“All Rise! Hollywood & the Herald Go to Court,” an exhibit at Central Library explores two types of stories the Los Angeles Herald loved to cover – celebrity and scandal, which were frequently merged in courts of law and documented with photographs.
The Los Angeles Herald, a daily newspaper, was published in one form or another for well over one hundred years. During the American film industry’s “golden age,” the newspaper’s reporters and photographers were always at the courthouse to cover the glamorous movie stars who frequently appeared for a host of reasons. Cases involving paternity, child custody, adoption, copyright infringement, divorce, studio battles, assault, manslaughter, and murder were all of interest to the Herald and its readers.
In the early 1990s, the Los Angeles Public Library acquired the "photo morgue" from the Los Angeles Herald whose photos span from the 1920s-1962 along with the images from the merged Los Angeles Herald Examiner (1962-1989). Just a brief dip into this treasure trove of approximately 2.2 million photos quickly reveals how much the paper loved local celebrity court cases.
Of course, the brighter stars and bigger scandals were always favored by the newspaper who gave ample space to Charlie Chaplin, Errol Flynn, or Lana Turner when they took the stand. However, lesser celebrities were also fair game and the Herald was more than happy to run a photo of Ann Dvorak's suing Warner Bros. or Maria Montez drafting an astrological chart for the judge.
Images of a bored Sally Rand yawning during her assault trial, or Elizabeth Taylor appearing in divorce court for the first of seven times may be viewed with a degree of humor, though it's also important to acknowledge the gravity in the photos as well. Roscoe Arbuckle's career was destroyed by the murder allegations that he was eventually acquitted of, and the sight of Busby Berkeley being wheeled into a courtroom on a stretcher may initially seem absurd, but his injuries were sustained in an automobile accident that killed three people.
Of course, it’s ok to chuckle at Maria Montez's astrological chart. The Herald would probably agree.
“All Rise! Hollywood & the Herald Go to Court” will on display in the Central Library History & Genealogy Department until June 30, 2014.