Monday, February 28, 2011
Cecil Kellaway (August 22, 1893 - February 28, 1973) was a South African-born character actor. Academy Award winning actor Edmund Gwenn, whose real surname was Kellaway also, was his cousin. His features include The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967). He appeard in the "Twilght Zone" episode "Elegy" (1960).
Cecil Kellaway spent many years as an actor, author, and director in the Australian film industry until he tried his luck in Hollywood in the 1930s. Finding he could get only gangster bit parts, he got discouraged and returned to Australia. Then William Wyler called and offered him a part in Wuthering Heights (1939).
Kellaway died in 1973 in Hollywood, California. He was entombed in the Sanctuary of Remembrance at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery. He received two Best Supporting Actor nominations, for The Luck of the Irish and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.
Wuthering Heights (1939) – as Earnshaw
Intermezzo (1939) – as Charles Moler
We Are Not Alone (1939)
The Invisible Man Returns (1940) – as Inspector Sampson
The House of the Seven Gables (1940)
Brother Orchid (1940)
The Mummy's Hand (1940)
The Letter (1940)
A Very Young Lady (1941)
I Married a Witch (1942)
Take a Letter, Darling (1942)
Freedom Comes High (1943)
It Ain't Hay (1943)
Mrs Parkington (1944)
Practically Yours (1944)
Love Letters (1945)
Kitty (1945) as Thomas Gainsborough
Easy to Wed (1946)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) – as Nick Smith
Monsieur Beaucaire (1946)
The Cockeyed Miracle (1946)
Portrait of Jennie (1948)
The Luck of the Irish (1948)
Harvey (1950) – as Dr. Chumley
Francis Goes to the Races (1951)
Young Bess (1953)
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) – as Dr. Thurgood Elson
Interrupted Melody (1955)
The Prodigal (1955)
Female on the Beach (1955) – as Osbert Sorenson
The Proud Rebel (1958)
The Shaggy Dog (1959)
The Cardinal (1963)
Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)
Spinout (1966) – as Bernard Ranley
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) – as Monsignor Ryan
Getting Straight (1970)
The North Hollywood shootout was an armed confrontation between two heavily armed bank robbers and officers of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in the North Hollywood district of Los Angeles on February 28, 1997. Both perpetrators were killed, eleven police officers and seven civilians were injured, and numerous vehicles and other property were damaged or destroyed by the nearly 2,000 rounds of ammunition fired by the perpetrators and the police.
At approximately 9:30 am, Larry Phillips, Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu entered and robbed the North Hollywood Bank of America branch. Phillips and Mătăsăreanu were confronted by dozens of LAPD officers when they exited the bank and a shootout between the officers and robbers ensued. The two robbers attempted to flee the scene, Phillips on foot and Mătăsăreanu in their getaway vehicle, while continuing to engage the officers. The shootout continued onto a residential street adjacent to the bank until Phillips was mortally wounded, including by a self-inflicted gunshot wound; Mătăsăreanu was killed by officers three blocks away. In addition to the two perpetrators, eleven officers and seven civilians sustained injuries. Phillips and Mătăsăreanu had robbed several armored vehicles prior to their attempt in North Hollywood and were notorious for their heavy armament, which included automatic rifles.
Local patrol officers at the time were typically armed with 9 mm or .38 Special pistols on their person, with some having a 12-gauge shotgun available in their cars. Phillips and Mătăsăreanu carried fully automatic rifles, with ammunition capable of penetrating police body armor, and wore military grade body armor of their own. Since the police handguns could not penetrate the bank robbers' body armor, the patrol officers' efforts were ineffective. SWAT eventually arrived with weapons that could penetrate and several officers also appropriated AR-15 rifles from a nearby firearms dealer. The incident sparked debate on the appropriate firepower for patrol officers to have available in similar situations in the future. Due to the large amount of casualties, rounds fired, weapons used and overall length of the shootout, it is regarded as the longest and bloodiest event in US police history.
Larry Eugene Phillips, Jr. (born September 20, 1970) and Emil Decebal Mătăsăreanu (born July 19, 1966) first met at Gold's Gym in Venice, Los Angeles, California in 1989. They had a mutual interest in weightlifting and bodybuilding. Phillips imported steel-core ammunition for his illegally modified assault rifles, and acquired Aramid body armor.
On July 20, 1993 the pair robbed an armored car outside of a branch of FirstBank in Littleton, Colorado. 
In October 1993, Phillips and Mătăsăreanu were arrested in Glendale, northeast of Los Angeles, California, for speeding. A subsequent search of their vehicle—after Phillips surrendered with a concealed weapon—found two semi-automatic rifles, two handguns, more than 1,600 rounds of 7.62x39mm rifle ammunition, 1,200 rounds of 9x19mm Parabellum and .45 ACP handgun ammunition, radio scanners, smoke bombs, improvised explosive devices, body armor vests, and three different California license plates. Initially charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, both served 100 days in jail and were placed on three years' probation. After their release, most of their seized property was returned to them.
On June 14, 1995, the pair ambushed a Brinks armored car, killing one guard, Herman Cook, in the robbery. In May 1996, they robbed two branches of Bank of America in San Fernando, stealing approximately US$1.5 million. Phillips and Mătăsăreanu were dubbed the "High Incident Bandits" by investigators due to the heavy weaponry they had used in three robberies prior to their attempt in North Hollywood.
Larry Phillips, Jr. (left) and Emil Mătăsăreanu (right) engaged LAPD officers in a firefight after robbing a branch of Bank of America.On the morning of Feb. 28, 1997, after months of preparation, including extensive reconnoitering of their intended target—the Bank of America branch on Laurel Canyon Boulevard—Phillips and Mătăsăreanu loaded five rifles and approximately 3,300 rounds of ammunition in box and drum magazines into the trunk of their vehicle: two modified Romanian AIMS assault rifles, an AK-47 style rifle, and one modified Norinco Type 56 S-1, a semi automatic HK91 and a modified Bushmaster XM15 E2S. Phillips carried one 9mm Beretta Model 92F INOX. They wore their 18 kilogram full-suit body armor, which Phillips had painstakingly stitched together, as well as metal trauma plates to protect vital organs, and they took the barbiturate phenobarbital to calm their nerves.
Phillips and Mătăsăreanu, driving a white Chevrolet Celebrity, arrived at the Bank of America branch office at the intersection of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Archwood Street in North Hollywood around 9:30 a.m., and set their watch alarms for 8 minutes, which was the length of time they estimated it would take law enforcement officials to respond. Phillips had been using a radio scanner to listen to police transmissions to determine this timeframe. However, as they walked into the bank they were spotted by officers in an LAPD patrol car driving down Laurel Canyon, and the officers radioed in a possible 211, code for an armed robbery.
Inside the bank, Phillips and Mătăsăreanu forced the assistant manager to open the vault after firing at least 50 rounds to scare the approximately 30 bank staff and customers and to discourage resistance. Phillips, enraged at the fact that only small amounts of money were in the safe, argued with the assistant manager, demanding more. In another burst of anger, Phillips reportedly fired a full box magazine into the bank's safe, destroying the rest of the money. They were only able to get $303,305, instead of the expected $750,000 because the bank had altered the delivery schedule.
At 9:38 a.m. Phillips exited the bank through its north doorway and Mătăsăreanu through its south doorway. Both encountered dozens of LAPD patrol officers, who had arrived after the first-responding officers radioed a "shots fired" call. Television news helicopters responding to the "shots fired" LAPD dispatch arrived minutes later, and, despite being shot at by the gunmen, broadcast throughout. SWAT commanders used the live helicopter broadcasts to pass critical, time-sensitive information to the officers on the scene.
Phillips and Mătăsăreanu engaged the officers, firing armor-piercing rounds into the patrol cars that had been positioned on Laurel Canyon in front of the bank. The patrol officers were armed with standard Beretta 92-type 9mm pistols and .38 caliber revolvers, and one also carried 12-gauge pump-action shotguns, but the body armor worn by Phillips and Mătăsăreanu was strong enough to resist penetration. Multiple officers and civilians were wounded in the seven to eight minutes from when the shooting began to when Mătăsăreanu entered the robbers' white sedan to make a getaway; Phillips remained outside the vehicle and continued firing on officers and helicopters with a HK91. Footage shows that a police officer's bullet almost struck Phillips in the upper body at that point, however he quickly ducked behind the car, dodging it. Phillips fired at least 50 to 100 rounds from the HK91. After a couple of minutes he reslung it and switched back to the AKM. A tactical alert was issued, and 18 minutes after the shooting had begun, a SWAT team armed with MP-5s and AR-15s arrived. They had just started an exercise run when they received the call and had no time to change, and were thus wearing running shoes and shorts under their body armor. Officers then commandeered an armored cash-delivery truck, which they used to extract wounded civilians and officers from the raging battle scene.
At 9:51 Phillips, who had been using the getaway vehicle as cover, split from Mătăsăreanu, turned east on Archwood Street, took cover behind a parked truck, and continued to fire at the police with his AKM. He reloaded the assault rifle with a 100-round drum magazine, but the gun suffered a malfunction. He promptly discarded the AKM rather than removing the shell casing that had caused the "stovepipe" malfunction due to an officer's bullet penetrating his wrist bone, that had deflected from the gun's casing through his thumb and finally into the wrist. He drew a Beretta 92FS "INOX" (Silver) pistol and continued firing at police. He was then shot in the right hand again, briefly dropped the pistol, retrieved it, and placed the muzzle of his pistol under his chin and shot himself; a round from a police officer's AR-15 simultaneously severed his spine. After the firing stopped, officers in the area surrounded Phillips, stripped him of his armor and cuffed him. Due to a large amount of bleeding coming from his AR-15 shoulder wound, police tried to prevent it by wrapping the body sheet over it. However, unbeknownst to the officers at the time, Phillips died of his self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Mătăsăreanu's vehicle was rendered nearly inoperable after its tires were shot out. At 9:56 he attempted to carjack a pickup truck on Archwood, three blocks east of where Phillips died, and transferred all of his weapons and ammunition from the getaway car to the truck. However, Mătăsăreanu was unable to start the truck since the fleeing owner had taken the keys. As KCBS and KCAL helicopters hovered overhead, a patrol car driven by SWAT officers quickly arrived. Mătăsăreanu left the truck, took cover behind the original getaway car, and engaged them in a six-minute gun battle. At least one SWAT officer fired his M16 rifle below the cars and wounded Mătăsăreanu in his unprotected lower legs; he was soon unable to continue and desperately put his hands up twice to show surrender. The police radioed for an ambulance, but Mătăsăreanu, cursing, died before the ambulance reached the scene almost seventy minutes later. Later reports showed that Mătăsăreanu was shot 29 times in the shins and feet and died from trauma due to loss of blood.
Most of the incident, including the death of Phillips and the capture of Mătăsăreanu, was broadcast live by news helicopters, which hovered over the scene and televised the action as events unfolded. Over 300 law enforcement officers from various forces had responded to the city-wide TAC alert. By the time the shooting had stopped, Phillips and Mătăsăreanu had fired about 1,300 rounds, approximately a round every 2 seconds.
Aftermath and controversy
Mătăsăreanu and Phillips were firing fully automatic rifles loaded with armor-piercing ammunition. The robbers were protected by body armor which could not be penetrated by the officers' handgun and shotgun ammunition. While Phillips was shot in the hand and shortly afterward committed suicide, a SWAT officer reported during the final gunfire exchange that his M16 rounds could not penetrate Mătăsăreanu's armor suggesting that the outcome could have been different had both robbers been wearing leg protection.
The ineffectiveness of the pistol rounds and shotgun pellets in penetrating the robbers' body armor led to a trend in the United States toward arming selected police patrol officers with semi-automatic 5.56 mm AR-15 type rifles. Seven months after the incident, the Department of Defense gave 600 surplus M16s to the LAPD, which were issued to each patrol sergeant; other cities, such as Miami, also moved to supply patrol officers, not just SWAT teams, with heavier firepower. LAPD patrol vehicles now carry AR-15s as standard issue, with bullet-resistant Kevlar plating in their doors as well.
In this case, approximately 650 rounds were fired at two heavily armed and very heavily armored men, who had fired 1,101 rounds. The responding police officers directed their fire at the "center of mass," or torsos, of Mătăsăreanu and Phillips. Each man was shot and penetrated by at least ten bullets, yet both continued to attack officers.
The LAPD did not allow Mătăsăreanu to receive medical attention, stating that ambulance personnel were following standard procedure in hostile situations by refusing to enter "the hot zone," as Mătăsăreanu was still considered to be dangerous. Some reports indicate that he was lying on the pavement with no weapons for approximately an hour before ambulances arrived. A lawsuit on behalf of Mătăsăreanu's offspring was filed against members of the LAPD, claiming that Mătăsăreanu's civil rights had been violated and that he was allowed to bleed to death. The lawsuit was tried in United States District Court in February and March 2000, and ended in a mistrial with the jury deadlocked. The suit was later dropped when Mătăsăreanu's family agreed to dismiss the action with a waiver of malicious prosecution.
The year following the shootout, 19 officers of the LAPD received the departmental Medal of Valor for their actions, and met President Bill Clinton. In 2003, a film about the incident was produced, titled 44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out. In 2004, the Los Angeles Police Department Museum opened an exhibit featuring two life-size mannequins of Phillips and Mătăsăreanu fitted with the armor they wore and the weaponry they used.
The actual getaway vehicle and some of the LAPD patrol cars involved in the shootout are now on display at the Los Angeles Police Historical Society Museum in Highland Park.
It has been speculated that the perpetrators were heavily influenced by the Michael Mann film Heat which had been released two years earlier in 1995. In the movie, several men battle their way out of a bank robbery using firepower with a ruthless attitude. There have been some reports that a VHS copy of the movie was found in the VCR in the home of one of the gunmen. However, this has never been confirmed. It is also believed that Phillips was inspired to purchase the HK91 Marksman Rifle because of the film as well. In the film, a HK91 is briefly used in a gun battle. Some speculate that the perpetrators had planned the shootout, wanting the police and SWAT to arrive in order to gain media attention.
The shoot-out also featured in the very first episode of the National Geographic docudrama TV series "Situation Critical."
1.^ Macko, Steve. "Los Angeles Turned Into a War Zone". http://emernet.emergency.com/lapdbank.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-08.
2.^ Shootout!; The History Channel; Viewed July 8, 2008.
3.^ Cynthia Fuchs (2003-06-01). "44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shootout". PopMatters.
4.^ Critical Situation, "North Hollywood Shoot-out"; Robinson, 10.
6.^ Robinson, 3.
7.^ Rehder and Dillow, 255–256; Robinson, 4–5.
8.^ Robinson, 11–12.
9.^ Rehder and Dillow, 257.
10.^ Rehder and Dillow, 257; Robinson, 12.
11.^ Rehder and Dillow, 258–259; Robinson, 12.
12.^ Critical Situation, "North Hollywood Shoot-out".
13.^ Critical Situation, "North Hollywood Shoot-out"; Shootout!, "North Hollywood Shootout".
14.^ Critical Situation, "North Hollywood Shoot-out"; Robinson, 13.
15.^ Critical Situation, "North Hollywood Shoot-out"; Hays and Sjoquist, 124.
16.^ Critical Situation, "North Hollywood Shoot-out"; Stunned police, residents cope with aftermath.
17.^ Critical Situation, "North Hollywood Shoot-out"; LAPD Shoot-Out With Bank Robbers.
18.^ LAPD Shoot-Out With Bank Robbers.
19.^ Prengaman, 1; Shootout!, "North Hollywood Shootout".
20.^ Critical Situation, "North Hollywood Shoot-out"; LAPD Shoot-Out With Bank Robbers.
21.^ Hays and Sjoquist, 124; Shootout!, "North Hollywood Shootout".
22.^ "Botched L.A. bank heist turns into bloody shootout". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/US/9702/28/shootout.update/. Retrieved 2007-10-25.
23.^ "North Hollywood Shootout". Archived from the original on 2007-10-09.
24.^ LAPD gets M-16s.
25.^ LAPD gets M16s; LAPD museum showcases department's good, bad, ugly.
26.^ Prengaman, 2.
27.^ Critical Situation, "North Hollywood Shoot-out"; Jury Unsure If Cops Let Shooter Die.
28.^ Lawsuit accuses L.A. police of letting wounded gunman die; Prengaman, 2.
29.^ Jury Unsure If Cops Let Shooter Die; Mistrial Declared in Case Stemming From Shootout.
30.^ Law Offices of Goldberg and Gage, North Hollywood Shootout.
31.^ 1998 Medal of Valor Recipients.
32.^ Prengaman, 3.
33.^ Dalton, 2–3; LAPD museum showcases department's good, bad, ugly.
34.^ Hernandez, Daniel NORTH HOLLYWOOD BIZARRO.
"1998 Medal of Valor Recipients". City of Los Angeles.
"North Hollywood Shoot-out". Critical Situation. National Geographic Channel. 2007-06-12. No. 1, season 1.
Dalton, C. David (March 2004). "LAPD Museum Exhibit Development: North Hollywood Bank Shootout". Los Angeles Police Historical Society Bi-monthly Newsletter.
"Jury Unsure If Cops Let Shooter Die". CBS News. 2000.
"LAPD Shoot-Out With Bank Robbers". ENN. 1997-02-28. http://emernet.emergency.com/lapdbank.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-19.
"LAPD gets M-16s". CNN. 1997-09-22.
"LAPD museum showcases department's good, bad, ugly". USATODAY.com. 2004-07-06.
"Lawsuit accuses L.A. police of letting wounded gunman die". CNN. 2000-02-28. Archived from the original on 2007-06-19.
Hays, Thomas; Arthur Sjoquist (2005). Los Angeles Police Department. Arcadia Publishing.
"Mistrial Declared in Case Stemming From Shootout". The New York Times. 2000-03-17.
"North Hollywood Shootout". Law Offices of Goldberg and Gage. 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-08-23.
Prengaman, Peter (2007-03-01). "LA Marks 10th Anniversary of Shootout". ABC News.
Rehder, William; Gordon Dillow (2003). Where the Money Is: True Tales from the Bank Robbery Capital of the World. Norton, W. W. and Company, Inc.
Robinson, Paul (1999). Would You Convict?: Seventeen Cases That Challenged the Law. New York: New York University Press.
"North Hollywood Shootout". Shootout!. History Channel. 2005-09-13.
"Stunned police, residents cope with aftermath of L.A. shootout". CNN. 1997-03-01. Archived from the original on 2007-05-21.
"Family of robber killed in L.A. shootout sues". CNN. 1997-04-12.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Darren McGavin (May 7, 1922 – February 25, 2006) was an American actor best known for playing the title role in the television horror series Kolchak: The Night Stalker and his portrayal in the film A Christmas Story of the grumpy father given to bursts of profanity that he never realizes his son overhears.
He appeared as the tough-talking, funny detective in the 1950s television series Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer. From 1959-1961, McGavin starred in the NBC western series Riverboat, first with Burt Reynolds and then with Noah Beery, Jr.
McGavin was married twice. The first was to Melanie York on March 20, 1944. It ended in divorce in 1969, but produced four children: Bogart, York, Megan, and Bridget McGavin. The second was to Kathie Browne on December 31, 1969, ending with her death in 2003.
Darren McGavin died in 2006 at the age of 83 in a Los Angeles hospital. He is buried in Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Jesse Donald "Don" Knotts (July 21, 1924 – February 24, 2006) was an American comedic actor best known for his portrayal of Barney Fife on the 1960s television sitcom The Andy Griffith Show, a role which earned him five Emmy Awards. He also played landlord Ralph Furley on the 1970s television sitcom Three's Company.
Don Knotts died in 2006, at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California from pulmonary and respiratory complications related to lung cancer. He had been undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in the months before his death, but had gone home after he reportedly had been feeling better. His long-time friend, Andy Griffith, visited Knotts’s bedside just hours before his death. Knotts's wife and daughter stayed with him until he died. He was laid to rest at Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles.
Knotts’s obituaries cited him as a major influence on other entertainers. Musician and fan J.D. Wilkes said of him: "Only a genius like Knotts could make an anxiety-ridden, passive-aggressive Napoleon character like Fife a familiar, welcome friend each week. Without his awesome contributions to television there would’ve been no other over-the-top, self-deprecating acts like Conan O’Brien or Chris Farley."
Don Knotts' new tombstone.
The Battle of Los Angeles, also known as The Great Los Angeles Air Raid, is the name given by contemporary sources to the rumored enemy attack and subsequent anti-aircraft artillery barrage which took place from late February 24 to early February 25, 1942 over Los Angeles, California. The incident occurred less than three months after the United States entered World War II as a result of the Japanese Imperial Navy's attack on Pearl Harbor.
Initially, the target of the aerial barrage was thought to be an attacking force from Japan, but speaking at a press conference shortly afterward Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox called the incident a "false alarm." Newspapers of the time published a number of sensational reports and speculations of a cover-up. A small number of modern-day UFOlogists have suggested the targets were extraterrestrial spacecraft. When documenting the incident in 1983, the U.S. Office of Air Force History attributed the event to a case of "war nerves" likely triggered by a lost weather balloon and exacerbated by stray flares and shell bursts from adjoining batteries.
Air raid sirens were sounded throughout Los Angeles County on the night of 24–25 February 1942. A total blackout was ordered and thousands of air raid wardens were summoned to their positions. At 3:16 a.m. the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade began firing 12.8-pound anti-aircraft shells into the air at reported aircraft; over 1,400 shells would eventually be fired. Pilots of the 4th Interceptor Command were alerted but their aircraft remained grounded. The artillery fire continued sporadically until 4:14 a.m. The "all clear" was sounded and the blackout order lifted at 7:21 a.m.
In addition to several buildings damaged by friendly fire, three civilians were killed by the anti-aircraft fire, and another three died of heart attacks attributed to the stress of the hour-long bombardment. The incident was front-page news along the U.S. Pacific coast, and earned some mass media coverage throughout the nation.
Within hours of the end of the air raid, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox held a press conference, saying the entire incident was a false alarm due to anxiety and "war nerves." Knox's comments were followed by statements from the Army the next day that reflected General George C. Marshall's belief that the incident might have been caused by commercial airplanes used as a psychological warfare campaign to generate panic.
Some contemporary press outlets suspected a cover up. An editorial in the Long Beach Independent wrote, "There is a mysterious reticence about the whole affair and it appears that some form of censorship is trying to halt discussion on the matter." Speculation was rampant as to invading airplanes and their bases. Theories included a secret base in northern Mexico as well as Japanese submarines stationed offshore with the capability of carrying planes. Others speculated that the incident was either staged or exaggerated to give coastal defense industries an excuse to move further inland.
Representative Leland Ford of Santa Monica called for a Congressional investigation, saying, "...none of the explanations so far offered removed the episode from the category of 'complete mystification' ... this was either a practice raid, or a raid to throw a scare into 2,000,000 people, or a mistaken identity raid, or a raid to lay a political foundation to take away Southern California's war industries." 
In 1983, the Office of Air Force History concluded that an analysis of the evidence points to meteorological balloons as the cause of the initial alarm:
"The Battle of Los Angeles"
During the night of 24/25 February 1942, unidentified objects caused a succession of alerts in southern California. On the 24th, a warning issued by naval intelligence indicated that an attack could be expected within the next ten hours. That evening a large number of flares and blinking lights were reported from the vicinity of defense plants. An alert called at 1918 [7:18 p.m., Pacific time] was lifted at 2223, and the tension temporarily relaxed. But early in the morning of the 25th renewed activity began. Radars picked up an unidentified target 120 miles west of Los Angeles. Antiaircraft batteries were alerted at 0215 and were put on Green Alert—ready to fire—a few minutes later. The AAF kept its pursuit planes on the ground, preferring to await indications of the scale and direction of any attack before committing its limited fighter force. Radars tracked the approaching target to within a few miles of the coast, and at 0221 the regional controller ordered a blackout. Thereafter the information center was flooded with reports of "enemy planes, "even though the mysterious object tracked in from sea seems to have vanished. At 0243, planes were reported near Long Beach, and a few minutes later a coast artillery colonel spotted "about 25 planes at 12,000 feet" over Los Angeles. At 0306 a balloon carrying a red flare was seen over Santa Monica and four batteries of anti-aircraft artillery opened fire, whereupon "the air over Los Angeles erupted like a volcano."
From this point on reports were hopelessly at variance.
Probably much of the confusion came from the fact that anti-aircraft shell bursts, caught by the searchlights, were themselves mistaken for enemy planes. In any case, the next three hours produced some of the most imaginative reporting of the war: "swarms" of planes (or, sometimes, balloons) of all possible sizes, numbering from one to several hundred, traveling at altitudes which ranged from a few thousand feet to more than 20,000 and flying at speeds which were said to have varied from "very slow" to over 200 miles per hour, were observed to parade across the skies.
These mysterious forces dropped no bombs and, despite the fact that 1,440 rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition were directed against them, suffered no losses. There were reports, to be sure, that four enemy planes had been shot down, and one was supposed to have landed in flames at a Hollywood intersection. Residents in a forty-mile arc along the coast watched from hills or rooftops as the play of guns and searchlights provided the first real drama of the war for citizens of the mainland. The dawn, which ended the shooting and the fantasy, also proved that the only damage which resulted to the city was such as had been caused by the excitement (there was at least one death from heart failure), by traffic accidents in the blacked-out streets, or by shell fragments from the artillery barrage.
Attempts to arrive at an explanation of the incident quickly became as involved and mysterious as the "battle" itself. The Navy immediately insisted that there was no evidence of the presence of enemy planes, and Secretary [of the Navy, Frank] Knox announced at a press conference on 25 February that the raid was just a false alarm. At the same conference he admitted that attacks were always possible and indicated that vital industries located along the coast ought to be moved inland. The Army had a hard time making up its mind on the cause of the alert. A report to Washington, made by the Western Defense Command shortly after the raid had ended, indicated that the credibility of reports of an attack had begun to be shaken before the blackout was lifted.
This message predicted that developments would prove "that most previous reports had been greatly exaggerated." The Fourth Air Force had indicated its belief that there were no planes over Los Angeles. But the Army did not publish these initial conclusions. Instead, it waited a day, until after a thorough examination of witnesses had been finished. On the basis of these hearings, local commanders altered their verdict and indicated a belief that from one to five unidentified airplanes had been over Los Angeles. Secretary Stimson announced this conclusion as the War Department version of the incident, and he advanced two theories to account for the mysterious craft: either they were commercial planes operated by an enemy from secret fields in California or Mexico, or they were light planes launched from Japanese submarines. In either case, the enemy’s purpose must have been to locate anti-aircraft defenses in the area or to deliver a blow at civilian morale.
The divergence of views between the War and Navy departments, and the unsatisfying conjectures advanced by the Army to explain the affair, touched off a vigorous public discussion. The Los Angeles Times, in a first-page editorial on 26 February, announced that "the considerable public excitement and confusion" caused by the alert, as well as its "spectacular official accompaniments," demanded a careful explanation. Fears were expressed lest a few phony raids undermine the confidence of civilian volunteers in the aircraft warning service. In Congress, Representative Leland Ford wanted to know whether the incident was "a practice raid, or a raid to throw a scare into 2,000,000 people, or a mistaken identity raid, or a raid to take away Southern California’s war industries." Wendell Willkie, speaking in Los Angeles on 26 February, assured Californians on the basis of his experiences in England that when a real air raid began "you won’t have to argue about it—you’ll just know." He conceded that military authorities had been correct in calling a precautionary alert but deplored the lack of agreement between the Army and Navy. A strong editorial in the Washington Post on 27 February called the handling of the Los Angeles episode a "recipe for jitters," and censured the military authorities for what it called "stubborn silence" in the face of widespread uncertainty. The editorial suggested that the Army’s theory that commercial planes might have caused the alert "explains everything except where the planes came from, whither they were going, and why no American planes were sent in pursuit of them."
The New York Times on 28 February expressed a belief that the more the incident was studied, the more incredible it became: "If the batteries were firing on nothing at all, as Secretary Knox implies, it is a sign of expensive incompetence and jitters. If the batteries were firing on real planes, some of them as low as 9,000 feet, as Secretary Stimson declares, why were they completely ineffective? Why did no American planes go up to engage them, or even to identify them?... What would have happened if this had been a real air raid?" These questions were appropriate, but for the War Department to have answered them in full frankness would have involved an even more complete revelation of the weakness of our air defenses.
At the end of the war, the Japanese stated that they did not send planes over the area at the time of this alert, although submarine-launched aircraft were subsequently used over Seattle. A careful study of the evidence suggests that meteorological balloons—known to have been released over Los Angeles —may well have caused the initial alarm. This theory is supported by the fact that anti-aircraft artillery units were officially criticized for having wasted ammunition on targets which moved too slowly to have been airplanes. After the firing started, careful observation was difficult because of drifting smoke from shell bursts. The acting commander of the anti-aircraft artillery brigade in the area testified that he had first been convinced that he had seen fifteen planes in the air, but had quickly decided that he was seeing smoke. Competent correspondents like Ernie Pyle and Bill Henry witnessed the shooting and wrote that they were never able to make out an airplane. It is hard to see, in any event, what enemy purpose would have been served by an attack in which no bombs were dropped, unless perhaps, as Mr. Stimson suggested, the purpose had been reconnaissance.
Every February the Fort MacArthur Museum located at the entrance to Los Angeles Harbor hosts an entertainment event called "The Great LA Air Raid of 1942."
1941, a 1979 film by Steven Spielberg, loosely based on the Battle of Los Angeles
Battle: Los Angeles, a 2011 film directed by Jonathan Liebesman, which uses the Battle of Los Angeles as its inpiration
Battle of Los Angeles, a 2011 direct-to-DVD of the aforementioned Battle: Los Angeles film with a similar premise
1.^ Caughey, John; Caughey, LaRee (1977). Los Angeles: biography of a city. University of California Press.
2.^ Farley, John E. (1998). Earthquake fears, predictions, and preparations in mid-America. Southern Illinois University Press.
3.^ Bishop, Greg; Joe Oesterle and Mike Marinacci (March 2, 2006). Weird California. Sterling Publishing.
4.^ "The Battle of Los Angeles - 1942". Sfmuseum.net. 1942-02-25.
5.^ Los Angeles Times, February 27, 1942
6.^ "California in World War II: The Battle of Los Angeles". Militarymuseum.org. 1942-02-25.
7.^ Los Angeles Times, "Information, Please", Feb. 26, 1942, pg. 1
8.^ Los Angeles Times, "Knox Assailed on 'False Alarm': West Coast legislators Stirred by Conflicting Air-Raid Statements" Feb. 27, 1942, pg. 1
9.^ Craven, Wesley Frank; Cate, James Lea (1983). ""West Coast Air Defenses"". The Army Air Forces in World War II: Defense of the Western Hemisphere. 1. Washington, D.C: Office of Air Force History. pp. 277–286.
10.^ "Fort MacArthur Museum: The Great Los Angeles Air Raid of 1942". The Fort MacArthur Museum Association.. 1994 - 2010.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Arthur Stanley Jefferson (16 June 1890 – 23 February 1965), better known as Stan Laurel, was an English comic actor, writer and film director, famous as the first half of the comedy double-act Laurel and Hardy. His career stretched from the silent films of the early 20th century until after World War II.
Laurel was a heavy smoker until suddenly giving up when he was about seventy years of age. He died on February 23, 1965, several days after suffering a heart attack. Just minutes away from death, Laurel told his nurse he would not mind going skiing right at that very moment. Somewhat taken aback, the nurse replied that she was not aware that he was a skier. "I'm not," said Laurel, "I'd rather be doing that than have all these needles stuck into me!" A few minutes later the nurse looked in on him again and found that he had died quietly.
Dick Van Dyke, a friend, protege and occasional impressionist of Laurel's during his later years, gave the eulogy at his funeral. Silent screen comedian Buster Keaton was overheard at Laurel's funeral giving his assessment of the comedian's considerable talents: "Chaplin wasn't the funniest, I wasn't the funniest, this man was the funniest."
Laurel wrote his own epitaph; "If anyone at my funeral has a long face, I'll never speak to him again." Another statement was later found written down, which said: "If anyone cries at my funeral, I will never speak to him again." He was buried at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Charles Beaumont (January 2, 1929 – February 21, 1967) was a prolific American author of speculative fiction, including short stories in the horror and science fiction subgenres. He is remembered as a writer of classic Twilight Zone episodes, such as "The Howling Man," "Miniature," and "Printer's Devil," but also penned the screenplays for several films, among them 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, The Intruder and The Masque of the Red Death. As best-selling novelist Dean R. Koontz has said, "[Charles Beaumont was] one of the seminal influences on writers of the fantastic and macabre." Beaumont is also the subject of a documentary, Charles Beaumont: The Life of Twilight Zone's Magic Man, by Jason V Brock.
Illness and death
When Beaumont was 34 and overwhelmed by numerous writing commitments, he began to suffer the effects of what has been called "a mysterious brain disease." He began to age rapidly. His speech slowed and his ability to concentrate diminished.
"He was rarely well," his friend and colleague William F. Nolan (who went on to co-write the science fiction novel Logan's Run) would later recall. "He was almost always thin, and with a headache. He used Bromo-Seltzer like most people use water. He had a big Bromo bottle with him all the time." Other symptoms were of the professional as well as physical persuasion, Nolan went on: "He could barely sell stories, much less write. He would go unshaven to meetings with producers, which would end in disaster. You've got to be able to think on your feet [as a script writer], which Chuck couldn't do anymore; and so the producers would just go, 'We're sorry, Mr. Beaumont, but we don't like the script.'"
Some (including friend and early agent Forrest J Ackerman) have asserted that Beaumont suffered simultaneously from Alzheimer's and Pick's diseases, but it has also been speculated that the condition was related to the spinal meningitis he suffered as a child. The former diagnosis was echoed by the UCLA Medical Staff, who subjected Beaumont to a battery of tests in the mid-1960s. As recalled by Nolan, the UCLA doctors sent Beaumont home with a death sentence: "There's absolutely no treatment for this disease. It's permanent and it's terminal. He'll probably live from six months to three years with it. He'll decline and get to where he can't stand up. He won't feel any pain. In fact, he won't even know this is happening." Nolan himself sums up what happened: "Like his character 'Walter Jameson,' Chuck just dusted away."
Several fellow writers, including Nolan and friend Jerry Sohl, began ghostwriting for Beaumont in his final years, so that he could meet his many writing obligations. Privately, he insisted on splitting these fees.
Charles Beaumont died in Woodland Hills, California at the age of 38. But at that time, said his son Christopher later, "he looked ninety-five and was, in fact, ninety-five by every calendar except the one on your watch." Beaumont's last residence was in nearby Valley Village, California. He left behind his devoted wife Helen, and two sons and two daughters. One son died in 2004 of eerily similar circumstances. The other, Christopher, is a successful writer in his own right.
Charles Beaumont is buried at San Fernando Mission Cemetery.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Sandra Dee (April 23, 1942 – February 20, 2005) was an American actress. Dee began her career as a model and progressed to film. Best known for her portrayal of ingenues, Dee won a Golden Globe Award in 1959 as one of the year's most promising newcomers, and over several years her films were popular. By the late 1960s her career had started to decline, and a highly publicized marriage to Bobby Darin ended in divorce.
She rarely acted after this time, and her final years were marred by illness; she died as a result of renal failure. Dee's adult years were marked by ill health. She admitted that for most of her life she battled anorexia nervosa, depression and alcoholism. In 2000, it was reported that she had been diagnosed with several ailments, including throat cancer and kidney disease. Complications from kidney disease led to her death on February 20, 2005, at the Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California.
Sandra Dee is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, not far from her mother, Mary C. Douvan, who died on December 27, 1987. She is survived by her son, her daughter-in-law and two granddaughters.
Burton Stephen "Burt" Lancaster (November 2, 1913 – October 20, 1994) was an American film actor noted for his athletic physique and distinctive smile (which he called "The Grin"). In fact, he was initially dismissed as "Mr Muscles and Teeth." Later he took roles that went against his initial "tough guy" image. In the late 1950's Lancaster abandoned his "all-American" image and came to be regarded as one of the best actors of his generation.
Lancaster was nominated four times for Academy Awards and won once — for his work in Elmer Gantry in 1960. He also won a Golden Globe for that performance and BAFTA Awards for The Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) and Atlantic City (1980). His production company, Hecht-Hill-Lancaster, was the most successful and innovative star-driven independent production company in 1950's Hollywood, making movies such as Marty (1955), Trapeze (1956), and Sweet Smell of Success (1957).
Lancaster also directed two films: The Kentuckian (1955) and The Midnight Man (1974).
In 1999, the American Film Institute named Lancaster nineteenth among the greatest male stars of all time.
As Lancaster grew older, heart trouble increasingly hindered him from working. He nearly died during a routine gall bladder operation in January 1980. Following two minor heart attacks he had to undergo an emergency quadruple heart bypass in 1983, after which he was in frail health. He suffered a severe stroke in November 1990, which left him partly paralyzed and with restricted speech. Lancaster died in his Century City apartment in Los Angeles from a third heart attack on October 20, 1994. He is buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park in Westwood Village in Los Angeles.