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Historic Hollywood Sites

Discussion of the actors, directors and film-makers who 'made it all happen'

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Re: Historic Hollywood Sites

Postby Lzcutter » December 16th, 2012, 3:44 pm

It's Christmastime 1940 in the City of Angels. The War was still a year away and the city had been pulling itself out of the Depression. Hollywood, aviation and manufacturing were the big home-town industries. The city had taken in almost a million newcomers in the years since the Depression began, many of those newcomers refugees from the Dust Bowl and the mid-west. They often arrived with just what they had packed in their cars and with little to no savings.

But the City of Angels often seemed like the promised land when you read it about it in or saw pictures of it in the newspapers and magazines of the day. It was a place where you could reinvent yourself, forge a new life and garner a slice of the American dream. Thousands found in those articles and pictures (and word of mouth), their second chance at life and took it, even though it meant packing up the family and leaving all that you had ever known for a life away from loved ones and friends.

It was the largest exodus of people since the end of the Civil War and for many the destination was California, the golden state of hopes and dreams and Los Angeles the preferred city of choice.

In this photo, Santa has arrived at the Christmas parade in downtown Los Angeles aboard a rocket ship that looks like Santa might have rolled it from Buck Rogers or perhaps won it in a late night poker game with the celluloid space ranger.

Surrounded by a bevy of beauties, Santa is bringing holiday cheer to all.


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In the background is a drug store and the famed Examiner building. Before Julia Morgan designed Xanadu, OOPS!, San Simeon for William Randolph Hearst, she designed this Mission-style home for journalism for the newspaper magnate. He was so happy with her work, she became his go-to architect.

Located at Broadway and 11th, the Examiner's (then the Hearld-Express) newsroom was dominated by the only female big city editor in the country, the no-nonsense,Aggie Underwood.

Aggie had gotten her start in the world of journalism when she asked her husband to buy her a pair of silk stockings and he refused. She threatened to find a job and her forbade her to do that. They fought and Aggie took a job as temp switchboard operator at the old Los Angeles Record.

She found herself entranced by the world of journalism. Thanks to the editor of the Woman's section, Gertrude Price (pen name Cynthia Grey), Aggie went from the switchboard to reporting.

In 1935, she went to work for Hearst. She covered the sensational stories of the day and had an affinity for female murderers and female victims. She was the first reporter on the scene when the police discovered the body of Elizabeth Short, aka the Black Dahlia. Her coverage of the case played a big role in her promotion to City Editor.

She also had an affinity for reporters. She ruled the City Desk with a mixture of maternal wisdom and hard-boiled tenacity. She kept both a baseball bat (used to make her point with rowdy reporters when necessary) and a bottle of scotch in her desk. On hot Friday afternoons, she ordered cases of cold beer be brought to the newsroom to the delight of her rowdy reporters.

She held the position for 17 and a half years and chose to retire in 1968 when the union news reporters went on strike. Even though she was by then managing editor, she chose retirement rather than cross "her boys" who were on strike.

Aggie died of a heart attack in 1984.

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Re: Historic Hollywood Sites

Postby moira finnie » December 16th, 2012, 4:01 pm

I love the way it looks as though the reindeer are riding in back of the rocket in that 1940 parade.

Great piece on the newspaper game in LA and Aggie Underwood. Here's a picture of her in 1944 as she interviewed a mourner at evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson's funeral. (Aggie's on the right with the notebook).
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Could you also do an entry on legendary editor Harlan Ware someday, Lynn? He knew where all the bodies were buried, and he was a good writer too. He wrote several novels, including Come Fill the Cup, one of the best early examinations of alcoholism in the news game...and a great, unsung Jimmy Cagney flick.

In any case, thanks for keeping this thread going. It's great.
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Re: Historic Hollywood Sites

Postby Lzcutter » December 16th, 2012, 9:08 pm

Moira,

Thanks so much for the kind words! I love the little girl in the foreground who looks like she is holding on to her big brother, not sure if she trusts Santa or not.

I wonder how the two young boys in the back of the float managed to escape wearing reindeer horns when those older are?

The four men on the opposite side of the street look like they could either be gossiping or singing early doo-wop.
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Re: Historic Hollywood Sites

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » December 19th, 2012, 10:00 pm

Lynn,

Thanks for this lovely story about Aggie Underwood and the City of Angels.

She reminds me of the first newspaper editor I worked for.
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Re: Historic Hollywood Sites

Postby Lzcutter » December 19th, 2012, 11:19 pm

Thanks Suex2!

I was thinking it would have been the perfect role for Thelma Ritter!
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Re: Historic Hollywood Sites

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » December 20th, 2012, 10:07 am

Omigosh! I totally agree. With her acerbic wit, comic timing, and that glance that would frighten and stun a classroom full of smarmy 9th graders! No one would dare to pitch a story to a city editor like that unless they could produce a 500-word masterpiece with a jump page!

What a great script that would make! Ben Hecht is long gone, but I bet we could match something like he might have written! Snappy dialogue, scandal, alcohol-laden schmooze sessions, gumshoes, gremlilns, and go-getters. And somebody always had to be in charge!
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Re: Historic Hollywood Sites

Postby moira finnie » December 20th, 2012, 10:25 am

Lzcutter wrote:I was thinking it would have been the perfect role for Thelma Ritter!

Oooh, calling Central Casting in heaven! Thelma could have played Aggie for laughs and tears in one great fantasy biopic! Can't you just hear her commenting on some sad sack she was interviewing...
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Re: Historic Hollywood Sites

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » December 20th, 2012, 10:44 am

So true!
As Auntie Mame would say, "How vivid!" Thelma as Aggie would leave no turn unstoned.

And the return of witty repartee a la The Front Page and His Girl Friday. I miss my repartee!Image
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Re: Historic Hollywood Sites

Postby Lzcutter » December 20th, 2012, 10:23 pm

WHHHHHAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!

I so want to see Thelma in this biopic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LA Confidential era of the City of Angels, plenty of murder and mayhem and Thelma with a baseball bat talking to her "boys", with a script by Ben Hecht. sigh!!!!!!!!!!

I would be so there.

Guess it will just have to be the movie in my mind!!!
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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Re: Historic Hollywood Sites

Postby Lzcutter » December 20th, 2012, 11:37 pm

Image


1949 Tree Lighting ceremony in Pershing Square.

(More to follow once I get home to my beloved City of Angels later tomorrow!)
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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Re: Historic Hollywood Sites

Postby Rita Hayworth » December 27th, 2012, 2:21 am

Lzcutter ... thanks for sharing all this and I love the way you share your thoughts on Hollywood History. :)

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Re: Historic Hollywood Sites

Postby JackFavell » January 26th, 2013, 2:59 pm

Lynn, I hope you don't mind, but there was an interesting article at the Morlocks site about the Peter Bogdanovich movie, TARGETS, and I thought the location information found there might be interesting for readers and California history buffs here at the SSO.

http://moviemorlocks.com/2013/01/25/rid ... s-roadmap/

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Re: Historic Hollywood Sites

Postby Lzcutter » January 28th, 2013, 11:25 pm

Jacks!

Thank you so much for linking to the Targets blog piece! I loved it and now I want to know where the house is! We live in Sherman Oaks, next door to Van Nuys and about 10 minutes from the Sherman Oaks Galleria.

I loved seeing what the Valley looked like 45 years ago.

I also would love to know the upper name on the Pools sign. I love that sign!!!!! Very mid-century modern!

Thank you again!
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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Re: Historic Hollywood Sites

Postby JackFavell » January 29th, 2013, 8:13 am

It looks something like ROMAN Pools, but I just don't have the eyesight to be able to tell for sure.

I am dying to know where that house is too! I wonder if there's a listing of Karloff's addresses somewhere? If it is indeed his own house? It's a winner that's for sure, it's gorgeous. You can see why I thought of you when I read the post... midcentury modern at it's finest. I love that California cottagey style...

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Re: Historic Hollywood Sites

Postby Lzcutter » February 2nd, 2013, 6:28 pm

It's Oscar Time and with the Film Festival coming, I thought it might be fun to focus on Hollywood:

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Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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