VIDEO – Bill Field at the Old Town Music Hall

In 1958, Bill Coffman and Bill Field purchased the Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ from the Fox West Coast Theater in Long Beach. In 1968, Old Town Music Hall settled into its present home in the original El Segundo State Theater. Every weekend, they still show classic films… and more often than not, Bill Fields himself plays the Wurlitzer for you. Be prepared to sing along! :)

It’s also a giant bargain. Movie tickets are $8, drinks are $1 and popcorn is $1-2. (Also available? FRESH MACAROONS!)

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VIDEO – Take a Ride on the Last Red Car! (1961)

People tend to glamorize the old Red Cars. It’s controversial to say this, but by the time they were shut down the trains were considered by a lot of people to be relics… loud, dirty, clunky, and outdated. The shame is that people didn’t fight to have them updated or replaced entirely right away. There’s no disputing that in the 1960s, freeways and cars were seen as far more exciting and glamorous. America wanted a Jetsons future, and the Red Car didn’t fit that fantasy very well.
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FLASHBACK – Charles Lange’s Belinda Boutique

Sorry we haven’t been posting on our WordPress site as much lately, we’ve been overwhelmed with all sorts of stuff including events and moderating our Facebook page (210,000 fans now… and still growing!). But be assured we haven’t forgotten about you non-Facebookin’ folks, though! We love you! :D

So I digress… we’ve been digging up (and ON!) old Sunset Strip found footage lately and thought you might appreciate this supergrooviness of the video below… ‘cuz it’s a gas. (And by the way… who else misses seeing the giant Rocky and Bullwinkle rotate in front of Dudley Do-Right’s Emporium!?)

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Belinda and Charles Lange opened their boutique on the Sunset Strip one block west of Pandora’s Box, next door to The Fifth Estate in 1966. During the Summer of Love. Belinda, the designer, brought to Hollywood custom made micro mini skirts, backless, bra-less, cut on the bias knit dresses. After trying on any one of the Belinda designed dresses, the customer could order another one in any fabric or color and pick it up within an hour because everything was made there at the shop. Featured in Vogue Magazine and modeled by Cher. Clients included singers Cass Elliot, Tina Turner, Carole King, Petula Clark, Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli.

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FLASHBACK – Yep: It’s Keith Olberman 22 Years Ago!

YOU Sir, are *rockin’* the porn ’stache!!! :{)

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FLASHBACK – The Helms Bakery Truck

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If you’d like to see a Helms Bakery truck for yourself, the photo below was taken in the Petersen Automotive Museum yesterday. :) (more…)

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FLASHBACK – The 1971 Sylmar Earthquake

Forty years ago this morning, Los Angeles had a shaky wake-up call. The video below is a Dragnet-esque film documentary of the event made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. No, Charlton Heston does not make a cameo.

“(The film Earthquake! documents)… the San Fernando Valley, California earthquake of 1971 with a focus on the rescue efforts and a hospital collapse. Federal disaster relief had just been increased and the Office of Emergency Preparedness formed, and the film shows how they addressed their first major disaster. California Governor Ronald Reagan and US Vice-President Spiro Agnew appear adding an interesting historical note to this clip.”

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IMAGERY – Martin Luther King, Jr. at LAX, 1965

“Dr. Martin Luther King being greeted by crowd upon his arrival at Los Angeles airport, 1965″ - LA Times, February 25, 1965 (via UCLA Library | Digital Collections)

Published caption: “WARM WELCOME – Eager hands reach out to Dr. Martin Luther King as he presses through crowd of admirers on his arrival here for series of speeches.”

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THRILLS – The Cyclone Racer

YouTube Preview Image The crazy chase scene above is from the 1936 film “Strike Me Pink” starring Eddie Cantor. The scene was filmed at a Long Beach amusement park Queens Pike which operated in one form or another from 1902 until 1969 and was considered at the time to be the Coney Island of the West Coast. The park was also unofficially called “Silver Spray Pier” by some…  Silver Spray Pier existed between 1915 and 1948 at the base of Cedar Avenue.  The Jack Rabbit Racer was the original wooden roller coaster built on the pier and the Cyclone Racer featured in this film replaced it. The Cyclone Racer operated from Memorial Day 1930 until September 15th 1968 and can also be seen in the final scene of the movie “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” The coaster featured 4 trains, 5 cars per train, with the riders arranged 2 across in 2 rows for a total of 20 riders per train. I went to art school to avoid math though, so typing that just hurt my head. :)

Here’s an awesome audio recording of the rollercoaster in action (via Larry Osterhoudt at cycloneracer.com). Please be sure to put your hands in the air as you listen to it.

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VIDEO – Jingle Bells with Disney’s Firehouse 5+2

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Before television encouraged Americans to spend so much time on their collective rear ends, it was very common for folks to spend their free time honing multiple creative talents to entertain themselves and others at parties and gatherings. Walt Disney’s animators were no different… the men who spent much of their lives bringing iconic Disney films to life chose to blow off steam by assembling a surprisingly tight seven-piece Dixieland band they called the Firehouse Five Plus Two.

According to Disney legend Ward Kimball, who led the band and also played trombone, Walt was fine with their group hobby as long as the quality of their work didn’t suffer. Apparently they juggled their workloads just fine: the band stayed together for nearly 30 years, released over a dozen records, and toured various clubs, jazz fests, fairs and colleges until the early 1970s.

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FLASHBACK – Dance Break with Rufus Thomas

This rousing rendition of the Funky Chicken was part of the Wattstax Festival concert at the LA Coliseum on August 20, 1972.

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From Wikipedia: The concert was “organized by Memphis’s Stax Records to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Watts riots. Wattstax was seen by some as “the Afro-American answer to Woodstock.” To enable as many members of the black community in L.A. to attend as possible, tickets were sold for only $1.00 each. The Reverend Jesse Jackson gave the invocation, which included his “I Am – Somebody” poem, which was recited in a call and response with the assembled stadium crowd. In the film, interspersed between songs are interviews with Richard Pryor, Ted Lange and others who discuss the black experience in America.”

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HOME VIDEO – Studio City Christmas Parade (1965)

I did a quick google search on the Hollywood Christmas Parade this morning, and imagine my surprise when I came across this gem of a silent home movie. Behold: the 1965 Studio City Christmas Parade with more local flavor and classic celebrities than you could shake a stick at! (And yes, the parade still exists… but not this year.) More information about the clip after the jump.

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FLASHBACK – The Long Beach Quake of 1933

“Quake! Its Effect on Long Beach and Compton California”

An 18 minute-long silent film touring around Long Beach and Compton circa 1933, after an earthquake shook things up.

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QUIZ – What Lies Beneath (Old Santa Susana Stage Road)

Laura Floom Manning figured it out! Go Laura! The full answer is after the jump.

This week’s little quiz takes us on a little road trip… outside of Los Angeles proper and over to Simi Valley.

Just to remind you, here’s how this little game goes… we’ll show you a spot on a google map (see below). We’re thinking of something notable that once happened or existed a stone’s throw from the point on that map. Within 24 hours we’ll give you the full details… but as always, we’re going to give you a fair amount of time to guess what we’re referring to first. We encourage you not to cheat by googling the address and if you know the answer right away please try not to announce it too quickly and ruin the game for the people who don’t.

9:37am – Okay, since nobody’s guessed yet… here are two clues: it has nothing to do with Manson or the movies.

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MATINEE – Flight to California (1952)

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Newlyweds Edie and Henry join Hollywood actor Richard Carlson and his wife for a a fabulous tour of glamorous 1950s Southern California and points beyond… how keen!


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HOT ANGELENO – Happy Biddy Mason Day!

Biddy MasonIn 1989, November 16th was declared Biddy Mason Day in Los Angeles. A memorial to the African American nurse, real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist still exists at the Broadway Spring Center parking garage on Spring Street, which is the site of her former home. Her unmarked grave was finally marked with a tombstone on March 27, 1988, almost a century after her death, in a ceremony attended by Mayor Tom Bradley and nearly 3,000 members of  First American Methodist Episcopal (First A.M.E.), the church she co-founded in her living room. 


Bridget “Biddy” Mason was born in the Deep South on August 15, 1818. She was allegedly given to Mississippi slaver Robert Smith as a wedding present, and eventually bore three daughters by him (some wedding present, eh?). Upon converting to Mormonism, Smith was encouraged by the church to free his slaves but repeatedly declined, even when asked by Brigham Young himself. He moved his entire household (around 90 people, including all slaves and children) to the Utah Territory in 1847, and then in 1851 they all joined the wagon train to San Bernardino to help Young build a new Mormon community there. YouTube Preview Image
Biddy walked the entire way to California, driving oxen behind a wagon train, but the long journey ended up changing her life one thousand percent for the better. See, her owner didn’t initially realize that the California state constitution forbade slavers. Whoops. (more…)

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IMAGERY – The Celery Merchants of Venice

You might not know this… but Venice, California was once a landscape of fields called “The Venice Celery District.”

CLICK ON IMAGES FOR LARGER VIEWS (Note: The captions you will see below were the original captions written for the photos when they were archived.)
©USC Digital Archive

Photograph of the ideal field of summer celery in the Venice Celery District, just before applying blanching paper, April 12, 1927. The rows of thick leaves of the celery plants form a congested square at center with a dark irrigation ditch in the foreground. A darker field lies on the far edge of the celery field on the right while another field lies on the far left. Hills stand in the background on the right while electrical poles spot a clearing of grass in the background on the left. “Note the regularity of the plant foliage.” (more…)

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IMAGERY – The Los Angeles Wheelmen

Angelenos have had a passion for bicycling for longer than you might think. The image below was taken in Boyle Heights in 1893, about ten years after the bicycle chain was invented. Reformed in 1945, the Los Angeles Wheelmen bicycle riding club is still going strong, with multiple rides every week. There are far more than eleven members now. And don’t worry, I doubt they’re still wearing that fancy uniform. :)

The club’s ride schedule is here.

From their site:

“We are a group of bicyclists who enjoy the pleasure of riding with friends. We are not a racing club, and we welcome members of all abilities. We offer easier, moderate and difficult rides. We hold some multi-day trips, and in late June we offer the Grand Tour, a 24-hour ride of 120+, 200, 300 or 400 miles. At our social events, we make up for all the calories burned while riding. Our monthly newsletter, “The Gooseneck,” contains a descriptive ride schedule and much other news. Newcomers are welcome to try a few of our rides before deciding whether to join. Helmets are mandatory on all rides.”

©USC Digital Archive

Photographic portrait of the 11 Los Angeles Wheelmen posing as a group in cadet type uniforms at the East Side (Boyle Heights) track, October 3, 1893. “The Los Angeles wheelmen on the track include, left to right, standing — Jack Winters, John S. Thayer, Faye Stefenson, Phil Kitchen, W.J. Allen, E.S. Pauly, Tracy Hugh Rall, W.A. Tufts, and Walter Tyler; seated — Lord Gattensbury, A.D. Cummings, and Ernest Steuart, Paully.”

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IMAGERY – Buying The Lakers

The Lakers’ franchise was founded in Detroit Michigan in 1946. Upon moving to Minneapolis, the team got its official title from the state’s nickname, “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” After thirteen years, on April 28, 1960, attorney and trucking magnate Bob Short announced that the failing Minneapolis Lakers team would be moving to Los Angeles.

Below is a photograph of a deposit check written by Bloomingdale heir Alfred S. Bloomingdale in an attempt to purchase the team from Short for $700,000. Although this offer was refused, in 1962 Bloomingdale purchased 29% of the Lakers while Short still kept the majority share. The club was later sold to Jack Kent Cooke for $5 million in 1965.

“Letters and check, 3 April 1961. Negatives show a copy of an offer to buy the Los Angeles Lakers basketball club; Also a check for $100,000.00.”


©USC Digital ArchiveThe letter reads:

March 15, 1961

Mr. Alfred Bloomingdale
900 North LaCienega Boulevard
Los Angeles 46, California

Dear Mr. Bloomingdale:

Thank you for your letter of March 7. We are complimented to learn of your interest in the Los Angeles Lakers.

Your offer was carefully considered by those who hold a majority of the outstanding stock of the Corporation. Their position has not changed. The Lakers are not for sale. In the event that we are of a different mind at a later date, you will be contacted.

Your check is herewith returned. Thank you for your interest.

R. Short

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IMAGERY – The Old Chinatown Blacksmith, 1899


Photographic portrait of “The Old Chinatown Blacksmith” in Chinatown, ca.1899. The blacksmith is at center and is dressed in traditional Chinese clothes. He is standing to the left of a brick building with several doors and windows in it, as well as a large key painted on it. There are awnings covering the walkway where the man is standing. There is another man walking in the background; he is dressed in Western clothes, including a jacket and hat.

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QUIZ – What Lies Beneath (Baldwin Hills Dam Break)

WOW. You guys are on the ball today! The full answer is after the jump. :)


Well, we were a bit busy last week so we fell a little behind on our quizzes… but we’ll try to make up for it now. :)

You regular readers should know how this game works by now… it all starts when we show you a spot on a google map (see below) and tell you that we’re thinking of a reason this particular area is notable. Then you start to guess what that reason might be. Within 24 hours we’ll give you the full details… but as always, you have a nice amount of time to guess what we’re referring to first, we encourage you not to cheat by googling the address and we also ask that if you know the answer right away please try not to announce it too quickly and ruin the game for those who might not.

And with that little refresher course… it’s guessing time! No hints today, either.

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IMAGERY – Easter Sunrise, 1938

1938 Easter Sunrise Services at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park

©USC Digital Library ©USC Digital Library ©USC Digital Library©USC Digital Library©USC Digital Library©USC Digital Library©USC Digital Library

Have a wonderful Sunday…
whether Jesus and bunnies are involved or not! :)

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RIP – Jaime Escalante

©LA Times/UCLA LibraryUPDATE: Jaime Escalante passed away from cancer on March 30, 2010.
This article is a repost from July 2009.

HiddenLA’s HOT Angeleno of the Day: JAIME ESCALANTE!!!

Our HOT Angeleno feature was created to prove a point and counter the perception that we’re all shallow dimwits here. Knowing this, normally this is about the time I’d make silly jokes about whether or not the accomplished person being profiled has rock-hard abs – just to be a smart ass. Today I’ll refrain from the silliness out of respect for the subject, though. Jaime Escalante was born in Chochabamba, Bolivia, where he began teaching physics and mathematics. In 1964 he decided to find a new life for himself in America, although he spoke no english and had no valid American teaching credentials. He began to go to night school at Pasadena City and CSULA, and in 1974 was hired to teach basic math at Garfield High in East LA. His students were disrespectful, unprepared and uninterested. He considered giving up teaching, but over time his incredible educational and motivational skills as a teacher ended up turning around a low-priority public high school as he single-handedly built a calculus program rivaled by only a few well-funded private academies. His teaching style and students’ accomplishments were the focus of the 1988 movie Stand And Deliver.

So THAT’S why he’s our Hot Angeleno today. But unfortunately, the story of Jaime Escalante didn’t play out as happily as the movie, which is why I won’t joke about his abs. It just doesn’t feel respectful, and he deserves to be honored. Bureaucracy and office politics aside, for our own sakes we need to embrace our passionate and caring educators and leaders instead of underpay them, knock them down and drive them away.

*To see a great video of Jaime discussing his love for teaching, scroll down after the jump.* (more…)

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IMAGERY – Passover Seder, March 1928

Photo of a Seder service at the Hebrew Sheltering
Home for the Aged
in Los Angeles, ca.1928

“Jewry to celebrate festival! — A typical Seder service at the Hebrew Sheltering Home for the Aged in this city. This Jewish festival will be held at the home next Thursday night, with many prominent Hebrew residents of the city in attendance. This symbolic dinner is one of the features of the Passover holiday” — Examiner clipping attached to verso, dated, “Mar 31, 1928″ Image ©USC Digital Archive

According to an April 2003 LA Times article:

“Today, as Jews prepare to observe Passover… Southern California has the nation’s second-largest Jewish population (currently over 650,000). By contrast, the overwhelmingly Catholic pueblo of Los Angeles of 1854 had fewer than 200 Jewish residents and no kosher bakery or butcher shop. A lay rabbi slaughtered animals, carefully observing rabbinic laws, so that Jews might have kosher meat. The aroma of matzo — unleavened bread — wafted from a bakery owned and run by a Catholic. In the hinterlands — the Gold Country of Northern California or the outlying reaches of Southern California — men were often the ones who prepared the Passover seder because there were no women around.

“Despite such accommodations to necessity, historians say a common thread of faith and tradition is woven through the fabric of Jewish history in the West.”

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IMAGERY – Olvera Street Market Salesman, 1938


“In the midst of the Great Depression of the 1930s, Paseo de Los Angeles – later referred to as Olvera Street – was created through the efforts of Christine Sterling and the City Boosters in the oldest section of the city. Olvera Street was an imagined Mexican Landscape not unlike the renowned tourist districts of Mexican border cities (Arreola and Curtis 1993). The theme was “Old Mexico,” pitting a timeless, romantic, homogenous Spanish-Mexican culture against industrialization, immigration, urban decay and modernity itself. The street featured rows of curio shops, house museums, and Mexican eateries staffed by costumed Mexican merchants. As a constructed place, Olvera Street was the product of a social and economic agenda established by civic elites to transform downtown Los Angeles through the removal of undesirable residents. The opening of Olvera Street and the preservation of the old Plaza also popularized an emerging creation mythology for Anglo Los Angeles stemming from the defeat of Mexican forces in 1847, a heroic birth legend in which Sterling emerged as a symbolic mother figure and guardian of the city’s birthplace.”

Excerpted from Los Angeles’ Old Plaza and Olvera Street: Imagined and Contested Space, by William D. Estrada © 1999

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