Friday, January 19, 2018

Talent Scout, Music Producer & Publisher Ralph Peer 1960 Forest Lawn Glendale Cemetery

Ralph Sylvester Peer (May 22, 1892 – January 19, 1960) was an American talent scout, recording engineer, record producer and music publisher in the 1920s and 1930s. Peer pioneered field recording of music when in June 1923 he took remote recording equipment south to Atlanta, Georgia to record regional music outside the recording studio in such places as hotel rooms, ballrooms, or empty warehouses.[1]


Peer, born in Independence, Missouri, spent some years working for Columbia Records, in Kansas City, Missouri, until 1920 when he was hired as recording director of General Phonograph's OKeh Records label in New York. In the same year he supervised the recording of Mamie Smith's "Crazy Blues," the first blues recording specifically aimed at the African-American market.[2] In 1924 he supervised the first commercial recording session in New Orleans, Louisiana, recording jazz, blues, and gospel music groups there.

He is also credited with what is often called the first country music recording, Fiddlin' John Carson's disc "Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane"/"That Old Hen Cackled and The Rooster's Goin' To Crow." 

In August 1927, while talent hunting in the southern states for the Victor Talking Machine Company, he recorded both Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family in the same session at a makeshift studio in Bristol, Tennessee, known as the Bristol sessions. This momentous event could be described as the genesis of country music as we know it today. Rodgers, who later became known as the Father Of Country Music, cut "The Soldier's Sweetheart" and "Sleep, Baby, Sleep," while the Carters' first sides (August 1, 1927) were: "Bury Me under the Weeping Willow," "Single Girl, Married Girl," "The Poor Orphan Child," and "The Storms Are on the Ocean."[3] In July 1929, he recorded female country singer Billie Maxwell.[4]

In his autobiography,[5] Nathaniel Shilkret, Manager of the Victor Talking Machine Company's Foreign Department from about 1920 through 1926 and then Director of Light Music until 1933, notes that about a year after he hired Peer, Peer asked for a raise, which Shilkret approved. Shilkret comments on Peer's business acumen in making a very profitable trade for this raise: "[Victor executive] Walter Clark met Peer, who sold Clark an idea. No raise, but a royalty of one cent per record side that he would divide with the artist.... When I heard of this I was stunned. No one on the musical staff had been offered royalty for his arrangements or compositions, and here was a man collecting royalties with other men's compositions!"

Peer went on to publish and record other country and jazz artists and songs through his company Southern Music Publishing Company. Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and Count Basie were on Southern's roster. Then into popular music with songs such as Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell's "Georgia On My Mind."

The company became influential in the 1930s, and success came through Peer's introducing Central American music to the world. In 1940 there was a major development when a dispute between the copyright organization American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and US radio stations led to the inauguration of the rival Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI). BMI supported music by blues, country and hillbilly artists, and Peer, through his Peer-International company, soon contributed a major part of BMI's catalogue.

During and after World War II Peer published songs such as "Deep In The Heart Of Texas" and "You Are My Sunshine" (sung by Jimmie Davis, covered by Bing Crosby and many others), "Humpty Dumpty Heart" (Glenn Miller), "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You" (Russ Morgan), "The Three Caballeros" ( Andrews Sisters), "Say A Prayer For The Boys Over There" (Deanna Durbin), "I Should Care" and "The Coffee Song" (both Frank Sinatra). In 1945, he published Jean Villard Gilles and Bert Reisfeld's composition "Les trois cloches" ("The Three Bells"), which was recorded by The Browns.

In the 1950s, Peer published "Mockingbird Hill," a million seller for Patti Page, "Sway" ( Dean Martin and Bobby Rydell), and the novelty "I Know An Old Lady" (Burl Ives). Then came rock 'n' roll and Southern published hits by Buddy Holly, Little Richard, The Big Bopper and The Platters.

Starting in the late 1940s, he took an avid interest in horticulture, growing, and becoming an expert on, camellias. 

His widow, Monique Iversen Peer became president of his company, then called the Peer-Southern Organization. 

Their son, Ralph Peer, II joined the firm in the late 1960s and became CEO in 1980.[6]

Ralph Peer died in Hollywood, California on January 19, 1960. He is buried at Forest Lawn Glendale Cemetery


Peer was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1984.


Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music, by Barry Mazor (Chicago Review Press) was published in November 2014.


1. Palmer, Robert (1981). Deep Blues. Penguin Books Ltd.: Middlesex, Eng. p. 109. ISBN 0-14-006223-8.
2. Russell, Tony, The Blues From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray, 1997, Carlton Books, p. 20, ISBN 1-85868-255-X
3. "Carter Family (Vocal group) - Discography of American Historical Recordings."
4. Wolfe, Charles K. (2002). Classic Country: Legends of Country Music. Routledge. p. 262. ISBN 9781135957346.
5. Shilkret, Nathaniel, ed. Shell, Niel and Barbara Shilkret, Nathaniel Shilkret: Sixty Years in the Music Business, Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Maryland, 2005, pp. 72–73. ISBN 0-8108-5128-8
6. "Peer Music : About Us."

Monday, January 15, 2018

Former Slave & Pioneer Biddy Mason 1891 Evergreen Cemetery

Bridget "Biddy" Mason (August 15, 1818 – January 15, 1891) was an African-American nurse and a Californian real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist. She is the founder of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, California. She was born in Hancock County, Georgia.[1]

Early life

Biddy Mason was born into slavery on August 15, 1818, in Hancock County, Georgia.[1] She was given the name Bridget with no surname and was later nicknamed Biddy. Bridget was given to Robert Smith and his bride as a wedding present. After the wedding, Smith took his new wife to Mississippi and moved his slaves there.

Missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) proselytized in Mississippi. They taught Smith and his family and they converted. Slaves were not baptized in the church as a matter of policy. Members were encouraged to free their slaves, but Smith chose not to do so.

Moving west

The Smith household joined a group of other church members from Mississippi to meet the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1847. The group traveled to Pueblo, Colorado, and joined up with the sick detachment from the Mormon Battalion.[2] They later joined the main body of Mormons crossing the plains and settled in the Salt Lake Valley, Utah Territory.

Drawing of San Bernardino, 1852, 
where she was illegally held captive in a Mormon settlement


Church leader Brigham Young sent a group of Mormons to Southern California in 1851. Robert Smith, his family, and his slaves joined them in San Bernardino, California, sometime later. Bridget was among a large group of slaves in the San Bernardino settlement.[3] As part of the Compromise of 1850, California was admitted as a free state and any slave who resided in the state or was born in the state was free. Bridget had lived in California for four years and some of the other slaves had been born in California, so they were covered by the law.[4] Bridget wanted to be free,[4] but was under the control of Robert Smith and ignorant of the laws and her rights.[5]

In 1856, Smith decided to move to the slave state of Texas and sell his slaves there. He told his slaves that they would be free in Texas, but Bridget did not believe him. She did not want to go to Texas and was worried she would be separated from her children like she was from her mother.[4]

Bridget, helped by friends, attempted to escape from Smith. She and a group of Smith's other slaves traveled towards Los Angeles before Smith caught up with them. He took her and the other slaves and camped in canyon near Santa Monica. One of his slaves, Hannah, was having a baby which made it difficult to travel. Lizzy Flake Rowan, who had also been kept in slavery with Biddy in San Bernardino but had since been set free, told Frank Dewitt, the sheriff of Los Angeles county, of Smith's plans (David W. Alexander was actually the sheriff of Los Angeles). He issued a writ of habeas corpus and sent a local posse, who caught up with Smith and took the slaves into protective custody.[6]

Bridget petitioned a Los Angeles court for her freedom. Smith claimed that Bridget was her family and she wanted to go to Texas.[7] He then bribed her lawyer to not show up.[4] She was not allowed to testify in court, since California law prohibited black people from testifying against white people. The judge presiding over the case, Benjamin Ignatius Hayes, interviewed Bridget and found she did not want to go to Texas and granted her freedom as a resident of a free state,[8] as well as the freedom of the other slaves held captive by Smith (Bridget's three daughters—Ellen, Ann, and Harriet—and ten other African-American women and children). In 1860, Mason received a certified copy of the document that guaranteed her freedom.[9]

Bridget had no legal last name as a slave. After emancipation, she chose to be known as Bridget Biddy Mason. Bridget's surname, Mason, came from the middle name of Amasa Lyman, who was the mayor of San Bernadino and a Mormon Apostle; the Lyman household being one with which Bridget had spent a considerable amount of time.

Los Angeles

After becoming free, she worked in Los Angeles as a nurse and midwife. One of her employers was the noted physician John Strother Griffin. Saving carefully, she was one of the first African Americans to purchase land in the city. As a businesswoman, she amassed a relatively large fortune of nearly $300,000, which she shared generously with charities. Mason also fed and sheltered the poor, and visited prisoners. She was instrumental in founding a traveler's aid center, and an elementary school for black children. Because of her kind and giving spirit, many called her "Auntie Mason" or "Grandma Mason."

In 1872, Mason was a founding member of First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles, the city's first black church. The organizing meetings were held in her home on Spring Street. She donated the land on which the church was built. This land is now the site of Biddy Mason Park, a Los Angeles city park and site of an art installation describing her life.[10][11]

Mason spoke fluent Spanish and was a well-known figure in the city. She dined on occasion at the home of Pio Pico, the last governor of Alta California and a wealthy Los Angeles land owner.[12]

Death and posthumous honors

After Mason's death on January 15, 1891, she was buried in an unmarked grave in Evergreen Cemetery in the neighborhood now known as Boyle Heights. On March 27, 1988, in a ceremony attended by the mayor of Los Angeles and members of the church she founded, the grave was marked with a tombstone.[13]

Mason is an honoree in the California Social Work Hall of Distinction. She was also celebrated on Biddy Mason Day on November 16, 1989.[14] One of artist Sheila Levrant de Bretteville's best-known pieces is "Biddy Mason's Place: A Passage of Time,”[15] an 82-foot concrete wall with embedded objects in downtown Los Angeles (near where Mason lived) that tells the story of Mason's life.[16]


1. Hayden, Dolores (1995). The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History. MIT Press. p. 274. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 1860 Census lists Mississippi, but 1870 and 1880 list Georgia as well as her LA Times obituary
2. "The Forgotten Pioneers". Part In Norma B. Ricketts, Crossroads, Vol. 8, No. 2 and 3 (Spring/Summer 1997).
3. "The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star, Volume 17". p. 63. Most of those who take slaves there pass over with them in a little while to San Bernardino... How many slaves are now held there they could not say, but the number relatively was by no means small. A single person had taken between forty and fifty, and many had gone in with smaller numbers.
4. Camille Gavin (2007). Biddy Mason: A Place of Her Own. America Star Books.
5. Benjamin Hayes. "Mason v. Smith". none of the said persons of color can read and write, and are almost entirely ignorant of the laws of the state of California as well as those of the State of Texas, and of their rights
6. Delilah Leontium Beasley (1919). The Negro Trail Blazers of California: A Compilation of Records from the California Archives in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, in Berkeley; and from the Diaries, Old Papers, and Conversations of Old Pioneers in the State of California. Times Mirror printing and binding house. p. 90.
7. Honey M. Newton, CNM. Zion's Hope: Pioneer Midwives and Women Doctors in Utah.
8. Mason v. Smith. "The Bridget 'Biddy' Mason Case" (1856).
9. Reiter, Joan S. (1978), The Old West: The Women, p. 213. Time-Life Books.
10. "Biddy Mason Park - Downtown Los Angeles Walking Tour". University of Southern California. 
11. "Biddy Mason Park - the city project". UCLA - Remapping-LA. Archived from the original on 16 April 2014. 
12. "African-Americans and the Early Pueblo of Los Angeles". City of Los Angeles. 2011. Archived from the original on 2013-04-04. 
13. Greenstein, Albert (1999). "Bridget "Biddy" Mason". The Historical Society of Southern California. Archived from the original on 3 March 2013. 
14. "From Slavery to Entrepreneur, Biddy Mason". African American Registry. Thursday, November 16, 1989 was declared Biddy Mason Day and a memorial of her achievements was unveiled at the Broadway Spring Center located between Spring Street and Broadway at Third Street in Los Angeles.
15. "Betye Saar, "Biddy Mason: A Passage of Time" and "Biddy Mason: House of the Open Hand"; Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, "Biddy Mason: Time and Place", Los Angeles". 
16. "Brooklyn Museum on Biddy Mason: Time and Place


Bolden, Tonya. (1996). The Book of African-American Women: 150 Crusaders, Creators, and Uplifters, Adams Media Corporation
Mungen, Donna. (1976). The Life and Times of Biddy Mason
Reiter, Joan S. (1978). The Old West: The Women. Time-Life Books.
Sherr, Lynn and Jurate Kazickas. (1994). Susan B. Anthony Slept Here. A Guide to American Women's Landmarks, Random House.
Sims, Oscar L. "Profile of Biddy Mason." (1993). Epic Lives: One Hundred Black Women Who Made a Difference, Smith, Jessie Carney, ed. Visible Ink Press
Cohen, Hannah S. Harris, Gloria G. Women Trailblazers of California: Pioneers to the Present

Further reading

Hull, LeAnne von Neumeyer (24 March 2006), "Bridget Biddy Smith Mason: Her Legacy Among the Mormons," Black Voice News, Brown Publishing Company

Sunday, January 14, 2018

"Star Trek IV" Actress Viola Kates Stimpson 2008 Westwood Village Cemetery

Viola Kates Stimpson (October 25, 1906 - January 14, 2008) was an actress, known for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000) and Graduation Day (1981).


Born in Brookly, New York, Stimpson started her career in the 1920's as a chorus girl and dancer and then became an actress. In 1951, she returned to college and became a LAUSD classroom teacher. After she retired in 1971, she resumed her acting career in stage, film, and television.


Stimpson was the first "Star Trek" cast member to reach the age of 100.

Viola Kates Stimpson died on January 14, 2008 in Tarzana, California. She is interred beside her husband, California realtor Robert P. Stimpson, at Westwood Village Cemetery.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

"The Story of Temple Drake" Actor Jack La Rue 1984 Holy Cross Cemetery

Jack La Rue (May 3, 1902 in New York City, New York – January 11, 1984 in Santa Monica, California) was an American film and stage actor.[1]

Early years

La Rue was born Gaspere Biondolillo[1] in New York City.[2]


La Rue went from high school to his first acting job, in Otis Skinner's road company production of Blood and Sand.[2] He performed in Broadway plays from around 1923 to 1931. According to La Rue, while appearing in Mae West's play Diamond Lil, he was spotted by Howard Hawks, who offered him a part in the film Scarface (1932), starring Paul Muni.[3]


He moved to Hollywood, where he appeared in numerous films. However, Scarface was not one of them. La Rue stated in a newspaper article that, after four days, Hawks had to replace him with George Raft because La Rue was taller than Muni and had a more powerful voice.[3] Later, however, Raft turned down the role of the despicable villain in The Story of Temple Drake (1933), fearing it would damage his screen image, so the part went to La Rue. 

Sometimes mistaken for Humphrey Bogart, he played thugs and gangsters for the most part. However, director Frank Borzage atypically cast him as a priest in the 1932 version of A Farewell to Arms simply because, according to newspaper columnist Hubbard Keavy, he was "tired of seeing conventional characters."[2] La Rue stated he turned down a role in The Godfather (1972) and many parts in the television series The Untouchables because of the way they portrayed Italian-Americans.[3]

Personal life

He was married three times.[1] La Rue married Los Angeles socialite Constance Deighton Simpson on September 22, 1938, in London.[4] She obtained a divorce on December 17, 1946, charging him with mental cruelty.[4] In 1955, he obtained an annulment from former Baroness Violet Edith von Rosenberg after six years of marriage, claiming she had only married him to obtain American citizenship and that they separated after less than two months.[5] He married Anne Giordano on August 12, 1962; she obtained an annulment in 1967.[6] Jack La Rue had no children.


La Rue died of a heart attack at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California,[7] at the age of 81. He was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California.

Partial filmography

The Lucky Devil (1925) as Prizefight Attendant (uncredited)
The King on Main Street (1925) as Member of King's Retinue in Paris Hotel Lobby (uncredited)
Fine Manners (1926) as New Year's Eve Celebrant (uncredited)
East Side, West Side (1927) as Dining Extra (uncredited)
The House of Terror (1928)
Follow the Leader (1930) as A Gangster
Night World (1932) as Henchman (uncredited)
The Mouthpiece (1932) as Joe Garland (uncredited)
While Paris Sleeps (1932) as Julot
Radio Patrol (1932) as Slick (uncredited)
Blessed Event (1932) as Louis De Marco (uncredited)
The All American (1932) as Joe Fiore
Virtue (1932) as Toots
Three on a Match (1932) as Ace's Henchman (uncredited)
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) as Ackerman (uncredited)
Man Against Woman (1932) as Alberti
A Farewell to Arms (1932) as The Priest
Lawyer Man (1932) as Spike Murphy (uncredited)
The Woman Accused (1933) as Little Maxie
42nd Street (1933) as Mug with Murphy (uncredited)
Christopher Strong (1933) as Carlo
Terror Aboard (1933) as Gregory Cordoff
The Story of Temple Drake (1933) as Trigger
The Girl in 419 (1933) as Sammy

Gambling Ship (1933) as Pete Manning

Headline Shooter (1933) as Ricci

To the Last Man (1933) as Jim Daggs
The Kennel Murder Case (1933) as Eduardo Grassi
Miss Fane's Baby Is Stolen (1934) as Bert
Good Dame (1934) as Bluch Brown

The Fighting Rookie (1934) as Patrolman Jim Trent

Straight Is the Way (1934) as Monk
Take the Stand (1934) as George Gaylord

No Ransom (1934) as Larry Romero

Secret of the Chateau (1934) as Lucien Vonaire

Calling All Cars (1935) as Jerry Kennedy
Times Square Lady (1935) as Jack Kramer
Men of the Hour (1935) as Nick Thomas

The Headline Woman (1935) as Phil Zarias

Under the Pampas Moon (1935) as Bazan
The Daring Young Man (1935) as Cubby
After the Dance (1935) as Mitch
Little Big Shot (1935) as Doré
Special Agent (1935) as Jake Andrews
His Night Out (1935) as Joe Ferranza
Waterfront Lady (1935) as Tom Braden
The Spanish Cape Mystery (1935) as Gardner
Hot Off the Press (1935) as Bill Jeffrey
Remember Last Night? (1935) as Baptiste
Strike Me Pink (1936) as Mr. Thrust
The Bridge of Sighs (1936) as Packy Lacy
In Paris, A.W.O.L. (1936) as Soldier

Dancing Pirate (1936) as Lt. Chago (Baltazar's Aide)

It Couldn't Have Happened – But It Did (1936) as Smiley Clark
Born to Fight (1936) as Smoothy Morgan
A Tenderfoot Goes West (1936) as James Killer Madden
Ellis Island (1936) as Dude
Yellow Cargo (1936) as Al Perrelli
Go West, Young Man (1936) as Rico in 'Drifting Lady'
Mind Your Own Business (1936) as Cruger
Her Husband Lies (1937) as 'Trigger, ' Gunman
That I May Live (1937) as Charlie
Captains Courageous (1937) as Priest
Dangerous Holiday (1937) as Gollenger
Trapped by G-Men (1937) as Fred Drake
Arson Gang Busters (1938) as Bud Morgan
Under the Big Top (1938) as Ricardo Le Grande
Valley of the Giants (1938) as Ed Morrell
I Demand Payment (1938) as Smiles Badolio
Murder in Soho (1939) as Steve Marco
The Gang's All Here (1939) as Alberni
Big Town Czar (1939) as Mike Luger
In Old Caliente (1939) as Sujarno
Charlie Chan in Panama (1940) as Manolo
Forgotten Girls (1940) as Eddie Nolan
Enemy Agent (1940) as Alex
The Sea Hawk (1940) as Lt. Ortega
Fugitive from a Prison Camp (1940) as Red Nelson
East of the River (1940) as Frank 'Frisco' Scarfi
Footsteps in the Dark (1941) as Ace Vernon
Paper Bullets (1941) as Mickey Roman
Ringside Maisie (1941) as Ricky Du Prez
Gentleman from Dixie (1941) as Thad Terrill

Hard Guy (1941) as Vic Monroe

Swamp Woman (1941) as Pete Oliver / Pierre Pertinax Pontineau Briand Broussicourt d'Olivier

A Desperate Chance for Ellery Queen (1942) as Tommy Gould
Pardon My Sarong (1942) as Tabor (uncredited)
Highways by Night (1942) as Johnny Lieber, Gangster

X Marks the Spot (1942) as Marty Clark

The Payoff (1942) as John Angus
American Empire (1942) as Pierre- Beauchard Henchman
You Can't Beat the Law (1943) as Cain
A Gentle Gangster (1943) as Hugo
Secret Service in Darkest Africa (1943) as Hassan [Ch. 6] (uncredited)
The Law Rides Again (1943) as Duke Dillon
The Girl from Monterrey (1943) as Al Johnson
A Scream in the Dark (1943) as Det. Lt. Cross
Never a Dull Moment (1943) as Joey
Pistol Packin' Mama (1943) as Johnny Rossi
The Sultan's Daughter (1943) as Rata
Smart Guy (1943) as Matt Taylor
The Desert Song (1943) as Lieutenant Bertin
Follow the Leader (1944) as Larry
Machine Gun Mama (1944) as Jose
Leave It to the Irish (1944) as Rockwell
The Last Ride (1944) as Joe Genna

Dangerous Passage (1944) as Mike Zomano

Steppin' in Society (1945) as Bow Tie
The Spanish Main (1945) as Lt. Escobar
Road to Utopia (1945) as LeBec
Cornered (1945) as Diego, Hotel Valet
Dakota (1945) as Suade
Murder in the Music Hall (1946) as Bruce Wilton
In Old Sacramento (1946) as Laramie
Santa Fe Uprising (1946) as Bruce Jackson
My Favorite Brunette (1947) as Tony

Bush Pilot (1947) as Paul Girard

Robin Hood of Monterey (1947) as Don Ricardo Gonzales

No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1948) as Slim Grisson

For Heaven's Sake (1950) as Tony Clark
Ride the Man Down (1952) as Kennedy
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957) as Father Paul (uncredited)
40 Pounds of Trouble (1962) as Nick the Greek (uncredited)
For Those Who Think Young (1964) as Cronin's Business Associate
Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964) as Tomatoes
The Spy in the Green Hat (1967) as Federico 'Feet' Stilletto
Paesano: A Voice in the Night (1975) as Bartender
Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976) as Silent Film Villain (final film role)


1. "Jack LaRue, Actor, Is Dead; In 200 Films, Often as Villain". The New York Times. United Press International. January 13, 1984.
2. Hubbard Keavy (April 26, 1933). "Screen Life In Hollywood". Altoona Tribune. p. 4 – via open access publication – free to read
3. "Yesterday's Stars: La Rue doesn't like gangster stereotypes". The Mercury. Copley News Service. November 8, 1975. p. 40 – via open access publication – free to read
4. "Jack La Rue's Wife Is Divorced From Movie's [sic] Bad Man". Nevada State Journal. December 17, 1946. p. 2 – via open access publication – free to read
5. "Jack La Rue Marriage to Ex-Baroness Ended". The Bridgeport Post. Associated Press. May 13, 1955 – via open access publication – free to read
6. "Mrs. Jack La Rue Given Annulment". The Daily Mail. Associated Press. February 16, 1967. p. 16 – via open access publication – free to read
7. "Movie bad guy Jack LaRue dies". The Montreal Gazette. United Press International. January 12, 1984. p. D-9.