Thursday, June 23, 2005


June 23, 1947
Hawthorne, CA

Bernie Shaw of 1224 W. 123rd Street was first on the scene today when a burning car ran off the road while traveling south on Budlong below 123rd, starting a grass fire in a field. Nearby was Dennis Yates, 64, of 602 West 79th Street, his clothes ablaze. Shaw extinguished the man and pulled off his charred clothing, but Yates later died at Harbor General Hospital, Torrance.

Police speculate that sparks from Yates’ pipe may have ignited a fire in his automobile and caused his death.

1 comment:

Larry said...

Jim Tully, Hobo Novelist
and Prize Fighter, Dies
Roustabout and Film Writing Other Jobs
of Author of High Selling ‘Shadows of Men’

Jim Tully, hobo author of
“Shanty Irish” and “Beggars of
Life” who was a prize fighter,
circus roustabout and tree sur-
geon before he turned to writ-
ing, died yesterday at 4 a.m. in
Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. He
was 56.

+ + +

For me, stumbling across Jim Tully is one of those wonderful accidental discoveries that are a byproduct of research. He’s as obscure and forgotten today as he was famous in the 1920s. (His name has appeared exactly once in The Times in the last 20 years).

An Irishman with a natural gift for storytelling, Tully was almost entirely self-taught, which gave him a spare, unpretentious style that translates well to modern times, unlike the stale, artificial constructions of his more literary contemporaries.

Describing himself as former “farm laborer, link heater, tramp, circus roustabout, chainmaker, professional pugilist and reporter on the Akron Press and Beacon-Journal,” he published his first novel in 1922, the mostly autobiographical “Emmett Lawler.” Other books followed quickly, including Beggars of Life” in 1924 and “Jarnegan” in 1925, sometimes considered the first Hollywood novel. In addition, he wrote regularly for the Los Angeles Times and the American Mercury.

He also worked as a publicist for Charlie Chaplin and several of his books were made into movies, including “Beggars of Life,” which starred Wallace Beery and Louise Brooks.

Hedda Hopper noted that Tully always had good things to say about bootleggers, and he certainly traveled in fast company: Gene Fowler and his circle of literary boxers like Jack Dempsey (he once knocked out actor John Gilbert in a fight at the Brown Derby). He was married twice, and had an extremely troubled son, Thomas A. Tully, a serial rapist who finally committed suicide, along with his wife.

Here’s the opening of “A California Holiday,” published in the American Mercury in 1927, on the execution of Earl J. Clark, who was convicted in the “Red Rose Murder” of sailor Charles Silva in San Pedro:

"San Quentin stretches drab and sun scorched along the blue waters of San Francisco Bay. Majestic clouds seem always to be riding the heavens on the watery horizon. Boats glide, far out on the bay, as if fearful of drawing too near the crowded castle of the doomed.

"Originally built for less than two thousand prisoners, it now houses thirty-six hundred, about one hundred of whom are women. The roads are graveled. There is a detour sign two miles from the prison upon which is printed in large black letters beneath a hand pointing prisonward:


His widow, Myrtle, a secretary for Judy Garland, eventually donated his papers and books to UCLA.

Told by Irving Thalberg “your attitude in Hollywood has cost you $500,000, Jim,” Tully replied: “That may be true, but a man must have an attitude.” He is buried at Forest Lawn.

“A California Holiday”