Monday, November 18, 2019

Stage & Silent Screen Actress Fay Webb 1936 Woodlawn Cemetery

Fay Webb ( Octobeer 21, 1907 - November 18, 1936) was a stage and silent screen actress. Born in Santa Monica, she was married to actor-singer Rudy Vallee during the 1930s. 

Fay Webb worked for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Corporation in the late 1920s. She met bandleader Rudy Vallee while he was making The Vagabond Lover (1929). They were married in 1931, but separated less than two years later.

Fay and Rudy

During divorce proceedings, Fay Webb alleged, "Vallee is possessed of a violent, vicious and ungovernable temper, and given to the use of blasphemy and the use of intemperate, vile and vituperative language, particularly when applied to [her]." She accused him of committing adultery with three women, including actress Alice Faye. Vallée denied the allegations and the judge found Vallée "not guilty of any misconduct or maltreatment of [Webb] which detrimentally affected [her] health, physical or medical condition."

Fay Webb died of peritonitis contracted after abdominal surgery in Santa Monica, California on November 18, 1936. She is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica, California. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

"The Lone Ranger" Producer & Entrepreneur Jack Wrather 1984 Holy Cross Cemetery

John Devereaux Wrather Jr. (May 24, 1918 – November 12, 1984), was an entrepreneur and petroleum businessman who became a television producer and later diversified by investing in broadcast stations and resort properties. He is best known for producing The Lone Ranger, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, and Lassie television series in the 1950s as well as marrying actress Bonita Granville.


Wrather was born in Amarillo, Texas on May 24, 1918 to Mazie (Cogdell) and John Devereaux Wrather, Sr. They moved to Tyler, where he grew up and graduated from the local high school in 1935. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 1939.[1] Wrather worked in the oilfields of East Texas as a wildcatter and pipeline walker[2] as his college summer job.[1] The early 1940s with his father's illness, Jack took over as president of his father's oil company,[2] Overton Refining Company.[1]

First marriage and military service

On July 31, 1941, he married Molly O'Daniel, the daughter of Democratic Governor and later U.S. Senator Wilbert Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel. They had two children before divorcing in 1945.[1] Wrather served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve during World War II (1942–1947) in three campaigns and commanded a Marine air group in the Philippines.[1]

Film business

After the war, Wrather bought a home in Hollywood and became a movie producer, founding Jack Wrather Pictures Inc.[2] In 1946, he produced his first movie,[2] The Guilty, starring Bonita Granville, whom he would later marry.[3] By 1955, he had produced six more movies, including High Tide, Perilous Waters, Strike It Rich and Guilty of Treason. The films were produced for Eagle-Lion Films, Warner Bros., Allied Artists and United Artists.[2]

In 1947, he married movie actress Bonita Granville.[2] They had two children.[1] Granville appeared in over 40 movies during the 1930s and 1940s and on many dramatic television series during the 1950s, and later became a producer for the Lassie show. She is best known for playing the role of Nancy Drew in a series of movies in the late 1930s and being the narrator for Lassie.

Wrather purchased 70 percent share of the television station KOTV in Tulsa, Oklahoma from fellow oil millionaire George Cameron. The other 30 percent was owned by station manager Maria Helen Alvarez and commercial manager John Hill. Wrather knew nothing about the management of a station and offered to increase Alvarez and Hill to 50 per cent of the stock in exchange for their services.

Hill wanted to move on to real estate, so Wrather agreed to purchase his shares and increase Alvarez to 50 per cent owner in the new Wrather-Alvarez Television and Wrather-Alvarez Broadcasting companies.

Wrather-Alvarez went on to purchase the San Diego, California television and radio stations KFMB-TV and KFMB in 1953 and New York City radio station WNEW in 1955. Television station KOTV was sold in 1954 when Alvarez relocated to the San Diego station. Wrather-Alvarez also owned WJDW-TV in Boston, Massachusetts, and donated it in 1965 to the WGBH Educational Foundation, which operates it as the PBS station WGBX-TV.

Wrather-Alvarez also financed and owned the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. Walt Disney asked Wrather to build the hotel after Disney had exhausted his credit line in building the Disneyland theme park. The hotel was completed in 1955, and immediately shared the success of Disneyland. When Disney later attempted to buy the hotel, Wrather refused to sell.[4][5]

In 1954, Wrather-Alvarez purchased the complete rights to The Lone Ranger and took over production of the television series (1954–1957). The corporation also purchased the Lassie television series in 1956 and the Sergeant Preston of the Yukon television series in 1957.[1]

The Wrather-Alvarez relationship did not end well because Wrather had discovered that "Miss" Alvarez had married former partner John Hill when he had been "bought out" and his shares given to Alvarez. Wrather unsuccessfully sued Alvarez and Hill for fraud. In 1958, Wrather bought Alvarez's shares of Wrather-Alvarez and became sole owner of its television and hotel assets. The Wrather-Alvarez holdings were distributed into separate companies: Wrather Hotels, Lone Ranger Inc., Lone Ranger Television, Lone Ranger Pictures, and Lassie Television.

The Independent Television Corporation was formed as a joint venture between Jack Wrather and the British Incorporated Television Company in 1958. In September 1958, Independent Television Corporation purchased TPA for $11,350,000. The company operated primarily as a distribution service for syndicating television shows produced by Wrather or the British ITC company. Wrather later (about 1959–60) sold his shares of Independent Television Corporation to ITC. He was also the founder of Los Angeles public television station KCET.

Wrather is known as the man that "sued the mask off the Lone Ranger." When a new theatrical movie version of the Lone Ranger was being produced during the late 1970s, Wrather obtained a court order requiring Clayton Moore to quit making public appearances as the Lone Ranger. This resulted in a great deal of negative publicity and The Legend of the Lone Ranger released in 1981 was not well received. Before Wrather died, he gave permission for Clayton Moore to resume making public appearances in costume.[6]

Other investments

Wrather further diversified his holdings by building or buying resort hotels and other properties throughout the United States.

In addition to the Disneyland Hotel, Jack Wrather also owned the Twin Lakes Lodge in Las Vegas, Nevada, the L'Horizon Hotel in Palm Springs, California, the Balboa Bay Club and Resort in Newport Beach and the Inn at the Park in Anaheim. In the 1970s there was talk of the Disneyland-Alweg monorail being expanded to stop at the Inn at the Park, that never came to fruition. The Inn at the Park has changed ownership frequently, and is currently operated as the Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort.

In 1957, Wrather purchased the Muzak corporation, a company providing "elevator music" for business environments. The company owned an extensive library of "easy-listening" music and one of the world's largest recording plants. Wrather sold the company in 1972.[7]

In the early 1980s Wrather purchased, restored and made tourist attractions of the Spruce Goose and the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California.

Over the years, Wrather created or purchased many different companies for his various businesses and investments. These included Evansville Refining Co., Overton Refining Co., Jack Wrather Pictures, Inc., Freedom Productions Corporation, Western States Investment Corporation, Wrather-Alvarez Broadcasting, Inc., General Television Corporation, Jack Wrather Productions, Wrather Hotels, Lone Ranger Inc., Lone Ranger Television, Lone Ranger Pictures, Lassie Television, the Muzak Corporation,[8] and the A.C. Gilbert Company. In 1961, he combined his various holdings into the Wrather Corporation.[9]

Wrather died of cancer on November 12, 1984 at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California.[2] His funeral was held at the Roman Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills and[2] he was buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery, in Culver City, California.

Disney finally acquired the Disneyland Hotel in 1987, when it purchased half share ownership in the Wrather Corporation and the other half in 1988. Disney has retained the hotel but sold off most of the other assets. Most of the popular Wrather franchises are now owned by DreamWorks Classics. Various documents related to Wrather, Bonita Granville, and the Wrather company are archived at Loyola Marymount University as part of its Center for the Study of Los Angeles collection.[10]



The Guilty (1946)
High Tide, Perilous Water (1947)
Strike it Rich (1948)
Guilty of Treason (1949)
The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold (1958)
The Magic of Lassie (1978)
The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981)[8]

TV shows

The Lone Ranger (1949–57)
Lassie (1957–74)
Sergeant Preston of the Yukon (1955–58)[8]


1. Amanda Oren, "WRATHER, JOHN DEVEREAUX, JR.," Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 28, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
2. Ennis, Thomas W. (November 13, 1984). "Jack Wrather, 66, Dies in California". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. 
3. Jack Wrather, Texas Whirlwind, Earns a Fast Dollar in Bow as Producer By JOHN FRANCHEY. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 25 May 1947: X5.
4. Kimler, Forest (September 11, 1978). "Jack Built More Than a House". Orange County Register. 
5. "Disneyland Hotel will Open Shortly". Independent Press Telegram (Souvenir Edition). July 15, 1955. p. 14. 
6. Stassel, Stephanie (December 29, 1999). "Clayton Moore, TV's 'Lone Ranger,' Dies". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. 
7. "Muzak, Inc. History". International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 18. St. James Press. 1997.
8. "WRATHER, JACK". Encyclopedia of Television. Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved August 28, 2015.
9. Wrather Corporation Incorporation Records, 1961 Archived 2008-09-28 at the Wayback Machine
10. Jack Wrather and Bonita Granville Wrather Papers, 1890-1990 Archived 2008-08-28 at the Wayback Machine

Sunday, November 3, 2019

"Puttin' on the Ritz" Entertainer Harry Richman 1972 Hillside Cemetery

Harry Richman (born Henry Reichman Jr.,[1] August 10, 1895 – November 3, 1972) was an American entertainer. He was a singer, actor, dancer, comedian, pianist, songwriter, bandleader, and night club performer, at his most popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

Personal Details

Richman was born in Cincinnati, Ohio to Russian Jewish parents Henry and Katie (née' Golder) Reichman. Harry's father died when he was 14 years old.[2]

He married three times. Yvonne Epstein, in 1918. He married Hazel Forbes, show girl and Ziegfeld Girl, in March 1938, in Palm Springs, California. He and Forbes shared a sumptuous home in Beechhurst, Long Island. By 1942 Forbes was divorced from Richman. He then married Yvonne Day in 1943. All three marriages ended in divorce.

He was reportedly a close and personal friend of Bob Hope, letting Bob out of the musical when Say When was set to close; something Bob Hope never forgot.[3]

Richman largely retired in the 1940s, although he made irregular appearances, including on television, into the 1950s.

Having spent most of his fortune lavishly, his final years were mostly impoverished. He suffered from a long string of illness over several years before his death. 

Harry Richman died in Hollywood, California.[4] He is interred at Hillside Cemetery.

Professional career

He started playing piano in a Cincinnati saloon at age 10. At 18, he changed his name to "Harry Richman," by which time he was already a professional entertainer in vaudeville. In his peak years, Harry Richman had been one of the highest‐paid performers in show business. [5] He claimed to be making $25,000 a week in 1931 ($415,000 in 2018 dollars) [6] 

Richman also owned a popular night club - a speakeasy, "Club Richman," which was located next to Carnegie Hall. The room was large, seating 240 people. It was designed to look like a patio with fake windows that opened out to scenes painted in the windows. The roof was painted with stars to reflect the spotlight on the performers.[7] It was a popular location till it burned down in 1929.

Eventually known for his nasal baritone, he started out and worked as a piano accompanist to such stars as Mae West and Nora Bayes. With Bayes' act he made his Broadway debut in 1922. He appeared in several editions of the George White's Scandals in the 1920s to acclaim. Becoming a name, he appeared in "Scandals" as Master of Ceremonies in 1926; where on opening night the first seven rows of the orchestra commanded $50 a seat ($700 in 2018 dollars).[8] He appeared in the 1931 Ziegfeld Follies.[9]

He made his feature movie debut in Hollywood in 1930 with the film Puttin' on the Ritz, featuring the Irving Berlin song of the same title, which gave Richman a phonograph record hit that year. His film career was short lived due to his somewhat overpowering personality, and his limited acting skills. This made little difference to his career as he remained a popular nightclub host and stage performer.

Leonard Maltin is widely quoted as having written of Puttin' on the Ritz: "A songwriter drinks and goes blind – after seeing this you'll want to do the same." In fact the actual quote is "Famed nightclub entertainer Richman made his film debut in this primitive early talkie about vaudevillian who can't handle success and turns to drink. You may do the same after watching Richman's performance – though he does introduce the title song by Irving Berlin."

In 1940, he sang "God Bless America" for the National Democratic Convention in Chicago, Illinois.[10]

He also made regular radio broadcasts in the 1930s.

Hobbies and Adventures

He enjoyed sailing however, his yacht Chevalier II exploded in July 1931.[11]

Richman was also an amateur aviator of some accomplishment, being the co-pilot in 1936, with famed flyer Henry Tindall "Dick" Merrill, of the first round-trip transatlantic flight in his own single-engine Vultee transport. Richman had filled much of the empty space of the aircraft with ping pong balls as a flotation aid in case they were forced down in the Atlantic. They were forced to land in Wales in 18 hours and 38 minutes. After returning from the flight he sold autographed ones until his death. They continue to turn up on eBay to this day.The only Vultee V1A like Richman's is in the Shannon Air Museum in Fredericksburg, Va.


His autobiography A Hell of a Life was published in 1966.


2. Cullen, Frank and Florence Hackman, "Vaudeville old and new: an encyclopedia of variety performances in America," page 929
3. Strait, Raymond, 1999, "Bob Hope: A Tribute"
4. New York Times, "Harry Richman is Dead at 77: Broadway Singer of the 1930's," November 4, 1972, Page 35
5. New York Times, "Harry Richman is Dead at 77: Broadway Singer of the 1930's," November 4, 1972, Page 36
6. Slide, Anthony, 2012, "The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville," Page 418
7. Wilson, Victoria, 2007, "A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940"
8. Smith, Cecil and Glenn Litton, 1950, "Musical Comedy in America: From The Black Crook to South Pacific," Page 144
9. Bergreen, Laurence, 1961, "As Thousands Cheer: The Life Of Irving Berlin," Page 288
10. National Document Publishers, 1940, "Official Report of the Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention and Committee," Page 29
11. Maeder, Jay (September 22, 1999). "Called by Angels Helen Walsh." New York Daily News. 

Further reading

Oderman, Stuart, Talking to the Piano Player 2. BearManor Media, 2009. ISBN 1-59393-320-7.
Richman, Harry, A Hell of a Life, New York, 1966