That’s Entertainment

It was 1974 and I was 14 years old. I was visiting a security guard named Ken Hollywood, at MGM’s East Gate. He handed me a pencil and paper, saying “Two fellas will be coming out soon that you will want to meet!” And that was it.

Growing up in Culver City, I spent almost all my time on the back lots, either being chased, or just hanging out, watching as TV shows and movies got filmed. We were sharing stories together at this gate when, lo and behold, a Rolls Royce driven by Fred Astaire slowly rolled to a stop. Ken waved to Fred as we approached him with paper in hand. He graciously signed his name, shook my hand, and drove off.

When I thought things couldn’t get better, an old Chevy Impala appeared. I was not even thinking this was a star since his car was no better than my dad’s, but I did a double take and couldn’t believe my eyes — it was Gene Kelly! He yelled out to me, “Let me pull over so we can talk.”

“What was your favorite movie of all time to be part of?” I excitedly asked.

“I’m gonna surprise you,” Mr. Kelly responded. “It’s not a musical.”

After a long pause he said, “The Three Musketeers.”

“That’s my favorite, too!” I exclaimed.

“All the athletic preparation needed to make it look real was more difficult than almost any of my dance numbers,” he added.

“I love that show. You look like you were born with a sword in your hand,” I said. “You’re very athletic, and I can’t help but admire your skill.”

He then shared his love of baseball. The Pirates were his team.

I told him, “When it rains we sneak into the backlot and dance on the same cobblestone street where you performed Singing in the Rain. Well, mostly we just splash and sing.”

I was probably blushing as I giggled, and then he smiled that wonderful, iconic smile.

Donald blogs at phantomofthebacklots.com.

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Spring 2020 President’s Message

Dear Members and Friends:

Spring is on its way! I want to introduce to you our 2020-2022 Board. If you missed the installation, the food was delicious and the evening was outstanding. I can’t thank Vice Mayor Göran Eriksson enough for his wonderful words that he spoke while installing us all. Yes, I am here for another two years at which time I must pass the torch, as I will be termed out. Emelie Gerard has moved into a new position. She is now our VP of Development, which involves fundraising, organizing the Founder’s Day Picnic, and purchasing new items for our store. I am excited to see what she comes up with.

Dennis Parrish (my amazing Dad) has taken on the position of VP of Programs. Some of you may remember the great programs he presented to us in the past. I cannot wait to see his next Program! Tami Eskridge is BACK…and she will now be our new VP of the Museum and Archives. With the many great donations we have received, I am looking forward to working with her on new exhibits for your enjoyment. Also, Carolyn Wispe-Burns will continue to be our Treasurer. Michelle Bernardin, our immediate Past President, has also been editing this newsletter. Let us know if you’d like to relieve her and join our team!

I can happily report that these dedicated committee chairs will be continuing in their current positions:
Denice Renteria – Costumes Chair
Andrew Weissman – Government Liaison
Julie Lugo Cerra – Historic Sites
Jeanne Conklin – Membership Chair
Michael Laase – Parliamentarian
Kevin Lachoff – Photographer
Mark Morris – Videographer

I cannot thank our Wednesday volunteers enough for their hard work and dedication to get the museum digitized! We continue to make huge gains, and it is through the generous support from you, our members, and the amazing people that I have just mentioned.

Thanks to you all, and I look forward to seeing you at our next General Program to see what Dad has in store for us!

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The April 15, 2020 General Meeting and Program Has Been Cancelled

As we continue to monitor and adjust to the changing environment in our city and broader world, we are erring on the side of caution and minding the current city-wide recommendations for large gatherings.

Unfortunately, we are cancelling our next General Meeting and Program on Wednesday, April 15.

We are working on a program of the Culver City airports and Petrelli’s Airport Café, and look forward to presenting this fantastic program in July. Stay tuned!

Stay safe, stay healthy, and be there for each other in these confusing times. More than we value history, we value you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Capturing the History of Our City’s Leadership in Images

Former Mayor Michael Tellefson (Julie Lugo Cerra)

There is always a story in history! I would like to share one with you and then ask for your help. Many years ago, two city employees rescued some of Culver City’s historic assets. Both men worked on the second floor of the previous city hall, which is still remembered by many who walk through the ¾ façade entry on that site today at Culver Boulevard and Duquesne Avenue. While the aforementioned employees, Dale Jones (CAO) and Saverio Cerra (Engineering), were looking through a top floor storage space, they noticed boxes of saved items, including a collection of mounted photos. The images were Culver City’s elected officials starting in 1917, the year the city was incorporated. The list began with R.P. Davidson, the first chairman of the Board of Trustees (1917-18), Walter Edwards, V.R. Day, Mrs. V.R. Day (appointed to fill husband’s term), etc. Later, the remnants of this collection, which ended in 1960, was given to our Culver City Historical Society for safe keeping.

Over time, the plaques helped to broaden our knowledge of the early City Trustees, now City Councilmembers. With your help, we can update the wall of honor. We are beginning to receive some of the missing portraits. Please help if you can—if you have high-quality portraits or can let relatives or the individuals on this list know! Reach out to us via email or phone call. We have the resources to perma-plaque images to match the original plaques, some of which appear in the Mike Balkman Council Chambers.

From incorporation in 1917 to date, we need images of the following officials:

B.J. Higuera (1917)
Mrs. V.R. Day (1921), who finished her husband’s term
Dan F. Coombs (1920-29)
W. S. McNeir (1920)
Earl Bobier (1922-30)
David E. Clark (1926-32)
John F. Lehman (1932-40)
Phillip F. Stephon (1932-40)
Arthur Segrell (1934-38, 1942-6, 1946-50)
R. H. Segrell (1934-42)
Francis Robert Reeves (1938-40)
Ray L. Haskell (1940-44)
Walter H. Hahn (1944-45, recalled)
Robert C. LaComb (1944-45, recalled)
Thomas J. Carroll (1945, 1948-52)
William G. Douglas, Jr. (1946-50)
Edward T. Castle (1950-54)
Harlan J. Thompson (1952-54)
Joseph L. Sullivan (1952-56)
Ed Juline (1952-56)
Robert Unruhe (1956-60)
Raymond O’Neal (1958-62)
Garland F. Garrett (1960-64)
Gerald Margolis (1962-66)
Joe Lawless (1964-68)
Martin A. Lotz (1968-76)
John Carl Brogdon (1970-74)
Richard Pachtman (1970-78)
Dr. James Boulgarides (1972-80, 1988-96)
Richard Alexander (1974-90)
A. Ronald Perkins (1974-86)
Richard Ross Brundo (1976-88)
Paul Jacobs (1976-92)
Jozelle Smith (1986-94)
Steven Gourley (1988-96)
Ian Michael Balkman (1990-98)
Albert Vera (1992-2000, 2002-06)
Edward Wolkowitz (1994-2002)
Sandra Levin (1996-2000)
Richard Marcus (1996-2000)
David Hauptman (1998-2002)
Alan Corlin (2000-08)
Carol Gross (2000-08)
Steven J. Rose (2000-08)
Gary Silbiger (2002-10)
Scott Malsin (2006-10, 2010-11)
Christopher Armenta (2008-12)
Mehaul O’Leary (2008-16)
Andrew Weissman (2008-16)
Jeffrey Cooper (2010-18)
Meghan Sahli-Wells (2012-20)
Jim Clarke (2012-14, 2014-18)
Thomas Aujero Small (2016-20)
Goran Ericsson (2016-20)
Alex Fisch (2018-22)
Thomas Lee (2018-22)

Thank you for any help!

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The Rollerdrome Was My Neighbor

Lydia, c. 1956 (Lydia Spiegelman)

The Rollerdrome was my love. I lived only four houses from it on Bentley Avenue. I spent many, many hours meeting people and learning to skate. I took lessons every Saturday morning and had races with fellow skaters. My Friday nights were spent at the Rollerdrome with friends, going out afterward for a “Piece O’ Pizza” across the street. (Eating pizza at 11:00pm is certainly something I can’t do now!) All of my childhood memories are there. Wonderful times spending birthdays, and just going to have fun. I can still remember the Rollerdrome’s comforting smell. As I got older, going on dates and skating “couples only” was so fun and special, especially if a good skater asked you to skate. This magical place was my heaven and I loved every moment I spent there. I still have my skates, with the original case and decals on it, and plan to leave them to our Historical Society. Still like new with precision wheels, which was all the rage at that time. It made skating so much smoother.

I remember when they filmed The Fugitive at the Rollerdome. It was very exciting to see a T.V. show being made right in our neighborhood. I was so thrilled to see David Janssen in person. Handsome as ever!

My parents’ bedroom was in the front of our house and every summer they opened the windows to let some cool air in because we didn’t have air conditioning. I remember my dad used to say, “I can’t sleep over that organ!” We lived so close that we could hear the organ playing and could dance to it. It was a wonderful time and I knew it. A very special period in my life, as it was in so many other lives. To this day I love hearing organ music and it reminds me of that magical place. Memories are made of this.

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