Friday, May 29, 2020

Laurel Canyon Docuseries

Another Epix offering. A docuseries beginning Sunday, May 31.

Laurel Canyon

'Laurel Canyon': Mamas and the Papas singer on the 'very big highs and lows' of '60s music scene
Patrick Ryan
USA TODAY/ May 29 2020

Original Article

Imagine living right down the street from Joni Mitchell, The Byrds and Modern Folk Quartet.

Those were just a few of Michelle Phillips' famous neighbors in Los Angeles' Laurel Canyon in the late 1960s and early '70s, where she co-founded folk group The Mamas and the Papas with then-husband John Phillips, Denny Doherty and Cass Elliot.

"Cass had an open-door policy – anybody could swing by her place any time," Phillips says. "They'd smoke a joint, drink some wine and play their guitars. That's how she got Crosby, Stills & Nash together: She heard them all singing (separately) and said, 'You guys should sing together.' And that's how that happened."

The Mamas and the Papas members Michelle Phillips, left, and Cass Elliot, in a still from Epix documentary "Laurel Canyon."
The musical renaissance that sprung out of this idyllic mountainside neighborhood is the subject of two-part docuseries "Laurel Canyon," premiering on Epix Sunday (9 EDT/PDT) and concluding June 7. The documentary paints an intimate portrait of the friendships, love affairs, collaborations – and sometimes all three – that defined this place and time.

More:'David Crosby: Remember My Name' reveals a musician trapped in his own kind of hell

Graham Nash, for instance, wrote the wistful "Our House" at Mitchell's Laurel Canyon home, which the then-couple shared. The Doors were the house band at nearby nightclub Whiskey A Go Go before they hit big, and Peter Tork was roommates with Stephen Stills pre-The Monkees fame. (In fact, it was Stills who helped get him the gig.)

"What was so unique about Laurel Canyon at that time was just how many of the artists who were there became really influential musicians – it's the music of our lives even still to this day," director Alison Ellwood says. "It was a really fun process of discovery, finding the myriad ways these artists connected and interacted with each other."

Joni Mitchell, left, and Graham Nash, who dated from 1968 to 1970.

The docuseries features a slew of new interviews with artists who called the community home, including Jackson Browne, Don Henley, Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt. It also features never-before-seen images from photographers Henry Diltz and Nurit Wilde, and home footage and recordings from some musicians' personal archives.

Phillips, now the last-living member of The Mamas and the Papas, is featured prominently throughout the documentary. She recalls the night John woke her up to write the band's now-signature hit "California Dreamin'," which came to him in his sleep. She also gets candid about their tumultuous relationship, when he temporarily kicked her out of the group shortly after they separated, upon learning she was dating The Byrds' Gene Clark.

"It was a really fun time, but all very dramatic, with very big highs and lows," says Phillips, 75, who transitioned into acting in the early '70s.

She prefers not to discuss Charles Manson, an aspiring rocker-turned-cult leader who attended at least one party at Elliot's house before orchestrating the murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others in 1969. ("Even after all this time, it just makes me want to cry," Phillips says.) The singer gets similarly emotional talking about Elliot, fondly known as "Mama Cass," who died of heart failure in 1974 at just 32.

"It was a huge loss for everybody," Phillips says. "She had such a stage presence. So funny and quick on her feet. She always had the audience in the palm of her hand."

Joni Mitchell, left, and Cass Elliot. Mitchell's 1970 album "Ladies of the Canyon" was inspired by Laurel Canyon, a music mecca in the Hollywood Hills during the late '60s and '70s.

The Mamas and the Papas were together for only 2½ years, but left an indelible mark on folk music in a short amount of time. In addition to "California Dreamin'," which has been streamed nearly 240 million times on Spotify, they scored Top 5 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart including "Monday, Monday," "Creeque Alley" and "Dedicated to the One I Love." And in 1998, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"I would never have become a singer if it hadn't been for John," Phillips says. "Really, all I wanted to do was dress up in a cute cocktail dress, put my hair up, drink a Brandy Alexander, have a Marlboro, and be the bandleader's girlfriend. That's what I thought I had in front of me."

Monday, May 25, 2020

Jake's Saloon Lone Pine

Lone Pine is located in the Owens Valley, Inyo County.  It's about 15 miles south of Independence where Manson and the others were jailed after the Barker Ranch raids.

According to this article Susan Atkins was taken to the sheriff's station in Lone Pine and questioned for the murder of Gary Hinman.

Lone Pine is also where the blog has visited and stayed while on tour.  It's a thriving desert town with good hotels, great food, The Museum of Western Film History and Jake's Saloon, a place we never miss visiting.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of movies have been filmed in and around Lone Pine.  Even the plot of Roman Polanski's film Chinatown had its roots in the Owens Valley.

Los Angeles Times
May 21 2020

Pulling Dollars Off the Wall

The shutdown hammered towns in the Owens Valley, but one Lone Pine bar owner found some cash within reach

JAKE’S SALOON owners Forrest and Sherri Newman chat inside the Lone Pine bar. “The lockdown hit us like a tornado,” said Sherri. “I felt hopeless and lost, wondering how on Earth we could pay the bills.” (Photographs by Brian van der Brug Los Angeles Times) SHERRI NEWMAN and employees took the dollars off the walls, but she kept some, including the one commemorating the death of her father.

By Louis Sahagun reporting from bishop, calif.

This is a time of year that many rural towns in the Owens Valley usually celebrate — rodeo and fishing season.
Normally, tourists from Southern California would be swarming into the eastern Sierra Nevada range, streaming into Old West facades and making cash registers sing.

But the deadly virus that locals have come to call “The Big Weird” has changed all that.

Today, the towns of Lone Pine, Independence, Big Pine and Bishop are silent except for the rumbling of passing trucks on U.S. Highway 395. Nearly everything is closed: tackle shops, art galleries, restaurants and saloons with swinging doors.

Two of the biggest social events of the year — Mule Days and the California high school state rodeo finals — were canceled. The annual ritual known as “Fishmas,” opening day for trout fishing, was pushed back a month to May 31.

In a landscape of stunning contrasts — blue-ribbon trout streams, meadows resplendent with wild iris, cattle ranches and desert plains flanked by lava flows — there is no camping, no rock climbing, and no bagging 14,505-foot Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous U.S., because the road that hikers use to reach the trailhead is closed.

When it comes to containing the coronavirus, Inyo County is a success story: 19 cases and one death reported in an 18,000-square-mile district that is home to 17,000 people.

But Inyo County is also a place where that seemingly good news threatens to upset the symbiotic relationship between its isolated towns and tourism.

“We haven’t had a new case reported in 31 days,” said Leslie Chapman, assistant county administrator. “But when the economy reopens, our tourists will be coming from coronavirus hot spots.

“That’s scary,” she added, “and weird.”

Inyo is also a place where the concept of essential business is, as county Supervisor Dan Totheroh put it, “bogus.”

“Food, medicine and guns, for example, are classified as essential,” he said. “So, if you have any of those things in your store, you can remain open.”

Confusing guidance from officials on what counts as safe in towns with economies based almost entirely on tourism has triggered complaints that the lockdown is not justified in Inyo County. At the same time, business owners are under the gun to repay the bank loans they took out when it seemed the boom times would never end.

“The painful lesson in all this,” Inyo County Supervisor Matt Kingsley said, “is that we should be diversifying because the tourism-based economy is not as stable as we had come to believe over the decades.”

‘But here’s the good part of my story’

The Owens Valley is a place where, if there is a common attitude, it is one of survival.
It recently inspired Sherri Newman to discover an answer to her financial problems stapled to the walls of Jake’s Saloon, a century-old hangout for fishermen, ranchers, mountain climbers, skiers and environmentalists in Lone Pine, a hamlet of 2,200 residents about 180 miles north of Los Angeles.
“The lockdown hit us like a tornado,” recalled Newman, 57, who owns the business with her husband. “I felt hopeless and lost, wondering how on Earth we could pay the bills and keep staff on the payroll.”

“But here’s the good part of my story,” she added, leaning forward and placing her hands flat on the bar. “I remembered the thousands of one-dollar bills that customers have stapled to the walls over the decades.”

“I asked a few employees and girlfriends to help take them down,” she said with a smile. “It took two full days to finish the job.”

“Split five ways, we each got about $500,” she said. “That includes a woman who had lost two jobs because of the pandemic, a woman with a mother in hospice care, and a mother of three small children going through a divorce. There was also a single dad who needed the cash.

 SHERRI NEWMAN and employees took the dollars off the walls, but she kept some, including the one commemorating the death of her father.

“Now,” she added, “our goal is to hang on to the place through summer.”

$10 for a large sack of popcorn

Three months after the pandemic darkened movie theaters across the nation, the 96-year-old Bishop Theatre on Main Street has been transformed into a popcorn to-go restaurant.

One side of the theater’s old-fashioned jutting marquee keeps spirits up with a moving message: “Here for you since 1924 — stay strong, Bishop.” The other side is strictly business: “Grab and go fresh popcorn, Thursday through Saturday, 3 to 6 pm.”

Each day, dozens of supporters line up to exchange $10 for a large sack of popcorn as part of an effort to keep the theater from going under.

Inside, co-owner Holly Mullanix, who started working at the snack bar in 1983, presides over the popcorn machine that she said “keeps us in people’s minds and enables us to keep a few employees on the payroll.”

“It also helps pay a mortgage on the property and repay a major loan taken out to remodel the place,” added Mullinax, nodding appreciatively toward the lobby’s dark wood paneling and marble floors and countertops.

Under emergency regulations adopted during the pandemic, all nonessential businesses including movie theaters were ordered to cease operations. Newman’s sideline is exempt, she said, because it provides “an essential food supply,” in this case, popcorn — with butter upon request.

The situation is “weird and not fair to people like me,” grumbled Mark McClean, who runs a consignment shop across the street and was recently slapped with an 18-page formal warning to close his front doors or risk civil and criminal enforcement actions.

But it’s not just the movie theater, added McClean, 65, leaning back in a chair in front of the wide-open doors of his shop, surrounded by colorful patriotic imagery including wooden pallets painted to resemble American flags. A large store sign that says “Open” dangled over his head.

A nearby hardware store was enjoying booming sales of gardening equipment and plants, he said. Two doors down, a camera store was open for business.

“If they want to try and arrest me, I’m ready,” he said. “As I explained to the police, my shop is closed. But I keep the front doors open because I like fresh air. Orders can be made legally online, with curbside deliveries handled in the alley behind the shop.”

Impact of the lockdown is huge

Squeezed between the Sierra range and the less lofty coffee-colored White Mountains to the east, the towns of the Owens Valley have existed as colonies of sorts since the early 1900s, when Los Angeles began pumping so much local water into its aqueduct system that it became impossible for farmers and ranchers to make a living. The scheme was dramatized in the classic 1974 film “Chinatown.”
Yet, a regional economy took root, and today it is heavily dependent on gasoline, occupancy and property taxes paid by the city and millions of northbound travelers along U.S. 395 throughout the year.

The potential impact of the lockdown on revenue generated by those taxes is huge in a county where they account for a large portion of its discretionary revenue.

“We’ll get through this,” said Clint Quilter, county administrative officer. “But it’s going to take some belt tightening.”

Some pictures of the bloggers hard on the job at Jake's Saloon.

St. Circumstance

Panamint Patty 

Matt, Stoner Van Houten and Jon Aes-Nihil

Friday, May 22, 2020

‘Helter Skelter’: See First Trailer for Epix’s Manson Family Docuseries

Six-part series, premiering June 14th, promises "most definitive recounting of the Manson Family story ever put on screen"

More than 50 years after the Manson Family murders, Epix will take a deep dive into Charles Manson's infamous cult with Helter Skelter: An American Myth.

The six-part docuseries premieres June 14th, and ahead of Helter Skelter's arrival, Rolling Stone presents the series' first trailer, which mixes archival footage, Manson's own testimonials, never-before-accessed interviews with the Family and chilling recreations.

"I was definitely under Charlie's spell," one Family member admits in voiceover, while another adds, "He was a puppet master pulling everyone's strings."

"The legend of the Manson Family permeates our culture, our media and our collective fears," Epix said of the series in a statement. "Why, after 50 years, does this ragtag group of hippies and their two-night murder spree still fascinate and perplex us?  The six-episode EPIX original series Helter Skelter: An American Myth is the most definitive recounting of the Manson Family story ever put on screen, and will challenge everything viewers think they know about this bizarre chapter in American history."

Link to original article

Monday, May 18, 2020

Fountain of the World and the Family

Here's a follow up to the previous post on the Fountain of the World.  The article was written soon after the arrests of Charles Manson and the others for the Tate LaBianca murders.

Retreat Provided Food, Sanctuary

By Bill Milton

San Fernando Valley Times
December 11 1969

The bizarre Tate-LaBianca-Hinman murder cases took another macabre twist when it was revealed today that members of the accused “Manson Family” frequented and sometimes took refuge in a religious cult retreat with a violence scarred past.

A frightened teen-aged girl, her mother and an aging “sister”, who all live at the Fountain of the World commune in Box Canyon, confirmed information that accused murderer Charles Miller (sic) Manson and members of his hippie hate cult “several times” visited at the retreat.

Mrs. Ann Todd, her daughter, Virginia, 17, and Sister Nekona, an elder of the commune, recalled how they met Manson and his followers.

In an exclusive interview with a team of reporters and photographers from this newspaper at the Fountain it was further learned that several of the girls from the “family,” including Susan Denise Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and possibly Linda Kasabian and another girl, had sought sanctuary in the retreat shortly after the Tate and LaBianca murders in August.

Det. Lt. Robert Helder, key figure in the LAPD murder probes, told Hollywood Citizen News- Valley Times that investigators knew of the Manson Clan’s visits to the Fountain.  He described an “inner circle” of followers who are alleged to be the perpetrators of the thefts, auto thefts and ultimately murder, but he said the group sometimes numbered as high as 60 persons while in the Chatsworth area.

The secluded Fountain community is tucked away in a tree-shrouded roadside deep in the rocky, boulder strewn Box Canyon about eight miles from the Spahn Ranch where the hippie marauders made their home for almost a year.  The area is pretty sparsely settled.

The Fountain, which now houses 15 men, women and children, was the scene of a dynamite explosion Dec. 10, 1958, which killed “Krishna Venta,” self-proclaimed Messiah and founder of the cult, and nine of his followers.  The two cult members who assertedly detonated 40 sticks of dynamite were among those killed in the blast and fire, according to Merle Hollis, chief criminal deputy for Ventura County, who headed the investigation of the grisly event.

“Sister Nekona” and Mrs. Ann Tod described Manson and several of his followers as “friendly and polite” during their many visits.  They said on several occasions they gave them food and sometimes shelter for the girls and that they ate with the Fountain members a few times in the communal dining hall and worship area.

Mrs. Todd reported that on “two or three” occasions Manson and some of the girls took part in the commune’s Saturday night skits and musical shows.

“Charlie would sing and play his guitar for us and the girls would sing and harmonize.  I complimented them one time because they did sing so beautifully together,” said Mrs. Todd.

Both women say they had no reason to fear them at that time but Mrs. Todd confided that she was “very leery of them” and that since the story of the murders have come to light, she is “afraid for herself and the lives of her children.”

Her fears are based on rumors that remnants of the clan are still in the area.  Deputies and police are again combing the community for additional suspects in the mass murders.

Seventeen-year-old Virginia Todd, who has lived at the Fountain with her mother and younger sister Cornelia, 9, for eight years, was more vocal in expressing her fears of the group.

“I didn’t like him (Charles Manson) the first time I saw him.  He was always staring at me and kept asking me to come with him into his bus and hear him play the guitar.  I was really scared of him,” said the girl.  She referred to the green and white school bus in which Manson and several of the girls arrived at the retreat and lived in for a time.

On several points Mrs. Todd and her daughter disagreed.  Mrs. Todd said the bus stayed near the retreat for only “a few days” but Virginia was sure the bus was there “for a couple of months.”

Neither she nor Sister Nekona could theorize why Manson had come to the Fountain, whose members they say abhor violence and seek to embrace all religious faiths as being equal.  However, it is known Manson studied mysticism in prison and referred to himself as “Jesus” and “Satan.”  Virginia Tod said that some of the group referred to him as “Charlie the Guru” and “Heavenly Father” on several occasions.

Mrs. Todd again affirmed her opinion that despite her fears she considered the group “friendly” but with Virginia’s help she was able to recall an incident in which “Katie” (an alias used by Miss Atkins) called her and two other women “pigs.”

(The words “pig” and “piggy” figured prominently in the murders of musician Gary Hinman, who befriended Manson, the Sharon Tate slayings and the death of Leno LaBianca and his wife.  Miss Atkins is charged with the murder of Hinman.  A girl now in custody also told police that Manson directed his followers to go to the Benedict Canyon home of Miss Tate and eradicate the “pigs.”)

“I think it was in September or maybe August when it happened.  ‘Sadie’ (Miss Atkins) and three other girls came to the main hall of the Fountain and said they were going to stay here,” said Mrs. Todd.

“Sister Muriel, Sister Barbara and myself told them that they could not stay here.  And Sadie said that had ‘been told to come here’ or that ‘they had been sent here’ and they refused to leave.  We told her again that she could not stay and would have to leave the private premises,” continued Mrs. Todd.

She explained that the Fountain is a humanitarian group and that when Manson and the others first arrived in October or November 1968, they had helped them.  “They were just dirty, nasty looking people.  They looked like they needed a bath and some clean clothes and we did not mind helping them,” she said.

But she related at the time of the return of the four girls they had read about the arrest of most of the Manson Family at Spahn Ranch on charges of auto theft.

“We will help people but we won’t harbor criminals.  It is against our rules and against the law and we had our children to consider,” said the worried mother.

After the second refusal of the girls to leave, Mrs. Todd said one of the Fountain members went across the road to the Ventura County Fire Department station and summoned a county sheriff to the retreat.  The group went up the hill and sat in their car, according to Mrs. Todd.

“It was when Sadie was sitting in the car that she said ‘Why you pigs’ and she began to sing a song about pigs,” said Mrs. Todd.

Virginia, who was also present at the incident and says that Miss Atkins “hated me,” said she told her mother and the other women, “You’re three pigs, you’re the worst pigs I have ever seen.”  She said that the deputy ordered them to leave and they departed.

The fears of Mrs. Todd go beyond concern for the members of the Fountain and her girls to her missing son.  Hugh “Rocky” Todd, 15, has been gone since Oct. 1 and his mother fears that he may have joined with the Manson Family before they left.  His sister, Virginia, said the boy seemed to be infatuated with Katie (Miss Krenwinkel) and talked with her for long periods of time about horses and motorcycles.

Missing along with the boy were two knives which she said her brother always carried with him.  The girl said they were given to him by a man “with a long beard” who lived off and on at the Box Canyon commune.

While Manson professed to be a religious leader, Sister Nekona and Mrs. Todd said that he did not discuss the topic very much with any of their group.  Mrs. Tod remembered one instance when Manson observed her correcting one of the younger children and he assertedly told her, “Why correct a child.  A child knows what it is doing. You should let them do whatever they want to do.”

Virginia said most of the time the Family’s conversations were very confused and she felt they “were usually up on something.”   She related hearing a conversation in which Miss Atkins reportedly told another girl that “she hated killing anything, even an animal.”

Manson also made this announcement about his “philosophy.”  “Why fear anything?  Let Man do anything he wants to do or has the nerve to do.”

Both the mother and daughter said that Manson exerted a very strong influence over the group which they said also included Charles D. Watson, currently fighting extradition from Texas to face murder charges, and Paul Watkins, arrested for auto theft in the raid on Barker Ranch in Death Valley, where the clan assertedly lived following their departure from Spahn Movie Ranch in late August or early September.

“He was the Lord and Master and anything he said they did.  They never questioned him or argued with him,” said Mrs. Todd of the frail penetrating-eyed Manson, who is said to have had a hypnotic control over his followers.

They said that during the year that the clan was in the area they saw several men and women come and go.

Mrs. Todd told of a “Mary” who first arrived with Manson in the school bus and reportedly gave birth to a child on the bus.

Virginia told of a girl named Beau, whom she described as small and petite with brown hair and brown eyes.  The girl called Beau told Virginia that when she did something the group did not like they would stick long pins in her.

She told of Mary, a blond-haired attractive girl with a college education, and Stephanie, a tall girl with kinky white hair and a very bad complexion.  And also, of a woman about 30 who Virginia said was either an entertainer or “a prostitute.”

None of them recalls anyone but Manson and Watkins using last names.

Both the Todds said that they never heard any of the group mention the names Tate, Polanski, LaBianca, or Hinman but Virginia recalled one of the girls mentioning a “big rich home in Benedict Canyon.”

The Todd girl, who at one time attended Valley College, said also that she thought she recognized Terry Melcher, the son of Doris Day, as being with Manson on one occasion but she could not be absolutely sure.

Manson assertedly blamed Melcher for the failure of his songwriting career for the singing group known as the Beach Boys.  Melcher, who was visited many times by Manson, lived in the Benedict Canyon home before it was rented by Miss Tate.

Even now as the case progresses in the courts the residents of the Fountain of the World would like to forget the name Charles Manson or that they ever saw him and his band.  Mrs. Todd and her children live in fear.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Manson follower Van Houten seeks release from prison because of coronavirus risk

PUBLISHED: May 11, 2020 at 11:50 p.m. | UPDATED: May 12, 2020 at 5:55 p.m.

Los Angeles Daily News

Leslie Van Houten waits with her attorney Rich Pfeiffer before her parole board hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, at the California Institution for Women in Corona. Leslie Van Houten was the youngest of Charles Manson's followers to take part in one of the nation's most notorious killings (Stan Lim, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

Three female defendants in the Manson court case are shown, from left to right: Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, March 29, 1971 as they return to court to hear the penalty ending a nine-month trial in the Tate-LaBianca murders of August 1969. (AP Photo)

Van Houten is imprisoned at the California Institution for Women in Chino.

The motion to California's 2nd District Court of Appeal was submitted by Rich Pfeiffer, who had requested bail or release for his client, based on her age, in February. The court has not acted on that motion, Pfeiffer said.

"Today I learned that an inmate in Ms. Van Houten's housing unit tested positive for COVID 19 and she is presently being quarantined," Pfeiffer said. "Due to her advanced age, this puts Ms. Van Houten at a high risk."

Van Houten is 70.

Pfeiffer added "Ms. Van Houten is not opposed to home confinement… and she can arrange for all costs outside of prison."

Van Houten - who is serving a life prison term - was convicted of murder and conspiracy for participating with fellow Manson family members Charles "Tex" Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel in the August 1969 killings of grocer Leno LaBianca, 44, and his 38-year-old wife, Rosemary, who were each stabbed multiple times in their Los Feliz home.

The former Monrovia High School cheerleader did not participate in the Manson family's killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in a Benedict Canyon mansion the night before.

Van Houten has been recommended for parole three times, but those recommendations have all been reversed - twice by then-Gov. Jerry Brown and once in 2019 by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Van Houten is still a threat, Newsom said last year.

"While I commend Ms. Van Houten for her efforts at rehabilitation and acknowledge her youth at the time of the crimes, I am concerned about her role in these killings and her potential for future violence," he wrote in his decision. "Ms. Van Houten was an eager participant in the killing of the LaBiancas and played a significant role."


May 14 2020

Press-Enterprise  Riverside CA

LOS ANGELES — A state appeals court panel Wednesday rejected a bid to release former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten on her own recognizance or bail after an inmate in her prison housing unit tested positive for coronavirus.

Van Houten’s attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, wrote in a new motion filed Monday that his client is now 70 years old and that “her age makes her a very high risk to succumbing to this life-threatening pandemic” although she is in “relatively good health.”

He noted in the filing that an inmate in Van Houten’s housing unit tested positive for COVID-19 and is being quarantined. He wrote in the motion that Van Houten was “not opposed to home confinement” and that she can arrange for all costs outside of prison.

Van Houten is imprisoned at the California Institution for Women in Chino.

Van Houten has been recommended for parole three times, but those recommendations have all been reversed — twice by then-Gov. Jerry Brown and once in 2019 by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

In February, the defense had asked the panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal to speed up her appeal of Newsom’s decision.

Van Houten — who is serving a life prison term — was convicted of murder and conspiracy for participating with fellow Manson family members Charles “Tex” Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel in the August 1969 killings of grocer Leno La Bianca, 44, and his 38-year-old wife, Rosemary, who were each stabbed multiple times in their Los Feliz home.

The former Monrovia High School cheerleader did not participate in the Manson family’s killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in a Benedict Canyon mansion the night before.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Gresham Street House

A visual perspective of Gresham Street might be helpful when attempting to put things together that are related to the Manson Family.

We obtained some aerial photos of the Gresham Street house and its surroundings taken after the murders and, I believe, at the time Shorty’s car was found.  Mary Brunner was questioned on December 4, 1969 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin by Det. Sgt. Paul Whiteley.  She told Whiteley that Tex told her “they” had killed Shorty and ditched his car near the old Gresham Street address.  Law enforcement went to the Gresham Street address and located Shorty’s missing car rather quickly.  It was a stone’s throw from the old Gresham Street house.

Gresham Street was a dirt road back then.

A report dated 10-21-70 states the following:

The undersigned proceeded to the Gresham Street address and around the corner at 8864 Independence, the vehicle was observed, apparently abandoned due to heavy layers of dust and rain spots. A latent print deputy was called and Deputy P. Chamousie responded. The vehicle was impounded and dusted for prints which were lifted from a foot locker in the trunk and later identified as the palm prints of Bruce Davis. The vehicle contained numerous clothing, a foot locker with the name "Donald James Shea" and personal effects. The vehicle was impounded at the Calabasses Garage. This vehicle was registered to Barbara P. Enfield, 12121 LaMaida, North Hollywood, California. Miss Enfield was subsequently contacted by Deputy Guenther and stated she had sold the vehicle to Donald Jerome Shea approximately May 1969.

Here is a Google map of how the area looks today.  The address where the car was found, 8864 Independence Avenue is marked.  The Gresham Street house is no longer there and has been replaced by apartment buildings.  It also appears that the street has been re-numbered.  Gresham Street is only two blocks long.

As far as the report’s statement that Miss Enfield was contacted by Deputy Guenther, it didn’t happen.  Barbara Enfield died July 18, 1969.  However, Miss Enfield’s son, John, was contacted and stated that he was the person who sold his mother’s car to Shorty after her death.   As an aside, Barbara Enfield was an actress better known as Barbara Pepper.   

Now, here is the aerial photo of the area showing “Vance’s House”, an X with the initials LS house in black marking pen.  In blue ball point pen to the left of the other markings is another X and illegible letters which is where Shorty’s car was found.  The initials LS denote Lee Saunooke.

Here is another aerial, this time showing Vance’s house, marked with black marker in the center of the D in the watermark.  At the bottom of the photo is LS house, again denoting Lee Saunooke’s home.

The Gresham Street house had a main house in front, a much smaller house at the back of the property and a number of chicken coops in the yard with a large garage up front next to the main house.

More pictures of the house taken by law enforcement.

This is a photo of Shorty’s car where it was found.  Shorty’s car is not the VW bug!

These next two photos were in the San Fernando Valley Times, December 11, 1969.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Lance Victor RIP

Lance Victor was born Lee Arden Marlatt January 1, 1935 in Newcomerstown, Ohio to Arden and Ellen Marlatt.  Lance passed away April 28, 2020 in Rogue River, Oregon.

Lance's parents divorced when he was very young and along with his mother he moved to California.  They lived in various California towns before they settled down in Vallejo where Lance went to Vallejo High School and Vallejo Junior College.  Lance was not fond of his first name, Lee, because he was named after a paternal uncle that he just did not like.  He changed his first name to Lawrence and was known as Larry to his schoolmates.

While in junior college he joined the drama department and enjoyed acting in a number of plays during his first year.

Vallejo Junior College 1955 "Believe It Or Not"

Vallejo Junior College 1955 "Best Years"

Vallejo Jr, College 1955 "Mr. Roberts"

Around that time he and a buddy from school took a vacation down to Hollywood and Lance was hooked.  He wanted to finish up his classes and go back to Hollywood to see if he could make his way into the movies.

Lance appeared in about 30 different movies and television shows, mostly westerns, as a stuntman and an extra.  He, like Shorty Shea, never really made it to speaking roles and the big time but he had a great time trying to achieve his goal.

Lance met Shorty when both were working at Corriganville for the shows put on for the tourists that flocked to see some real live shoot 'em up action that was popular at the time.  He and Shorty were pals who not only worked together but played together, too.  They went drinking together, pulled pranks on each other and traded leads on upcoming film opportunities.  They were friends until the end of Shorty's life.

When Lance wasn't working on films he kept busy doing various jobs.  He was a driver for Loomis armored trucks mostly working nights to keep his options open during the day.  Another job  was with Johny Carpenter at Carpenter's Heaven on Earth Ranch.   Carpenter opened up a ranch near Griffith Park in the 40's and before long he found himself teaching blind and disabled persons how to ride horses, it became Carpenter's lasting legacy and it was a job that Lance found very satisfying.

Lance had some stories to tell, too, one is that he dated Barbara Lugosi, Bela Lugosi's daughter, for a few years.  He recalled the time when they first started dating, he went to pick her up at the home where she lived with her father, as he arrived she asked him to put his jacket in the hall closet.  When he opened the closet door, Bela was in the closet in a full Dracula costume and greeted Lance with "Gooood Evening!" in his best Dracula voice.  Lance said, "He scared the shit out of me!"

Barbara Lugosi, Lance, Crash's mom and Crash Corrigan on the Silvertown set at Corriganville

Lance had a son, his only child, born in 1960.  He and the mother apparently were not married.  When she gave birth she told Lance that the child died during or shortly after childbirth.  Naturally Lance was devastated.  What he didn't know was the his son did not die.  He found out about his son in 2007 when a friend showed Lance an obituary for the son that named him as the father.  His son had died after "a very long illness".  Again, Lance was devastated to learn this news.

Lance also had a half-sister, his father remarried and his sister was quite a bit younger than him.  They did not have a close relationship but did keep in touch over the years.

Lance was on the advisory board for the Hollywood Stuntman's Hall of Fame.

While I never personally met Lance I became acquainted with him through Edwin Colin who I helped research for the book "Charles Manson and the Killing of Shorty Shea."  Ed had written a book before the "Shorty" book about his time growing up at Corriganville where he first met Shorty.  A friend of Ed's told him of a guy he knew, who lived locally, that was a stuntman back in the same era as Shorty and he thought the guy knew Shorty.  An introduction was made and it turned out that guy was Lance.  The meeting couldn't have happened at a better time as we were just starting on the book.

Ed and Lance became fast friends, visiting often.  Lance was very generous with his stories about Shorty and made our book that much more interesting.  Without that introduction we probably would never known how to contact Lance because his true name has never been known.

Here are a few pictures of Lance in action on various film sets.  One of his later en devours was appearing on a couple of episodes of Star Trek!

If Lance had any regrets it would be that he never realized he lived a scant 15 minute drive from Ruby Pearl for about 10 years until her death in 2010.  While Lance never officially worked at Spahn Ranch he spent time there visiting with Ruby, George Spahn, Shorty and other ranch hands.

Lance leaves his long time companion Lynn as well as many friends and admirers.  He was a friend to all.  He was 85 years old, sharp in mind but his body just gave out, he had been ill for a few months before his passing.

Lance and Lynn