In a role originally meant for the actor Michael Madsen, John Travolta breaks out his Trademark Disco Moves perfected in films like “Saturday Night Fever” & “Urban Cowboy”, to take Home the Gold, albeit on a Very Roundabout Random Route to get there… Check Out this great article in Vanity Fair featuring the entire cast along with Pulp Fiction’s Director ~ Quentin Tarantino
Her Star Shined Brighter Onscreen & Off than All of Hollywood in her Heyday ~
Elizabeth Taylor was perhaps in Retrospect, the Most Glamorous & Easily one of the Most Accomplished of all Actors ever to live. She Lived a Life Larger than any Role she ever Fulfilled…
A Real-Life California Cleopatra
In a Career Spanning 60 Years ~ Ms. Taylor outlived nearly All her Leading Men Onscreen & Off, having been Linked either on Film or in Life with the Likes of Conrad ‘Nicky’ Hilton, Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Rock Hudson, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Michael Todd, Eddie Fisher, George Hamilton & Michael Jackson- 2 Great Friends and in a Definition of BIG LOVE
The Seemingly BulletProof Richard Burton ~
The Love of Her Life
There have & will be Thousands of Words Written About her Then, Now & Always. Elizabeth Taylor Truly Transcended Fame, Hollywood Royalty, Scandal, Tragedy & Triumph. She Defined an Era & There will Never be Another like her ~ The One & Only Violet Icon
Ms. Taylor ~
Among Actors & A True Humanitarian
We’ll Miss you Velvet
The Most Iconic California Surfer ~ Miki Dora at Malibu. Everything he Stood For represents the Very Essence of our Legend
A MotorSport Icon 30 Years On Today,
Steve McQueen was a Racer First
& an Actor Second ~
His Early Life & Career Closely Resembled that of His Contemporary, James Dean. Both were from Indiana, Steve McQueen born in 1930 and Dean one year later. They both had unstable childhoods, no doubt shaping their Early Formative Rebel Tendencies. McQueen & Dean like him would both Migrate to New York, Restlessly Searching for a Creative Freedom that would ultimately propel them Both to Iconic Timeless Stardom. And Both of Them would Embrace a Need for Speed ~ However that is Where the Parallels End, as Time would prove McQueen the Far More Gifted in MotorSport ~
What Defines True Style ?
The Thing was….he Really didn’t Care. I would see him from Time to Time. At Saddleback Park, with his Husqvarna 400, and his son Chad, my age. Pretty much just another couple guys out to Traverse the same Trails & Track just like Me & My Dad 10 feet away in the Same Dirt Parking Lot. At the Now Gone Forever Ascot Park in Gardena, racing with a bunch of other Guys in some immediately to be Forgotten Dune Buggy Heat Race. The Same Guy who was STEVE McQUEEN on the BIG SCREEN was just another guy Shooting the Shit in the Pit, relaxed and Laid-Back California Style in his Personal Life…
He had a Great Lady in his Life as well, his wife Neile. She had been a Successful New York Stage and minor Screen Actor when they met in the ‘Fifties, and as they say,
Behind Every Great Man is a Woman ~
She Nurtured him, Smoothed his Bruised Bank Account & Ego when he was Starting out, bought him Bikes, Paid his Rent, didn’t Hassle Him for Being Steve. Looked the Other Way for a Long Time. And it Paid Off for Many Years, at least until his Star got So Bright it Eclipsed them Together ~ a Lesson in there, Somewhere…
In so Many Ways what often makes an Icon is not the Star Machine, The Media, the Hype. Certain People just Know How to Live ~ to Get the Most Out of Life, to Go Balls Out as they say and Keep it in their Minds that
You Only Go Around Once ~
& Work to Live, not Live to Work ~
And So he Lived his Life ~
Working to Live rather than the Other Way ‘Round, which in The End perhaps is Really All that Matters. I was Lucky Enough to have Grown Up in a California Lifestyle in an Epic Era Exposed to MotorSport, Riding that Same Husqvarna ~ with an Endless Thanks to & having Lost My Own Main Man & Mentor for whom these Stories are Dedicated, to the same Mesthelioma that killed McQueen. His Legacy and Today have a Special Personal Meaning to me. There are men and there are Men.
You Only Get One Shot ~
Keep the Hammer Down.
Some California Icons are Bigger than the stories anyone can write About Them ~ Certainly Elvis is one who will be forever Connected with California, through his Music, his Movies, & his Moxie. He Gave us So Much ~
Long Live the King !
Much Like other Genres of California Pop Culture & Influence, it took several European Immigrants to the California Lifestyle to Recognize and Establish a Standard of Architecture, creating several Mid-Century Masterpieces that influence all that we know today about Modern California Design ~
At the end of World War II Palm Springs’ Lazy Sunny Slow Desert Population almost tripled, and the city experienced a building boom. As an Elite Escape for the Hollywood Gentry and a Winter Haven for East Coast industrialists, Palm Springs would emerge Post-War as a resort community for a broader segment of the American populace with more leisure time than any previous generation. This helped to attract Design Projects from around the country, along with readily available Wide Open Spaces, a Balmy Tropical Clime and existing relaxed building codes and regulations…
Albert Frey was born in Zurich and had Come Up in an era of the Dutch De Stijl Movement & German Bauhaus Schools of Thought on Design. There is a Direct Correlation in these European Design Styles that one can see today in the Iconic Mid-Century Homes & Buildings well-preserved in the Dry California Desert of Palm Springs.
Frey moved around Europe, working in Belgium for several notable Architects, then moving to work with the Master Le Corbusier. Mssr. Frey came to America to work in 1928, and indeed one can trace the Roots of California Mid-Century Modernism to this period, as Architects like Frey, Austrians Rudolph Schindler & Richard Neutra moved to the U.S., bringing Art Deco & Modernist Sensibilites to the Somewhat Staid and Rigid American Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie Design Ethic of the Day.
Photographer Edward Steichen, Film Director Josef Von Sternberg along with his Muse, actress Marlene Dietrich and her Contemporary Greta Garbo and Many Others influenced and Began to Shape California Pop Culture in Film, Photography, Graphics, Architecture, Furniture and Product Design. Albert Frey had already Created & Contributed several American Architectural Masterpieces with Le Corbusier and other leading American Architects of the Day years before setting foot in Palm Springs, or even California…
Consider That Most Americans were either Entering the Depression, going to Gangster Movies and PoP Culture centered around Bonnie & Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly and Charlie Chaplin, that Perhaps Puts the Progressive Luminaire House in Perspective as Design in 1931 ~
Designed by architects A. Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey for the 1931 Architectural League exhibition in New York, the Aluminaire House was one of only two houses by American architects to be included in the Museum of Modern Art’s famed 1932 International Exhibition of Modern Architecture. Disassembled and rebuilt 3 times, The Aluminaire now resides On the Central Islip (Long Island) campus of the New York Institute of Technology.
Another Altogether Influential European Designer would come to America from his Native France, having been wounded & decorated by his country while serving in WWI. His name was Raymond Loewy. He almost single-handedly changed the Face of American Product, literally creating a completely new Modern American Design Vernacular in Trains, Planes & Automobiles ~
Monsieur Loewy, having landed in New York in his French Military Uniform with $50. in his pocket, sought work immediately in Manhattan. Much like his N.Y.C. PopArt Successor Andy Warhol, Loewy started out his Illustrious American Design Career Stateside in the 1920′s as a Window Display Designer for Department Stores, including Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. He soon found work on a Higher Level as a Fashion Illustrator for the magazines Vogue & Harper’s Bazaar, as Fashion was largely illustrated rather than photographed at that time. This path very much Parallels that of Warhol some 30 years later…however that is where the Similarity of the Two Ends ~
Loewy’s Amazing Design Talent & Skills Propelled Him to the Stratosphere of Classic American Industrial & Product Design. He designed everything from The World’s First Streamlined Refrigerator, the Coldspot, to Complete Railroad Lines, Locomotives, Furniture, Graphic Design, Airliner Interiors and Automobiles ~ His Most Noteworthy Association in this realm with Studebaker. One of his Most Beautiful & Timeless Designs is this breathtaking Studebaker StarLiner Coupe from the Early Fifties, Known among Automotive Aficionados as the ‘Loewy Coupe’ ~
And So ~ at the Peak of Their Careers, Mssrs. Frey & Loewy’s Paths Converged. As Raymond Loewy was a Confirmed Bachelor at this point in his Stellar Mad Men Career, he needed a Man Cave. And who Better to Build It than the Confirmed Mid-Century Desert Design Maestro Albert Frey.
From 1935 to 1937 Albert Frey worked with John Porter Clark (1905-1991), a Cornell-educated architect, under the firm name of Van Pelt and Lind Architects as both were yet unlicensed in California. April of 1937 saw Frey briefly return to the east coast to work on the Museum of Modern Art in New York. While in New York Frey married Marion Cook, a writer he had met in Palm Springs. In 1938, Frey and his wife went to France and returned to America on the SS Normandie, a floating Art Deco Masterpiece. The couple arrived back in New York City on August 1, 1938 aboard the Great Ocean Liner.
Frey was So Enamored of Palm Springs and its Surroundings, he would soon focus all his Creative Design Energies there. He built his own home in Palm Springs in 1941, starting with a 3-bedroom nucleus that he hoped could be a prototype for mass-produced homes. Built out of very low-cost industrial materials, it came in at $6 per square foot, low even then. An original proponent of multiple-use space, his dining room table hung from the ceiling on clotheslines, The Iconic architectural Photographer Julius Shulman wrote about the Frey House,
“The aluminum siding and ceiling reflected the sun, while the interior wood panelling provided a feeling of warm refinement”
Frey’s Building Technique would soon Become the Mid-Century Southern California Style Vernacular~
Architects & Builders all over Southern California would Adopt Frey’s Design & Building Style, capitalizing on readily available materials that emerged from the Mass Industrialization of America & the Southern California Aircraft Industry during WWII. FiberGlas, Aluminum & Plywood established the Signature Look ~
Architects like Cliff May & Roy Fey would Capitalize on this PostWar Building Boom,
adopting Frey’s Le Corbusier ethic and applying it Everywhere a Tract House Could Live in California. Neighborhoods from Larkspur to Lakewood sprang up and with all those G.I’s returning from Axis Battle with their G.I. Bills, Times were Good in Sunny California ~
One Big Drawback of these Low-Cost Innovations by the Bauhaus Master Frey was that Anyone could Get in on The Act, often with Questionable Results, and the California Tract House Was Born ~
But Not to Worry, as the Absolute Masters shared & adopted Frey’s Culture as well, and shared & adopted Frey’s Culture as well, and California Masterpieces arose… the Most Iconic Example is easily the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs by Richard Neutra. To look upon this house today One sees the Intuitive Skill in which Neutra Adopted Man’s Need for Shelter with the Surrounding Natural Setting as One ~
The much-photographed 1946 masterwork by architect Richard Neutra might be the complete marriage of the abstract geometry of modern architecture with the desert-and-mountain landscape of Palm Springs. The sleek, largely horizontal, 3,162-square-foot house — on 2.53 acres, and including five bedrooms and six bathrooms — is laid out with pinwheel-like wings, offset by a few vertical elements — a chimney and an outdoor sleeping area that Neutra called a “gloriette” — that pull together the sprawling composition.
Many critics place the house amongst the most important houses of the 20th century in the United States and even was included in a list of all time top 10 houses in Los Angeles in December 2008.
And while the Upscale Master Neutra was Doing the Big-Time Mid-Century Masterpieces in the Desert ~ The Pioneer of the Genre, Albert Frey worked on a Smaller Scale with regard to Residential Design. Concentrating on his Ethic of Economy and Cost-Effective Materials, Frey Designed & Built an Addition to his Frey House I, in 1946.
Rising Out of the Rugged Palm Springs Landscape ~ Frey’s Iconic Extraterrestrial Turret appeared as from An Erector Set on Steroids ~
To see Frey’s own houses today perched in a Rugged Palm Canyon, is Almost Surreal. So Famous is the UFO-like Profile of Frey’s Home, it’s hard to Distinguish the Reality of your Gaze from one of Julius Shulman’s Timeless photographs.
As Frey’s Direct Bold Style Took Hold in the desert, Commercial Commissions in the Community presented themselves, and Indeed stand today as Testaments to Albert Frey’s Design Genius & the Simplicity in which he Preferred to Live, Embracing the Desert Surroundings ~
And Almost as a Parallel ~ The Bachelor Designer Raymond Loewy’s career had drawn him to Palm Springs in the Forties. So What Better Architect than Frey to collaborate with Loewy for the Ultimate Mad Men Man Cave ?
Built in 1946-47 as a bachelor retreat and expanded later when Loewy got married, the house today has been restored by metalware manufacturer Jim Gaudineer who said of the design, “When you slide open the glass walls, it’s almost like living outdoors.” A typical Palm Springs modernist villa with a low-slung pavilion and plenty of glass that provides striking views of desert, mountains, and the pool and garden that make the private oasis complete…
What makes the Loewy House so Attractive is its Intimacy and like all of Frey’s Designs, its Simplicity. The Pool that literally Floats into the house…How Very Dean Martin of you Raymond. And indeed with Julius Shulman’s amazing Black & White photographs of the Loewy House, along with so many of Frey’s designs, it became an Immediate California Design Icon, like Frey Himself ~
For some years in the Late 40′s and 50′s Loewy settled down to a Life of Designer Domesticity
enjoying the Fruits of his Labors…and indeed in so many pictures of his Life, he is Surrounded by Beautiful Women, Admiring Friends & Co-Workers…No Shrinking Violet, Mr. Loewy ~ The Desert Design MasterMind Working on his Tan…and during that period Loewy continued his association with Studebaker, designing a Succession of Styles for them that would ensure Studebaker’s, and Loewy’s place in Time, literally…
Loewy’s continued success and Endless Restless Design Genius would lead him to what many feel is his Swan Song ~ A Studebaker that, in spite of the Impending Doom of a company Loewy’s Designs had propped up for years – His Finest Hour would come with The Last Effort of a very old American Car Company to stay alive …
The Studebaker Avanti ~
Loewy in Later Years would divorce his Wife, and like Many Maniacal Mad Men, would soon Marry a Woman Half his Age ~
While his business earned roughly $3 million a year for decades, Loewy was able to indulge a sybaritic life‑style. In addition to a series of enormous yachts, Loewy at his peripatetic peak maintained lavish residences on Long Island and the Riviera, a pied‑a‑terre in Paris and a château in the suburbs, a Fifth Avenue cooperative, a villa in Mexico and of course the Frey House Palm Springs, Calif. “Of course, we have very little of all that left,” said his wife Viola.
And What of Frey Himself ? Perhaps the New York Times said it best in 1998 ~
Albert Frey, a Modernist and Minimalist Architect, Dies at 95
Albert Frey, an early ambassador to America of the International Style of architecture who later brought its themes to buildings in harmony with the American desert, died on Nov. 14 at his home in Palm Springs, Calif., his executor, F. Gillar Boyd Jr., said.
He was 95 years old.
Mr. Frey belonged to a generation that believed in a political role for modern architecture, that of social liberation through machine-made, egalitarian and affordable designs. His chosen materials were aluminum, glass, cables and, eventually, the very boulders and sands of the desert where he settled.
In a career that spanned more than 65 years, Mr. Frey remained true to the principle that architecture should make the most of the least. His best known works were the East Coast houses he designed with Lawrence Kocher in the 1930′s and the many buildings he created in the Palm Springs of the 1940′s, 50′s and 60′s.
”He was the last of a generation of European architects that came to the West Coast envisioning that, in this unformed landscape, a perfected vision of a modern future could bloom,” said Terence Riley, chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art.
And Mr. Loewy ? He Lived to Be 97, until 1986 ~
During his lifetime Loewy’s company worked for numerous private companies as well as governments, and his designs have had a major effect on the Man-Made Environment. Products he has been responsible for range from cars, ships, airplanes, buildings and white-goods appliances
to products such as toothbrushes and pens.
Mssr. Loewy served as consultant to numerous corporations including The Hupp Motor company, Coca- Cola, United Airlines, Shell, Exxon, IBM, BMW, GM and NASA sought him for his streamlined designs seen to reflect economy and grace. Loewy was a Consultant to NASA on the Apollo Space Program, and on the Saturn I, Saturn V, and the SkyLab Habitat studies, 1967-1973.
That is a Long Way from Designing 1930′s Refrigerators~ And Along Somewhere, in Between All of Those Accolades, The Two of Them were Just Two Young Brilliant Guys, Admiring Each Others’ Work, Creating a New California Style, Some Sensible Living Spaces & Making Friends ~
When One Thinks of a Fashion Icon ~
Names Like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren or Yves St. Laurent Come to Mind.
However One Claim to Fashion & Function Fame is in a Class of Its Own…
…Made in California Of Course ~
The LEVI’S 501 XX Denim Jean
No Matter When you Grew Up, or Where You Live, in America or Japan or Australia or Europe, whether you are an Octogenarian, A Hippie, A Baby Boomer, Cowboy, Biker, Yuppie, or just Plain Old You, There’s a Pretty Good Chance you’ve got a Pair of Levi 501′s. Or You’ve had some – or You Want Some. You might even have some on right now ~ Like I Do. My Favorite Version, although not to Wear Personally, are Without Question the Daisy Duke Variety, but we’ll get to that later.. It all started ‘Way Back in the California Gold Rush Days ~
According to the Guinness Book of World Records the Most Valuable Denim Jeans are an original pair of Levi Strauss & Co 501 XX aged over 115 years old which were sold to a collector in Japan for $60,000 through eBay in 2005. The seller reports that the rather dusty jeans were found in a mine in the Rand Mining District, on the Mojave Desert in California. They are covered in candlewax from the candles the miner was using to light the tunnel he was working in and were found with a paper bag with the name of a mercantile store which operated between 1895 and 1898 in the town of Randsburg. The pants have a buckle back with suspender buttons and cloth label indicating they are size W34 x L33.
Send ‘em Over to Federico~ A Bit Big but Those Will Fit.
In 1853, the California Gold Rush was in full swing, and everyday items were in short supply. Levi Strauss, a 24-year-old German immigrant, left New York for San Francisco with a small supply of Dry Goods with the intention of opening a branch of his brother’s New York dry goods business. Shortly after his arrival, a Gold Prospector wanted to know what Mr. Strauss was selling. When Strauss told him he had rough canvas to use for tents and wagon covers, the prospector said, “You should have brought pants!,” saying he couldn’t find a pair of pants strong enough to last. San Francisco Was A Rough Town in 1850. Gold had been discovered all throughout the Hills to the North in Places like Sutters Mill & Vallecito. Prospectors Invaded John Sutter’s Land, leaving him Powerless to Fight them Off, as they came by the hundreds, tramping through his Fields and Streams. Fortune Hunters from Far & Wide showed up from Everywhere. Immigrant Miners thought they would simply Bend Over & Scoop Up the Nuggets. The work turned out to be a lot Harder Than That, Dirty, Wet & Exhausting ~ Day After $6. aDay. Tough Going & Hard on the Gear.
So Young Levi Strauss, being of an Enterprising and Sound Practical German Mind, was Selling Merchandise to the Miners. For Years he sold All Manner of Dry Goods he imported from the Family Business on the East Coast. In late 1870 Jacob Davis, a Reno, Nevada tailor, started making men’s work pants with metal points of strain for greater strength. He wanted to patent the process but needed a business helper, so he turned to Levi Strauss, from whom he had purchased some of his fabric. So Levi Strauss, knowing a Good Garmento Opportunity when he saw one, Partnered Up with Jacob Davis to form Levi-Strauss & Co. They began manufacturing LEVI‘S brand Overalls for the Populace of Miners, Muleskinners and Mercantile-Minders. People didn’t wear no Belts in Those Days, it was Suspenders or even Rope or Whatever to hold your Britches Up, so Levi put Big ‘Ol Buttons on the Front & Back to Strap Yerself In.
Levi had the stout, rough canvas made into Waist Overalls. Miners liked them, but complained that they tended to chafe. He substituted a Twilled Cotton Cloth from Nimes, France called “Serge de Nimes.” The fabric later became known as Denim and the pants were nicknamed ~
BLUE JEANS ~
The Rest is History
Levi was In The Apparel Business. Everybody for Miles Around wanted a Pair of His Britches. They Weren’t called 501′s yet, and they Weren’t really even Pants, but more of a Pull on Overall Style to wear with suspenders. The earliest pairs weren’t even Blue but more of a Potato Sack Brown color, with the Cut to Match. Fashion followed Function, but not for Some Time to Come.
In the California 1880′s ~ It was a Lot More about Git ‘Er Done than How Do I Look?
• On May 20, 1873, Levi-Strauss & Nevada Tailor David Jacobs received U.S.Patent No.139,121.
This date is now considered the official birthday of The ‘Blue Denim Jean’.
• Also in 1873, Levi Strauss & Company began using the Iconic Chevron pocket stitch design. Levi and Nevada tailor Jacobs co-patented the process of putting rivets in pants for strength.
• The ‘Two-Horse Brand’ Label showing a team of horses trying to pull apart a pair of pants, was first used in 1886.
• In 1890 the firm assigned its first lot numbers to its products, and the famous number “501″ was assigned to the riveted pants. In that year as well, Levi Strauss & Co. was formally incorporated and issued 18,000 shares of stock in the company to family members and employees.
• A second back pocket was added in about 1901 and belt loops appeared in 1922—the pants would sport both loops and suspender buttons until 1937.
This Pair of ‘Dead-Stock’ Buckle-Back LEVI’S 501′s from 1917 have never been worn & are worth Many Thousands of Dollars ~Iconic Chevron Single-Needle Stitching and ‘Fold-Over’ Label
Levi-Strauss & Co. entered a New Era in a New Century…
Levi-Strauss had already Been in Business for 30-Plus Years at the Turn of the Century ~ He had Built His Company Up from a small Dry Goods store into a Company with virtually No Competition and he had Worked Hard. Levi died on September 26, 1902 at the age of 73. He never married, so he left the business to his four nephews, Jacob, Sigmund, Louis, and Abraham Stern, the sons of his sister Fanny and her husband David Stern. He also left bequests to a number of charities such as the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum and the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum. Levi’s fortune in 1902 money was estimated to be around 6 million dollars. He was buried in Colma, California.
The ‘Blue-Collar Worker’ & The Dungaree ~
Levi had Created an Incomparable Product without Equal, so who should decide to Follow Farmers, Cowboys and Workers All Over America wearing LEVI’S Work Wear to produce the Absolutely BulletProof Wearable Durability of LEVI’S Denim ? The U.S. Military. The U.S. Army & Navy adopted Denim in Varying Weights, calling their gear Dungarees. Blue Denim work clothing was adopted as Standard by the Army on 11 June 1919, replacing brown work clothing used before. The top was a jumper style pullover, the trousers had five pockets — two front, two hip, and a watch pocket. In 1933 a one-piece work suit (coveralls) was adopted in blue denim for use by mechanics, drivers, machinists, and others in similar roles. This was in addition to and did not replace the two piece work uniform. These blue denim coveralls were used until replaced by herringbone twill (HBT) one piece coverall in 1938.
A Burgeoning Business Taking Hold Further South in California would Make Levi-Strauss a Household Name ~
1930′s Hollywood Cowboys Like Gary Cooper, Tom Mix & John Wayne Put LEVI’S on the Map ~
The Big E • 1936
The Red BIG E Label Showed Up to Help Identify the LEVI’S Brand from Further Away ~
LEVI’S got on The Style BandWagon with Some Fine Western Duds to Complement the Jeans. Amazingly, Levi-Strauss Products were only Available West of the Mississippi Before the 1950′s.
Ladies & Kids got in on The Act with their Brand of Koveralls, or essentially Overalls. While These were Fine for Work, Some Ladies preferred a More Stylish Look, And LEVI’S Delivered~ In the Late ‘Thirties Cowboy Couture was All the Rage in California.
As The Forties Approached, The Depression & Dark Clouds of War Over Europe meant Soon it would be Time to Stop Singin’, Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Back to Work…
Bib Overalls, which came into prominence during the Great Depression. Farmers, Carpenters, Railroad and Factory workers adopted Bib Overalls as their Uniform during this period, which became a Symbol of America’s Fighting Spirit as the country struggled to rebuild itself afer the devastating Stock Market Crash of 1929. During World War II, American Fighting Men took their favorite pairs of denim pants overseas, While the Ladies Went to Work on America’s War Machine ~
Levi’s Carried On through the Wartime 1940′s ~ But it Was really in the 1950′s the Brand would Hit Its Stride ~ as now LEVI’S would be Available Nationwide for the First Time…Just as Brando, James Dean and a Host of Other Rebels Without a Cause Dawned on America…
In 1947, Rusetta Coupe Club members Bob and Dick Pierson of Inglewood, California ran their Now Utterly Priceless ’34 Ford 3-Window Coupe at the Dry Lakes. It was their daily transportation—their mother thought it would be a safe car for them to drive—eventually, over the ensuing years they sneaked it up to 140.40. It was no longer their daily driver.
For the 1950 Dry Lakes Season at El Mirage, they stood the Hot Rod World on its ear when they figured out how to chop the top, lay back the windshield and yet still meet the SCTA’s 7-inch windshield height regulation. Powered by a Bobby Meeks-built, Edelbrock equipped Flathead Merc, The Pierson Bros. 2D coupe consistently ran 150 mph. The car ran at the Dry Lakes, the Drags and at Bonneville ~ Standard Racing Uniform ~ LEVI’S BIG E 501 XX
The Most Iconic, Poignant And Touching Film ever Starring the Legendary
LEVI’S 501 XX Denim ~
The Misfits, 1960
Hollywood Images such as these are what give the LEVI 501 its Classic Legendary American Status Today ~
Starring Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift and Clark Gable with a Screenplay by Arthur Miller & Directed by John Huston ~
The Misfits is A Touching Film, Painfully Desperate & Obvious each is Near their End in the Film & In Life…The Photographs by the Incredible German Photographer Ernst Haas need no Further Dialogue ~
The LEVI’S ‘BIG E’ 501 XX Denim Jean & Jacket Would Go on for Another 10 Years, until 1971 ~
California Couture Biker Gear de Rigueur ~ LEVI 501 XX Jacket & Jeans, cutoff the Sleeves, Add Hells Angels Colors & Biker
501′s Starred in Thousands of Told & Untold Episodes Across America, with Rock N’Roll, Romance, HotRodders, Tragedy, War, The Hell’s Angels, Hunter S. Thompson and Cowboys, Farmers, Families, and Kids Growing Up Everywhere… Maybe Just Like You.
For My Friends Always, Wallace & Jill ~ Federico
Also appearing as themselves are 1st Lt. Harold Schrier, who led the flag-raising patrol on Iwo Jima, Col. David M. Shoup,
later Commandant of the Marine Corps and recipient of the Medal of Honor at Tarawa,
and Lt. Col. Henry P. “Jim” Crowe, commander of the 2nd Battalion 8th Marines at Tarawa, where he earned the US Navy Cross.
Saddle Up & Move Out !
In our California Culture increasingly obsessed with Technology & Beauty, Keeping One’s Looks Intact and Being Completely on the Leading Edge of Everything, there is one Lady who Holds Her Distinctly Deco Demeanor, Style and Efficient Manner Far & Forever Above All the others…A Stunning RedHead, She Lives in San Francisco ~
The Newly Completed Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin side in 1938
Fort Point has stood guard at the narrows of the Golden Gate for nearly 150 years. It has been called “the Pride of the Pacific,” “the Gibraltar of the West Coast,” and “one of the most perfect models of masonry in America.” When construction began during the height of the California Gold Rush, Fort Point was planned as the most formidable deterrence America could offer to a naval attack on California.
Although its guns never fired a shot in anger, the “Fort at Fort Point” as it was originally named has witnessed Civil War, obsolescence, earthquake, bridge construction, reuse for World War II, and preservation as a National Historic Site.
In 1916, more than four decades after railroad entrepreneur Charles Crocker’s call for a bridge across the Golden Gate Strait* (Strait) in 1872, James H. Wilkins, a structural engineer and newspaper editor for the San Francisco Call Bulletin, captured the attention of San Francisco City Engineer Michael M. O’Shaughnessy. O’Shaughnessy began to consult a number of engineers across the Country about feasibility and cost of building a bridge across the strait. Most speculated that a bridge would cost over $100 million and that one could not be built. But it was Joseph Baermann Strauss that came forward and said such a bridge was not only feasible, but could be built for $25 to $30 million.
Strauss was a prolific engineer, constructing some 400 drawbridges across the U.S. He dreamed of building “the biggest thing of its kind that a man could build.” In 1919, San Francisco’s city engineer, Michael O’Shaughnessy, approached Strauss about bridging the Golden Gate, the narrow, turbulent passage where San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. Strauss caught fire with the idea, campaigning tirelessly over the next decade to build the bridge. He faced enormous opposition from the “Old Guard” — environmentalists, ferry operators, city administrators, and even the engineering community. Yet in November 1930, a year into the Great Depression, voters at last supported a bond issue for Strauss’ bridge. The ambitious project finally had its green light.
Strauss was the steadfast believer who organized the political, financial, and promotional efforts to build the Bridge. The time was right to span the Strait as population centers were growing and traffic congestion at the ferry docks was becoming intolerable. By 1929, motor vehicle travel via ferry had exploded, with demand exceeding available capacity. But there were no federal or state funds available to build a bridge because the construction of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge had already received the limited federal funds available.
Plans for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge also involved plans for the demolition of Fort Point. Fortunately, Chief Engineer Strauss recognized the architectural value of the Fort and created a special engineer arch which allowed the construction of the bridge to occur safely over it. During World War II, Fort Point was once again used as temporary housing for soldiers. Today the Fort is a National Historic Site, largely because of the Foresight of Strauss.
Strauss alienated many people in his quest to build the structure — his first suspension bridge. Obsessed with claiming credit as the span’s creator, he minimized the acknowledgement given to Charles Ellis and Leon Moissieff, the two visionaries who actually worked out the significant engineering challenges of building the bridge. Strauss’ detractors blocked a statue of the chief engineer proposed for the bridge plaza; his widow would eventually fund its creation in 1941, inscribing it, “Joseph B. Strauss, 1870-1938, ‘The Man Who Built the Bridge.’”
During the bridge’s construction, Strauss started to feel unwell, both mentally and physically. He disappeared for more than six months — causing rumors to spread that he had suffered a nervous breakdown. During this time, Strauss divorced his longtime wife and married a young singer, many years his junior.
On May 27, 1937, the bridge opened to the public. Returning to his other great love, poetry, Strauss composed verse for the occasion, exulting, “At last, the mighty task is done.” It would be the last mighty task of his life. Exhausted, Strauss moved to Arizona to recover. Within a year, he would die of a stroke.
The Recent Economic Times may remind one of the Days in the Depression when the Golden Gate was built. In all of the Technology we enjoy today, all the iPods, iBooks, iPads, and iPhones filling the Airwaves, Hollywood Special Effects and Carbon Fiber all being Creations of California ~ There was a time when Everything Technological was Built with Pure Blood Sweat & Tears. All Steel. 80,000 Miles of Hand-Wound Wire make up the Lengths of Cable that Suspend the Golden Gate Roadway. Built By Men By Hand. There is a saying that The Coldest Winter in California is a Summer in San Francisco. Now imagine getting up & going to Work for 4 years, Day In-Day Outdoors suspended High Above that Icy Bay with nothing but inches of Wet Steel and Slick-Bottom Boots between You & Your Demise. Eleven men died during the Bridge’s construction. Until February 17, 1937, there had been only one fatality, setting a new all-time record in a field where one man killed for every million dollars spent had been the norm. On February 17, ten more men lost their lives when a section of scaffold carrying twelve men fell through the safety net. Going to work in those conditions ~ Never to Return Home.
The most conspicuous precaution for Bridge Workers was the safety net, suspended under the floor of the Bridge from end to end. During construction, the net saved the lives of 19 men who became known as the “Half-Way-to-Hell Club.”
By Joseph P. Strauss, Chief Engineer
Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District
Written upon completion of the building of the Golden Gate Bridge in May 1937
At last the mighty task is done;
Resplendent in the western sun
The Bridge looms mountain high;
Its titan piers grip ocean floor,
Its great steel arms link shore with shore,
Its towers pierce the sky.
On its broad decks in rightful pride,
The world in swift parade shall ride,
Throughout all time to be;
Beneath, fleet ships from every port,
Vast landlocked bay, historic fort,
And dwarfing all–the sea.
To north, the Redwood Empire’s gates;
‘To south, a happy playground waits,
in Rapturous appeal;
Here nature, free since time began,
Yields to the restless moods of man,
Accepts his bonds of steel.
Launched midst a thousand hopes and fears,
Damned by a thousand hostile sneers,
Yet ne’er its course was stayed,
But ask of those who met the foe
Who stood alone when faith was low,
Ask them the price they paid.
Ask of the steel, each strut and wire,
Ask of the searching, purging fire,
That marked their natal hour;
Ask of the mind, the hand, the heart,
Ask of each single, stalwart part,
What gave it force and power.
An Honored cause and nobly fought
And that which they so bravely wrought,
Now glorifies their deed,
No selfish urge shall stain its life,
Nor envy, greed, intrigue, nor strife,
Nor false, ignoble creed.
High overhead its lights shall gleam,
Far, far below life’s restless stream,
Unceasingly shall flow;
For this was spun its lithe fine form,
To fear not war, nor time, nor storm,
For Fate had meant it so.
Out of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration, putting Millions of Idle Americans Back to Work to Create some of the Most Enduring Examples of Americana. The Golden Gate Bridge is A Shining Art Deco Triumph of Design and Engineering Execution – Perfectly Spanning the Glorious Golden Gate & Bisecting Nature with a Man-Made Masterpiece of Timeless Design & Efficiency. When one thinks of one Iconic Symbol Synonymous with California ~ The Golden Gate is truly the Grande Dame ~
Dedicated to My Bay Area Friends ~ As The Classy Californians They are…
In honour of a California Tradition, the Super Sunny Summer Holiday ~ A Tribute to the Swimming Pool ~ A Most California Invention…
Kenneth Anger’s book written in 1959, Hollywood Babylon, states, “Hollywood was not yet a dirty word in 1916. It was just a junction of dirt roads, a solitary ‘Mission-style’ hotel, some claptrap bungalows scattered in the orange groves, and the startling apparition of a Babylon orgy in full swing in the sunshine, smack on Sunset Boulevard.”
Sunny Los Angeles in the Nineteen-Twenties of Course gets Credit for Popularizing the Pool. In Other Adventures found within Tales Told Herein, The Legend of Russian Actress Alla Nazimova is told, and upon her arrival in HollywoodLand in 1927 ~With proceeds in hand (she was soon earning $13,000 a week) the “Woman of a Thousand Moods”, “the greatest artist of the screen”, as Metro dubbed her, took possession of her mansion, The Garden Of Allah for $50,000.
Set in three and a half acres of tropical plants and trees, with an orange grove, lily pond, cedars and palms, and garlanded with many “bizarre birds” – the feathery kind kept in an aviary she installed; the two-legged creatures, like Chaplin’s wife Mildred Harris, or Valentino’s two wives Natacha Rambova and Jean Acker, paraded on the terrace overlooking the orange groves and vineyards to the hills opposite. She lived here with fellow actor, Charles Bryant, her “pseudo-husband”, who was reputedly paid ten percent of her salary for acting the part. Although the two flirted in public, they “had separate bedrooms and led separate lives.”
The Second Player and Undisputed Heavyweight champion in the California Swimming Pool Contest of All-Time History was none other than Gazillionaire Publishing Magnate William Randolph Hearst.
In 1919, William Randolph Hearst gained control of the land that would be called San Simeon. And the ranchero would grow to 250,000 acres after Hearst bought up all the surrounding land. He hired one of the first notable female architects of the 20th Century, the other noted ladies of California Architecture being Lutah Riggs, assistant to George Washington Smith, and the Moody Sisters, ladies with notable commissions for homes & mansions in the Santa Barbara and Montecito areas. Miss Julia Morgan was a diminutive figure, not unlike that of famous Hollywood costume designer Edith Head. However reticent in stature and nature, She was the first woman to graduate with a degree in architecture from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts school in Paris. Throughout her long career, she designed multiple buildings for institutions serving women and girls, The architect of over 700 buildings in California,
Mr. Hearst wrote to her in 1919, “Miss Morgan, we are tired of camping out in the open at the ranch in San Simeon and I would like to build a little something…” were Hearst’s words to noted San Francisco architect Julia Morgan whom his mother had utilized to build a home for them in Pleasanton, California. He asked for “something that would be more comfortable” than the platform tents that were in use when visiting the ranch at the time. The project set atop the hill he had camped upon as a boy would balloon into the most expensive private home ever built.
The home, deemed La Cuesta Encantada, follows a Mediterranean Revival theme. Adjacent are three guesthouses, and two pools pictured here- one outdoor, one indoor. The indoor pool, although pale in comparison to the outdoor Neptune Pool, is notable for having real 24 kt. tiles imbedded into the Art Deco style mosaic walls that surround it. Keep in mind, the houses & pools were built before electricity was readily available. Even bringing water to the home- which is built atop a hill 1600 ft above the ocean- was a project in itself. It had to be done with a system of piping and cisterns from natural springs miles away. Workmen labored for 26 years- and still didn’t finish. Parts of the home are clearly half-done. The way they left it is what we see today.
Hearst had traveled around the world, and inspired by his boyhood tour of Europe, had been collecting treasures in an endless stream, shipping them back to warehouses on both coasts. Architect Julia Morgan would strive to design the pieces into the home.
Hearst~in True California Fashion opted to leave his somewhat dowdy yet stable-minded wife on the East Coast, as his choice of California Companion was none other than the Beautiful, Fun & Frolicking Flapper Film Star Marion Davies. He was so enamored of her and their California Life together, and who wouldn’t be ? Ms. Davies was the Jennifer Aniston of her day and Hearst a portly and not particularly handsome 60-plus. In True California Advantageous Relationship Fashion, in many ways they were Perfect for Each Other, and she remained by his side for over 30 years. In 1929 while the Castle was still under construction, Hearst had Ms. Morgan design and execute a Fabulous Beach House on then-named Roosevelt Highway (now PCH), on the beach south in Santa Monica.
Morgan created a three-story, 34-bedroom Georgian mansion on the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica. It was accompanied by three guest houses, tennis courts and dog kennels. Called “Ocean House” or “The Beach House,” it was the grandest property in the neighborhood. Rumor has it the cost was $7 million dollars. And, of course, this Beach Babylon came equipped with The Prototypical CaliforniaPool(s), 2 of them as well.
With California Celebs like Nazimova, Hearst, Davies and their Movie Pals seen Galavanting all-smiles Poolside, another California Cultural Development, along with the growing popularity of the automobile and California Car-Culture arrived on the scene. The ‘Motor Hotel’, or Motel as it became known, made its Debut. where else ?
The first ‘Motel’ in the United States was built alongside El Camino Real, Highway 101 just north of San Luis Obispo, midway between L.A. and San Francisco in 1925. The original plan of the Milestone Mo-Tel was to include both bungalows and attached apartments with parking outside each unit, though some would have a private garage. Each location of the chain was to include laundry facilities, a grocery store, and a restaurant.
Each unit included an indoor bathroom with a shower, obviously a level of privacy not found at campgrounds. Arthur Heineman’s first “Mo-Tel” sign garnered reports of an apparent misspelling. He added the hyphen to emphasize to compound nature of the word and the building’s architecture and use.
The exterior of the buildings were modeled after the Spanish missions in California; the three-stage bell tower was a reflection of the Mission Santa Barbara. The motel cost $80,000 to build in 1925. It originally charged $1.25 per night per room.
However, even after spending All That Money on a Great Idea with All Those Amenities, something was missing…
It took some Wiseguys from the East Coast, a little California Ingenuity, and a Postwar Pool Popularity to really Get Things Heated Up Poolside…
As the California Car Craze sped up, auto reliability increased, people were really starting to be able to Get Around in Style. Highways improved and a new kind of ”freeway” let people hit the road like never before. Of course California led the way with the advent of the Pasadena Freeway opening in 1939. Access to the Mountains, the Desert and the Sea let people enjoy all parts of California & beyond they never dreamed of…
The El Rancho Vegas was the very first hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip (US 91). It was located at 2500 Las Vegas Boulevard, at the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara, and opened on April 3, 1941. While most credit Benjamin Siegel (don’t call him Bugsy, if you know what’s Good for Ya) & ‘The Mob’ with The Flamingo Hotel being the first on ‘The Strip’, El Rancho Vegas beat Da Boyz to The Bank by almost 10 years. The Flamingo opened in 1947. El Rancho Vegas, not being in an old Clapboard Cowboy storefront building downtown was arguably the first Vegas Hotel with a Pool.
With the advent of Gambling available just over the Nevada border to Californians, and autos that could get there from L.A. in around 5 hours, what better thing to do after riding in a not-so-cool no air-conditioned, no sunroof Rotisserie of a Car for hours, but Hit The Pool? Man, look at that Rancho Vegas postcard…sure looks a lot better than the Las Vegas of Today. Other distant Resort spots like Palm Springs offered the traveller an Exotic Destination to Get Away From it All..
Suddenly Everybody in California Had To Have One…Even William Holden in Sunset Boulevard…
One of the Trippiest, Offbeat Hollywood 60′s films Starring Burt Lancaster and Co-Starring several of Connecticut’s Upper Crust Perfect Pools is “The Swimmer“, from 1968….to quote Will Doig, and his essay on the film ~ The Swimmer, the 1968 surrealist film based on a John Cheever story, makes hay of the phony glamour of swimming-pool culture. Burt Lancaster stars as an aging sexpot whose enviable life with his loving family has vanished. He’s had an affair, he’s bankrupt, and many of his friends have abandoned him…
The film opens poolside, with Lancaster at a neighbors’ house, when he realizes that all of the pools in the neighborhood form a virtual chlorinated river that leads all the way to his house; he dubs it the Lucinda River, “in honor of my wife,” and whispers, peering deep into the middle distance, “I could swim home.” And he does, hopping from one pool to the next, conversing with increasingly hostile neighbors along the way, each interaction revealing another piece of the story of his tragic downfall. When he reaches his old, now-empty house, he pounds on the door and wails, then curls into a ball on the stoop and wails some more. It’s a scene so daringly preposterous, so amazingly overacted, you have to admire its chutzpah.
In The Swinging Sixties, Suddenly everyone was either, Naturally – A. A Swinging Single, creating a Huge Market for Singles Housing, AKA The ‘Apartment’…
And everyone living in those was
B. Looking to Have a Family, creating the need for C. The House with a Pool.
The Pool Company was a new New California Creation, one of the First & Foremost being a company called Anthony Pools. This excerpt from the Anthony Pools History on their website says it all:
Phil Anthony founded the company in Southern California in 1947 and, like Silverman on the East Coast, he took advantage of the postwar building boom to establish a thriving enterprise. Bernard Forester took over the company in 1973 and began to diversify beyond the seasonal swimming pool business, acquiring a wide range of businesses that he placed under the corporate shell of Anthony Industries, which he operated out of the Los Angeles, California, suburb City of Commerce. Forester’s approach was to target recreational and sporting goods companies that had some brand-name recognition and were leaders in small niche markets. In 1974 Anthony acquired Hilton Active Wear, a Chicago company that produced bowling shirts, athletic jackets, and other imprintable items.
So, the Rest is History. Take a Plane into or out of California & look out the window…there they are.
And without the Iconic California Swimming Pool, so many other Groovy California Inventions & Pool Vernacular would not have Come to Be like The Pool Slide, Diving Board, Water Polo, Pool Party, Marco Polo (or just) “Polo!”, The CannonBall, the list goes on & on…
And without those, would we have The Spa, The Hot Tub/Jacuzzi, and All That They Imply? So of course, Once Again Us Californians Prevail ~ The Purveyors of Pool…
Got Pool ? Ever Creative Californians Carve Up a Crazed Anti-Establishment Pool-Riding Chapter into DogTown History ~
April 1, 2010 | Categories: California Icons ~ | Tags: California, Celebrities, DogTown, Garden of Allah, Hearst Castle, Hockney, Jay Adams, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Swimming Pool, vintage, Vintage Hollywood | 20 Comments »
An Unforgettable Day ~ The kind of Memory Every Dad & Every Kid can Hold Forever. My Dad’s not around anymore, my Best Friend, Big Brother and just my Biggest Role Model Ever.
A Brilliant Blue Warm California October Day ~ the 11th, his Birthday. His 40th. I remember that Fall brightness, dramatic long shadows and a Santa Ana dryness in the Air. Still my favorite. As usual I mounted my trusty Sting Ray for the less than a block ride to school, lamenting on yet another long year of class drudgery in the 2nd Grade. Back then – at least at my school kids couldn’t wear shorts to school so it was basic chinos. The off-white ones were always my favorite, with perpetually grass-stained knees. Our street dead-ended at the schoolyard, an endless green lawn with huge Eucalyptus trees bordering 2 baseball fields, my home away from home. A Cold-War era Paradise of Escape. I motocrossed at high speed riding wheelies to school, gripping my lunch sack with ‘Freddie’ on it. Crummy Monday SchoolDay.
Miss Watson was my 2nd grade Teacher. I was still trying to appreciate her Mildly Dowdy, Quasi-Secretary Style. In the First Grade, I had Mrs. Klenz, who was to say the least, An Absolute Bombshell. She was a Model-Quality Brunette, straight out of Mad Men – about 5’8, I remember she wore Red a lot. Tight A-Line dresses with bare legs and those pointy Jackie-O heels. White ones. Around ChristmasTime Mrs. Klenz would let us boys sit on her lap and seems to me there was a certain amount of kissing involved. Now, at this point in time my Mom wasn’t really around. My Dad and I were Batchelors. I remember him coming to Parent/Teacher night Dressed to Kill for Mrs. Klenz. She was a Hot Tamale and I was Six. What the Hell, I Dressed to Kill for her too. She’d probably be in Serious Trouble these days for some of her suggestive behavior toward us boys, but who cares? Let’s say she was developing in us a Healthy Attitude Toward Women.
So now it’s On to Second Grade and Miss Watson, who was a bit more of a bookish but fetching Secretary-type. School had only been on a month so I was still trying to figure her out, get her number so I could charm her with my Nerdish Debonair. My seat was in the middle, not quite in the Coveted Back of the Class, nor the Dreaded Front. So I had to watch it, mind my P’s& Q’s as they say. I was still staring out the window across the hallway at Mrs. Klenz, sashaying around out there.
Aimlessly Admiring the wafting Santa Ana’s, daydreaming about recess & mildly scheming on my Next Prank. My desk top was up, concealing my Coveted Cigar Box, I’m checking out my stash of marbles, pencils, comic books, pocket knife, rubber bands, bubblegum & Other Cool Stuff. Double Bubble. Accept no substitutes. Back Then we’d do the Flag Salute, belt out 1 or 2 Patriotic Hits like “My Country ‘Tis of Thee“, and “America the Beautiful“. Then Chalkboard Time – Miss Watson will Have Her Back Turned. Prepare to Fire Rubber Band.
We actually did the Duck & Cover drills under our desks every day. There were air raid sirens on towers in the neighborhood going off all the time, and once during an Air Raid Drill, I was going to Bill’s Ranch Market in the car with my Dad when the sirens went off. In the field opposite as we drove, a missile silo opened up out of seemingly bare ground and a sinister cluster of 4 Nike ground-to-air missiles rose up in a menacing angle pointed at the sky. The Russians were a Real Threat – and everyone was basically Scared Shitless of Them back then. Nasty loud Fighter Jets were Blasting around all the time – Badass F-104′s – Sonic Booms – BAM.
In the middle of all these Kennedy-Era Nuclear Panic Schoolday Shenanigans, who should appear at the door of my class, silouhetted against a brilliant October sky, but My Dad. 6-foot-two, 200-plus, short-sleeve white dress shirt, skinny black tie, size 11 Wingtips. Presenting a Serious Threat if I’m in Trouble. A Furious instant-Adrenaline rush of Sheer Panic ran down my spine. Immediately Sweating Profusely, my mind raced to think what Horrible Thing had I done to have my Dad show up at class? What girl’s honour did I insult ? Whose eye did I almost take out with a Deadly Rubber Band/Paper Clip shot to the forehead ? Remember that one? STOP THAT BEFORE YOU TAKE SOMEONE’S EYE OUT ! A Million Times. In a millisecond, all this is causing me to start thinking up an excuse for something I haven’t even been Blamed For yet… He confers with Miss Watson as I Await my Fate. I pretend to be casual about it…’Oh, Hey Dad’. A designed-to-charm Adults-Casual Wave. COME UP HERE SON. The entire class goes silent – pondering my crime. I shuffle to the front, Dead Man Walking.
“Alright son, C’mon, let’s go.” With an embarassed nod to Miss Watson, I’m out the door, my Dad’s Triumph TR-3, top down, Pastel Blue, gleaming in the sun at the curb. “Get In”. Next thing I know I’m strapped in and off to my Destination & Fate Unknown…
I try to Play it Off as casual as possible…”Hey Dad how’s the birthday going?” Just bobbing & weaving, wondering if I’m being driven to Reform School…
“And uh, hey Dad, by the way, where are we goin? “Oh, you’ll see son”. Great, Jesus – at least I know I’m too young for the Penitentiary.
Suddenly we’re on the freeway, going north, into Urban Sprawl. I have No idea. No Clue (as usual). I start to Relax. My dad’s got a mild Cheshire Cat Grin going..and it IS his Birthday, so it finally hits me..We’re going to Do Something Super-Cool ! I just don’t know what. As usual I’m just happy to be cruising in an open Sports Car with those Triumph cut-down doors, Buzz-Cut in the Breeze, sun on my face as always and pretty much my whole M.O. since. The Only Way to Fly…I was lucky to grow up with said Triumph, Jaquars, Lotus, assorted American Muscle and a constantly-changing assortment of Cool Wheels ~ Cool Jazz on the Radio. I had yet to acquire one of the approximately 8-10,000 pairs of shades I’ve had since, I remember thinking,’I need to get some’. Mr. Six-year old Cool.
And it Suddenly Comes to Me… ‘Dad ! Dodgers ! World Series !’ And he couldn’t keep it a secret any longer. Yep, that’s right. My Dad on his 40th birthday – Busted me Out of School to take me to Game 5 of the ’65 World Series against the Minnesota Twins. The Twins to me, in my Lifelong L.A. Dodger World, were Nobodies. I was born in L.A. in ’57. The Dodgers Came to Town in ’58. My Mom was a Brooklyn Dodgers Fan. Way more hard-core than my Dad ever was. It’s in my blood, which is Dodger Blue.
This day, none other than One of the Greatest Dodgers of Them All, Sandy Koufax is Pitching.
I had seen Koufax pitch. I have seen Drysdale. Juan Marichal of the Hated Giants. I have seen a lot of Great Pitchers. Bob Gibson, Vida Blue. Nolan Ryan. Fernnando Valenzuela in his M.L. debut. Since it opened and partially because of this day, I have been going to Dodger Stadium my whole life. 50 years. Another of the greatest modern pitchers I’ve ever seen is Mariano Rivera of the N.Y. Yankees.
When you look at pictures like these of that Pastel Blue L.A. sky that matched the awnings and seats of the Stadium, they have a particular washed-out look to them… partly because of the film quality of the era and partly – which is never mentioned now, L.A. was Incredibly Smoggy in those days. Everything was perpetually Hazy. Nobody gave a damn about Air Pollution back then.. The EPA? What’s that? Didn’t exist yet. All those Hazy Colors in a Haze of Smog. Fill Up the Rocket 88 with Hi-Test. Put a Tiger in Your Tank.
The other Great Thing about the Stadium back then…T.V was still relatively new, having only been around about 15 years at that point. And some of the games were broadcast on T.V., some were not. Then everybody, Everybody – had a Transistor Radio. It’s rare these days at the Stadium, but a great Dodger Tradition has always been the Businessman’s Special. There were many more Day Games back then in the Era before Prime Time this and that. All the Businessmen came to the Stadium with Transistor Radios in their shirt pockets, and earphones. They left work midday so they could listen to Vin Scully. Then and Now. The “Official Voice of the Dodgers” since 1949. No Mega-Video Screens, just big scoreboards & Union 76 Balls in the Sky. ‘Fast Food’ was a Dodger Dog and a Beer. Still the Best thing Ever at the ballpark. The Best.
Koufax Blew Away the Twins that day. 7-0. The third straight game they won in the Series, which of course they went on to win. The L.A. Dodgers could do no wrong in those days. The days before the owners aired their divorce or drug habit, or infidelity in the media. Days before personal scandal made bigger headlines than the game, or the players themselves. This story isn’t about Sports Facts, Trivia or History.
ESPN shows the same loop of ‘highlights’ and innocuous meaningless rhetoric. 5 ‘sportscasters’ lined up trying to say what the Incomparable Vin Scully can do with one phrase or sentence to Paint the Perfect Picture of the game. He is truly the Greatest Sports Story of our time. Irreplaceable. There will never be another like him. My Dad’s gone now, and my Mom as well, the Biggest Brooklyn Dodger fan ever. When I go to the ballpark now, or hear the most esteemed Mr. Scully on the airwaves. it takes me back to that day. His voice is literally the only audible voice I have left of that time, and I cherish the sound of it for the memory of that day so long ago, in Second Grade. Koufax and his immortal high kick, and a Fastball Out of Nowhere.
Long Before Clark Gable or Brando, James Dean or Elvis, Paul Newman, Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp – the First Pop Icon Glam Rock Superstar Held the World at His Feet. His Name was Rudolph Valentino. And Long before National Enquirer, Vanity Fair or TMZ, Valentino managed to Achieve SuperStar Fame & Weave a Tangled Web of Personal Scandal to rival that of any Modern-Day Star….and so it Begins ~
At the Turn of the 20th Century, Los Angeles was but a sleepy Pueblo, just coming into its own as a City. San Francisco had already established a huge Shipping trade by virtue of its Great Bay, however crippled she was by the Earthquake of 1906. The City would rebuild to hold the Panama-Pacific International Exposition just nine years later.
Other Cities in Southern California were sought out by Easterners as a Place to flock to for the Climate. Towns like Redlands and Riverside were Reached by Rail from parts Eastward for their Hot Springs and balmy climates in the Days before Modern Medicine, as Folk travelled West for a Climate to Cure what ailed them, or an opportunity to work in the New Agricultural Paradise, Miles and Endless Miles of Lemons, Oranges and every kind of Virgin FarmLand Crop to Sow as Far as the Eye Could See. California Towns South and East were larger and more Established than Los Angeles at that time, nearer and more accessible from the East by Railway and Rural Roads in the Days before Highways.
But The Sleepy L.A. Pueblo had begun to grow, with an incredibly varied terrain, Mountains, Sea, Growing Cityscape and cheap, endless land just waiting for any Entrepeneurial Spirit to Come Along. Recent improvements to the City Infrastructure had only recently arrived, like Electric Streetlights. In 1912, A Former New York actor came to town, his name was Mack Sennett. With financial backing from Adam Kessel and Charles O. Bauman of the New York Motion Picture Company, Sennett founded Keystone Studios in Edendale, California, (which is now a part of Echo Park). The original main building, the first totally enclosed film stage and studio in history, is still there. Many important actors started their careers with Sennett, including Mabel Normand, Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson,The Keystone Cops, Bing Crosby, and W. C. Fields.
On the Other Side of the World, a Young Italian named Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Piero Filiberto Guglielmi, born in 1895 from the small village of Castellaneta, had moved to Paris at the age of 17. However, unable to find much work, he returned to Italy, then still struggling, made his way to America by way of Ellis Island and New York City in 1913. As Irony and Fate would have it, the very first ‘moving picture’ was shown in Paris the year of Valentino’s birth. Rumor has it that Rodolfo, the middle child, (his siblings were Alberto and Maria), was his mother’s favorite and a handsome son. She doted on him and lavished him with attention. As one would expect, Rodolfo grew into a wild child, spoiled and of the belief that he could get away with anything. His teachers didn’t share that belief, and Rodolfo was expelled from many schools before he managed to graduate from the Academy of Agriculture with a diploma in the Science of Farming. Rodolfo moved to Paris and studied apache dancing while still a teenager. He obtains a position working as a dancer at Maxim’s. In 1913, after he had collected the $4000 inheritance coming his way, Rodolfo took off for New York.
He meets Bonnie Glass, who is in need of a new dancing partner to tour New York clubs and the Vaudeville circuit. Valentino is billed as Signor Rodolfo. After Ms. Glass retires, Rodolfo dances with Joan Sawyer and continues to tour in vaudeville on the East Coast, all the while perfecting his penchant for Argentine Tango. Valentino did whatever else he could to get by: he bussed tables and became something of a gigolo. During this time, Valentino fell madly in love with a married society woman named Blanca de Saulles. Mme. de Saulles had been unhappily married long before she had met Valentino and eventually divorced her husband John. Perhaps trying to win de Saulles over (she had never returned his affections) Valentino testified at the trial. John de Saulles was extremely powerful and had Valentino arrested on trumped up vice charges. The arrest was highly publicized and shortly after Blanca shot and killed her husband over a custody dispute. Rodolfo wisely left New York with a traveling musical that included Al Jolson and changed his name from Guglielmi to the now known ‘Valentino’.
Valentino soon joined an operetta company that travelled to Utah where it disbanded, then travelled to San Francisco where he meets the actor Norman Kerry, who is Mary Pickford’s leading man. Kerry convinces him to try a career in films. Many of Valentino’s peers had delved into acting in New York before making their migrations West, and as many stars would do later, Brando, Paul Newman, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean – all acted extensively in New York before coming to Hollywood. Around 1917, Valentino made the exodus to Hollywood, completely bypassing the New York movie scene before making his migration West. Almost immediately he procured his first movie role – albeit a small one – in the film Alimony, thanks to his Tango abilities. There is some discrepancy on what his first movie role is-he apparently appeared uncredited in a few other films before Alimony, such as My Official Wife (1914, starring Clara Kimball Young) and The Foolish Virgin (1916). Rudolph Valentino made just over 20 films before his big breakout role, and in none of these did he play the smoldering lover he would become so famous for. He was still finding his footing in Hollywood, and this included finding the right name for himself. Handsome Irish or English white men were the romantic types of the day, (Jack Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Thomas Meighan) while anyone deemed ‘not white’ was unable to obtain such roles. Foreign looking actors usually were given nothing but evil villain roles. Valentino would eventually be the first to change this with the help of his mentor June Mathis. Despite playing ‘heavies’, Valentino’s early roles show his natural acting talent. At a time when some stars still overacted (remnants of early 1900 stage acting) Valentino portrayed his characters in a natural way. He also showcased his skill for comedy during these years in films like “All Night” in 1918.
At various times, he has been credited as M. Rodolfo De Valentina, M. Rodolpho De Valentina, M. De Valentina, R. De Valentina, Rudolpho De Valentina, Rudolpho De Valentine, Rudolph DeValentino, Rudolpho Valentina, Rodolph Valentine, Rudolph Valentine and Rodolph Valentino. Some of these early films include: All Night (1918),Virtuous Sinners, Eyes of Youth (both 1919), Passion’s Playground and The Sinner (both 1920). He primarily played the ‘villain’ in these early films. Most, but not all of these early films are Lost Forever, the highly soluble, flammable and volatile film stock from the period meant many were lost or destroyed due to minimal copies made, exposure to light or simple poor handling and archiving.
In 1919 Rodolfo began a courtship and impulsively married the actress Jean Acker—who through her later affairs in the Garden of Allah would prove to be a lesbian—on their wedding night, she locked him out of her bedroom. The marriage was never consummated. Rudolfo struggled with his reluctant wife and seemingly still unaware of her being a lesbian, writes her impassioned letters and sends her three photos inscribed with endearments of a loving husband. His efforts failed and in late December, an announcement is made of their official separation and they divorced in 1921. She and Valentino remained friends for the rest of his life. Jean Acker went on to have a minor career as an actress for the majority of her long life, she died in 1978. She kept the name Valentino her entire life, obviously no doubt to some advantage.
Several factors now came into play as to the direction of Valentino’s career, about to soar on a steep path of fame. Valentino would meet his Mentor. Her name was June Mathis, and she was the first female movie executive, having wrote the 6th best selling silent film of all time, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Ms. Mathis saw an Exotic, Erotic persona in Valentino that other Studio Execs had missed, always passing on him for the White Leading Men of the Day….Douglas Fairbanks, Chaplin, the Lot of Them, and their Stars were about to be Eclipsed.
Mathis was the Staff Scenarist at Metro Studios and the Driving Force behind the new film, “Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse”. Calling Valentino to her office, she offers him the plum lead role of Julio – a decision that proves to be a Huge Hit for Metro, making Valentino an Overnight Sensation.
Another Factor to give rise to Valentino’s ‘Exotic’ looks and persona, halfway Around the World in Egypt, though several of the foremost excavators over the past century had declared there was nothing left to find in the Valley of the Kings, Howard Carter and his sponsor, Lord Carnarvon, spent a number of years, 31 in all – and a lot of money searching for a tomb they weren’t sure existed. In November 1922, they found it. Carter had discovered not just an unknown ancient Egyptian tomb, but one that had lain nearly undisturbed for over 3,000 years. What lay within astounded the world….The Nearly Unbelievable Solid Gold Treasures revealed in King Tutankhamen’s Tomb.
Suddenly All the World and of course the World of Hollywood was Mad for all Things Art Deco Egyptian. Or Aztec, Mayan, Arabian..Chinese…Anything Exotic. Hollywood Built Shrines to All of Them in form of Huge Exotic Theaters, even naming one The Shrine. All Still Stand in Hollywood Today and are All California Cultural Treasures. Much to his Good Fortune, His Rising Star, Exotic Looks and the Persona of Rudolph Valentino – all just happened to perfectly coincide with This Exotic Moment in Time…He Would Fill Those Theaters One and All, without ever Speaking One Word on Film.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, released in 1921, became a commercial and critical success – being one of the first films to make $1,000,000 at the box office. One of the best selling silent films ever. The film made Valentino a sensation, earning him Instant Fame, merging his emergence perfectly to The World’s Sudden Obsession with Everything Exotic Era of the Roaring 20′s ~
Metro continued only paying Valentino $350 a week (when most stars made several thousand a week). Valentino was never wise with business dealings and suffered from similar contract and money issues his whole life. When he died in 1926, his estate was heavily in debt, something not expected of a star of his stature.
To add to his troubles Metro threw him into a ‘B’ picture, “Uncharted Seas” (now lost), which would foreshadow his artistic and power struggles with studios and movie moguls his entire career. During this period Valentino meets the great Russian actress Alla Nazimova, who is preparing to film an adaptation of “Camille”.
By 1918, Alla Nazimova had signed a contract with Metro and continued to make 11 films for them over the next three years. She was making around $13,000 a week in 1917. Nazimova lived with actor Charles Bryant during this period, although the two never married. It was well-known that Nazimova was bisexual. She apparently had affairs with not only Valentino’s not-quite ‘ex’, but with several of his other lovers of the Day. Lucky Girl, indeed. Her first real artistic triumph came with the filming of “Camille” in 1921 which had sets designed by Natacha Rambova and co-starred Rudolph Valentino. This marked the beginning of the Rambova-Valentino love affair.
Natacha Rambova – was an American silent film costume and set designer, artistic director,screenwriter, producer and occasional actress. Ms. Rambova was born Winifred Kimball Shaughnessy, in Salt Lake City. (What a difference a name makes) ! At age 17 Rambova fell for 32 year old Ballet & Opera star Theodore Kosloff . While in England she posed as a governess to Kosloff’s wife and child. Rambova returned to America and began touring with the Kosloff company. In addition to dancing she began costume designing as well. After the tour ended Kosloff had been hired by Cecil B. DeMille to perform as well as contribute designs. Rambova joined him and was dismayed to find herself as part of Kosloff’s “arty harem”. Kosloff had taken several lovers amongst the dancers, who would perform with his company, teach at his studio, and assist him uncredited in his film work. Rambova took to researching historical accuracy for her designs, which Kosloff would then use without giving her credit, stealing her sketches and claiming them as his own.
Rambova soon had enough of Kosloff stealing her Ideas & with him. Being Talented, Smart & Beautiful, who better to latch onto than the Most Available Hollywood Batchelor of the Day? And Voila ~ Mr. & Ms. Valentino were married in Mexico in May, 1922. Only One Problem ~ Mr. Valentino was still married to his former wife Jean Acker ~ No Bueno.
And So the Valentino Saga Shifted into High Gear, with Fame & Modest Fortune, a list of upcoming Films that would make Rudolph Valentino known to the World ~ His Life was about to become increasingly Complex. Ruled by by his Heart more so than his Head ~ On & Off-Screen, Valentino’s own life was like that of one of his Romantic Characters..and so a California Icon he Became. He was 25.
Valentino’s next Film was Camille. Having met Alla Nazimova, who had been at work on the film adaptation, his Rising Star and the astute business sense of June Mathis evolved him into starring opposite Ms.Nazimova. Natacha Rambova was elected as Costume Designer on the film and she possessed a great talent in her role. Pictures of her costumes and the film itself showcased her skills. Valentino began pursuing her and a courtship with Rambova during filming. Initially he makes a poor impression but perhaps his skill at Romance and Growing Fame persuaded her toward him. At any rate they are living together by the close of production on Camille. And the Plot thickens. The former Ms. Valentino, Jean Acker files for divorce.
The Valentino’s, objects of derision in the Press for charges of Bigamy, had been living in Sin within the Romantic Paradise of The Garden of Allah, a Group of Spanish Bungalows built on the grounds of the Palatial Home of none other than Valentino’s co-star, Ms. Nazimova. Paramount Studios had bestowed Nazimova with the home and grounds when the star was at her apex so she might enjoy a glamorous retreat in the burgeoning Hollywood community. A 1959 LA Times article discusses those early years:
‘To garnish the gift, [Nazimova] built Hollywood’s largest swimming pool—65 x 45 ft.—and had it shaped like the Black Sea of her girlhood. The pool hung like a dewy sapphire around the heart of her garden.
And when she made her garden over, Nazimova was bountiful. In the big revamp, she showered $1.5 million on the place, built 25 unique villas of Spanish design and packed them with the last word in charm and fashion’…
The Garden of Allah was torn down in the late 1950′s, nearly forgotten and having fallen into disrepair, before the days of Hollywood’s Cultural Awareness and Preservation for her Landmarks. It is now a generic shopping center, devoid of any of the Hollywood History, Scandals, Fashionable Parties, Romance, and the ‘Black Sea’ swimming pool for which it was known.
2 excellent articles on this time :
“They Paved Paradise, and put up a Parking Lot”
- Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi” ~ 1970.
Truer Words were Never Spoken.
And So ~ although Rudolph was briefly arrested and jailed, the Valentino’s were able to move on from his bigamy charges & scandal to be legally & officially married. And, as all Hollywood SuperStars are Wont to Do, it was time to go House-Hunting…
Rudy and Natacha jointly purchase a home in the fashionable Whitley Heights section of Hollywood at 6770 Wedgewood Place, in December. Natacha moves in while Rudolph lives in a bungalow nearby until the divorce proceedings are concluded. They anticipate a Spring Wedding…Rudolph is about to embark on his Next Picture -”Beyond the Rocks“, co-starring one of the Biggest Stars of The Day, Ms. Gloria Swanson. It is a Busy, Rapidly Accelerating Time & A Happy One. However ~ as in the Theatrics True to Every form of Melodrama, from Ancient Rome to Shakespeare to the Modern Day Silver Screen of the Roaring 20′s, Alas, Forever it is Not to Be…
And What of Valentino the Man ? For now he had Become truly a A Star ~ Known to Millions, with the means to indulge in The Roaring 20′s Life to its Fullest. He was an avid horseman, not only as his screen persona but in his personal life as well. Hollywood and Los Angeles was almost rural in those days. A ‘Freeway’ was an unknown contrivance, unnecessary for another 20 years. The Red Line streetcars were ‘urban transportation’, automobiles had been on the recently paved streets no more than 10 years. Wealthy and indeed all classes of people were still well-versed in horses and their presence throughout the land. Valentino maintained an increasing stable of horses and loved riding them in the Hollywood Hills. By all accounts he was an excellent rider.
A New Wife, Hollywood Home, Fame and the relatively new mode of transportation ~ The Automobile. Valentino had Distinctly European tastes in all. No doubt in todays terms he would have had a garage full of vintage Ferraris and their equal. He was an avid lover of Dogs as well, and from this point on in his personal life, a majority of photographs show him with his beloved dogs by his side. Upon the death of one of his favorites, Kabar, Valentino had the dog interred in his own plot at a Hollywood Cemetery normally reserved for the human species, such was his love for him.
This seems to say a lot about him as a man.
Rudolph Valentino went on to become an Even Bigger Star ~ perhaps the biggest star in Hollywood, ever. It’s quite easy to find that to be an arguable point, however I daresay nearly no one reading my story was around to experience his Fame at that time. In researching and writing this entry,
I found just an incredible amount of information and images about him, certainly more so than I have encountered on any other California subject I’ve written about, including 60′s Rock, The Doors, and almost any subject I’ve ever researched online. Images of him and his Film Posters in several languages, Spanish, Dutch, German, French, Arabic. An Incredible Cultural Presence in the 1920′s era of Communication - He certainly was adored by his public. I think not only for his films but also a certain sensitivity to life, and the enjoyment of at all costs, having risen from a mixed life of middle-class, then near poverty to achieve his Glorified position. Having grown up in Southern California and influenced by Grandparents somewhat similar in styles and tastes to Valentino and his wife, it became quite clear to me where, as a young couple, they got their inspiration. And for whatever remains of that, I appreciate having grown up in a place touched by those influences. Valentino, Nazimova and Rambova, along with other Famous People in California of the Day, established a Style & Culture level that influenced Fashion, Architecture and an entire environmental persona in California that, However Lost we have become in a Modern Day World of strip malls, urban crime, media, freeways, ‘impersonal internet sociability’, cellular & digital communication filling the air around us, density and a jaded hurried non-awareness of the Place We Live. Somehow images of how California was, and what remains ~ seem important to seek out. There are many, many places, facts & trivia to detail the remainder of Valentino’s Life, and Death, the Endless Mystique of A World Without Valentino Since. Indeed the majority of his fame began at the point I leave us here in my dialogue ~
What made him so vital in the Hollywoodland Days of his Fame and now, were Visual Images Without Words that are Timeless.
So I thought to Myself…Federico, you’ve got a New Blog..and thus far you’ve written 2 articles on some of the Baddest Boys in California..up to a point. You Owe it to the Ladies of California to keep a Sensitive Balance to things here, so Something for the Ladies…It Turns out in my Early research on these Bad Girls, (including seeing them Rock The Cuckoo’s Nest in Costa Mesa & Whiskey a Go Go Hollywood in 1977-Yeah ! ) there is a Hollywood Biopic Movie being released in 2010 on These Lurid Ladies…
So Let’s Check Them OUT For Reals….
The Story of the RUNAWAYS…California’s First & Fastest All-Girl Punk Band…ROCK ON LADIES…!!!
Us Boys Were Stoked..! We’d been Listening to the Laid-Back Eagles, or to Get our Ya-Ya’s – The Stones & Even Stonier Led Zeppelin. But Bald-Headed Ian Anderson & Jethro Tull was a Burnout. Guys like Mick & Rod ‘The Mod’ Stewart & The Faces were getting all The Babes Like Bianca & Britt Ekland. There wasn’t even Really L.A. Radio to Deal with Punk Rockers yet, in 1975. PowerHouse KMET, A GREAT L.A. Radio Station – Played Power Rock like Ted Nugent & Deep Purple & Glam Boys Bowie & T.Rex and then All the Girls went Ga-Ga Glam on Us. The Precursors to Punk.. The Ramones Hadn’t Hit California Yet…They were in New York with David Johansen & the New York Dolls & Iggy Pop. THEN We Heard Some Screaming Rocking GIRLS on the Airwaves- THE RUNAWAYS…AND they Were HOT..!! Their First Big Hit was CHERRY BOMB…So, Well..Yeah !! HOT GIRL ROCKERS…Rocking it in Lingerie & Heels & Shag Haircuts, Leather & Plum Lipstick…Thank You God…Finally !!
The Runaways were formed in late 1975 by drummer Sandy West and rhythm guitarist Joan Jett. They had introduced themselves (on separate occasions) to producer Kim Fowley stating their ideas to form an all-girl band. Fowley, who was always looking for the next big thing, gave Jett’s phone number to West. The two met on their own to discuss the possibilities. After rehearsing together, the pair contacted Fowley to let him hear the results. Fowley then helped the girls find the other members.
Although Fowley would continue to take credit in the press for creating the band and the music, he would later admit, “I didn’t put The Runaways together, I had an idea, they had ideas, we all met, there was combustion and out of five different versions of that group came the five girls who were the ones that people liked”.
Starting as a power trio with bassist Micki Steele, The Runaways began the party and club circuit around Los Angeles. In 1976, they added 16-year-old lead guitarist Lita Ford and lead singer Cherie Currie to the lineup. Bassist Micki Steele left the group, later resurfacing in The Bangles. An unknown local bassist named Peggy Foster took over on bass but also left after only a few weeks. Kim Fowley then brought Ann Boleyn, who later went on to perform with Hellion and Detente, as the bass player. Finally, Jackie Fox (who had originally auditioned for the lead guitar spot) was added on bass, and the line up was complete.
I worked in an Industrial Park in Costa Mesa, just next to the Legendary Rock Club- The Cuckoo’s Nest. Us Boys heard the Runaways were going to play it & we were Stoked ..! Back then you had to go to a store like Wallich’s Music City or a Ticket Agency to get your tickets..No Internet for pre-sale. That’s where guys like Damone in ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont’ came from..We would go wrangle a bunch of tickets & scalp them to people during lunch in the Quad at school, we would charge like $15. instead of the $7.50 they cost us at Wallich’s. ( I think I paid around $40. for 2 tickets to see Bowie with Mick Ronson & The Spiders from Mars in San Diego…I was THE MAN with those tickets & had a Very Hot Date that night…) but, back to our story…
We made it to the Show- in my Bad new Black ’78 Chevy Van with killer Mag rims & Pioneer SuperTuner 8-Track blasting our Girls..Styled out in our Zeppelin Jeans, Platforms & Shags…
There were often confrontations with the punks from the Cuckoos Nest and the cowboys from Zubies, which shared a parking lot. The police were constantly harassing the punks. Club owner Jerry Roach fought a number of court cases in an effort to keep the club alive, and in his 1981 film on the subject Urban Struggle he suggested that perhaps this was the first time that the authorities would stamp out a fad.  The club was a hub of the punk rock in California. The club is notable as being home to the first slam pit. Bands such as 999, The Ramones, The Damned, the New York Dolls, Black Flag (band), TSOL, Circle Jerks, D.I., and Social Distortion all played gigs there. The club was memorialized in the Vandals song “Pat Brown,” a song about a clubgoer who actually tried to run the cops into the ground.
In the summer of 1977 the group arrived in Japan for a string of sold out shows. The Runaways were the number 4 imported music act in Japan at the time, behind only Led Zeppelin, ABBA, and Kiss in terms of album sales and popularity. The girls were unprepared for the onslaught of fans that greeted them at the airport. The mass hysteria was later described by guitarist Jett as being “like Beatlemania“. While in Japan, The Runaways had their own TV special, did numerous television appearances and released a live album that went gold. While in Japan, bassist Jackie Fox left the band shortly before the group was scheduled to appear at the 1977 Tokyo Music Festival. Jett temporarily took over bass duties and when the group returned home they replaced Fox with 17 year old Vicki Blue.
Singer Cherie Currie then left the group and Jett, who previously shared vocals with Currie, took over lead vocals full time. The band released their 4th album,Waiting For The Night and started a world tour with their friends The Ramones. Currie released a solo LP Beauty’s Only Skin Deep, produced by Kim Fowley, and began a separate U.S. tour, which included her identical twin sister Marie.
Due to disagreements over money and the management of the band, The Runaways and Kim Fowley parted ways in 1978. The group quickly hired new management, who also worked for Blondie and Suzi Quatro. When the group split with Fowley, they also parted with their record label Mercury/Polygram, to which their deal was tied. In the Edgeplay documentary, members of the group (especially Fox and Currie) as well as the parents of Currie and West, have accused Fowley and others assigned to look after the band of using divide and conquer tactics to keep control of the band, as well as verbal and sexual abuse of the band members.
Bassist Vicki Blue left the group and was replaced by Laurie McAllister. The band reportedly spent much time enjoying the excesses of the rock n’ roll lifestyle during this time. They partnered with Thin Lizzy producer John Alcock, (after Jett’s future partner Kenny Laguna turned down the job) to record their last album And Now … The Runaways.
The band played their last concert on New Year’s Eve Day of 1978 and broke up in April 1979.
The Runaways Paved The Way for Other Girl Crossover Bands like The Go-Go’s, Pat Benatar , Heart (? Borderline at best), Blondie, & looking ahead to Ladies Like Courtney Love, A TRUE Rocker in her own right. Listen to Their Music & You Will Definitely Hear The RUNAWAYS-
The First True California QUEENS OF NOISE ! Come & Get it Boys !
2nd Generation Hollywood Royalty Peter Fonda- Cannes 1978 -