Sunday, July 12, 2015

"Gilligan's Island" Producer Sherwood Schwartz 2011 Hillside Cemetery

Sherwood Charles Schwartz (November 14, 1916 – July 12, 2011) was an American television producer. He worked on radio shows in the 1940s, and created the television series Gilligan's Island on CBS and The Brady Bunch on ABC. On March 7, 2008, Schwartz, at the time still active in his 90s, was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That same year, Schwartz was also inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.


On July 12, 2011, Sherwood Schwartz died peacefully in his sleep of natural causes.[8] He was survived by his wife of nearly 70 years, Mildred Schwartz and their four children: Donald, Lloyd (the creator of The Munsters Today), Ross, and Hope (wife of Laurence Juber; reportedly named after Bob Hope), and his nine grandchildren: Juli, Jill, Jackie, Andy, Becky, Nico, Ilsey, Sprewell and Elliot as well as five great-grandchildren: Rachel, Sarah, Evan, and Aidan. He was buried at the Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Jazz Musician Jelly Roll Morton 1941 Calvary Cemetery

Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe (October 20, 1890 – July 10, 1941),[1] known professionally as Jelly Roll Morton, was an American ragtime and early jazz pianist, bandleader and composer who started his career in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Widely recognized as a pivotal figure in early jazz, Morton is perhaps most notable as jazz's first arranger, proving that a genre rooted in improvisation could retain its essential spirit and characteristics when notated.[2] His composition "Jelly Roll Blues" was the first published jazz composition, in 1915. Morton is also notable for naming and popularizing the "Spanish Tinge" (habanera rhythm and tresillo), and for writing such standards as "King Porter Stomp," "Wolverine Blues," "Black Bottom Stomp," and "I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say," the last a tribute to New Orleans musicians from the turn of the 19th century to 20th century.

Reputed for his arrogance and self-promotion as often as recognized in his day for his musical talents, Morton claimed to have invented jazz outright in 1902—much to the derision of later musicians and critics.[3] The jazz historian, musician, and composer Gunther Schuller says of Morton's "hyperbolic assertions" that there is "no proof to the contrary" and that Morton's "considerable accomplishments in themselves provide reasonable substantiation."[4] However, the scholar Katy Martin has argued that Morton's bragging was exaggerated by Alan Lomax in the book Mister Jelly Roll, and this portrayal has influenced public opinion and scholarship on Morton since.[5]


Early life and education

Morton was born into a creole of color family in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. Sources differ as to his birth date: a baptismal certificate issued in 1894 lists his date of birth as October 20, 1890; Morton and his half-sisters claimed he was born on September 20, 1885. His World War I draft registration card showed September 13, 1884, but his California death certificate listed his birth as September 20, 1889. He was born to F. P. Lamothe and Louise Monette (written as Lemott and Monett on his baptismal certificate). Eulaley Haco (Eulalie Hécaud) was the godparent. Hécaud helped choose his christening name of Ferdinand. His parents lived in a common-law marriage and were not legally married. No birth certificate has been found to date.

Ferdinand started playing music as a child, showing early talent. After his parents separated, his mother married a man named Mouton. Ferdinand took his stepfather's name and anglicized it as "Morton."

Musical career

Morton claimed to have written "Jelly Roll Blues" in 1905. 

At the age of fourteen, Morton began working as a piano player in a brothel (or, as it was referred to then, a sporting house). While working there, he was living with his religious, church-going great-grandmother; he had her convinced that he worked as a night watchman in a barrel factory.

In that atmosphere, he often sang smutty lyrics; he took the nickname "Jelly Roll,"[6] which was black slang for female genitalia.[7]

After Morton's grandmother found out that he was playing jazz in a local brothel, she kicked him out of her house.

He said:

"When my grandmother found out that I was playing jazz in one of the sporting houses in the District, she told me that I had disgraced the family and forbade me to live at the house... She told me that devil music would surely bring about my downfall, but I just couldn't put it behind me."[8]

Tony Jackson, also a pianist at brothels and an accomplished guitar player, was a major influence on Morton's music. Jelly Roll said that Jackson was the only pianist better than he was.

Jelly Roll Morton and his vaudeville partner Rosa Brown


Around 1904, Morton also started touring in the American South, working with minstrel shows, gambling and composing. His works "Jelly Roll Blues," "New Orleans Blues," "Frog-I-More Rag," "Animule Dance," and "King Porter Stomp" were composed during this period. He got to Chicago in 1910 and New York City in 1911, where future stride greats James P. Johnson and Willie "The Lion" Smith caught his act, years before the blues were widely played in the North.[9]

In 1912–1914, Morton toured with his girlfriend Rosa Brown (above) as a vaudeville act before settling in Chicago for three years. By 1914, he had started writing down his compositions. In 1915, his "Jelly Roll Blues" was arguably the first jazz composition ever published, recording as sheet music the New Orleans traditions that had been jealously guarded by the musicians. In 1917, he followed bandleader William Manuel Johnson and Johnson's sister Anita Gonzalez to California, where Morton's tango, "The Crave," made a sensation in Hollywood.[10]

Jelly Roll Morton with others outside the Cadillac Cafe in Los Angeles 1917


Morton was invited to play a new Vancouver, British Columbia, nightclub called The Patricia, on East Hastings Street. The jazz historian Mark Miller described his arrival as "an extended period of itinerancy as a pianist, vaudeville performer, gambler, hustler, and, as legend would have it, pimp."[11]


Morton returned to Chicago in 1923 to claim authorship of his recently published rag, "The Wolverines," which had become a hit as "Wolverine Blues" in the Windy City. He released the first of his commercial recordings, first as piano rolls, then on record, both as a piano soloist and with various jazz bands.[12]

In 1926, Morton succeeded in getting a contract to record for the largest and most prestigious company in the United States, Victor. This gave him a chance to bring a well-rehearsed band to play his arrangements in Victor's Chicago recording studios. These recordings by Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers are regarded as classics of 1920s jazz. The Red Hot Peppers featured such other New Orleans jazz luminaries as Kid Ory, Omer Simeon, George Mitchell, Johnny St. Cyr, Barney Bigard, Johnny Dodds, Baby Dodds, and Andrew Hilaire. Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers were one of the first acts booked on tours by MCA.[13]

Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers

Marriage and family

In November 1928, Morton married the showgirl Mabel Bertrand in Gary, Indiana.

New York City

They moved that year to New York City, where Morton continued to record for Victor. His piano solos and trio recordings are well regarded, but his band recordings suffer in comparison with the Chicago sides, where Morton could draw on many great New Orleans musicians for sidemen.[14] Although he recorded with the noted musicians clarinetists Omer Simeon, George Baquet, Albert Nicholas, Wilton Crawley, Barney Bigard, Russell Procope, Lorenzo Tio and Artie Shaw, trumpeters Bubber Miley, Johnny Dunn and Henry "Red" Allen, saxophonists Sidney Bechet, Paul Barnes and Bud Freeman, bassist Pops Foster, and drummers Paul Barbarin, Cozy Cole and Zutty Singleton, Morton generally had trouble finding musicians who wanted to play his style of jazz. His New York sessions failed to produce a hit.[15]

With the Great Depression and the near collapse of the record industry, Victor did not renew Morton's recording contract for 1931. Morton continued playing in New York, but struggled financially. He briefly had a radio show in 1934, then took on touring in the band of a traveling burlesque act for some steady income. In 1935, Morton's 30-year-old composition King Porter Stomp, as arranged by Fletcher Henderson, became Benny Goodman's first hit and a swing standard, but Morton received no royalties from its recordings.[16]

Washington, D.C.

In 1935, Morton moved to Washington, D.C., to become the manager/piano player of a bar called, at various times, the "Music Box," "Blue Moon Inn," and "Jungle Inn" in the African-American neighborhood of Shaw. (The building that hosted the nightclub stands at 1211 U Street NW.) Morton was also the master of ceremonies, bouncer, and bartender of the club. He lived in Washington for a few years; the club owner allowed all her friends free admission and drinks, which prevented Morton from making the business a success.[17]

In 1938, Morton was stabbed by a friend of the owner and suffered wounds to the head and chest. After this incident, his wife Mabel demanded that they leave Washington.[17]

During Morton's brief residency at the Music Box, the folklorist Alan Lomax heard the pianist playing in the bar. In May 1938, Lomax invited Morton to record music and interviews for the Library of Congress. The sessions, originally intended as a short interview with musical examples for use by music researchers in the Library of Congress, soon expanded to record more than eight hours of Morton talking and playing piano. Lomax also conducted longer interviews during which he took notes but did not record. Despite the low fidelity of these non-commercial recordings, their musical and historical importance have attracted numerous jazz fans, and they have helped to ensure Morton's place in jazz history.[18]

Lomax was very interested in Morton's Storyville days in New Orleans and the ribald songs of the time. Although reluctant to recount and record these, Morton eventually obliged Lomax. Because of the suggestive nature of the songs, some of the Library of Congress recordings were not released until 2005.[18]

In his interviews, Morton claimed to have been born in 1885. He was aware that if he had been born in 1890, he would have been slightly too young to make a good case as the inventor of jazz. He said in the interview that Buddy Bolden played ragtime but not jazz; this is not accepted by the consensus of Bolden's other New Orleans contemporaries. The contradictions may stem from different definitions for the terms ragtime and jazz. These interviews, released in different forms over the years, were released on an eight-CD boxed set in 2005, The Complete Library of Congress Recordings. This collection won two Grammy Awards.[18] The same year, Morton was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Later years

When Morton was stabbed and wounded, a nearby whites-only hospital refused to treat him, as the city had racially segregated facilities. He was transported to a black hospital farther away. When he was in the hospital, the doctors left ice on his wounds for several hours before attending to his eventually fatal injury. His recovery from his wounds was incomplete, and thereafter he was often ill and easily became short of breath. Morton made a new series of commercial recordings in New York, several recounting tunes from his early years that he discussed in his Library of Congress interviews.

Worsening asthma sent him to a New York hospital for three months at one point. He continued to suffer from respiratory problems when visiting Los Angeles with a series of manuscripts of new tunes and arrangements, planning to form a new band and restart his career. Morton died on July 10, 1941, after an eleven-day stay in Los Angeles County General Hospital. 

Jelly Roll Morton is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. 

According to the jazz historian David Gelly in 2000, Morton's arrogance and "bumptious" persona alienated so many musicians over the years that no colleagues or admirers attended his funeral.[19] But, a contemporary news account of the funeral in the August 1, 1941, issue of Downbeat says that fellow musicians Kid Ory, Mutt Carey, Fred Washington and Ed Garland were among his pall bearers. The story notes the absence of Duke Ellington and Jimmie Lunceford, both of whom were appearing in Los Angeles at the time. (The article is reproduced in Alan Lomax's biography of Morton, Mister Jelly Roll, University of California Press, 1950.)

Piano style

Morton's piano style was formed from early secondary ragtime and "shout," which also evolved separately into the New York school of stride piano. Morton's playing was also close to barrelhouse, which produced boogie woogie.

Morton often played the melody of a tune with his right thumb, while sounding a harmony above these notes with other fingers of the right hand. This added a rustic or "out-of-tune" sound (due to the playing of a diminished 5th above the melody). This may still be recognized as belonging to New Orleans. Morton also walked in major and minor sixths in the bass, instead of tenths or octaves. He played basic swing rhythms in both the left and right hand.


Some of Morton's songs (listed alphabetically):

"Big Foot Ham" (a.k.a. "Ham and Eggs") 
"Black Bottom Stomp" 
"Burnin' the Iceberg" 
"The Crave" 
"Creepy Feelin" 
"Doctor Jazz Stomp" 
"The Dirty Dozen" 
"Fickle Fay Creep" 
"Finger Buster" 
"Frog-I-More Rag" 
"Good Old New York" 
"Grandpa's Spells" 
"Jungle Blues" 
"Kansas City Stomp" 
"King Porter Stomp" 
"London Blues" 
"Mama Nita" 
"Milenberg Joys" 
"Mint Julep" 
"Murder Ballad" 
"My Home Is in a Southern Town" 
"New Orleans Bump" 
"Pacific Rag" 
"The Pearls" 
"Red Hot Pepper" 
"Shreveport Stomp" 
"Sidewalk Blues" 
"Stratford Hunch" 
"Sweet Substitute" 
"Tank Town Bump" 
"Turtle Twist" 
"Wolverine Blues"

Several of Morton's compositions were musical tributes to himself, including "Winin' Boy," "The Jelly Roll Blues" (subtitled "The Original Jelly-Roll") and "Mr. Jelly Lord." In the Big Band era, his "King Porter Stomp," which Morton had written decades earlier, was a big hit for Fletcher Henderson and Benny Goodman; it became a standard covered by most other swing bands of that time. Morton claimed to have written some tunes that were copyrighted by others, including "Alabama Bound" and "Tiger Rag." "Sweet Peter," which Morton recorded in 1926, appears to be the source for the melody of the hit song "All Of Me," ostensibly written by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons in 1931.

His musical influence continues in the work of Dick Hyman and Reginald Robinson.


The Piano Rolls (Nonesuch, 1997) 
Giants of Jazz (Collectables, 1998) 
Mr. Jelly Roll (Tomato Music, 2003)


Jelly Roll Morton was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was elected as a charter member of the Gennett Records Walk of Fame.

In 2008, Jelly Roll Morton was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.[20]

Representation in other media

Two Broadway shows have featured his music, Jelly Roll and Jelly's Last Jam. The first draws heavily on Morton's own words and stories from the Library of Congress interviews.

Jelly Roll Morton appears as the piano "professor" in Louis Malle's Pretty Baby, where he is portrayed by actor Antonio Fargas, with piano and vocals played by James Booker.

Jelly Roll Morton's Last Night at the Jungle Inn: An Imaginary Memoir (1984) was written by the ethnomusicologist and folklorist Samuel Charters, embellishing Morton's early stories about his life.[21]

Morton and his godmother, Eulalie, appear as characters in David Fulmer's mystery novel Chasing the Devil's Tail.

Jelly Roll Morton is featured in Alessandro Baricco's book Novecento. He is the "inventor of jazz" and the protagonist's rival throughout the book. This book was adapted as a movie: The Legend of 1900, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. His character is played by the actor Clarence Williams III.

The play Don't You Leave Me Here, by Clare Brown, which premiered at West Yorkshire Playhouse on September 27, 2008, deals with Morton's relationship with musician Tony Jackson.

Morton's name is mentioned in "Cornet Man," sung by Barbra Streisand in the Broadway musical Funny Girl (1964).[22]

Selected discography

1923/24 1923-1924 (Milestone Records) Red Hot Peppers Session: Birth of the Hot, The Classic Red Hot Peppers Sessions ( RCA Bluebird) 
1926-1927 The Pearls 
1926-1939 (RCA Bluebird Records) Jazz King of New Orleans 
1926-1930 (RCA Bluebird Records) (1938) The Complete Library of Congress Recordings, Vol. 1-8 (8CD) (Rounder Records) 

Chord names and symbols (popular music)

Jerry Gates, a professor of Berklee College of Music, tells that he has heard chord symbols came from Ferde Grofé and Jelly Roll Morton.[23]


1. AllMusic biography 
2. Giddins, Gary and Scott DeVeaux (2009). Jazz. New York: W.W. Norton and Co, ISBN 978-0-393-06861-0 
3. Critic Scott Yanow writes, "Jelly Roll Morton did himself a lot of harm posthumously by exaggerating his worth, claiming to have invented jazz in 1902. Morton's accomplishments as an early innovator are so vast that he did not really need to stretch the truth." 
4. Schuller, Gunther (1986). The History of Jazz. Volume 2. Oxford University Press US. p. 136. ISBN 0-19-504043-0. 
5. Martin, Katy. "The Preoccupations of Mr. Lomax, Inventor of the 'Inventor of Jazz,', Popular Music and Society 36.1, p. 30–39. Taylor and Francis, February 2013. 
6. Eventually, he became "Jelly Roll" Morton, taking on the name of the female pudenda 
7. jelly roll—Black slang from the 19th century for the vulva, with various related meanings, i.e. sexual intercourse, a loving woman, a man obsessed with finding same. 
8. Culture Shock: The TV Series and Beyond: "The Devil's Music: 1920's Jazz", PBS 
9. Reich, Howard; Gaines, William (2003). Jelly's Blues: the Life, Music and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton. Cambridge MA: Da Capo Press. pp. 39–41. ISBN 0-306-81350-5. 
10. Reich, Howard; Gaines, William (2003). Jelly's Blues: the Life, Music and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton. Cambridge MA: Da Capo Press. pp. 42–59. ISBN 0-306-81350-5. 
11. "Jelly Rolled into Vancouver." CBC Radio 2. 2010-03-31. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
12. Reich, Howard; Gaines, William (2003). Jelly's Blues: the Life, Music and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton. Cambridge MA: Da Capo Press. pp. 70–98. ISBN 0-306-81350-5. 
13. Reich, Howard; Gaines, William (2003). Jelly's Blues: the Life, Music and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton. Cambridge MA: Da Capo Press. pp. 114–127. ISBN 0-306-81350-5. 
14. Reich, Howard; Gaines, William (2003). Jelly's Blues: the Life, Music and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton. Cambridge MA: Da Capo Press. pp. 132–135. ISBN 0-306-81350-5. 
15. Reich, Howard; Gaines, William (2003). Jelly's Blues: the Life, Music and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton. Cambridge MA: Da Capo Press. pp. 132–144. ISBN 0-306-81350-5. 
16. Reich, Howard; Gaines, William (2003). Jelly's Blues: the Life, Music and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton. Cambridge MA: Da Capo Press. pp. 144–146. ISBN 0-306-81350-5. 
17. "Prominent Jazz Musicians: Their Histories in Washington, D.C.," George Washington University 
18. "Library of Congress Recordings of Jelly Roll Morton Win at Grammys." Library of Congress. 2006-01-14. 
19. Gelly, David, Icons of Jazz: A History In Photographs, 1900-2000, San Diego, Ca: Thunder Bay Books, 2000, ISBN 1-57145-268-0 
20. Louisiana Music Hall of Fame 
21. Charters, Samuel Barclay (1984). Jelly Roll Morton's Last Night at the Jungle Inn: An Imaginary Memoir. Marion Boyars. ISBN 0-7145-2805-6. 
22. "Cornet Man Lyrics." MetroLyrics. 
 23. Gates, Jerry (2011-02-16). "Chord Symbols As We Know Them Today – Where Did They Come From?" Berklee College of Music. 


Dapogny, James. Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton: The Collected Piano Music. Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982. 
The Devil's Music: 1920s Jazz Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man; page 486. 
"Ferdinand J. 'Jelly Roll' Morton," A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography (1988), pp. 586–587. 
"Jelly," Time magazine, March 11, 1940. 
Ward, Geoffrey C., and Kenneth Burns. Jazz, a History of America's Music 1st Ed. Random House Inc. 

Further reading

Lomax, Alan. Mister Jelly Roll, University of California Press, 1950, 1973, 2001. ISBN 0-520-22530-9 
Wright, Laurie. Mr. Jelly Lord, Storyville Publications, 1980. 
Russell, William. Oh Mister Jelly! A Jelly Roll Morton Scrapbook, Jazz Media ApS, Copenhagen, 1999. 
Pastras, Phil. Dead Man Blues: Jelly Roll Morton Way Out West, University of California Press, 2001. 
Reich, Howard; Gaines, William. Jelly's Blues: The Life, Music, and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton, Da Capo Press, 2003. 
Dapogny, James. Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton: The Collected Piano Music, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982. 
Gushee, Lawrence. Pioneers of Jazz : The Story of the Creole Band, Oxford University Press. 
Martin, Katy. "The Preoccupations of Mr. Lomax, Inventor of the 'Inventor of Jazz.'" Popular Music and Society 36.1, p. 30-39. 
Taylor and Francis, February 2013. DOI:10.1080/03007766.2011.613225 
Pareles, Jon. "New Orleans Sauce For Jelly Roll Morton: 'He was the first great composer and jazz master.' Tribute to Jelly Roll Morton." New York Times, 1989, sec. The Arts.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

"The Jeffersons" Actress Isabel Sanford 2004 Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills Cemetery

Isabel Sanford (born Eloise Gwendolyn Sanford; August 29, 1917 – July 9, 2004) was an American stage, film and television actress best known for her role as Louise "Weezy" Mills-Jefferson on the CBS sitcoms All in the Family (1971–1975) and The Jeffersons (1975–1985). In 1981, she became the first black American actress to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.

Personal life

Sanford was married to house painter William Edward "Sonny" Richmond. The couple had three children, two sons and a daughter, before separating. After their separation, Sanford and the children moved to California in 1960 while Richmond remained in New York. Shortly after their arrival, Richmond died after being involved in an altercation.


In September 2003, Sanford underwent preventive surgery on her carotid artery. In the ensuing months, her health steadily declined. She was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on July 4, 2004 where she died five days later. Her publicist did not announce a cause of death, instead attributing it to unspecified "natural causes." She was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles.

For her contribution to the television industry, Isabel Sanford has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 7080 Hollywood Boulevard.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Industrialist & Philanthropist Griffith J. Griffith 1919 Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Griffith Jenkins Griffith (January 4, 1850 – July 6, 1919) was a Welsh-American industrialist and philanthropist. After amassing a significant fortune from a mining syndicate in the 1880s, Griffith donated 3,015 acres (12.20 km2) to the City of Los Angeles which became Griffith Park, and he bequeathed the money to build the park's Greek Theatre and Griffith Observatory. Griffith's legacy was marred by his notorious shooting of his wife in 1903, a crime for which he served two years in prison.


Career and philanthropy

Griffith J. Griffith was born in Bettws, Glamorganshire, South Wales, on January 4, 1850.[1] He immigrated to the United States in 1865, settling in Ashland, Pennsylvania. In 1873 he moved to San Francisco, California, and became manager of the Herald Publishing Company. In 1887 he married Mary Agnes Christina Mesmer (1864–1948).[2]

In 1878 G. J. Griffith became mining correspondent for the Alta California, a San Francisco newspaper. As a reporter he gained extensive knowledge of the mining industry on the Pacific Coast and in Nevada, which led to his employment by various mining syndicates. As a mining expert, Griffith acquired a fortune.

In 1882 Griffith moved to Los Angeles and purchased approximately 4,000 acres (16 km2) of the Rancho Los Feliz Mexican land grant. On December 16, 1896, Griffith and his wife Christina presented 3,015 acres (12.20 km2) of the Rancho Los Feliz to the city of Los Angeles for use as a public park. Griffith called it "a Christmas present." After accepting the donation, the city passed an ordinance to name the property Griffith Park, in honor of the donor.[3]

"It must be made a place of rest and relaxation for the masses, a resort for the rank and file, for the plain people," Griffith told the Los Angeles City Council when he donated the land. "I consider it my obligation to make Los Angeles a happy, cleaner, and finer city. I wish to pay my debt of duty in this way to the community in which I have prospered." [4]

Griffith later donated another 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) along the Los Angeles River.[5]


While vacationing in Santa Monica on September 3, 1903, Griffith shot his wife in the presidential suite of the Arcadia Hotel (above), as she knelt on the floor before him. Surprisingly, the shot did not kill her, but she was left disfigured and lost her right eye. In the sensational case, Griffith was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to commit murder. The prosecution was led by Henry T. Gage, former governor of California. Griffith was defended by noted attorney Earl Rogers (below), whose cross-examination of the veiled Mrs. Griffith revealed that her husband — generally thought to be a teetotaler — was in fact a secret drunk who was subject to paranoid delusions. Griffith was convicted of a lesser charge, assault with a deadly weapon. The judge sentenced him to two years in San Quentin State Prison, instructing that he be given "medical aid for his condition of alcoholic insanity."[6]

On November 4, 1904, Mrs. Griffith was granted a divorce on the grounds of cruelty, and she was awarded custody of her 16-year-old son, Vandell. The court also stated that G. J. Griffith would pay for his son's education at Stanford University. The decree was made in the record time of four-and-a-half minutes.[7]

Later life

G. J. Griffith was released from prison December 3, 1906, after serving nearly two years. His conduct at the penitentiary was called exemplary. Griffith returned to Los Angeles and began lecturing on prison reform.[8]

In December 1912 Griffith offered a second "Christmas present" to Los Angeles, in the form of a Greek Theater and a Hall of Science to be built at his expense in Griffith Park. The offer was accepted by the City Council, but members of the Park Commission objected and instituted a court action to block the donation. Griffith left the offer in his will. 

Griffith J. Griffith died of liver disease on July 6, 1919. The bulk of his $1.5 million estate was bequeathed to the city for the building of the Greek Theater (1929) and Griffith Observatory (1935).[9] He is interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles in the northwest corner of Section 7, aka "The Griffith Lawn."[10]

Griffith affected the title of Colonel, but official records of his military service which support this rank have not been found. Evidence suggests the only military title he ever held was "major" of rifle practice with the California National Guard.[11][12]


1. "BBC – south east Wales historical figures – Griffith J Griffith". BBC website. BBC. May 14, 2010. 
2. Los Angeles Daily Examiner, November 5, 1904; gravestone at Calvary Cemetery, East Los Angeles
3. "Death Claims G. J. Griffith," Los Angeles Times, July 7, 1919 
4. Griffith Park narrative, Department of Recreation and Parks, City of Los Angeles 
5. "Griffith Park To Be Considered For Monument Status"; Walton, Alice, City News Service, August 21, 2008 
6. St. Johns, Adela Rogers, Final Verdict. Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1962, pp. 220–239. "That was where Earl Rogers began the first alcoholic insanity defense," St. Johns wrote. "Perhaps the first — certainly one of the first — times that alcohol was called to account in an American courtroom as a disease, a mental illness, not just a sin or a crime or an indulgence." (Final Verdict, p. 232.) 
7. "Mrs. Griffith Gets Divorce," Los Angeles Times, November 5, 1904 
8.^ "Griffith is Freed Today," Los Angeles Times, December 3, 1906; "Griffith to Lecture: Gone to San Francisco to Advocate Prison Reform Along Elmira Institution Lines," Los Angeles Times, January 26, 1908 
9. "Death Claims G. J. Griffith," Los Angeles Times, July 7, 1919; "City Gains by Griffith Will," Los Angeles Times, July 12, 1919 
10. Russell, Ron (July 3, 1988). Splendor Fades at Final Resting Place of Famous, Almost Famous. Los Angeles Times 
11. Gurstelle, William (2006). Adventures from the Technology Underground. Clarkson Potter ISBN 978-1-4000-5082-6 12. Bell, Alison (June 12, 2011). Colonel Griffith J. Griffith one of L.A.'s more colorful figures. Los Angeles Times

Sunday, July 5, 2015

"Duck Soup" Director Leo McCarey 1969 Holy Cross Cemetery

Thomas Leo McCarey (October 3, 1898 – July 5, 1969) was a three-time Academy Award winning American film director, screenwriter and producer. He was involved in nearly 200 movies, the most well known today being Duck Soup, Make Way for Tomorrow, The Awful Truth, Going My Way and An Affair To Remember.[1]

While focusing mainly on screwball comedies during the 1930s, McCarey turned towards producing more socially conscious and overtly religious movies during the 1940s, ultimately finding success and acclaim in both genres. McCarey was one of the most popular and established comedy directors of the pre-World War II era.


Born in Los Angeles, California, McCarey attended St. Joseph’s Catholic school and Los Angeles High School.[2] His father was Thomas J. McCarey, whom the Los Angeles Times called "the greatest fight promoter in the world." Leo McCarey would later make a boxing comedy with Harold Lloyd called The Milky Way (1936).[3]

Leo McCarey graduated from the University of Southern California law school[4] and besides the law tried mining, boxing, and songwriting[5] before becoming an assistant director to Tod Browning in 1919.[2] It was McCarey's boyhood friend, the actor and future fellow director David Butler, who referred him to Browning.[6] Browning convinced McCarey, despite his photogenic looks, to work on the creative side as a writer rather than as an actor. McCarey then honed his skills at the Hal Roach Studios. Roach had hired him as a gagman in 1923, after McCarey had impressed him with his sense of humor, following a game of handball together at a sports club. McCarey initially wrote gags for the Our Gang series and other studio stars, then produced and directed shorts, including two-reelers with Charley Chase. Chase would in fact become McCarey's mentor. Upon the comedian's death in 1940, McCarey was quoted as saying, "Whatever success I have had or may have, I owe to his help because he taught me all I know." The two men were especially compatible, as they both enjoyed a hobby on the side trying to write popular songs. While at Roach, McCarey, according to later interviews, cast Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy together and guided development of their onscreen characters, thus creating one of the most enduring comedy teams of all time. He only officially appeared as director of the duo's shorts We Faw Down (1928), Liberty (1929) and Wrong Again (1929), but wrote many screenplays and supervised the direction by others. By 1929, he was vice-president of production for the studio. Less well known from this period are the shorts he directed with Max Davidson when Roach put together the Irish-American McCarey with the Jewish-American actor for a series of "dialect comedies." These shorts such as Pass The Gravy have been rediscovered in recent years, after their exhibition in 1994 at the Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone Italy. Pass The Gravy was added to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress in 1999.[7]

In the sound era McCarey focused on feature-film direction, working with many of the biggest stars of the era, including Gloria Swanson (Indiscreet, 1931), Eddie Cantor (The Kid From Spain, 1932), the Marx Brothers (Duck Soup, 1933), W.C. Fields (Six of a Kind, 1934), and Mae West (Belle of the Nineties, 1934). 

A series of six films at Paramount came to a crashing halt with his production of Make Way For Tomorrow in 1937. While the story of an elderly couple who have to be separated for economic and family reasons during the Depression was not without humor in its treatment, the results were too unpopular at the box office and the director was let go. Nonetheless the film was recognized early on for its importance by being selected for the permanent collection of the recently formed Museum Of Modern Art in New York City. In later years it became canonical, and even considered by some as McCarey's masterpiece, due to perceptive champions such as Bertrand Tavernier, Charles Silver and Robin Wood. 

Later in 1937, invited to Columbia, McCarey earned his first Academy Award for Directing for The Awful Truth, with Irene Dunne and Cary Grant, a screwball comedy that launched Cary Grant's unique screen persona, largely concocted by McCarey (Grant copied many of McCarey's mannerisms). Along with the similarity in their names, McCarey and Cary Grant shared an eerie physical resemblance, making mimicking McCarey's intonations and expressions even easier for Grant. As writer/director Peter Bogdanovich notes, "After The Awful Truth, when it came to light comedy, there was Cary Grant and then everyone else was an also-ran." After the success of The Awful Truth McCarey could have become, like Frank Capra , a Columbia contract director with a certain independence, but went his own way, selling the story that would become The Cowboy And The Lady to Sam Goldwyn and moving to RKO for three films. A car accident in 1940 prevented him from directing his production of My Favorite Wife, a kind of follow up to The Awful Truth with the same two stars, so it was turned over to Garson Kanin though McCarey worked on some of the editing.[8] 

McCarey was a devout Roman Catholic and deeply concerned with social issues. During the 1940s, his work became more serious and his politics more conservative. In 1944 he directed Going My Way, a story about an enterprising priest, the youthful Father Chuck O'Malley, played by Bing Crosby, for which he won his second Best Director Oscar and Crosby won a Best Actor Oscar. His share in the profits of this smash hit gave McCarey the highest reported income in the U.S. for 1944, and its follow-up, The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), which paired Crosby with Ingrid Bergman and made by McCarey's newly formed production company, was similarly successful. According to Paul Harrit in Great Directors, McCarey acknowledged that the film is largely based on his aunt, Sister Mary Benedict, who died of typhoid.[2] 

McCarey testified as a friendly witness early on in the hearings of the Un-American Activities Committee in Congress, which was concerned about supposed Communist activity in Hollywood. The public reacted negatively to some of his films after World War II. For instance, his anti-communist film My Son John (1952) failed at the box office. But five years later, he co-wrote, produced, and directed An Affair to Remember starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, a remake (with precisely the same script) of his 1939 film Love Affair with Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer.[9] In 1993, the hugely popular rom-com Sleepless In Seattle by Nora Ephron made such frequent references to An Affair To Remember that it gave the older film a whole new lease of life in revivals, cable TV, and video, with the result that it is probably McCarey's most popular and accessible film today. 

He followed this hit with Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1958), a comedy starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Some years later he directed his last picture, the poorly received Satan Never Sleeps (1962), like My Son John a somewhat strident critique of Communism. 

Auteurist critic Andrew Sarris has said McCarey "represents a principle of improvisation in the history of the American film."[10] Through most of his career, McCarey's filming method, rooted in the silents, was to drastically alter the story ideas, bits of business, and dialogue in the scripts previously provided to the studios and the actors. He would usually sit at a piano and doodle as the sometimes exasperated crew waited for inspiration. As Bing Crosby said about Going My Way "I think probably 75 per cent of each day's shooting was made up on the set by Leo."[11] While this technique was responsible for a certain awkwardness and some rough edges in the finished works, many of McCarey's scenes had a freshness and spontaneity lacking in the typical mainstream Hollywood cinema. He was not the only director of his time to work this way: fellow comedy directors Gregory La Cava, Howard Hawks and George Stevens – the last also a Roach graduate – were known for their use of improvisation on the set.

French director Jean Renoir once paid the great tribute of saying that "Leo McCarey understood people better than any other Hollywood director."[12] American critic George Morris may have said it even better: "Leo McCarey was a very special man, with a very special understanding of the human heart."


"I only know I like my characters to walk in clouds, I like a little bit of the fairy tale. As long as I'm there behind the camera lens, I'll let somebody else photograph the ugliness of the world." - Leo McCarey[13]

"It's larceny to remind people of how lousy things are and call it entertainment."[3]

"I have a theory...with a very exact name: "the ineluctability of incidents," which is applied to the construction of all of my films. To formulate it another way: if something happens, some other thing inevitably flows from it. Like night and day follow each other, events are linked together, and I always develop my story in this way, in a series of incidents, of events which succeed each other and provoke each other. I never really have intrigue."[14]


Leo McCarey died on July 5, 1969, aged 70, from emphysema.[1][15] He was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. His brother, director Ray McCarey, had died 21 years earlier.In 1978, Leo McCarey's production records, including scripts,budgets, and correspondence were donated to the Charles Feldman Library at the American Film Institute in Beverly Hills.[16]

Partial filmography
(As director, unless otherwise specified)

Isn't Life Terrible? (1925 short) 
Mighty Like a Moose (1926 short) 
Sugar Daddies (1927 short) 
Pass the Gravy (1928 short) 
Should Married Men Go Home? (1928 short), also writer 
Habeas Corpus (1928 short)supervisor 
We Faw Down (1928 short) 
Liberty (1929 short), also writer 
Wrong Again (1929 short) 
Big Business (1929 short), supervisor and uncredited writer 
Indiscreet (1931) 
Duck Soup (1933) 
Belle of the Nineties (1934) 
Six of a Kind (1934) 
Ruggles of Red Gap (1935) 
The Milky Way (1936) 
Make Way for Tomorrow (1937), also producer 
The Awful Truth (1937), also producer 
The Cowboy and the Lady (1938), writer 
Love Affair (1939), also producer 
My Favorite Wife (1940), producer and writer 
Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942), also writer and uncredited producer 
Going My Way (1944), also producer 
The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), also producer and writer 
Good Sam (1948), also producer and writer 
My Son John (1952) 
An Affair to Remember (1957), also producer and writer 
Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1958), also producer 
Satan Never Sleeps (1962), also producer

Academy Awards

1937 Best Director: The Awful Truth 
1944 Best Director: Going My Way 
1944 Best Writing (Original Story): Going My Way

1939 Best Writing (Original Story): Love Affair 
1940 Best Writing (Original Story): My Favorite Wife 
1945 Best Director: The Bells of St. Mary's 
1952 Best Writing (Motion Picture Story): My Son John 
1957 Best Music, Song: "An Affair To Remember" from An Affair to Remember


1. "Leo McCarey, Director, is Dead. Won Oscars for Going My Way. Was Also a Winner in 1937 of Academy Award for 'The Awful Truth'". New York Times. July 6, 1969. 
2. Harrit, Paul. "Leo McCarey", Great Directors, Issue 23, Senses of Cinema 
3. Bann, Richard W., "Leo McCarey at Hal Roach Studios, 1998 
4. "Leo McCarey Biography". 
5. "Leo McCarey", Harvard Film Archive 
6. Jacques Lourcelles, Anthologie Du Cinema, 1973 
7. Max Davidson, by Richard M. Roberts and Robert Farr, Classic Images, July 2002 
8. Gene Fowler, Minutes Of The Last Meeting, Viking Press, 1954 
9. Leo McCarey Biography, Turner Classic Movies 
10. Andrew Sarris, The American Cinema, 1968 
11. Remembering Leo McCarey, Action Magazine, September–October 1969 
12. Reported by Andrew Sarris in "The American Cinema". New York: E.P. Dutton and Co., 1968, p. 100 
13. "Leo McCarey", They Shoot Pictures, Don't They 
14. Interview by Serge Daney and Jean-Louis Noames, Cahiers Du Cinema, February 1965 
15. Obituary Variety, July 9, 1969, page 55. 
16. Variety. April 5th, 1978 
17. " -- Leo McCarey". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.