If you are a basketball fan, you might recognize The Forum in Inglewood, California. It opened on December 30, 1967 and was an unusual and groundbreaking structure in that it had no major support pillars. It was created by Architect Charles Luckman and engineers Carl Johnson and Svend Nielsen and was famous for being the home of The Los Angeles Lakers before moving to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Now the venue is rented out for special events and concerts.
Across the street from The Forum is the Inglewood Park Cemetery. The cemetery was built in 1905 and has a number of notable entertainment and sports figures such as Ray Charles, Betty Grable, Ella Fitzgerald, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Ray Corrigan (the actor who owned Corriganville where we had previously visited the remains of his western amusement park).
Lex,Sar and I have visited here many times to pay our respects to a relative of mine who is interred here. The grounds are beautiful with rolling hills and memorials to those who have passed on. A Canadian goose was having a great time on the warm sunny day.
One memorial has always caught our attention while on our visits and it is a sculpture of an angel lifting a woman to heaven. The faces are quite detailed and the base is carved with two rings in which one is broken. We did some research and found who they were.
The models are of Alfredo Codona as the angel carrying his wife, Lillian Leitzel in an embrace. They were circus performers. Lillian Leitzel was only 4 ft 9 in (144.78 cm) but incredibly strong and could do one armed flips over her shoulder repeatedly while the audience counted and cheered. She performed for the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus and was posthumously inducted into the International Circus Hall of Fame.
Lillian Leitzel had quite a temper and was famous for throwing things and slapping people who didn’t work to her expectations. In contrast, she was also known for her kindness toward the circus performer’s children who called her “Aunt Lillian”. A little mental maybe?
In 1928, Lillian married Alfredo Codona who was a trapeze artist, famous for doing the often dangerous triple somersaults. Their relationship was quite tempestuous and their diva-like personalities were well-matched.
While performing in Copenhagen in 1931, one of the hand rings broke and Lillian fell to the hard floor. She died a few days later at 39 years old. Even though they had such a troubled marriage, Alfredo Codona’s love for Lillian Leitzel was quite evident by creating this beautiful memorial to his wife.
One of the last surviving Southern California mimic architecture is Randy’s Big Donut. Mimic architecture started in the 1920’s creating a trend in designing structures in the shape of the product that was sold there. By the 1950’s building such structures were out of style and too costly. Randy’s Donut was built in 1953 and was the second location of a number of donut shops owned by Russell C. Wendell, a donut machine salesman. The giant donuts are constructed of steel bars and a dry type of concrete called gunite usually used in swimming pools.
Originally, there were 10 Big Donut Drive-Ins but only 4 have survived. In the 1970’s Wendell sold off the donut shops to concentrate on his “Pup in Taco” chain (Lex is wearing one of the old shirts) which was then sold to Taco Bell in 1984.
If the Randy’s Donuts looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it in various TV, movies, talk shows and music videos. My favorite is the big donut in Randy Newman’s 80’s hit “I Love LA”.
Lex, Sar and I stood in a line to get a bag of apple fritters and a buttermilk donut. I almost dropped a dollar bill and lost it to the wind but a kind man in a beige hat fetched it for me. The donuts tasted great but when I was a kid, I really wanted to take a bite out of the big one. Good thing I never did because it’s got bird poo all over the top of it!