Sunday, April 06, 2008

Cecilia Rasmussen Has Left The Room. 'LA Then And Now' Column About LA's History Is Now History Itself.

In a city where it's history is too often forgotten and ignored - and too often gotten wrong in the pages of the LA Times - one of the few dependable sources - both in frequency and in factual accuracy - was Cecilia Rasmussen's 'LA THEN AND NOW' column. And I say 'was' because the LA Times - in an act of incredible stupidity encouraged her to accept a buyout, and she did accept.

Both the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles will be lesser places for this.

Below is the opening of today's final column:

DNA tests could force a rewrite of city's history book
On the record, the 'Father of Glendale' had no children. But did L.C. Brand have a secret life and 2 sons?
By Cecilia Rasmussen
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

April 6, 2008

For more than 20 years, I've been writing about local history, and never once has Southern California let me down. I've found no shortage of tycoons and beggars, dreamy spiritualists, mad-eyed killers.

This 227-year-old city has had a few angels, but it's the others who often make for the most fascinating storytelling. The housewife from Milwaukee who in the 1920s lived in a house above Sunset Boulevard -- secretly keeping her lover in the attic for a decade until he came downstairs to murder her husband.

The religious cult that called itself theDivine Order of the Royal Arms of the Great Eleven and used sex, religion and animal sacrifices to separate believers from their money. The 18-year-old who in the 1880s fatally shot her boyfriend in the eye and was acquitted after her lawyers called her a victim of "menstrual madness."

I've written about cowboys and swindlers and crazy inventors, about a one-eyed Swiss watchmaker and a silent screen star who broke into film at age 75, after real-life dramatic experience as a Civil War spy.

To get those stories, I've had to do quite a bit of sleuthing -- trekking through mountains, visiting crumbling mansions and knocking the dust off ancient court files.

But in all the years, I've never gone to quite the lengths I had to for this, my final Then and Now column.

There was no way around it. To be sure this story was true, I needed DNA tests. But I'm jumping ahead of myself. Maybe I should start at the beginning.

The rest is at the above link.


Vanilla Chunk said...

as a screenwriter and a native-born Angeleno, I loved Rasmussen's columns for the surprises they uncovered. I wish the columns were available in book form.

Waynedoo said...

Cecelia wrote a wonderful column on Frank Mellus of Mellus Bros Tent and Awning Co. He and his brother Lou ran that company. My mother Ruth was "Mr. Lou's" secretary for many years. Would love to know where I can obtain a copy.