Mondo Bizarro Jul 4 2023
ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Yeah, gimme a Carlsberg. And when you get a chance can you put out more peanuts?


The above photo, another one of those shots that could only have been made during the 1950s, shows the interior of the Santa Monica watering hole Chez Jay, which owner Jay Fiondella opened 4th of July weekend 1959 with showgirls and a rented elephant in attendance. The elephant, according to stories, dented the bartop when one of the models annoyed it. Chez Jay exists today and the bar supposedly still has the dent. Later clients who were less disruptive—and only slightly less, we imagine—included Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen, who along with other celebs visited the bar partly due to a no paparazzi rule. You know what's most amazing about Chez Jay? We lived in L.A. for four years and never went there. And for those of you who don't know us, we do bars. Well, next trip maybe. By the way, elephants prefer Carlsberg because one of its logos features an elephant (and a swastika, but we'll set that aside for now). Drink up!

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Femmes Fatales Dec 29 2021
THE SUNDANCE KID
Rogue beach ballerina finally apprehended after tiring herself out.


Hollywood is a place to which some of the best looking people in the world gravitate. Even in that environment, Cyd Charisse was a standout. An accomplished dancer with the physique to match, she was a hotty in her mid-twenties in movies such as Tension, and was still hot in her mid-forties dancing in the opening sequence of The Silencers. The above trio of photos show her at twenty-four and were made on Santa Monica Beach in 1945, capturing her working through a couple of maneuvers none of us can ever hope to duplicate. And below, you see what all that dancing does to a person. Even superior humans like Charisse get pooped occasionally. She's done. But after a lot of good work. See another fun promo image here.

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Hollywoodland Aug 11 2019
RAVENOUS RITA
Hayworth enjoys a not-so-light snack in Santa Monica.


Published today in 1941, we love this Life magazine cover of Rita Hayworth on the beach in Santa Monica, California. But we love the second photo even more. Movie stars will do just about anything to avoid being photographed unhinging their jaws to cram in a pile of food. You can't blame them. Paparazzi lurk in hope of getting exactly this type of shot, which they sell for big money to websites that specialize in making celebs look bad. Hayworth turns the idea into comedy while simultaneously looking appetizing herself. That's star power for you.

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Femmes Fatales Jun 15 2013
RED (HOT) BARONESS
But we are also down for the Countess.

Generally, when you see a mention of Betsy von Furstenberg on the internet it refers to her as a countess. Other sources, with a more authoritative tone, call her a baroness. But inherited status is pure silliness anyway, so we’ll just call her what she is—a German actress who appeared in movies and on Broadway. Here you see her in Santa Monica, California, in two summery photos by Joseph Jasgur in the year 1950.

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The Naked City May 14 2012
JUST BLUFFING
She wanted to end her pain, but instead ended up in a world of hurt.

We found a few interesting shots from the USC Film Library and thought we’d share them. The four photo sequence above shows the aftermath of a suicide attempt in Santa Monica, California. The woman leapt from a well-known bluff in Palisades Park and landed on the Pacific Coast Highway about forty feet below. It was a serious attempt, as you can see from the woman’s battered state, but she survived. That was today, 1951. 

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The Naked City Jun 23 2011
NEARLY DEPARTED
Elusive Whitey Bulger captured in California.

No, Whitey Bulger isn’t a thing, but a person. James “Whitey” Bulger, a notorious gangster who had been on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List for sixteen years and was the template for Jack Nicholson’s character in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, was captured last night in Southern California. Bulger had once been leader of an Irish organized crime syndicate called the Winter Hill Gang, and worked for twenty years as an FBI informant in Boston. But he was dropped from the Feds’ roster in the early 1990s and dropped out of sight himself in 1995 when his FBI handler John Connolly, Jr. tipped him off that an indictment was coming down. Bulger was arrested yesterday at a Santa Monica apartment complex and now will face a full slate of serious charges—including murder, conspiracy, money laundering, narcotics distribution, and extortion.

Though the FBI has traditionally worked with criminals to help secure evidence against other lawbreakers, the agency’s relationship with Whitey Bulger was sharply criticized once it became public. At the time, the FBI was determined to cripple the Italian Mafia in Boston, and saw a partnership with Bulger and his Winter Hill Gang associate Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi as an acceptable bargain. But the relationship quickly became messy as the agency turned a blind eye to Bulger and Flemmi’s ongoing crimes. Flemmi himself testified in court in 1998 that the FBI gave him a free pass on numerous murders and attempted murders. He described it as having a “license to kill.”
 
At one point, who was operating who came into serious doubt, as John Connolly—at Whitey Bulger’s behest—passed along a case of wine and an envelope of cash to John Morris, Connolly’s supervisor in the FBI. Morris later copped to accepting thousands in bribes from Bulger and Flemmi. And in the most bizarre twist, the already wealthy Bulger somehow won $1.9 million in the Massachusetts lottery but went on the run before he was able to claim his prize, leading to the sight of his sister marching into U.S. Appeals Court in an attempt to win rights to the cash. Safe to say that as convoluted a story as Scorsese filmed in The Departed, the truth was infinitely more complex. Whether that truth will ever come out is in doubt. Bulger, eighty-one years old, is certain to die in prison. 
 
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Hollywoodland Mar 1 2011
THREE FACES OF JANE
She was a multi-faceted woman.

Below are three photos representing three of the many sides of American screen legend Jane Russell’s personality. She had a wild youth that included excessive drink and a low-rent abortion, and in later life she swung the opposite way and became an arch-conservative Christian. Russell died yesterday in Santa Monica, California, aged 89. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 12
1978—Son of Sam Goes to Prison
David Berkowitz, the New York City serial killer known as Son of Sam, is sentenced to 365 years in prison for six killings. Berkowitz had acquired his nickname from letters addressed to the NYPD and columnist Jimmy Breslin. He is eventually caught when a chain of events beginning with a parking ticket leads to his car being searched and police discovering ammunition and maps of crime scenes.
June 11
1963—Buddhist Monk Immolates Himself
In South Vietnam, Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc burns himself to death by dousing himself with gasoline and lighting a match. He does it to protest the persecution of Buddhists by Ngô Đình Diệm administration, choosing a busy Saigon intersection for his protest. An image of the monk being consumed by flames as he sits crosslegged on the pavement, shot by Malcolm Browne, wins a Pulitzer Prize and becomes one of the most shocking and recognizable photos ever published.
June 10
1935—AA Founded
In New York City, Dr. Robert Smith and William Griffith Wilson, who were both recovering alcoholics, establish the organization Alcoholics Anonymous, which pioneers a 12-step rehabilitation program that is so helpful and popular it eventually spreads to every corner of the globe.
1973—John Paul Getty III Is Kidnapped
John Paul Getty III, grandson of billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, is kidnapped in Rome, Italy. The elder Getty ignores a ransom demand for $17 million, thinking it is a joke. When John Paul's ear later arrives in the mail along with a note promising further mutilation, he negotiates the ransom down to $2.9 million, which he pays only on the condition that John Paul repay him at four percent interest. Getty's kidnappers are never caught.
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