Saturday, January 24, 2015

1955 Los Angeles Auto Show Part Two: Studebaker

Like Packard, I was only able to find three verifiable existing dealership buildings, though the Packard dealership in Santa Monica (see previous post) had begun selling Studebakers as well by this time.

The former Packer Motor Co. Inc. on 1620 S. Brand Blvd in Glendale has hardly changed at all since it was selling Studebakers in 1955.
 This was Ranchero Motors on 5101 Lankershim, in North Hollywood
To buy your Studebaker in South Gate, you would find them here at 2927 E. Firestone Blvd.

Monday, January 12, 2015

1955 Los Angeles Auto Show Part One: Packard

Held at the Pan Pacific Auditorium January 21- 30, 1955, the Los Angeles Herald Examiner issued a twenty-two page section loaded with advertisements from most of the exhibiters.  Over the next several weeks, I'll post some of the more interesting articles and ads. (I'll start with Packard).

Cartoon by Pete Gentdroja.
If anyone has photos of the car show at the Pan-Pacific this year, please send them to me and I'll be delighted to include them.

Most manufacturers featured a promotional articles like this one.

I was intrigued to see the addresses of the dealerships in many of the ads, and wondered how many of the buildings still existed.  For Packard, just three.

Still holding onto its Art Deco flourishes, here is what was once the Maywood, CA Security Motors dealership at 6101 Atlantic Blvd.
I've walked many times past the former Culver City Packard dealership at 10003 Washington Blvd.  It can be easily found directly across the street from the Sony Pictures studio (formerly MGM).
The Santa Monica Simonson dealership at 1626 Wilshire Blvd, now Mercedes Benz but still featuring the Packard crest above the entrance, has been in business since 1937.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Upper Nichols Canyon mid-century tract

At the very top of Nichols Canyon, just south of Mulholland Drive, lies an interesting mid-century neighborhood where about half of the houses have remained unaltered and some have been sensibly upgraded.  Above, a good example of how a carport can make these houses seem bigger and dynamic. 

 This house had a very modern addition but they resisted altering the rest of the house.

 The most flamboyant and possibly the largest house in the tract. It's certainly my favorite.

While additions are often deadly to these mid-century ranch houses, I appreciate the fact they not only took pains to retain the folded roof on the first floor, they repeated the design on the upper floor.

 This house has a charming mobile sculpture. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

The 1950s car mugs that never were by Fifties Co. LTD

In the mid 1980s, Fifties Co. LTD, a Japanese toy company, produced sturdy tin friction toy cars recalling those made in the 1950s and 1960s.  They were marketed in the United States and must have sold very well.  Even now, you can always find at least a few for sale on ebay.  In 1984, I sent the company some designs for ceramic mugs incorporating the front ends of 1950s cars.  They responded with interest, sent me the above pictures, and I eventually met with representatives of the company when they were in Los Angeles.
They took this picture of me with my 1969 Toronado in the parking lot of their hotel.

For over a year I imagined myself becoming rich designing novelty items like these (I ran several other humorous ideas past them). The did do a test run of the mugs but apparently there was not enough interest at the trade fairs to actually produce them.  They did, however, send me these samples and I've kept them ever since.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Those rascals from Bonanza

I'd heard since I was a kid that the cast of Bonanza once famously slipped the Viewmaster photographer the finger.  As you can see, this is one urban legend that's actually easily verified -- in 3D yet.  It appeared in reel one of the 1964 set based on the episode A Pink Cloud Comes from Old Cathay airing April 12, 1964  Dan Blocker, Michael Landon, Lorne Greene and Pernell Roberts are all clearly flipping the bird (albeit surreptitiously).  Guest actors Benson Fong (with hammer) and Philip Ahn don't appear to be in on the gag.  

The synopsis on IMDB reads: A mix-up in his request for mail-order Chinese fireworks brings Hoss instead a feisty mail-order bride whose militant ideas ignite a workers' rebellion and threaten the completion of a Virginia City railroad project.  Sounds pretty far fetched, doesn't it?  Wait until you hear who the bride was -- That Mail Order Bride,  the not-even-remotely Asian Marlo Thomas. Right from the start, she turns out to be something of a firecracker -- a proto-Feminist Communist. (It's not as interesting as it sounds).  All told, this is a fairly typical episode of Bonanza -- easy going and amiable and it never did pretend to be a historical document on the Old West.  But it sure sold a lot of color televisions. 

There were other Bonanza Viewmaster sets, so be sure to look for this 1964 version on ebay.  They come up for auction often, so one wonders just how many were issued -- certainly tens of thousands at least.  After all, Bonanza was a very popular show and Viewmaster was at its height of popularity at the time.  One can only imagine how the guys reacted when they found out their little joke made it past the Viewmaster editors.  I'm sure there was a round to celebrate the occasion. Probably things were not quite so happy at Viewmaster. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rita Hayworth in Salome at the Hill Street Theater, Los Angeles, 1953

A friend gave me an LA Times Home Section Magazine dated April 12, 1953.  Just inside was this rather expensive looking full-color advertisement for Rita Hayworth's latest Columbia release.  The RKO Hill Street was a massive theater in downtown Los Angeles, with 2,890 seats.  It was closed in 1963 and was torn down in 1965.  A parking garage now occupies the space.  Fortunately for Los Angeles, however, most of the rest of the downtown movie palaces still not only exist but have been or are in the process of being restored.  One notable holdout is the Warner, now a jewelery mart.  The other two theaters mentioned in the advertisement are still in existence.  The RKO Pantages on Hollywood Blvd. is a very successful legit theater.  The 4 Star, on Wilshire Blvd, has seen better days and is said not to be around much longer.