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Seeks career

Here’s a picture from the photo page of the February 11 1936 Toronto Daily Star of a boy from New Zealand who was hoping to have a career in motion pictures.

As it turned out, Ronald Sinclair (1924-1992), whose given name was Richard Arthur Hould, had not one career but two in the movies after landing in San Francisco at the age of 12 (not 14 as stated in the photo). Between 1936 and 1942, he appeared in 16 movies as a juvenile, including playing young Scrooge in the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol. In his first films, he was billed as “Ra Hould” before taking his stage name.

After serving in World War II, Sinclair started editing films in 1955, working extensively with independent filmmaker Roger Corman. Beginning in the mid-1980s, he worked as a dialogue or ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) editor, working on the first two Die Hard movies among others, and continuing at this task on various projects until the year that he passed away.

It’s safe to say that Sinclair, or Hould as he then was, did achieve his dream of a film career. But he could not have imagined, as he was leaving the H.M.S. Makura in 1936, that one day he would be editing a film titled The Maltese Bippy.

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Paid off showgirl

Here’s a small article from the February 7 1946 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I couldn’t find anything on the Internet related to Beatrice “Bebe” Webb.

Adolph B. Spreckels Jr. (1911-1961) didn’t do anything in his lifetime to merit a Wikipedia page. I did find a page that informed me that he married six times and died two days short of his 50th birthday. He isn’t worth writing about – especially since, based on this evidence, he appears to have been a horrible person – but tracing his family yielded some interesting information.

The Spreckels sugar fortune was created by Claus Spreckels (1828-1908), who built up a sugar empire in Hawaii and California. His first-born son, John D. Spreckels (1853-1926), made his own fortune in transportation and real estate and has been credited with making San Diego what it is today.

John D’s brother, Adolph Spreckels (1857-1924), took over his father’s sugar company and gave birth to the Adolph Jr. of the article above before eventually succumbing to the syphilis that he had contracted as a young man. Along the way, he found time to shoot the co-founder of the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper when it accused his company of defrauding its shareholders. Apparently, Adolph is the origin of the term “sugar daddy”.

Film Actress Kay Williams (1916-1983), as she is referred to in this article, appeared in The Actress (1953), but had no other credited roles. After divorcing Adolph Jr., she rebounded successfully: she married Clark Gable. They remained married until he died of a heart attack in 1960; four months after his death, she gave birth to his only son.

Kay Williams and Adolph Jr.’s son, Bunker Spreckels (1949-1977), spent the first years of his young adulthood surfing in relative poverty in Hawaii. On his 21st birthday, he inherited $50 million, and proceeded to live a life of sex, drugs, surfing, and random material pleasures in various parts of the world. He died of a drug overdose. This article provides more details on his life.

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Meet me at Muirheads

Here’s an ad from the February 7 1946 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a chain of downtown cafeterias:

I looked Muirheads up in the Toronto city directories. In 1946, there were Muirhead’s Cafeterias listed at 38-40 Adelaide West, 200 Bay, and 225 Yonge. Moving forward in time:

  • By 1951, the 225 Yonge location had moved to 67 Richmond West. 225 Yonge became the Silver Rail Tavern.
  • By 1956, the 200 Bay location was gone – Muirhead’s was still at 38 Adelaide West and 67 Richmond West. Here’s a photograph of the 200 Bay location.
  • By 1961, the 67 Richmond West location was the only one remaining. It last appeared in the 1963 directory.

I also traced Muirhead’s cafeterias and restaurants back. There is a reference to a Muirhead’s restaurant, run by one R. J. Muirhead, at 99 Yonge in 1918. It wasn’t in the 1915 directory. Checking at five-year intervals:

  • 1920: still at 99 Yonge
  • 1925: now at 14 Queen East and 83 Yonge
  • 1930: 200 Bay, 83 Yonge, 14-16 Queen East, 38-42 Adelaide West – by now, Mr. Muirhead was not running the establishment, and he was not listed in the directory. The 1928 directory lists Mr. Muirhead as president of one of the restaurants with “(California)” next to his name, so I guess he sold out and moved west.
  • 1935: 38-40 Adelaide West, 198-200 Bay, 225 Yonge
  • 1940: same as 1935.

There are a number of photos and postcards of Muirhead’s on the Internet. The Vintage Toronto Facebook group has a photograph of the Muirhead’s Cafeteria at 83 Yonge; the post claims that the photo is from 1910, but the directory listings above date it to between 1920 and 1935.

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Must use rear door

The February 7 1946 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this brief article about a property dispute in Leaside:

I looked up the 1948 Toronto city directory, as I figured that the building would be built by then, and it was: the Leaside Press was listed at 219 Randolph Road, with Arthur E. Donahue as its proprietor. I was curious as to whether the building wound up being built with its entrance at the side or the back, but Google Street View revealed that the building is long since gone – there are now condominiums on the corner of Randolph and McRae. The west side of Randolph Road does appear to be completely residential, though.

The Leaside Press changed its name to the Leaside Advertiser in 1950. The latest directory that I can access online, the 1969 directory, still listed the Leaside Advertiser at 219 Randolph, with Mr. Donahue still in charge. This 2013 page from the Toronto Public Library states that the Leaside Advertiser remained in existence until about 1999.

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Dreams come true

In Toronto, there was a housing shortage after the Second World War; a young couple looking for a place to live faced stiff competition, especially if they had a child. The February 7 1946 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had a photo and an article about a young family that had won out over 1600 other applicants to land a place to live in the Balmy Beach district of Toronto.

I looked Bill Bessey up in the Toronto city directories. The 1946 directory listed him as living at 127 Lawrence Avenue West with his father, Norman. The 1947 directory lists him at his new home, 2158A Queen East. The apartment was above Queen Radio and Refrigeration Limited, whose proprietor was David G. Harcourt, the landlord pictured in this photo.

Bessey and his family remained at 2158A Queen East for about five years: he is listed in the 1951 directory, but not the 1952 directory. Presumably, his announcer duties moved him somewhere outside of Toronto.

Bessey remained a CBC staff announcer into the 1960s. At one time, he hosted a Saturday morning country music television show, Cousin Bill. This was despite his only ever having been on a ranch once in his life, when filming the intro for his show. References to Bessey and Cousin Bill can be found here, here, and here, among others.

The building that contains 2158A Queen East still stands. By 1956, Queen Radio and Refrigeration had moved from 2158 Queen East to 1576 and 1580 Kingston Road in Scarborough, between Warden and Birchmount in the Birchcliff neighbourhood. The company was still at 1580 Kingston Road in 1961 as Queen Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, with D. G. Harcourt still as its proprietor; I didn’t trace it or him after that.

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The youngest competitor

Here’s another picture from the photo section of the February 7 1946 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I don’t know whether this was an old file photo or whether the caption had his age wrong, but Arturo Pomar Salamanca (1931-2016) was actually 14, not 12, at the time that this edition of the Daily Star came out. In 1944, when he was 13, Pomar drew a game with reigning chess world champion Alexander Alekhine; he remains the youngest player ever to draw against a world champion.

Pomar went on to have a long career in chess, though he never challenged for the world championship. He competed for Spain in the Chess Olympiad from 1958 to 1980.

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Busiest girl of the year

Ever since it was possible to print photos in newspapers, pictures of attractive women (and men) have often appeared prominently. For example, there’s this photo from the February 7 1946 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Alexis Smith (1921-1993) spent only the first year of her life in British Columbia – her family moved to Los Angeles, and she became an American citizen in 1939 when her parents became naturalized citizens. She had an extensive film, stage, and television career that lasted up until 1990, when she played Lady Jessica Farlow Montford on four episodes of Dallas. She won a Tony award in 1972 for her work in the musical Follies.

She was fortunate enough to have a celebrity marriage that lasted – she and actor Craig Stevens married in 1944 and remained together until her death. Stevens, the star of the TV series Peter Gunn from 1958 to 1961, was born Gail Shikles, Jr., so you can’t really blame him for taking a stage name.

By the way, Wikipedia lists Ms. Smith as appearing in only four pictures in 1945, not eight as stated in the photo caption above. But, considering that her co-stars included Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, and Jack Benny, it’s safe to say that she had a pretty good year.

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Heads tailors’ association

Here’s another photo of a man who received an honour significant enough to earn him his picture in the paper. This is from the February 4 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.

I’m thinking that it’s pretty cool to be elected the international president of anything. I wonder how many countries this involved?

When I looked R.L. Hewitt up in the 1935 Toronto city directory, I found that he had an establishment at 89 King West, and lived in one of the Nanton Court Apartments that ran between 7 and 19 Nanton Avenue. He remained at his King Street location up until at least 1950. The 1953 directory lists him at his home address with no occupation, and the 1954 directory does not list him.

It’s hard to tell from Google Street View, but it looks like the Nanton Court Apartments are still standing. 89 King West has, of course, long since been replaced by a large office tower.

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Medical officer

As I’ve often mentioned, I am fascinated by photos of people who have just been promoted to a new job. This one is from the February 4 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

As usual, out of curiosity, I looked Dr. Delamere up in the Toronto city directories. It turns out that Harold D. Delamere had found his niche in life when he was appointed Crown Life’s medical officer: he held the position for 25 years, as he was listed in this role in the 1960 directory. The 1961 and 1962 directories show him as at Crown Life, but no longer as medical officer; after that, he retired.

Unfortunately, he did not get to enjoy a long retirement. The 1963 and 1964 directories list him without an occupation, but the 1965 directory lists his widow.

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Medical column

A regular feature of Toronto Daily Star newspapers of the 1930s was a syndicated column from Royal S. Copeland, M.D. Here’s the beginning of his column from the February 4 1935 edition:

When Royal S. Copeland (1868-1938) wasn’t busy writing newspaper columns, he had a day job: he was a Senator from New York, a position he held from 1923 until his death. He graduated from medical school in 1889, becoming a homeopathic physician, and was the mayor of Ann Arbor, Michigan, from 1901 to 1903.

Before becoming a Senator, his most noteworthy achievement was becoming president of the New York City Board of Health in 1918. He was given credit for keeping the city calm during the influenza pandemic, and introduced the concept of air conditioning to the Senate while he was there. He reportedly passed away due to overwork following a longer than usual Senate session.