Nominated for several Oscars, the Mank movie depicts southern California during the 1930s. It includes a 1939 car crash that contributes to the story line of Herman Mankiewicz writing the Citizen Kane script in 1940 at the Kemper Campbell ranch in Victorville. This blogger recommend watching it to get a sense of what L.A. looked like then. Keep in mind that, in true Hollywood fashion, it doesn’t let facts get in the way of the story. Click on the image link above for a facts vs. movie rundown.

Abie’s 1939 Mercury

Your blogger will go out on a limb and presume that these photos were taken in southern California in 1939. The car has a license plate and aftermarket “flipper” hubcaps so it isn’t brand new from the dealer in these shots but I’d like to believe that the photos were taken within a few weeks of taking delivery. Owning a convertible Mercury was a pretty spiffy way for a young man to show the world that he was doing well. Did he also own the boarding house or was he renting a room there so he could afford the car? We’ll probably never know.

Palomar Ballroom


The Palomar Ballroom burned to the ground on October 2, 1939. It claimed to be the largest dance hall on the West Coast, at 3rd Street and Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles. The swing era of jazz began there, according to and other sites, with a performance by Benny Goodman and his band in 1935.


This undated, circa late 1930s view shows the night club as customers would have seen it at night. Learn more about the Palomar and see additional photos at

Streamline Your Figure

1939 Streamline Your Figure by Sylvia Ulback images from an online auction

Sylvia Ulback (6 April 1881 – 2 March 1975), known as Sylvia of Hollywood, was an early Hollywood fitness guru. Between 1926 and 1932, “Madame Sylvia”, as she was also known, specialized in keeping movie stars camera-ready through stringent massage, diet and exercise.

The endpapers feature this map of Hollywood by Russell Patterson.