The Real L.A. Noir: Famous Los Angeles Crime Scenes From The 40's and 50's

L.A. Noir or L.A. Noire

Recently, I played Rockstar's L.A. Noire on the Xbox and being that I live in the town the game was based on, why not take a trip back in time...

"There are 8 million stories in the naked city..." And while Naked City covered New York, we're going to handle Los Angeles.

"This is the city, Los Angeles, California..." That's what Joe Friday would say...

The City of Angels in the 40's and 50's. The city was ripe with opportunity, a land of dreams and make believe, the city of the future, glamour and beauty.

"The stuff that dreams are made of." -Sam Spade

It was also a city of gangsters, corruption and vice. Let's look at four real L.A. Noir landmarks and crime scenes from the era of fast talking Philip Marlowe.

Los Angeles City Hall

City Hall Confidential

While not a crime scene per say, Los Angeles City Hall is a landmark that shouts Noir like a murder in a dark ally. From The Adventures of Superman to Dragnet to L.A. Confidential. Los Angeles City Hall has it's own stories, myths and legends.

One we can talk about is the story of Charles Crawford. A man who was 6 degrees of separation from a multitude of events that helped shaped the city of dreams/

In the 20's Crawford ran a string of gambling joints, brothels and bootlegging. He also had so many politicians in his pocket that he and his cronies became known as "The City Hall Gang" He even hand picked and ran a candidate for Mayor, prosecutor George E. Cryer. Basically, where there was vice and corruption in 1920s Los Angeles, odds were pretty good Charles "Charlie" Crawford had something to do with it.

By the 30's things were winding down for Crawford. So much so that he found religion. Interestingly enough, he found that religion with none other that Presbyterian Minister, Reverend Gustav A. Briegleb. Now, If you're seen the movie The Changeling, with Angelina Jolie, this was the guy played by John Malkovitch.

In 1931, Charles Crawford was shot and killed at 6655 Sunset Blvd. While details are sketchy, it's clear this wasn't a "random" act of violence perpetrated on poor old Charlie. All good things must come to an end! And in honor of Charles Crawford, Mrs. Crawford builds The Crossroads of The World, a ship shaped shopping center in the heart of Hollywood. Crossroads was used in the film L.A. Confidential and Hitchcock had an office here in the 40's. Yes, THAT Hitchcock!

Like I said earlier. there are 8 million stories in this naked city. This one, started at City Hall!

Justifiable Homicide

Behind Closed Doors: The Death of Johnny Stopmanato

Johnny Stompanato, Handsome Harry, Johnny Stomp, John Steele, Oscar. Johnny was muscle for Mickey C. That's right, Meyer Harris Cohen. The big Mick. Mess with the Mickster and you get a visit from the former marine, Johnny Stomp.

Rumor had it Johnny was hung like a horse, so isn't it ironic that he gets stabbed to death with eight inches of kitchen knife?

And for what? Knocking around dame Lana Turner, that's what! See ol' Johnny had a temper and that temper was usually set off out of jealousy. He didn't like to share. Lana was his dame all right.

So on the night of April 4th, 1958, in an argument to end all arguments, Lana Turner's 14 year old daughter, Cheryl Crane, in defense of mommy dearest, stabbed and killed our Johnny in the room seen in the top left window.

Once in London, while Lana was shooting a picture with Sean Connery, jealous Stomp pointed a gun at the soon to be 007, which got him kicked out of jolly old England.

So is it no wonder that Cheryl gets off with justified homicide? And as a lovely parting gift, Cheryl becomes a ward of the state and sent to an all girls boarding school to get straightened out until 1961.

Bye-Bye Benny

Table Limit: $6,000,000

Behind the shrubs is a window that has been replaced. Because on the night on June 20, 1947, Benjamin, "Bugsy" Seigel was put out of his misery while reading the Los Angeles Times. A victim of mob justice and suspected from skimming off the top from the east coast racket's activities in Lost Wages!

This is where it happened fans of folklore! In the home if his girlfriend, not wife, Virginia Hill.

Benny's execution remains unsolved to this day, but I think it's safe to say we all have a pretty good idea who would put 9 slugs through that window and into our dear celebrity gangster.

Hollywood hipster, friend to George Raft, Hotel Flamingo and Las Vegas originator, Benjamin Seigel was and is a staple figure in mafia myth, legend and lore.

Yet he pushed the edge of the envelope, got too much attention for a mafioso and then got overdrawn on the wrong bank account.

Sleep tight Benny!

House of Kryptonite

Hollywood Tragedy

Tragedy and mystery all in one. Afraid your nightmares will come true? Then gather 'round good people and I'll spin you a yarn about our favorite super hero, George Reeves.

In the wee small hours of the morning, on June 16th 1959, a shot rang out, breaking the calm on the night.

It was 2 am in Benedict Canyon and the Man of Steel lies naked and dead in the upper room with a single gun shot wound.

But why George? Why? You gave in too early! You wanted something more, never realizing you already had it all!

Was it your broken heart over your career or that of a jealous woman? Hell hath no fury they say! Who knows really!

Reeves' friends could hardly believe George would check himself out like that and so the questions started and they suspicions grew.

Everyone in the house at the time was on something. Stories were not consistent. It took over an hour for the police to arrive. A lot can happen in an hour!

George left Toni Mannix for Lenore Lemmon and was going to marry Lenore. Toni bankrolled George's career. George just wants happiness, yet it was nowhere to be found for him.

Relief for George whether on his own or from the hand of someone else came in the form of a 9mm Lugar and the broken hearts of kids and parents all over this great nation.

Good night sweet George, and may flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest.


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Comments 2 comments

lions44 profile image

lions44 3 years ago from Auburn, WA

Great stuff. LA crime stories are the best. As a Chandler buff, I can really appreciate the article. Thx.


David R Bradley profile image

David R Bradley 3 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity Author

Lions44, thanks for stopping by - love Chandler - love Bogart - so glad you enjoyed the piece!

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