July 5th, 2019

carole lombard 05
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Let's go 'Past Daily,' part 2

Yesterday's Carole & Co. entry dealt with "Past Daily," a site with several thousand items of recorded sound (most of them radio broadcasts). A visit to https://pastdaily.com/archive/ enables one to search its library for particulars; for example, there are 238 listings under "Los Angeles."

A look there showed all sorts of fascinating things -- local newscasts about earthquakes (timely in light of yesterday's Ridgecrest quake and its ensuing aftershocks) and civil unrest; air checks of stations from Top 40 giants (KHJ, KFWB and KRLA among them) to classical performances; and more. Several listings are from Carole Lombard's time, which I deemed worth examining.

Carole loved horses, and horse racing, so the June 1938 opening of the Hollywood Turf Club (more popularly known as "Hollywood Park") in Inglewood was certainly of interest to her. Founded in part by Jack and Harry Warner because the nearby Santa Anita track was not welcoming to Jews (https://www.kcrw.com/culture/articles/saying-goodbye-to-hollywood-park), the Warners' ties to the new track were played up in a 1938 CBS Hollywood program. Several studio stars are featured.

This gossip broadcast also discusses the upcoming "The Rage Of Paris," which introduced Danielle Darrieux to American audiences, and the Warners comedy "The Cowboy From Brooklyn." It's sponsored by Lorillard's Old Gold cigarettes, yet another tobacco company using radio to sell its products (https://pastdaily.com/2016/06/11/hollywood-park-june-9-1938-pop-chronicles/).

The track, which hosted the likes of Seabiscuit in its early years, ceased racing in 2013 amidst declining attendance. Next year, a roofed stadium housing the NFL's Rams and Chargers is slated to open at the site.

Now on to music. Nat Cole started his career in the late '30s, and his King Cole Trio, by now already locally renowned, recorded a transcribed session in LA in February 1939.

The smooth, jazzy sound that would bring Cole fame in the 1940s with hits like "Straighten Up And Fly Right" and "Route 66" is already in place through the combo's version of standards such as "Undecided" (https://pastdaily.com/2017/12/31/nat-king-cole-trio-1939-past-daily-nights/). For jazz buffs, it's worth a listen.

Longtime Angelenos fondly recall Clifton's Cafeteria on South Broadway, a place where one could get American food at a reasonable price. (Alas, not many recalled it well enough for a revived version of the venue to succeed a few years ago.) Owner Clifford Clinton was a beloved local figure, fighting for good government during an era of rampant local corruption (a la the film "Chinatown") -- and nearly paid for it with his life. He played a major role in the 1938 recall of mayor Frank Shaw, who was succeeded by judge Fletcher Bowron...the same judge who'd legally changed Jane Alice Peters' name to Carole Lombard.

Reformers faced many challenges from that era's LA power structure, notably the Los Angeles Times. Clinton helped their cause via a 15-minute radio program for several years where he named names and promoted candidates, and several of these surprisingly entertaining broadcasts survive. Here are four broadcasts of the muckraking activist from March and April 1939 (https://pastdaily.com/2015/09/16/clifford-clinton-and-muckraking-in-1930s-los-angeles-past-daily-reference-room/).

Another broadcast comes from that September, during an election campaign (https://pastdaily.com/2016/08/24/los-angeles-muckraker-name-clinton/).

Finally, Clinton from August 1940 discussing one of his favorite targets, District Attorney Buron Fitts, whose palatial Arcadia home seemed drastically inappropriate on a public servant's salary (https://pastdaily.com/2017/08/23/1930s-los-angeles-clifford-clinton/).

These broadcasts give you a sense of the dark underbelly permeating Los Angeles in the 1930s.
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