Rich Or Famous

July 15, 1957 – LA Times Publisher Norman Chandler on the Cover of Time Magazine

On July 15, 1957, Los Angeles Times publisher Norman Chandler appeared on the cover of Time Magazine.  The city, the man, and his paper were the subject of the lead story, “CITIES: The New World“.  Norman’s grandfather, Union Army Colonel Harrison Gray Otis, had arrived in Los Angeles in 1882, bought up a quarter-interest in the Times, served as its editor, and four years later bought the publication outright.  In 1886, the paper had a  circulation of about 2500.  By 1957, what had once been a small pueblo settlement on the Pacific Ocean had transformed into a 455-square-mile city of over 2 million inhabitants, with satellite communities covering 4853 square miles, three times the size of Rhode Island.  As of the date of the Time article, the LA Times circulation numbered 462, 257.

Harrison Otis’ tenure at the paper saw the arrival of two railroads and a population surge into the city.  Around the turn of the century, ambitious circulation boss Harry Chandler married Harrison’s daughter Marian.  Chandler took over the paper soon after and became a major driving force in the growth of the City of Angels.  He played a significant role (and enlarged his personal fortune by many millions of dollars) in the construction of an aqueduct to bring water and agricultural prosperity to the San Fernando Valley. Harry was also instrumental in establishing LA as the center of a $2.5 billion aircraft industry (Douglas, Lockheed, North American, Northrup), and had a hand in the development of the California Institute of Technology, the Memorial Coliseum, Union Station, and the Hoover Dam.

Norman Chandler, age 57 when the article was published, politically conservative, grew up on his family’s ranch north of LA and studied business at Stanford University.  He married Dorothy Buffum (“Buffie”, namesake of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion), came back to work at the Times and then took over when Harry retired in 1941.  Norman and Buffie managed a multi-million dollar business empire which included paper manufacturing, real estate, securities, television, commercial printing, ranching, and oil.  They funded the construction of the Hollywood Palladium, the Los Angeles Music Center, and the restoration of the Hollywood Bowl.

“Today’s Los Angeles is too amorphous for one man to rule, one newspaper to command,” the article pronounced.  Republican Chandler and his paper nevertheless strongly backed California G.O.P. political candidates, including Vice President Richard M. Nixon.  “I think Dick Nixon would make one of the finest Presidents the U.S. has ever had, ” Chandler asserted.  “[California U.S. Senator] Bill Knowland is a fine man, but if they are both candidates for the G.O.P. nomination in 1960, Mr. Nixon will get the support of the Times.”

Image Credit: Time Magazine

July 13, 1957 – Personal Premiere of Screenwriter/Director Cameron Crowe

Cameron CroweOn July 13, 1957, Oscar-winning screenwriter/director and wunderkind Cameron Crowe was born in Palm Springs, California.  The son of a real estate and phone service businessman dad, and teacher, activist and “all-around live wire” mother, Cameron went on to graduate from San Diego High School at age 15.  He became the youngest writer ever to contribute to Rolling Stone magazine, interviewing rock stars, bands and road crews while covering concert tours coast-to-coast.  Cameron went on to become a contributing editor and then associate editor of the magazine, before switching to writing and directing movies for Hollywood.

Crowe’s string of successful filmsSay Anything, Singles, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, Vanilla Sky, and Elizabethtown – followed his inital hit, Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  After posing as high school student at Clairemont High School in San Diego ( at age 22, and “recapturing his lost senior year”), Cameron wrote a book titled, Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story.  The movie version premiered a year later and became a surprise hit, launching the careers of previously little-known actors Jennifer Jason Leigh, Eric Stoltz, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Anthony Edwards, and Oscar winners Nicholas Cage (appearing under his given name of Nicholas Coppola), Forest Whitaker, and Sean Penn.

In celebration of Crowe’s birthday, let’s follow the lead of Ridgemont’s reigning stoner-surfer dude, Jeff Spicoli, and order a pizza.  We can “learn about Cuba, and have some food.”

Jeff Spicoli Pizza

“There’s nothing wrong with a little feast on our time.”

Image Credit: Tony Lowe/PR Photos; Universal Pictures

July 6, 1957 – John Meets Paul

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St. Peter’s Church Hall, Liverpool

On July 6, 1957, the music world shook on its axis as John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time at a Rose Queen Garden Fete at St. Peter’s Church in Woolton Parish, Liverpool.  Following two of the three Quarrymen’s skiffle sets that day – the first from the back of a moving flatbed truck, in a parade that included a Rose Queen float, Morris dancers, and Boy Scouts and Girl Guides; the second later in the afternoon from a stage in a field behind the church, with a Liverpool Police Dog display nearby – John’s friend and stand-in tea chest bassman Ivan Vaughan introduced the future immortal songwriting duo in the church hall before the Quarrymen’s third and final set.  Paul sang Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Rock Flight” for John, playing his right-hand guitar upside down.  McCartney stayed to watch the last set and, according to current Quarryman Rod Davis, was impressed with John’s ability to ad lib when he forgot the words to “Come Go With Me”.  Rod adds that John didn’t forget; they had never gotten the words right in the first place.  “We were still schoolkids and we didn’t have any money,” he explained, so they had to decipher lyrics as best they could and weren’t always able to figure them out.

Later that evening, Lennon and fellow-Quarryman Pete Shotton walked home together and John suggested inviting Paul to join the band.  Two weeks later, both Shotton and Vaughan talked with Paul, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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“In This Hall on 6th July 1957 John & Paul First Met: The Quarry Men featuring Eric Griffiths, Colin Hanton, Rod Davies, John Lennon, Pete Shotton, and Len Garry performed on the afternoon of 6th July 1957 at St. Peter’s Church Fete. In the evening before their performance in this hall Ivan Vaughan, who sometimes played in the group, introduced his friend Paul McCartney to John Lennon. As John recalled . . . ‘that was the day, the day that I met Paul, that it started moving.'”

Image Credits: Sue Adair (CC-by-Sa/2.0); Kyle Taylor/flickr

June 30, 1957 – The Everly Brothers Appear on The Ed Sullivan Show

On June 30, 1957, Ed Sullivan hosted Don and Phil Everly on his Sunday evening broadcast.  The Everly Brothers sang “Bye, Bye Love,” their first Cadence Records single which had been recorded in February.  An earlier recording, “Keep A’ Lovin’ Me” with Columbia Records in 1956, had been a flop.  Written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, “Bye, Bye Love” had been rejected by numerous artists, reportedly including Elvis Presley, before taking the close-harmonizing, guitar-playing duo to #2 on the pop charts and #1 on the country and R&B charts.  The Everly-Bryant team generated many hits, of which “Wake Up Little Susie” and “All I Have to Do is Dream” are probably the best-known.  The Everlys toured extensively with Buddy Holly through 1957 and on into 1958.

Also on this episode of Sullivan’s show: footage from the premier of The Prince and the Showgirl at Radio City Music Hall.  Ed appeared in the clip with Bernard Baruch (financier, stock-market speculator, and economic advisor to Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt), Polly Bergen (actress and singer), William Randolph Hearst Jr.(editor-in-chief of Hearst Newspapers), Sugar Ray Robinson (welterweight and middleweight boxing champion), Ethel and Robert F. Kennedy (attorney, currently serving as Chief Counsel under Senator John L. McClellan on the US Senate Labor Rackets Committee), Marilyn Monroe (star of The Prince and the Showgirl), and Arthur Miller (famous playwright and Mr. Marilyn Monroe).  The audience was also treated to scenes from the newly-released movie.

For an extra treat, head on over to Getty Images to see news photos of Ed Sullivan adjusting Marilyn’s earring!

 

June 28, 1957 – “Date with the Angels”

Date with the Angels

One June 28, 1957, families home on this Friday night could tune in to ABC’s new comedy series, “Date with the Angels.” Bill Williams and Betty White starred as Gus and Vicki Angel, a somewhat clueless insurance salesman and his “wacky” wife (was one of the working titles for this series, “I Love Betty”?). Bill Williams was familiar to audiences from his role in “The Adventures of Kit Karson” and for his real-life role as the husband of Barbara Hale, soon to appear as the sultry-smart Della Street on “The Perry Mason Show.” Betty White’s successful career in radio and television had recently skyrocketed with “Life with Elizabeth.” In popular “Elizabeth,” a comedy sketch series, twenty-eight-year-old White had full control as both star and producer – the first television series ever to be produced by a woman.

“Date with the Angels” owed some of its premise to “Dream Girl,” a play by Elmer Rice. As originally envisioned by White, each episode would include extensive and hilarious daydreaming by Vicki Angel. Show sponsors were not amused. Pressured to remove the sequences, White felt that she was left with only “one more run-of-the-mill domestic comedy.” “I can honestly say,” she revealed, “that was the only time I have ever wanted to get out of a show.”

Not to worry. The future would hold only greater success for White, including award-winning roles on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and “The Golden Girls.” Current-day reviewers of “Date with the Angels” credit White’s performance as “lovely,” “talented,” “delightful,” “dares you to tune out while she’s onscreen,” “never burlesque or over-the-top,” “always believable,” “gorgeous,” “smart,” and “a class act.” One reviewer points out that White had “a beautiful singing voice” and that Vicki’s songs were “one of the pleasant surprises in this fine series.”

Image Credit: IMDB

June 14, 1957 – Happy 11th Birthday, Donald Trump!

Donald Trump at Paul Onish Bar Mitzvah Age 12

Donald Trump, age 12 (second from left), attending a friend’s bar mitzvah.

On June 14, 1957, Donald John Trump of Queens, New York celebrated his eleventh birthday with his parents, Fred and Mary Anne, and his brothers and sisters, Maryanne, Fred Jr., Elizabeth, and Robert. Donald was a bright but somewhat troublesome student at Kew-Forest School in Jamaica, Queens. Little did he know it, but he was only two years away from shipping off to New York Military Academy, a private boarding school.

In his 1987 memoir co-written with Tony Schwartz , The Art of the Deal, Donald recounts one incident that contributed to his “troublesome” reputation. In second grade, he recalls, “I actually gave a teacher a black eye – I punched my music teacher because I didn’t think he knew anything about music and I almost got expelled. I’m not proud of that, but it’s clear evidence that even early on I had a tendency to stand up and make my opinions known in a very forceful way. The difference now is that I use my brain instead of my fists.”

Trumps’ military academy experience proved of great value. Academy teachers wouldn’t tolerate disrespect. Donald learned, as he expressed in his memoir, to channel his “aggression into achievement.”

Becoming our nation’s 45th president is quite an achievement.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

Image Credit: Chuck Hadad/CNN

November 14, 1957 – Apalachin Mafia Summit Bust

Home of Joseph Barbara, Apalachin, New York. Photo: Gordon Rynders, New York Daily News

Home of Joseph Barbara, Apalachin, New York. Photo: Gordon Rynders, New York Daily News

On November 14, 1957 approximately 100 key Mafia bosses, advisors, and their bodyguards converged on Apalachin, New York to meet at the 53-acre estate of Joseph “Joe the Barber” Barbara.  On the agenda: resolve conflicts among the families of La Cosa Nostra (the American version of the Sicilian Mafia) regarding gambling, casinos, local and international narcotics smuggling and dealing, garment industry rackets (manufacturing and loansharking), trucking, labor and unions, and other operational issues.  Recent hits and attempted hits on leaders of individual families also needed attention to prevent all-out war, particularly between the Genovese, Scalice, and Anastasia factions.

Edgar Croswell, a local New York trooper, had grown curious about Barbara estate activities after several suspicious encounters with previous guests.  Learning that many local motel rooms were being reserved by Barbara’s son, he started keeping a close eye on the residence.  As the luxury cars and limos flocked to Barbara’s house, state police began taking down license plate numbers.  Background checks revealed the presence of known criminals, reinforcements were called in, road blocks were set up, and eventually a lot of expensive tailoring was ruined as mob bosses and underlings tried to escape into the brush.  Guns and $100 bills were scattered across the hillside, continuing to turn up for months afterward.

Joseph Barbara

Joseph Barbara. Photo: Geocities/Organized Crime Syndicates website

Fifty-eight men were apprehended, roughly fifty escaped.  Among those consigned to the “paddy wagon”: top figures Vito Genovese, Carlo Gambino, Joseph Profaci, and Joseph Bonanno.  Their explanation that the gathering was a “get-well-soon” coffee clatch for Barbara went over like a set of cement overshoes.  Up to this point, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had been reluctant to admit the existence of organized crime in America.  The Apalachin summit bust made the syndicate and its influence painfully clear, and Hoover responded by creating the “Top Hoodlum Program” to pursue Cosa  Nostra bosses throughout the country.

The Apalachin summit of “Who’s Who” in 1957 American, Canadian, and Italian mafiosi inspired many portrayals in books and film.  A version of the event appeared in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather Returns, and was also referred to in Hollywood’s Goodfellas and Analyze This.