Saturday, November 28, 2015

Photographing Disneyland for 40 Years

Whilin' away the holiday weekend? Here's some fun, nostalgic pictures to pass the time.

Technically, Disneyland is not in Los Angeles. But I don't care; it's only as far as Anaheim. Angelenos go there regularly and love it as if it were our own home town.

Renie Bardeau was at Disneyland for 40 years, taking beautiful shots of the park's rides, fireworks, and scenery, as well as of celebrity guests who posed with Mickey and Minnie. There are photos of Walt Disney as well, including one that I read is truly iconic: a black and white image of Sleeping Beauty's castle in the early hours before Disneyland opens for the day, its pathways slick with water. Right in the middle is Walt Disney, hands in pockets, taking a stroll through his quiet domain. It's titled "Footsteps" and you can see it here.

And for your visual enjoyment, a hundred of Bardeau's photos are gathered together in a slide show presented by the Orange County Register. Enjoy!

Bardeau was a college student when he first started working for Disneyland in the late 50s. This photo of VP Richard Nixon and his family in a Monorail is an early one in his career. That's Art Linkletter, up there in the bubble top ready to play pilot, as Walt Disney himself poses outside. The occasion--and Bardeau's first big assignment--was the dedication of the Disneyland Monorail System.

I will understand if you want to go straight to Annette's picture--she's number 55. You'll also find photos of Michael Jackson, Jim Carrey, Nat King Cole and other celebs, athletes from Joe DiMaggio to Kobe Bryant, presidents and heads of state, performers like Artie Shaw in concert, and much more. Then there are the shots of the park itself, of rides in motion, flowers surrounding the castle,fireworks exploding, and the attractions that have never changed as well as some that have disappeared.

Bardeau, btw, started with a summer job and became a staff photographer, enjoying a warm relationship with Walt Disney himself. For the last 23 years before he retired in 1998, he was chief photographer. As the OC Register says, he has some stories. He now lives in Arizona.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sea Hunt Locale: Marineland & Terranea

Who remembers Sea Hunt? I was surprised to learn it only ran for four seasons (1958-1961) because it seemed such a big part of my childhood TV viewing. And everyone watched it!

Here's a bit of trivia. Did you know that Leonard Nimoy appeared in eight episodes? Long before Nimoy was Spock, he was a bad guy named Tyler, and a jerk named Finn, an abalone diver named Johnny, and more.

Many episodes of the show--including some in which Lloyd Bridges' son Jeff appeared--were filmed at Marineland of the Pacific.

I wrote about Marineland's history for Patch a few years ago. It was the second marine-life water park, not the first. The first--Marine Studios--opened in Florida in 1938, and it was a smash. So the owners decided to try something even bigger out west.

The same architect that would design LAX's Theme Building, William Pereira, laid out Marineland in the mid-50s. But there were no fishies until the very last minute. Just a month before the scheduled opening, a ship was sent out to collect marine life to fill the aquariums and tanks. The four original dolphins that performed were flown in from Florida, where they'd been trained at Marine Studios.

The new park was not successful at first, so the owners decided they needed something like a whale to wow the crowd. I like to think Mike Nelson would not go along with that reasoning.

Anyway, the same ship that had collected fish was now tasked with finding a whale. Skipper Frank Brocato and his godson Boots Calandrino were up to the challenge, studying whales and devising their own equipment to capture one. Calandrino described it all for Westways Magazine years later. The whale they caught was only 12 feet long, and no one knew if whales could be trained to do tricks. But just having her, the owners thought, would bring in more customers.

They were right, and Bubbles exceeded all expectations. She was a whale with personality, and everyone loved her. Bubbles the whale was entertaining crowds when Sea Hunt debuted, and she continued to delight audiences into the 1980s, when. in a bit of skullduggery that locals have never quite gotten over, Bubbles was whale-napped along with many other creatures, and shipped to San Diego. Marineland closed, and the property sat empty for decades.

There's Marineland, above right. And below on the left, is Terranea Resort, the expansive luxury hotel that occupies the land today.

Terranea has a great restaurant named Nelson's, right on the coast. And it's named in honor of Lloyd Bridges' character in Sea Hunt, scuba diver Mike Nelson.

Pictures of the TV show like the one above line the walls. Dozens of them, and 8 by 10 glossies as well, along with other memorabilia, like a rowboat hung from the ceiling.

You have to hike to get from the parking lot to Nelson's, which is way out by the water. But it's worth it. They even have an open air service area where hikers can sit with their dogs. My kinda people.

Yes, you'll pay $20 for a burger. It's a very good burger. The food at Nelson's is more than excellent. The blackened salmon on my salad was probably the best salmon I've had in a couple of years, and the others in my group were equally enthralled by their meals. We're all still smilin' when we think about them.

The only bad thing is that all the Sea Hunt stuff is indoors. And the best place to sit, weather permitting, is outdoors.

The view is too gorgeous and the sun too dazzling to stay inside. So you'll only see the cool stuff on your way to the bathroom.

And if the whole Sea Hunt nostalgia isn't enough to float your boat, remember that this is the site where the original fort around Port Royal was built for the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl. The ship sailed all over this coast line, from Redondo Beach to Long Beach. Some shots of the Pearl appearing from behind a bluff are recognizably located in PV. Here's a picture from Steve Zepeda's MySpace page of the filming.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Talks on Los Angeles History, Late May, Early June 2015

These pictures were taken at the Armed Forces Day Parade in Torrance last week. The parade has been going on for 56 years now; it started in 1959. And I was at that one too.

Of course, I remember very little about it, being only four years old. My grandmother was friends with Bert Lynn & his wife Chick, and they had invited us over to their home, which was on the parade route. We sat on maple chairs made for children, just back from the curb, and I think Mr. Lynn rode in the parade, since he was on the School Board.

But the soldiers marching and the military vehicles made no impression at all. In fact, my most vivid memory is of the glazed donuts my Mom brought to us when she got off work at the doctors' office down the street. Glazed donuts were a rare treat!

Here are some interesting events and talks going on in the next few weeks--the first two are presented through Zocalo.

Thursday, May 28th at 7:30 pm: How do you film the (Mexican) American Story?

Luis Valdez, producer of La Bamba, and Moctezuma Esparza, producer of Selena, join film critic Claudia Puig to discuss not only challenges in film making, but how movies like theirs express and shape culture. At Arclight Hollywood, 6360 Sunset Blvd. Details here. From what I can tell, this talk is free though they do ask for reservations.

Monday, June 1st, at 7:30 pm: Is L.A.'s Past Worth Saving?  KCRW's Saul Gonzalez moderates a panel of guests: crime novelist Denise Hamilton, Libros Schmibros founder David Kipen, L.A. Office of Historic Resources manager Ken Bernstein, L.A. Weekly staff writer Dennis Romero, and KCET arts and culture columnist Lynell George. The event (details here) takes place at the Plaza on Olvera Street.

The backstory: In the ongoing wake of our constant destruction of local historical sites (the bulldozing of Ray Bradbury's home being a very recent example), the Getty and the City of Los Angeles have partnered to create HistoricPlacesLA. The purpose is (according to Zocalo), "To help us get a grip on our local heritage."  This panel celebrates the debut of that site. HistoricPlacesLA is "the first online system to inventory, map, describe and help protect Los Angeles' significant cultural resources."

The site maps out the areas of Los Angeles to be included, and divides the criteria of historical significance to cover industrial and commercial properties as well as historical periods.

Saturday, June 13th, from 2 to 4 pm, rock photographer Neil Zlozower will be interviewed by music historian Jeff Schwartz at Los Angeles Central Library, in the Mark Taper Auditorium. Zlozower has been taking pictures of rock stars like Guns N' Roses and Van Halen for four decades, and this interview is in conjunction with the ongoing exhibit of Zlozower's work--which will be on view until June 28.

Sunday, June 14th, from 2 to 3:30 pm, Adam Arenson will talk about Millard Sheets and the Art of Home Savings. Professor Arenson is writing a book with the projected title is Privately Sponsored Public Art: The Millard Sheets Studio, Home Savings and Loan, and the Corporate Creation of a New American Urban History. 

The free talk will be at the Santa Monica Main Library and  this link has the info and another link to directions.

And, of course, the LA Conservancy continues to offer its Walking Tours, taking folks through Union Station on Saturdays, the Biltmore Hotel on Sundays, and many themed Los Angeles neighborhood tours. Want free ? They've got self-guided walking tours as well--all you have to do is print out the information.  Like this one that takes you to all the shooting locations of one of my favorite movies, (500) Days of Summer.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Happy Mosaic Monday from the south end of San Pedro

Mid century geometric mosaics on an apartment house on 25th Street, just east of where it turns into Palos Verdes Drive South.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dress Up at Disneyland

Did you know there were sort of secret days on which visitors dress up to go to the Magic Kingdom? Some really epitomize the term "dress up," as in "Sunday morning church and stroll clothes." The most exquisite dress up day would be Dapper Day and it occurs twice a year.

Dapper Day has its own website, which is where the above montage came from. The next Dapper Day in Orange County is September 18--upwards of 20,000 people come dressed in their finest from their era of choice, and you can join them!

I called the dress up days "sort of secret" because there's a website or facebook page for many of them. You just have to know where to look for it. Here is a list of the days that was published by LA Weekly (thank you, thank you!).

The day coming up  next on the calendar is April 26: Pin-up Day. This involves goodie bags and special group pictures at certain rides. See the linked FB page for times. Also see their links for what constitutes a pin up outfit. They're much milder than I thought. Attitude seems to be the defining factor of the ensemble.

The 10th Annual Unofficial Star Wars Day was last June, but I haven't found a date for a 2015 event. You can "like" the event site on Facebook to stay informed.

For the record, I think that Disneyland does not allow full-on costumes. Star Wars fans can wear tee shirts, etc. but not their Padawan or Jedi Master outfits. On Dapper Day--well, when does a suit with a bow tie become a costume? It doesn't! Get thee to a habadashery!

Gay Days are old hat by now--but Boomers like me remember when, back in the 70s or 80s, this was a big issue. Hah! According to many, any day is gay day at the Magic Kingdom. For the record, however, Gay Days fall in October.

Other special days include the twice-a-year Raver Days, Dr. Who day--also called Galliday--and the Harry Potter Day. Then there's Lolita day, Tikis, steampunk, rockabily, Bats, and goths. And lions and tigers and bears--well, why don't they have an Oz day?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Giannini Place

If you hear "Giannini", you might think of Bank of America--especially if you're into corporate histories, because A. P. Giannini created the Bank of America as we know it.

Did you know that before there was a Bank of America, there was a Bank of Italy, founded by Giannini in 1904 in San Francisco? In fact, the Bank of Italy helped the city recover from the 1906 earthquake by providing loans for rebuilding. In 1923, Giannini placed its corporate headquarters right here in Los Angeles. After just five years, he merged his Bank of Italy with a small, local firm called Bank of America Los Angeles, and then changed the name of his banking chain. From 1930 on it's been Bank of America. The building itself has housed other companies, but of late it's stood abandoned.

Giannini Place, as the former corporate headquarters is now called, is a 12-story building at Olive and 7th Street, and as the Los Angeles Times reports in this story, it's about to be transformed from one of our top eyesores into a "hip hotel,"by Sydell Group.

Sydell Group recently bought the site for $30 million (according to the Times) and is already converting another structure--the Commercial Exchange Building on Olive and 8th, one block away--into the Freehand Hotel.

The Times story has links back to 1923 articles about the opening of the Bank of Italy headquarters, and also describes the plans for both the Freehand and Giannini Place hotel (there's no official name yet). It's an interesting read in itself--here's the link again--but it is also accompanied by a SLIDESHOW! Yay! No separate link--it's embedded right into the beginning of the article.

The pictures show that while columns and marble and ornate ceilings are still in place, there are lots of repairs to be done. And that there's a big ol' vault in the basement.

My black and white photo is from the Los Angeles Library's Herald Examiner collection. It was taken in 1941 and identifies the structure as the TransAmerica Building.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mid April Report

Old and new on Abbott Kinney in Venice

On April 28, go see a lecture and slide show about Pacific Ocean Park--remember that wild place? Did you know that it was built because it's owner was miffed at Walt Disney and Disneyland, so he built his own "Space Age Nautical Pleasure Pier" ? So there.

The speakers will be Marc Wanamaker (who often writes and talks about Venice and early movie history) and Dominic Priore, who has written the book on POP and will have it for sale at the lecture.

7 PM, April 28, at SPARC (the old police station), 686 Venice Blvd. It's presented by the Venice Historical Society. If you're a member of that august group, the event is free; otherwise, it's $10.

Have you seen the Sunset Strip Rock and Roll Billboards exhibit at the Skirball Center? On April 21 (Tuesday) at 8 pm, photographer Robert Landau and billboard artist Enrique Vidal will talk about their careers and the exhibit itself. Free, but rsvp's are recommended. They always say that.

Of course, the big event this weekend will be the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC. There's so much going on there that I can't even begin to list the authors, panels, specialists, celebrities, etc. John Scalzi with Wil Wheaton! Plus there are so many talks aimed at writers of every genre, even those who cross genres (cough). Go to the page, and go to the Festival!

What to read? How about the story of Jymm, one of the 6,300 homeless veterans in Los Angeles. Read it through to the last sentence. This story raises painful issues, like: does a person have to conform to my standard of normal to get the benefit of the doubt when decisions are made about his health, his mental health, his care? Or how about: how many demands can be made on overworked agencies before incarceration is chosen as simply the easiest way to deal with a difficult person?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Church Photos and Picnic Sites

Angelenos, Vickey Kall is here to help you celebrate spring! Easter and picnics express the season so well, and Easter means churches, right?

So from Zocalo Public Square:

A photo collection and essay on Los Angeles' one-room churches by Kevin McKollister.

A dozen photos, mostly exterior, are included with the piece. McKollister says he has been photographing these churches for nine years, relishing their warmth, simplicity, and humility.

"Occasionally I have been invited in. Warmly. And fed. Generously. Fried chicken and iceberg lettuce. Pupusas. No judgment when I told them why I was asking to take a photograph. I’ve been prayed over—not to be saved from damnation, but just to be given something nice."

A bastion of grace in the world.

Also from Zocalo:

Ann article on street vendors. Specifically, a piece by food critic/writers Javier Cabral about food cart vendors on the streets of Los Angeles, and why he won't review them (spoiler: they'd wind up in jail). Cabral gives us a brief history of street food vendors and the ins and outs and ironies of permits that satisfy one county department but not another. He talks about the efforts to legalize them, the number of jobs such vendors create (as they are buying their food, hiring workers) and the taxes they would pay, if legalized.

Segue time: this picture of Kenneth Hahn Park is from, and neither the park nor the site is mentioned in the following. But it makes a great presentation of the topic, which is picnic sites in Los Angles.

Now that the weather's changing, from "in like a lion" to the dry dregs of August, KCET has posted a roundup of SoCal's best sites for picnics, which includes the following:

  • Spring (this is spring, right?): the best places to drive to and picnic while surrounded by poppies, lupin, and other wildflowers, and most of those are NOT in Los Angeles County

  • Summer: Hollywood Forever Cemetery, with it's summertime movie screenings--although there are other events there as well, which you can check out here. The Hollywood Bowl and Leona Valley are other locations

  • ;A hike to Cucamonga Peak was mentioned, but in today's heat, I have trouble thinking of that as fun, especially when carrying cold drinks and food.

KCET did not mention  Griffith Park, oddly enough. But wait! CBS News came up with a list just a couple of weeks ago that includes Palisades Park in Santa Monica, Echo Park  Lake, Grand Park, and the Rose Garden in Exposition Park, as well as Griffith Park and the Bowl. 

And of course, you can just Google, which is where I found HikeSpeak and all its l interesting data and lovely photos, like this one of the Old Zoo ruins in Griffith Park.

Friday, March 20, 2015

From PV to Bell and Facebook

Long time no see!

I don't want to abandon this blog about Los Angeles history, because I still love the topic. I know that others find it interesting too.

But long, well-researched posts  are time-consuming, and I can't commit to them.

Almost daily, I run across fascinating articles that I think would make great blog posts, but if I took the time to pursue them I wouldn't have time to make a living!

Here's an example--Sam Gnerre of the Daily Breeze wrote this blog post last year titled "Marineland's tumultuous final days," He details the skullduggery of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, the last corporate overlords of the late lamented attraction, which makes a fascinating and tragic tale.

The posts on Sam Gnerre's blog, called South Bay History, go into detail about things like the Harbor City Ice Rink (which is still there!), the Tongva village of Suangna, bootlegging during Prohibition--when rum runners landed at Portuguese Bend and other coastal sites, and much more.

Follow his blog; you won't be sorry.

Zocalo is another site where you can find Los Angeles history stories, which is odd because Zocalo is actually a product of Arizona State University.

Their stories are usually accompanied by in-depth analysis--like this one that starts with a summing up of the scandal in the city of Bell. But as author Joe Mathews says, "The sense of triumph we feel after getting past a scandal is part of our problem." 

The small towns in our area have complex financial issues, partly because we've saddled them with so many regulations and laws. But it's still possible to cheat, and officials are often desperate. It's a thought-provoking tale.

Zocalo's featured a first-hand account of Martin Luther King's Freedom Rally at the Sports Arena in the early 1960s, written by then-teenager Ellen Broms, and artist Barbara A. Thomason's story about her 100 paintings exploring the not-so-famous views of Los Angeles. These are unique tales that you probably won't find anywhere else.

Pointing you toward articles like these seems a good reason to blog.

The internet landscape has changed in the eight years since I started the History Los Angeles blog. Social media--most especially Facebook--circulates so many bits of Los Angeles history that a blog can't possibly keep up.

Do you follow the Facebook pages Photos of Los Angeles and SoCal Historic Architecture, which post both old and new photos (and often overlap)? Photos like this one of Tom Breneman's restaurant on Vine. Followers then chime in with bits of information and memories of the place. Breneman hosted a radio show called "Breakfast in Hollywood" from this place in the 40s, and folks all over the US tuned in. Facebook fans responded to this picture with a half dozen black and white photos of the restaurant, including an old ad for the show, and bits of trivia like the fact that the restaurant closed with Breneman's death in the late 40s and was briefly an ABC studio, and that a movie with Zasu Pitts was filmed using the radio show as a plot and setting.

Now you can't beat that. Facebook is interactive, and blogs--though you can leave comments--really aren't.

So I'm going to blog periodically, but mostly I'll be rounding up other sites and linking to them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Surfridge, Torrance, Eagle Rock & More

Here are a few stories on Los Angeles history to entertain you while the turkey is roasting:

  • A collection of how LA neighborhoods got their names. I know the LA Times has printed lists like this recently, but this one is from Mental Floss and has a great picture of Eagle Rock (right). Why does that appeal? Because in the 1920s my uncle used to ditch school and eat his lunch while hanging his legs over the rock edge. 

  • From MessyNessyChic, the history of Surfridge, an area of Playa del Rey (or as it was known, in the 20s and 30s, Palisades del Rey). Lots of pictures, but the area is nothing but cracked sidewalks now--a victim of our air traffic.

  • A story about the Uncertain Future of the Lummis House, from the LA Times

  • Like Pictures? Indulge yourself here, with tons o' pictures of the Warner Huntington Park Theater, courtesy of LA Curbed. 

  • Also from LA Curbed, a story of Ye Olde Torrance, close to my heart since I was born and raised there. This tale goes back to 1912 and the planning of the city as a workers' or company paradise, sorta.