SkyscraperPage Forum

SkyscraperPage Forum (
-   Found City Photos (
-   -   noirish Los Angeles (

Lorendoc Aug 5, 2014 5:49 AM

Thanks 1612havenhurstdrive for the link to the tribulations of the Pandora and its neighbors and welcome to the thread. Quite fascinating, and Larry Harnisch deserves credit for posting it back in 2009.

For those of you unwilling to slog through it all, here follows a summary of the material Harnisch found with some additional information I found.

Pandora’s was a nightclub located on the island in the middle of the intersection of Sunset and Crescent Heights. In 1958, it changed ownership. The new owner, Tom Elwell, tried and failed to get an entertainment license. The licensing process generated public hearings which provide a granular description of the collision of Sunset Strip nightlife, police, contemporary morals and, of course, the neighbors.

Thompson Ellsworth Elwell was born on October 19, 1933 in Los Angeles to William H. and Grace Secrest Elwell. Tom had an older brother, William Jr. In the 1940 census, the family lived in a comfortably middle class neighborhood at 916 Hauser Boulevard. William Sr. was a salesman for an oil refinery. Tom went to USC and graduated in 1957:

While there, Tom was a member of the Young Republicans, and even found time to work at real estate agency with his brother, and sell used cars* while still an undergrad. He and his brother lived at 4309 Santa Rosalia, a mere 3 minute drive from the car dealership, and not much further from USC. As can be seen, both were (of course) registered Republicans:

After leaving USC, he decided he’d like to run a nightclub. He set his eyes on Pandora’s on the Sunset Strip. He bought it from a Michael Schachel** and Al Adrian in early 1958. There was litigation over ownership but Elwell won. He started operating Pandora's on May 1, 1958.

In July 1958 Elwell applied for a "Cafe Entertainment” license. In September and October he had hearings before a Hearing Examiner. This worthy, after receiving testimony from vice-squad members, and neighbors, denied the application. Elwell then appealed to the Police Commission in January 1959, but the Commission agreed with the hearing officer.

The Hearing Examiner had determined Pandora's was no more or less noisy than other nearby clubs. But he decided Mr. Elwell was "unfit" for his license due his associations with three criminals: prostitute Shirley Paulos, narcotic suspect McKinley Sims, and “Homo” [sic] Don Arden***.

Paulos (aka Shirley Richards) had a brief career as a prostitute. Shortly after she met Elwell in 1958, she was arrested for offering at her house at 8039 Hemet Place, a ten-minute walk from Pandora’s. The police described her as a petite redhead, age 23 or 24, divorced mother of a 5 year-old boy. Police testified that Elwell's belongings were found in her house, and that subsequent to the arrest, she worked as a cashier at Pandora’s. Elwell didn’t consider her a “bad person” because she had turned a few tricks to pay her rent.

But Vice Squad officers testified that Ms. Paulos was an associate of one McKinley Sims, "colored gambler." Mr. Sims was a "good customer" of Pandora's, and knew Elwell. He had been arrested for narcotics possession (i.e. marijuana) at 2125 Sunset Plaza Drive in March, 1958. Sims was a "singer and comedian" at the Garden of Allah across the street from Pandora's, according to Elwell.

A final damning piece of evidence against Elwell was that “another patron of Pandora's, one Don Arden*** was arrested there as a 'Homo'."

Perhaps in a final but futile attempt to sway the Commission just before his appearance there, Elwell and Shirley got married in Las Vegas on January 4, 1959. The ploy didn’t work, the application was denied.

I looked for further information about Elwell and found the following article from the August 2, 1963 LA Times, five years after the Pandora’s problems:
LA Times through ProQuest

This article is worth reading, it's an interesting racket they were running. Evidently Elwell had kept in touch with his old pal Evans since the United Motors days of 1955. On February 1, 1964, the Times reported Elwell was sentenced to nine months in jail and was already in prison on another grand theft case.

Tom later ditched Pauline somewhere along the line, and married Petronella Vanommering [!] in Miami in 1982.

I could not think of a more Noir conclusion to this story than finding this:
HTML Code:

The Coroner got the birthdate garbled, but it is clear it’s the same man. You can see he had blue eyes in his college yearbook photo. He was a big guy, 6’5” and 240 lbs, even at age 63. Probably not the kind of guy you’d want to meet in a dark alley…


*In his statement to the hearing officer, Elwell said that he worked at United Motors, 3838 Crenshaw Blvd as a partner of Murray Thomas Evans in 1955 while an undergraduate at USC. He told the officer that he understood Evans had legal problems after he, Elwood, had left the concern. He did indeed.

**In 1949, 16 year-old Schachel was picked up hitchhiking by "Big Bill" Tilden, the tennis star. This resulted in a year in jail for Tilden, who was already on probation for a similar offense. Newspapers said that Schachel, an unemployed grocery clerk, claimed to have been molested weeks earlier by someone else. Later, he sued Tilden for severe mental anguish caused by his brief fling with Tilden. Perhaps Schachel did have relationship issues: when Schachel was in his 50s, he was married briefly to a woman 22 years his junior. He died in Florida in 1982.

***This was Donn Arden, the "Busby Berkeley of Las Vegas,” creator of "Jubilee!" and not Don Arden, the English mobster/band manager of Black Sabbath.

FredH Aug 5, 2014 6:59 AM

Pacific Ocean Park
The L.A. Times had a nice article on Pacific Ocean Park a few days ago.
I had no idea that the park was so short lived and ended so poorly.

Pacific Ocean Park was built at the beach, on the border of Venice and Santa Monica.
As a joint venture between CBS and Santa Anita Park, it opened in the Summer of 1958
and promised great things. It was very popular, and even out drew Disneyland a few times.

Check out this short video made when the park opened:

For the first few years, everything was going fine.
L.A. Times
L.A. Times
L.A. Times
L.A. Times
L.A. Times

However, by the mid-1960's, things had already started to decline. Several urban renewal projects in Santa Monica
blocked access roads to the park and attendance dropped off. Salt air and sea water made maintenance of the park expensive.

By 1967, Pacific Ocean Park closed for repairs and never reopened.

Assets were auctioned off to pay creditors and the remains of the park sat there rotting away, until 1970 when a fire started.
L.A. Times
L.A. Times
L.A. Times
L.A. Times

So, Pacific Ocean Park only lasted a decade, or so, before it literally went down in flames.

If you have about 15 minutes to spare, this moody surfer/skater film gives a view of what was left by the mid 1970's.

The L.A. Times article is here:

HossC Aug 5, 2014 7:55 PM

Following on from the recent Pandora's Box posts, I went looking for videos. Mark L has already posted one called Fashion 1967 on the Sunset Strip The Summer of Love back in post #7350. A screengrab of Pandora's Box from that video was posted by e_r in post #7351.

Then I found 1960's - Sunset Blvd, a video filmed from a car driving east on Sunset. It includes the Marquis Restaurant, the revolving Rocky and Bullwinkle (mentioned by e_r in the link above) and Belinda's. The car then stops just past Pandora's Box and the last part of the video is repeated.

There's also a short, silent video called 1960's - Sunset Blvd - Pandora's Box riots. Finally I found that YouTube has the whole movie of Riot On Sunset Strip. It was filmed in 1967, just weeks after the actual riots.

Those Who Squirm! Aug 6, 2014 1:37 AM


Originally Posted by CityBoyDoug (Post 6679382)

I'm sure our sharp-eyed noirishers can read the signature on this old check.

I've noticed how old check forms have the location, often pre-printed, as well as a space in which to write the date. I wonder when banks stopped doing this, and why?

Lorendoc Aug 6, 2014 3:30 AM

near milestone
Checking my mail just now, it said that the thread had:

"Views: 5,999,977"

wow. thanks to e_r for keeping it going.

Retired_in_Texas Aug 6, 2014 3:50 AM


Originally Posted by Those Who Squirm (Post 6681662)
I've noticed how old check forms have the location, often pre-printed, as well as a space in which to write the date. I wonder when banks stopped doing this, and why?

I don't recall when some banks ceased putting their location on checks but it is rather certain that it had to do with banking firms such as Wells-Fargo, Bank of America, Chase and Capital One having branches everywhere making checks "local" in nature and eliminating problems customers would have presenting an "out of town" check when away from home. Since a few states have laws prohibiting banks with out of state ownership one would still run into a problem with a check written on an account from any of those large banking companies.

FredH Aug 6, 2014 4:35 AM

I ran across this photo while researching Pacific Ocean Park. This is Martha Vickers at P.O.P. in 1959
with her son Teddy Rooney. Teddy's dad was Mickey Rooney.

Martha Vickers is best known (maybe only known) for her role as Carmen Sternwood in the Bogart flick "The Big Sleep".
The Big Sleep, Warner Bros. (1946)
The Big Sleep, Warner Bros. (1946)

Mickey got the babes!

BTW: I prefer the 1945 unreleased version of "The Big Sleep". If you can find the CD with both versions, check it out. I think it is more noirish.

HossC Aug 6, 2014 9:27 AM


Originally Posted by Lorendoc (Post 6681754)

Checking my mail just now, it said that the thread had:

"Views: 5,999,977"

wow. thanks to e_r for keeping it going.

I was waiting for it to tick over myself, but seeing as the figure is now 6,001,630 ...

I thought I'd mark the latest NLA landmark a little more subtly, so I decided to make use of the large numbers atop the Bay Cities Guaranty Building Noirish Los Angeles Building ;).
Original image from the California State Library

Thanks to e_r and everyone else who posts here.

MichaelRyerson Aug 6, 2014 10:59 AM

...take the vicuna.

MichaelRyerson Aug 6, 2014 6:21 PM

I didn't get the slide but I thought I could scrub it up a bit.

Originally Posted by Beaudry (Post 6680449)
Too remarkable not to share. Everyone's favorite domain of noir, Bunker Hill, shot from a rare western viewpoint. Autumn of 1962, I'd gauge, given progress on the DWP skeleton. The Alta Vista, about which I wrote last night, and which loomed large o'er the Third St Tunnel, has been demolished, and the El Mar, which hugged the Hope St retaining wall, is removed as well; and look, there's the storied Stuart K Oliver dead-center! Taken atop Niblack/Lawless's (of Luckman Assoc) Signal Oil bldg, I'd wager, which opened at Wilshire & Beaudry in the spring of '60; it was a curiosity that Signal had a heliport atop, which may have taken our amateur photographer there.

Oh, and I have ulterior motives in sharing this. Somehow I let this slide slip by me a couple nights ago on the eBay! Did anyone here win it? It's worth puh-lenty to me if you're willing to pass it on. northeast from 6th Street and Beaudry, ca.1964

3940dxer Aug 6, 2014 10:53 PM

Hmm, what is that elevated roadway, which I've marked with a red arrow? It doesn't seem familiar at all...

HossC Aug 6, 2014 11:20 PM


It's 4th Street. There are now so many buildings surrounding the elevated section, it's easy to forget (or hard to see) that it is elevated!

MichaelRyerson Aug 6, 2014 11:40 PM


Originally Posted by 3940dxer (Post 6682755)
Hmm, what is that elevated roadway, which I've marked with a red arrow? It doesn't seem familiar at all...

As Hoss already said that's 4th Street and that is the western end of the egregious '4th Street cut' that had been dreamt of for so many years in city council.

FredH Aug 7, 2014 12:16 AM

I have posted this before. It is basically the same view a couple years later after mass destruction has taken place.
Earl Witscher, Modernage Photo Service

MichaelRyerson: Great "scrub" job. I saved a copy to admire later.

3940dxer Aug 7, 2014 12:30 AM

Great replies, thanks guys! I winder why they didn't build more of it at ground level with steeper inclines close to the hills, so the street could serve businesses along that block. It worked in San Francisco. :)

Next time I head downtown I'll have to take 4th, to recall the way that section looks now.

Lorendoc Aug 7, 2014 7:02 AM

6,000,000 building
gj HossC with the LA Noirish Building :cheers:

Otis Criblecoblis Aug 7, 2014 7:46 AM

Counter checks

Originally Posted by Those Who Squirm (Post 6681662)
I've noticed how old check forms have the location, often pre-printed, as well as a space in which to write the date. I wonder when banks stopped doing this, and why?

That's what's known as a "counter check". As with all such bank forms, at least back in the day, it was printed up with the information for each individual branch. These checks were used whenever a customer's own personalized checks were not available, e.g. for a new account or when a customer ran out. They were also placed in the lobby so a customer could cash a check inside the branch without using one of his personalized checks.

Later, when MICR encoding (the line of printed numbers and symbols along the bottom) came into use, banks took these checks out of the lobby and the individual branch info off the checks.

MartinTurnbull Aug 7, 2014 2:39 PM

Walt Disney's restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard
Has anybody heard about this place before? I've just come across these photos in a article about the restaurant - Walt's - that Disney opened on Hollywood Blvd in 1935.

To paraphrase this article

Walt’s, the restaurant he opened in 1935 on Hollywood Boulevard (next door to Graubstein’s Peruvian Theater) was, as far as anyone knows, the first eating establishment to be operated by an animation studio. A projector played Mickey Mouse cartoons in a continuous loop, with a two-cent earphone charge. Disney himself manned the counter while artists, waylaid from other projects, did the cooking. The fare was simple but hearty: grilled cheese sandwiches, fresh fruit, omelets, poached eggs, pancakes prepared with maple-syrup batter, steak, and fruitcake. It was an immediate smash. Success quickly led to expansion. A ninth stool was added in January, 1936, and a tenth in April. In June, the original restaurant was razed and replaced by a vastly more elaborate three-story establishment that sat almost 725 and offered live entertainment, a billiard room, and a rooftop biergarden that became an institution in its own right. Closed in 1951.

Engine54 Aug 7, 2014 4:03 PM

The Dunbar Hotel-Central Avenue
Hi folks!

Here's something you might enjoy from my video archives. If memory serves, this was shot in August 2012 and finds us on Central Avenue which was the center of African-American life back in the days of segregation. Not a heck of a lot is left over there, but there are a number of landmarks that remind us of the area's rich history. In this installment, we take a look at the historic Dunbar Hotel located at 4225 Central Avenue. We mostly take a look at the "21st Century Plan" for this landmark which includes low income & senior housing. However, the part you folks will enjoy is our walk through of the construction site which takes place a little half way through the piece. The interesting (and maybe sad part) is that the full restoration of this hotel was supposed to have been completed by February 2013, but as of this writing the hotel remains somewhat incomplete. I don't know why, but the group I interview for this piece, CRCD, seems to have ceased operations. I know their former PR person, so I will check in with her to see what the deal is. This group successfully revamped the nearby 28th Street YMCA which we did a piece on. I'll post that at another time.


Sonny☼LA Aug 7, 2014 4:27 PM

Police Academy Rock Garden & Olympic Buildings

Originally Posted by sadykadie2 (Post 6661132)

Thanks Sady! All good fun.

Here's some more.

The Police Academy Rock Garden in Elysian Park is not particularly noirish nor is it horribly obscure as it is a known wedding location (no extra charge for background gunfire) - but it's a beautiful place to visit and we had an amazing impromptu hour-long tour and history lesson from the officer on duty at the gate.

Aside from the view of downtown, there are trails all around and through the rock garden, itself with a thoroughly Hollywood-set vibe to it. Appropriate, as it's been said it was the location for many films and TV series, including Tarzan. I assumed it would be the later Johnny Weissmuller Tarzans, as the rock garden was built in 1937, but I couldn't find any screenshots or specific location listings.

Here's a Memorial Day celebration from 1958:

And the garden today, larger and more multi-tiered than it looks:
My Flickr
My Flickr

The view:
My Flickr

The Police Academy itself has not been covered too many times on the thread, I don't think, though the eminent Mr. Bariscale did a great writeup on his Big Orange Landmarks blog here.

The non-Hollywood history is what really interests me, though - starting with the front gates which are built from granite paving stones pulled from the streets of Los Angeles somewhere. There's a story on Roadside America that says stonework was done by men arrested one night for drunkenness - make of that what you will. The LAPRAAC website states the rock garden was built by officers and trustees so the Roadside story might refer to the construction of the gates or earlier structures. I'd like to think it's true. On the right is our human encyclopedia and gracious host for the afternoon...I hadn't read the forced labor story until after we visited so I couldn't ask him.
My Flickr

It seems the Revolver and Athletic Club was founded in the 1920's, with the complex expanding after the 1932 Olympics. The shooting range was used for the Games and after their conclusion the department received several buildings from the Olympic Village. The LAPD officially took residence in 1936, with the construction of the rock garden shortly thereafter.

Some past posts regarding the Olympic Village - Flyingwedge did a great writeup of the 1932 Olympic Games and the construction of the village housing...

...and Tovangar mentioned another recipient of Olympic Village housing, University High School:

According to this interesting article from the '84 Games era (from the Toledo Blade but I believe it's an LA Times story), Olympic housing went to the Police Academy, a shop on Olvera Street, out to the PCH in Malibu, across state lines and out of the country. Also that police cadets eat in one of the original Olympic dining halls.
Toledo Blade, July 16, 1984

So here's the main hall of the village in '32...
-Getty Images

...certainly similar to today's Gates Lounge & Dining Center:
My Flickr

An undated postcard of the swimming pool:

At sunset today, with a trainee in the middle lane.
My Flickr

Chief Parker with his command staff in the Gymnasium, 1948

The same gym today:
My Flickr

The sign under which all graduating classes pass:
My Flickr

And, for the hell of it - a brief search for the Olympic cottage on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. I forget how or why I narrowed the location down to this collection of small cottages at 19355 E Pacific Coast Hwy - nonetheless, here they are. Possibly the old Malibu Lodge connection mentioned in the article. Inconclusive. But another nice place to visit. Too nice. Not noirish enough.
My Flickr

All times are GMT. The time now is 2:10 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.