Friday, September 02, 2005

A Flood of Youths

September 2, 1947
San Francisco

According to a poll conducted by the California Committee for the Study of Transient Youth at the state borders and in 15 California cities, up to 400 young people, 18-22, are entering California each day without their families. Most have left jobs in their home states in the belief that prospects for employment are better in California, and are "puzzled and resentful" to find this is not the case.

Further reading: A World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900-1970


Larry said...

Muscle Beach
Chooses Beauty

Mrs. Vivian Crockett, brown-haired and green-eyed, who is both a housewife and a freelance film actress, was chosen Miss Muscle Beach of 1947 at the annual Labor Day contest at Muscle Beach in Santa Monica.

Athletic type girls who combined beauty with muscle, with emphasis on the beauty, had their day. Frank Holborow, Santa Monica’s city recreation director, presented the winner with a trophy, a floor lamp, camera and other prizes.

+ + +

Muscle Beach began in the early 1930s as a program of the Federal Works Progress Administration, part of the government’s effort to recover from the Great Depression. It was later taken over by the Santa Monica Recreation Department.

Although already well-established, Muscle Beach was first mentioned in The Times in 1946, when a human pyramid collapsed and the young woman at the top suffered a dislocated shoulder.

Bodybuilding—and bodybuilders—didn’t get much good press in the late 1940s. Bob Myers, an Associated Press sports writer, portrayed the men of Muscle Beach as unemployed freaks. “The truth is,” Myers wrote, “the financial careers of beautiful specimens and weightlifters are sketchy.”

Myers wrote in 1948: “Santa Monica’s famed Muscle Beach, where flying torsos play, must be simply wild with excitement today. For one of its Tarzans of the sandpile, a young man of hope, tremendous muscles, wavy hair and no job, has captured the ultimate goal of all surfside acrobats—the title of Mr. America.

“He is George Eiferman, from Santa Monica. He’s a 22-year-old wartime bugler in the Navy, 5 feet, 8 inches tall. He has gray-green eyes, a chest of 49½ inches in full bloom and, unless close scrutiny was faulty, he shaved it just before winning the contest the other night.”

A 1951 story about extras from Muscle Beach appearing with Betty Grable in “Meet Me After the Show” takes a similar tone:

“Since none of the muscle-flexers had any musical comedy experience, it was necessary to rehearse them six weeks for the dance routine. Actually, all they had to do was step around Betty without bumping into her and to flex biceps in rhythm to the music. But it wasn’t easy to teach them—even though they were remarkably docile.” The music for their number? “No-Talent Joe.”

The Santa Monica City Council closed Muscle Beach in 1958 after a handful of regulars were arrested on morals charges. Two years earlier, the self-appointed mayor of Muscle Beach, Eugene “Gypsy Gene” Mariani, was killed by Clement O’Connor, who was found insane after he hit his attorney in the head with a large law book during the trial.

More gymnastic equipment was installed elsewhere on the beach, but not Beef 10 (where the weightlifters performed) and there was no “adagio dancing,” a big draw of the early days. A 1961 Times story was headlined: “Muscle Beach Goes to Flab and Family”

While none of the names seem familiar, Barbara Thomason, Miss Muscle Beach 1954, appeared in several movies as Carolyn Mitchell and was fifth wife of actor Mickey Rooney. She died in a 1966 murder-suicide with small-time actor Milos Milosevic.

Miss Muscle Beach

1947—Vivian Crockett
1948—Sarah Hirsch
1949—Mim Scharlock
1950—Sharon Taylor
1951—Sharon Bailey
1952—Beverly Jocher
1953—Not recorded, possibly Marilyn Thomas
1954—Barbara Thomason
1955—Carol Ferris
1956—Aelina (Eileen) Tuccinardi
1957—Linda Engber
1958—Ann Johnson

bernie said...

Marilyn Thomas was indeed the miss Muscle Beach of 1953. See her website. Type her name and then cookbook to see her site and photos. Her friend Jack McFadden and i date her that year.

Darius Whiteplume said...

BTW, Aelina Tuccinardi is Russ Meyer actress Alaina Capri.