father. Instead, he told her that her mother was dead.

Late Wednesday night, Garland’s body was returned to New York, with her husband, Mickey Deans, and the Rev. Peter Delany, who married the couple earlier that year, accompanying the body. In New York, when the plane arrived, Liza waited in a car in the parking lot of Kennedy Airport.

Minnelli released a statement: “I know my mother was a great star and a great talent, but I am not thinking about those things today. What I am thinking about is the woman, my mother, and what a lovely, vital, extraordinary woman she was. It is because of my memory of that woman that all my life I will be proud to say, ‘I am Judy Garland’s daughter.’”

The casket containing the body of Judy Garland is placed into a hearse at the airport after arriving from London.

A hearse took Garland’s body to Frank E. Campbell’s Funeral Church on East Eighty-First Street and Madison Avenue. The following day, she would repose for public viewing in a glass-covered coffin; a private funeral service would be held that Friday.

On Thursday, June 26, lines of Garland’s fans began forming by the thousand’s at one o’clock in the morning, ten hours before the doors opened to the public. Many were openly weeping, waiting to say their last good-bye to their idol. At the appointed time, each one passed by her bier at the rate of 1,200 an hour. Outside, recordings of Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and other of her songs were played by an admirer on a battery-powered record play. “She’s found the rainbow now,” sobbed one twenty-year-old fan. “I hope she has got some peace.” By noon, police estimated that there were 5,000 mourners waiting on the block between Madison and Fifth Avenues, that were closed to traffic.

In the flower-filled chapel—decorated with yellow and white daisies and chrysanthemums—fans moved past the glass-topped, baby-blue casket containing Garland’s body. The front of the casket, which was low to the floor, was wisely covered with flower arrangements so that those paying their respects could not get close to her. Her dark hair was short, and she wore red-orange lipstick and black fake eye lashes were placed on her closed eyes. She reportedly was wearing her wedding dress; an ankle length beige or light taupe gown with long sleeves, high neck, and a belt of gold and pearls. On her feet were silver satin shoes with silver bows. An Episcopal missal was in her gloved hands; she wore her wedding ring.

Huge floral sprays from such show business celebrities as Irving Berlin, Dirk Bogarde, several of the Hollywood studios, and from the Palace Theater, surrounded the bier. A huge, colorful “Over the Rainbow” flower tribute from Frank Sinatra was arched behind Garland’s casket.

Mickey Deans and Judy Garland.

Garland’s burial was left up to Mickey Deans (her children “had no say in the matter”) who announced earlier that morning that his wife’s body would be interred at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, a small town approximately twenty-five miles north of New York City. “I didn’t want to bury her in Hollywood, to have people walking over her grave and pointing,” he told reporters. “She has given enough. Anyway, they didn’t care in Hollywood. She was just a property and they used her as such.”

However, Sid Luft, Garland’s third husband would rather that his ex-wife be buried in Los Angeles, feeling it was where she became a star. But Deans felt that she would have preferred a cemetery on the East Coast since she reportedly was never fond of California.

Fans of Judy Garland stand in line to view the singer’s body.

The following day, the hot and humid weather did not deter the estimated 1,300 to 1,500 fans from maintaining a fervent vigil. Over the course of the previous day, an estimated 20,000 people had paused to peer into the glass-covered casket of their idol. It was the largest funeral that Campbell’s had seen since the death of silent film idol Rudolph Valentino in 1926.

In the crowd, pop icon Andy Warhol tape recorded many of the fans conversations, and photographer Diane Arbus took pictures.

Joey Luft, Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft enter Frank E. Campbell’s to attend their mother’s funeral.

Among Garland’s show business friends and colleagues attending were: Ray Bolger, Lauren Bacall, Alan King, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Johnny Mercer, Paulo Wayne, Fred Ebb, Freddie Bartholomew, Otto Preminger and Spyros Skouras, Harold Arlen, Mickey Rooney, Mayor and Mrs. Lindsay, and Patricia Kennedy Lawford.

The Rev. Peter Delaney of Marylebone Church, London, who officiated at Garland’s marriage to Deans, conducted the twenty-minute Episcopal service, portions of which were heard through a loudspeaker provided by Campbell’s in an upstairs room. Jack French, Garland’s musical accompanist, began the funeral with an organ rendition of one of Garland’s favorite songs, “Here’s to Us,” from the Broadway production Little Me.

The service included one of Garland’s favorite Bible passages, I Corinthians 13, which begins: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”

James Mason, Garland’s costar from A Star is Born, gave the eulogy. “Judy’s great gift,” Mason began, “was that she could wring tears out of hearts of rock. She gave so richly and so generously, that there was no currency in which to repay her.”

French ended the service playing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which the congregation sang. Then, Garland’s coffin, under a blanket of yellow roses, was placed in a waiting hearse that headed a cortege of three limousines and a flower car. On Madison Avenue, where the crowd had surged through the barricades, a few Garland fans still gathered. Said one: “I have nothing else to do right now.”

Later, at Ferncliff Cemetery, several hundred-people waited as Garland’s casket was placed in a temporary crypt where it would remain until the elaborate tomb that Deans planned to build was completed. The crowd lingered about the crypt until finally, a policeman told them: “The funeral of Judy Garland is over. We would appreciate your leaving.”

That evening, many of the still emotional mourners who attended that day’s funeral, were reportedly drowning their sorrows across town at the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar. Since the Stonewall had no liquor license, it was basically a bottle club (a meeting place where customers are served drinks from their own liquor bottles) so customers had to sign-in, however, many used pseudonyms and “Judy Garland” was one of the most popular that evening.

According to legend, because of Garlands death and the funeral that day, many were still expressive about the diva’s passing. Even more so, when the New York police raided the bar at 1:20 a.m. the following morning; the patrons were ready for a fight. According to Sylvia Rivera, a seventeen-year-old drag queen who would become a well-known gay rights activist, there was a feeling in the air that something would happen that night: “I guess Judy Garland’s death just really helped us really hit the fan.”

The Stonewall Riots

What followed was a riot that became the flashpoint of the modern day gay liberation movement. Time magazine wrote: “The uprising was inspirited by a potent cocktail of pent-up rage (raids of gay bars were brutal and routine), overwrought emotions (hours earlier, thousands had wept at the funeral of Judy Garland) and drugs.”

However, years later some historians have contradicted that Garland’s death influenced the burgeoning gay rights movement, stating it was untrue. Some contend that most of those involved in the riots “were not the type to moon over Judy Garland records or attend her concerts at Carnegie Hall. They were more preoccupied with where they were going to sleep and where their next meal would come from.”

Nevertheless, Judy Garland’s connection to the Stonewall riots has persevered throughout gay history. It even inspired a play, Judy at the Stonewall Inn, where the ghost of Garland appears at the fabled Christopher Street bar as a sort of spiritual cheerleader. Even Garland’s daughter, Lorna Luft, is proud of the connection, saying that her mother was a “huge, huge advocate of human rights” and that she would have found the rioting appropriate.

In the meantime, at Ferncliff, Garland’s body was not yet at rest. The cemetery is the final resting place of many celebrities, including Jerome Kern, Basil Rathbone and Moss Hart. The wing that would contain Garland’s planned memorial was still being built, so until then, her body was placed in a temporary vault. Ferncliff’s manager had assured Mickey Deans that “Judy would be its greatest star.” However, to pay for the memorial, Deans needed to raise $37,500, hoping to get it from Garland’s family and friends. But by November 1970, he still had not raised the funds and Garland remained in a drawer with the nameplate: “Judy Garland DeVinko” (Mickey Deans real name).

Deans was desperate. The fact that Garland was still in a temporary crypt evidently bothered him. “It’s wrong. It’s very wrong,” he would say. He hoped to raise the money by writing a book about his time with Garland (the book’s advance would cover Garland’s burial and more), but unfortunately Deans was not a writer, so he approached author Anne Edwards, who was working on her first non-fiction book, a biography of Garland. Deans suggested that they collaborate; he was sure it would be a best-seller. Naturally, Edwards refused his request, believing that Deans had created these “appalling” circumstances that he was in, himself. “I did not hesitate in telling him that I would in no way consider collaborating with him on a book,” Edwards stated.

Meanwhile, Garland’s interment bill at Ferncliff was still outstanding—plus steep interest charges. At the time, Edwards was corresponding with crooner Frank Sinatra about his memories of Garland. In one letter, she mentioned the “state of affairs at Ferncliff” with Garland still reposing in storage.

Then, several weeks later, Ferncliff’s manager informed Edwards that Sinatra had paid Garland’s outstanding bill, and that “Mrs. DeVinko” would be given a proper burial. Within weeks, Garland was placed in a simple wall crypt on the second floor of the new wing of the mausoleum with the simple inscription: “Judy Garland 1922 – 1969.” At Sinatra’s request, Edwards did not disclose that information in her biography.

Judy Garland’s grave at Ferncliff Cemetery.

Over the years, more celebrities joined Garland at Ferncliff including television host, Ed Sullivan; diva, Joan Crawford (downstairs in the old wing of the same building as Garland), and composer Harold Arlen (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”), among others.

Fans visited, and floral tributes were left in front of her floor level, beige marble slab. Members of Garland’s three fan clubs made sure there were always flowers. One fan had mums and roses delivered to her crypt every month for more than two decades. In the mid-1990s, a Ferncliff employee said, “Judy is the most popular interment we have here. We used to keep track of how many people came to see Judy, but now that everyone knows were she is they head right to her by themselves. If they forget, they simply look for the crypt with all the flowers in front of it.”

Fast forward nearly forty-eight years to January 2017, when Garland’s family announced that the singer’s remains would be exhumed from Ferncliff and moved cross-country to a new crypt at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. The family, who were now living in Southern California, had deliberated for several years about moving her and “wished to have their mother resting near them.” In addition, when Mickey Deans died in 2003, it became the family’s “opportunity to do what they feel their mother would have wanted in the first place—to be united with her family in Hollywood.”

Entrance to the Judy Garland Pavilion.

Hollywood Forever set aside a recently built, special wing of the Abbey of the Psalms mausoleum and renamed it the “Judy Garland Pavilion.” There is room for Garland’s family, including her children Liza, Lorna and her son Joey. Additionally, there are crypts and niches available for sale to any Judy Garland fan that might wish to be interred near their idol.

Ironically, she is not far from many friends and costars that she knew in life. There’s her close friend, Mickey Rooney, and from The Wizard of Oz: director Victor Fleming, cinematographer Harold Rosson, and costume designer Adrian.

At Ferncliff Cemetery, the management wasn’t certain what would be done with Garland’s empty crypt: “We haven’t decided what to do yet, but we think because she’s been here so long, we will just leave it here and memorialize her.”

In Hollywood, a private memorial service was held by Garland’s family and friends at her new crypt on June 10, 2017, which would have been the actresses 95th birthday. In a statement released to The Associated Press, the family offered gratitude to their mother’s “millions of fans around the world for their constant love and support.”

On a personal note, throughout my childhood, there were three yearly events that I excitedly looked forward to: Christmas morning; the last day of school, and the annual broadcast of The Wizard of Oz.

Judy Garland has always been a favorite of mine. The first television showing of The Wizard of Oz on CBS was broadcast less than two months after I was born. Of course, I don’t remember it, but I do know that Oz was the first film that left an impression on me, and Judy Garland was the first “movie star” I recognized. And I never missed a yearly broadcast–much to the chagrin of my poor mother. She couldn’t understand why I had to watch it every year. “But you’ve seen it already, why do you want to see it again?” she would cry in frustration. She didn’t get it.

Yet, each year I could watch it–some years by myself, or some years with my parents. Especially when we got our first color television and Technicolor brought the Land of Oz to life. Even so, one of my favorite scenes was the twister. The special effects fascinated me then, and they still hold up today.

I was also very defensive of Dorothy/Judy and her Yellow Brick Road companions. One year, on the day following an Oz broadcast, I was riding the school bus home and a kid sitting across the aisle began talking shit about Dorothy/Judy–he called her fat, and laughed about it. I was so angry, I wanted to punch him in the nose, but I withheld my ire.

Dressing up as The Wizard of Oz characters. I am the Tin Man on the far right.

Judy followed me yearly into young adulthood when I moved to Pittsburgh to attend art school. There, I was drawn to a group who was of like mind about Oz and Judy Garland. For Halloween one year, we dressed up as Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and the Wicked Witch–I was the Tin Man, and since we were art students, we made our own costumes (except for the Lion who had to rent his). Also, if memory serves me, I believe that was the last year of the annual Oz showing. But fear not, it wasn’t long before videos and VCR’s entered the market so you could own a piece of Oz and watch it whenever you wanted.

Let me just state–even though it may sound like it–I’m not a rabid Judy Garland fan. I don’t collect Garland memorabilia, nor do I attend the many conventions that are held yearly. But she was my first exposure to entertainment, and to Hollywood; a love that has remained with me my entire life.

It was almost fifteen years ago that the first rumors circulated that Judy Garland might be moving to Hollywood Forever. I was thrilled. But evidently there was a breakdown in communication within the family, or there was some other reason that it didn’t happen. I don’t know. Then, last January, when it was announced that it was finally happening–Judy Garland was being reinterred at Hollywood Forever in a beautiful art deco-ish mausoleum that sort of reminded me of Oz; it made me think.

I already had a niche at Hollywood Forever, in the Cathedral Mausoleum not far from Rudolph Valentino that I had bought several years ago. So, after deep thought, and with many niche’s (and some crypts) available for purchase, I decided to move. My new final resting place is directly across from Judy Garland’s crypt. To me, it made sense since Judy was a part of my early life–now she will be a part of my eternity (hopefully not for a few decades, though).

Hollywood: Then & Now

Monday, February 25th, 2019

DESILU PLAYHOUSE

6633 Romaine Street, Hollywood

Audience members waiting outside the entrance to Desilu Playhouse (the rear of General Service Studios) to watch an episode of I Love Lucy, circa 1951-1953.
The same location today. Note the black arrows show where the entrance has been walled up. Most likely the same sidewalk. This is the rear of Sunset Las Palmas Studios.

Celebrity Deaths for 2018

Saturday, December 29th, 2018

Following are celebrity deaths that occurred in 2018. Obviously, it is not an all-inclusive list and readers favorite celebrity may be missing. If so, please feel free to add their name in the comments sections.

  1. Abroms, Edward (82). Film editor. February 13.
  2. Adonis, Frank (83). Actor; “Goodfellas.’” December 26.
  3. Akiyama, Denis (66). Actor; “Johnny Mnemonic.” June 28.
  4. Allen, Marty (95). Comedian. February 12.
  5. Allen, Paul (65). Microsoft co-founder. October 15.
  6. Anderson, Harry (65). Actor; “Night Court.” April 16.
  7. Anspach, Susan (75). Actress; “Five Easy Pieces.” April 2.
  8. Audran, Stephane (85). French actress; “Babette’s Feast.” March 27.
  9. Avruch, Frank (89). Boston Television personality; “Bozo the Clown.” March 20.
  10. Aznavour, Charles (94). French Armenian singer. October 1.
  11. Balin, Marty (76). Musician; Jefferson Airplane. September 27.
  12. Barber, Ricardo (81). Cuban actor. December 17.
  13. Barlow, John Perry (70). Grateful Dead lyricist. February 7.
  14. Beach, Gary (70). Actor; “The Producers.” July 17.
  15. Bell, Art (72). Radio Host; “Coast to Coast AM.” April 13.
  16. Berry, Ken (85). Actor; “F-Troop,” Mama’s Family.” December 1.
  17. Bertolucci, Bernardo (77). Director; “The Last Emperor.” November 26.
  18. Blank, Mandy (42). Actress; “Spin City.” October 29.
  19. Bluiett, Hamiet (78). Baritone saxophonist. October 4.
  20. Bochco, Steven (74). Producer; “Hill Street Blues.” April 1.
  21. Bomberry, Tina Louise (52). Canadian actress; “North of 60.” February 10.
  22. Bonner, James “L.B.” (30). “My 600 lb Life” star. August 2.
  23. Bonnot, Francoise (78). Film editor; “Z,” “Missing.” June 2.
  24. Bosco, Philip (88). Actor; “Working Girl.” December 3.
  25. Bourdain, Anthony (61). Writer and chef. June 8.
  26. Boyd, Neal (42). Opera singer; “America’s Got Talent.” June 10.
  27. Bregman, Martin (92). Producer; “Scarface,” “Dog Day Afternoon.” June 16.
  28. Brown, Dushon Monique (49). Actress; “Chicago Fire.” March 23.
  29. Brown, Susan (86). Actress; “General Hospital.” August 31.
  30. Bulger, James ‘Whitey’ (89). Organized crime boss. October 30.
  31. Burrous, Chris (43). KTLA news reporter. December 27.
  32. Bush, Barbara (92). First Lady. April 17.
  33. Bush, George (94). 41st President of the United States. November 30.
  34. Butterworth, Donna (62). Child actress. March 6.
  35. Buxton, Frank (87). Writer, director; “The Odd Couple.” January 2.
  36. Campanella, Joseph (93). Actor; “The Bold Ones,” “Mannix.” May 16.
  37. Cappotelli, Matt (38). Wrestler; WWE’s reality show “Tough Enough.” June 29.
  38. Carey, Michele (75). Actress; “El Dorado,” “Live a Little, Love a Little.” November 21.
  39. Carlisle, Mary (104). Actress; “Tip-Off Girls.” August 1.
  40. Carrington, Deborah (58). Actress, stuntwoman; “Men in Black.” March 23.
  41. Cathey, Reg E. (59). Actor; “House of Cards.” February 9.
  42. Chambers, Emma (53). British actress; “Notting Hill.” February 21.
  43. Chow, Raymond (91), Co-founder of Hong Kong’s Golden Harvest. November 2.
  44. Clark, Roy (85). Country & Western singer. November 15.
  45. Clarke, ‘Fast’ Eddie (67). Guitarist; “Motorhead.” January 10.
  46. Clearwater, Eddy (83). Chicago bluesman. June 1.
  47. Cole, Olivia (75). Actress; “Roots.” January 19.
  48. Cosby, Ensa (44). Bill Cosby’s daughter. February 23.
  49. Cullen, Ann (90). Wife of Bill Cullen. July 21.
  50. Daily, Bill (91). Actor; “I Dream of Jeannie.” September 4.
  51. Damone, Vic (89). Singer. February 11.
  52. Dane, Hugh (75). Actor; “The Office.” May 16.
  53. De Givenchy, Hubert (91). French fashion designer; “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” March 10.
  54. Dillman, Bradford (87). Actor; “Sudden Impact.” January 16.
  55. Dix, Robert (83). Actor; “Forbidden Planet.” August 7.
  56. DJ Avicii [Tim Bergling] (28). Swedish musician and DJ. April 20.
  57. Dodd, Sir Ken (90). British comedian. March 11.
  58. Donat, Peter (90). Actor; “The X-Files.” September 10.
  59. Dorough, Bob (94). Jazz musician; “Schoolhouse Rock.” April 23.
  60. Dowdell, Robert (85). Actor; “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.” January 23.
  61. Dummar, Melvin E. (74). Actor; “Melvin and Howard.” December 9.
  62. Edwards, Dennis (74). Singer; “Temptations.” February 1.
  63. Edwards, Nokie (82). Lead guitarist; The Ventures. March 12.
  64. Ellison, Harlan (84). Science-fiction writer. June 27.
  65. Emerick, Geoff (72), Recording engineer for The Beatles. October 2.
  66. Ermey, R. Lee (74). Actor; “Mississippi Burning.” April 15.
  67. Fabray, Nanette (97). Actress; “Caesar’s Hour.” February 22.
  68. Falkholt, Jessica (29). Australian actress; “Home and Away.” January 17.
  69. Ferro, Paul (83). November 16.
  70. Fleming, Lisa (50). “My 600 lb. Life” star. August 23.
  71. Fontana, D.J. (87). Musician. June 13.
  72. Forman, Milos (86). Director; “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” April 13.
  73. Foy, Eddie III (83). Casting director. November 3.
  74. Frances, Cornelia (77). Australian actress; “Home and Away.” May 29.
  75. Franklin, Aretha (76). Singer; “Queen of Soul.” August 16.
  76. Fudge, Nicholas ‘Duffy’ (28). Reality television show “Wicked Tuna.” July 19.
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  78. Gavin, John (86). Actor; “Spartacus.” February 9.
  79. Gayson, Eunice (90). Actress; First Bond-girl. June 8.
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  81. Genest, Rick (32). Model; Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” video. August 2.
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  90. Gordon, Lorraine (95). Owner New York’s Village Vanguard jazz club. June 9.
  91. Gradon, Sophie (32). British reality show “Love Island.” June 20.
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  97. Harris, Barbara (83). Actress; “Nashville,” “Family Plot.” August 21.
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Jeanette Loff, the Hollywood Christmas Parade’s first guest star

Monday, December 24th, 2018

The Hollywood Christmas Parade, which takes place on Sunday evening in Hollywood, is its 89th year (except for three years during World War II) with Grand Marshall Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. and other celebrities, marching bands and of course, Santa Claus.

The ‘Santa Claus Lane,’ formerly Hollywood Boulevard during the Christmas season of 1928 at Highland Avenue.

The first parade, held on December 5, 1928, was known as “Santa Claus Lane” and featured Santa and Jeanette Loff (a last-minute replacement for Lili Damita), a Hollywood starlet. That evening, crowds thronged Christmas-tree lined Hollywood Boulevard (rechristened Santa Claus Lane) from Vine Street to La Brea Avenue. With Jeanette Loff, Santa Claus drove his reindeer-drawn sleigh east on the brilliantly illuminated course to La Brea, and returned over the same route.

The “parade” continued every evening during the Christmas season with a different prominent film player (Lili Damita showed up the following evening) each night.

Jeanette Loff poses on Santa’s sleigh for the first “Santa Claus Lane” parade in 1928

However, Jeanette Loff, the first starlet of what is known today as the Hollywood Christmas Parade, is probably little known today. At the time of the first Santa Clause Lane, Loff had appeared in twelve films since 1926, working her way up to costarring parts in Hold ‘Em Yale (1928) with Rod La Rocque, Annapolis (1928) with Johnny Mack Brown and Love Over Night (1928), again with La Roque.

Jeanette Loff was born on October 9, 1905 (most records claim 1906), in Orofino, Idaho to Marius and Inga (Loseth) Loff. Studio publicity claimed that her father was a famous Danish violinist, but he was in fact a barber and later a farmer.

Photo from Lewiston High School, Idaho in 1922. Arrow points to Loff.

Attempts by Pathe to make Loff a star.

After living for a time in Wadena, Canada, the Luff’s relocated to Lewiston, Idaho. After her high school graduation, the family moved to Portland, Oregon, where Jeanette enrolled at the Ellison & White Conservatory of Music where she learned to play the pipe-organ. When a local theater needed a pipe-organ player, Jeanette got the position. She worked her way up to playing at bigger and better Portland theaters.

Loff’s nude photograph by Edwin Bower Hesser.

Loff’s discovery in Hollywood is open to several versions. Whatever her introduction to films, in 1926, with her extremely wholesome looks, she earned a bit part in Universal’s The Collegian series followed by another extra part in Young April (1926) a film for Cecil B. DeMille’s company at Pathé, where she was put under contract.

DeMille cast her in two Westerns, followed by leading roles in the two films with Rod La Rocque. Over the next few years, she costarred in several good, but not outstanding films. At some point during her early career, she also posed for nude photographs.

Scene from The King of Jazz (1930).

Shortly after appearing as the first actress to ride in Hollywood’s premier Santa Claus Lane, Loff was brought to Universal to audition for The King of Jazz (1930), a possible million-dollar film they were producing. Executives were doubting their original choice for an important leading female role when producer Paul Bern arranged for her to audition. In the audition, she sang the number, “The Bridal Veil,” in a clear lyric soprano that impressed producers to give her the part.

In 1929, Loff’s parents had divorced, and her mother Inga and two sisters, Myrtle and Irene, moved to Los Angeles (her father, Marius, remained in Oregon until his death). That same year, Jeanette was also divorced from her first husband, traveling jewelry salesman Harry Roseboom whom she had secretly married in 1927. She reportedly had affairs with Gilbert Roland, Paul Bern–who tried unsuccessfully to cast her in a film–and lyricist Walter O’Keefe.

After making three more films over the next year, she grew tired of Hollywood and moved to New York, struggling to find stage roles, appearing only in the short-lived Broadway musical, Free for All, which closed after twelve days.

St. Louis Woman (1934), Jeanette Loff’s failed attempt at comeback.

In 1933, she returned to Hollywood when she heard that Universal was planning to re-release The King of Jazz. Thinking it would revive her career, she accepted the leading role in St. Louis Woman (1934) with Johnny Mack Brown (she also worked with Brown in Annapolis) for a poverty row studio. The film did poorly, but she made two shorts and three more films that same year, none of them money-makers. Her last film was Million Dollar Baby (1934) for Monogram Pictures.

From then on, she retired from films. In 1935, she married liquor salesman, Bertram “Bert” Friedlob. The following year, Friedlob produced Bert Wheeler’s Hollywood Stars in Person revue and included Loff in the cast.

Her marriage to Friedlob was rocky; he was a womanizer who had affairs with Lana Turner and many others.

702 North Crescent Drive, Beverly Hills where Jeanette Loff ingested ammonia. (PLEASE NOTE: This is a private home. DO NOT disturb the residents)

On August 1, 1942, Loff ingested ammonia at her Beverly Hills home at 702 North Crescent Drive; she was treated for mouth and throat burns at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital where she died three days later. Loff was only 35.

Jeanette Loff’s death certificate (click on image to enlarge)

 

The coroner was unable to determine if her death was accidental or a suicide. Reportedly at the time, she was suffering from a stomach ailment and accidently took the wrong bottle of medication.

However, wouldn’t she have noticed the ammonia smell? In any event, her death certificate called her death a “probable suicide.” Surprising, some in her family maintained that she had been murdered, but never publicly offered proof.

Jeanette Loff’s niche at Forest Lawn’s Great Mausoleum. Her sister Myrtle is interred with her. (Find-a-Grave)

 

Jeanette Loff, the Hollywood Christmas Parade’s first hostess, was cremated and interred at Glendale’s Forest Lawn in the Great Mausoleum (Protection Columbarium).

Bert Friedlob later produced several films including The Star (1952) with Bette Davis and Tyrone Power’s Untamed (1955). Friedlob died in 1956.

 

History of the Hollywood Sign

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

  

The Hollywood Sign, which was officially completed on December 8, 1923, celebrates its 95th anniversary today. It has had a remarkable and turbulent history and has endured its share of problems, including a suicide leap from the H, squabbles over who should maintain it, markings from mountain-climbing spray painters, hassles among community groups about its worth, battles with local residents to keep hikers from it, and threats over the years to tear it down.

The sign has been a part of the local scenery for 95 years, longer than many city landmarks such as Grauman’s Chinese, City Hall, the Shrine Auditorium and UCLA. It even predates Mulholland Drive and is decades older than any freeway.

As many know, the Hollywood sign is the remnant of an advertisement for a 640-acre real-estate development. When it was erected in 1923, the sign spelled HOLLYWOODLAND, the name of the housing development on the slope below it. The sign, however, was an afterthought.

As with many Hollywood origins, the sign’s beginnings have more than one version. The one chosen for this article goes as follows:

In the spring of 1923, John Roche, a 26-year-old advertising and promotional man, was working on a brochure for the Hollywoodland subdivision. He had drawn in proposed home sites, streets and equestrian trails. Behind them, on the side of Mt. Lee, he had penciled in HOLLYWOODLAND.

Harry Chandler, then publisher of the Los Angeles Times, was one of the project’s developers. When Roche arrived at his office with the drawing, Chandler liked the idea and wanted to know if a sign could be erected that could be seen all over Los Angeles.

For a good perspective, Roche drove to Wilshire Boulevard, then a little, partially asphalted road, to see if he could see the mountain from there. Roche took photographs and made drawings of the Hollywood hills. Roche calculated that each letter would have to be 50 feet high to be visible from that distance. When he reported to Chandler that such a sign would be seen, the project began.

“I made a sketch almost that big,” Roche explained in 1977. “I took it to Mr. Chandler’s office about 11 one night – he sat in his office until midnight every night and would talk to anybody – and he said, ‘Go ahead and do it.’ We didn’t have engineers or anything. We just put it up.”

As Roche had determined, each individual letter was built 50-feet high and 30-feet wide. They were assembled on metal panels, each three-by-nine-feet, and painted white. The next step was attaching the panels to a framework that consisted of wires, scaffolding and telephone poles, which were brought up the steep hillside by mules.

Fifty to one-hundred laborers dug the holes with pick axes and shovels. An access road was completed so the enormous sheet metal letters could be brought in. The sign was completed in about 60 days at a cost of $21,000. Years later, Roche said: “I think we built it faster than you could today (1984).” Roche recalled the sign being lighted, but insisted there were no lights on the original HOLLYWOODLAND. “That came sometime later,” he said.

At some point, the sign was illuminated at night by 4,000, 20-watt bulbs, evenly spaced around the outside edge of each letter. This required a caretaker (Albert Kothe, who lived in a cabin behind the first “L”), who maintained the sign and its lighting system. To replace burned out bulbs, Kothe would climb onto the framework behind each letter, the new light bulbs tucked in his shirt.

Since it was planned to promote real-estate, it was not designed to survive the sale of the last lot. Public sentiment, however, led to keeping the sign long after its commercial function was over.

During the sign’s heyday, many stars bought homes in Hollywoodland. The highest lot above the sign was sold to comedy producer Mack Sennett, but he never built there. Sennett did use the sign, though, to pose bathing beauties between the O’s for publicity stills.

There have been rumors of several suicides from the sign, especially during the Depression years, but the only acknowledged death occurred in 1932, when Peg Entwistle, a young actress who came to Hollywood from the Broadway stage, jumped to her death from the letter “H.”

In 1939, the lights were extinguished when the maintenance fund was discontinued by the realtors. It’s rumored that soon after, all 4,000 bulbs were stolen.

In 1945, the development company that owned it donated the sign and the land surrounding it to the city’s Recreation and Parks Commission as an adjunct parcel to Griffith Park. The sign, by this point, had been neglected and vandalized for several years.

In January 1949, the “H” blew down in a windstorm, and nearby residents complained that the sign was a hazard and an eyesore. On January 6, the Recreation and Parks Commission announced that the sign would be torn down. They denied a request of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to alter and repair the sign to read HOLLYWOOD.

Several days later, Councilman Lloyd G. Davies (who represented Hollywood) introduced a resolution before the City Council that the Chamber of Commerce would repair the sign, at an estimated cost of $5,000, furnish bond to guarantee its maintenance and provide the city with proper liability coverage, if the parks commission would consent. Davies said his district was sensitive about becoming known as “’OLLYWOOD.”

The parks commission later reversed its decision and allowed the first nine letters to be repaired, and removed the last four letters to read “HOLLYWOOD,” therefore transforming it from a commercial display into a community one.


By the early 1960s, weather again had taken a strong toll on the sign’s condition. At a cost of $4,500, it was restored by the Kiwanis. At irregular intervals, several civic groups had the metal facing repainted, but little structural maintenance was done.

In 1973, the city once again threatened to tear down the sign. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and local radio station KABC, began a “Save the Sign” campaign hoping to solicit $15,000 from the public to finance structural repairs, replace fallen facing panels, and give it a fresh coat of paint. That same year, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Board designated it a monument, thus giving it dignity but no money.

One woman sent the repair fund a large check with a note: “My little girl in 1925 learned to spell from the sign.” Another recalled a proposal of marriage made to her in 1944 near the sign; she “foolishly” rejected it, but wondered how many accepted proposals were made there. A third woman calculated that if “All the couples who parked up there sent in $1, there would be more than enough.” Fortunately, the campaign was successful and the sign received a facelift and a reprieve–but it wouldn’t last for long.

On January 1, 1976, several young men, to mark the change in the marijuana law in California, masked the OOs with EEs made from white sheets. It read HOLLYWEED for a day.

A year later, the “D” became wobbly because of recent rainstorms and there was concern about how long it would stay in place. Up close, the sign creaked and rattled, even in a light wind. Its timbers were rotting. Sheet metal, rusted and corroded, fell from its face and loose securing cables dangled from some of the 50-foot high letters.

It was estimated that a replacement sign would go as high as $120,000. To generate interest in preserving the sign, a press conference was held at the base of the sign with invitations sent out accompanied by a snake bite kit.

CLICK HERE to watch the opening credits (3 minutes) of Savage Intruder (1970), the last film of actress Miriam Hopkins. It has creepy, close-up, footage of the deteriorating Hollywood Sign before it’s restoration. 

The chamber hoped to use money that was raised in 1975 by KIIS radio station to do cosmetic work on the landmark. “But the sign is in such bad shape, it will do us no good to raise small amounts of money,” said Michael Sims, executive director of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. “We’re either going to lose it or take care of it. That’s going to be up to Hollywood. What we really need now is a guardian angel.”

A few months later, in April 1977, the sign was altered to read HOLYWOOD for Easter Sunrise service, viewable from the Hollywood Bowl.

The following winter, the final blow came as wind and heavy rainstorms once again took a toll on the sign. The top of the first O fell off, the Y buckled inward toward the hillside, and the last O collapsed completely.

A campaign was established once again to “Save the Sign.” Eventually, after several efforts to raise money was not sufficient, nine donors came forward; each chose a letter and contributed $27,777.

The donors who paid for each letter included: (H) newspaper publisher, Terrance Donnelly; (O) Italian movie producer, Giovanni Mazza; (L) Les Kelly (Kelly Blue Book); (L) Gene Autry; (Y) Hugh Heffner; (W) Andy Williams; (O) Warner Bros. Records; (O) Alice Cooper, in memory of Groucho Marx; (D) Dennis Lidtke.

The new letters, made of steel, were unveiled on Hollywood’s (so-called) 75th anniversary, November 14, 1978.

Over the following years, unauthorized alterations have been made to the sign. In July 1987, it was changed to OLLYWOOD, (Ollie North) during the Iran-Contra hearings. During the Gulf War it read OIL WAR and in 1993, 20 members of UCLA’s Theta-Chi fraternity changed it to GO UCLA. The students were charged with trespassing, prompting the installation of a security system featuring video surveillance and motion detection. However, it didn’t prevent another institution of learning to alter it to CALTECH ten years later.

In any event, here’s hoping the Hollywood Sign will continue to look out over the Hollywood community for 95 more years and more.