"Men who have lived by the gun do not throw off the habit overnight." -- Florabel Muir
Florabel Muir, Ca. October 19, 1950 (Source: Web)
Florabel Muir was a well-known east and west coast newspaper woman of the Golden Age. She practiced her craft from about 1920 into the 1950s.
Although she visited Tucson near the end of a major cross-country flight that included journalists to cover the event, Muir did not focus on writing about aviation. Her forte was Hollywood, Los Angeles police department reporting, and crime. Web links to articles by her point to movie stars Jennifer Jones, Danny Kaye, Marilyn Monroe and Barbra Streisand.
And she could write a good prose sentence for the criminals she reported on. About Bugsy Siegel's murder (1947), she, "... wrote: 'Bugsy was cut down amid the overwhelming perfume of blossoming jasmine....'" Fine prose, considering Siegel was shot through the eye.
Photograph, right, from a retrospective article in the Los Angeles Times of October 27, 2008. The photo is captioned, "Florabel Muir, Mirror-News columnist who took potshots at Police Chief William H. Parker and took a bullet while accompanying Mickey Cohen in the 1949 shootout at Sherry's cafe." The "pot shots" were literary, but she was, in fact, struck by a ricochet bullet in 1949.
The same article says about her," She was the epitome of the hard-boiled newspaper dame: born in a Wyoming mining town [May 6, 1899 into a family of ten brothers and sisters], a veteran of New York's tabloid battles and now, in 1949, author of a Los Angeles Mirror column that served up Hollywood news while mocking the LAPD as 'cops a la Keystone.'"
Time Magazine of November 13, 1944 provided this insight into her personality, "As the Salt Lake City Tribune's first woman reporter, redheaded Florabel Muir wanted to become the first woman to cover an execution. Utah law said executions could be witnessed only by men. Florabel dickered, fumed, finally got the State Attorney General to rule that she was a reporter, not a female."
"Headline Happy," 1950 (Source: Web)
With that background, Muir landed once at Tucson as a passenger, on Monday, May 21, 1928. She was flying with pilot Max Cornwell in the Fokker F-10, NX5170. Cornwell carried five passengers, including Muir, whom he identified as Los Angeles Examiner reporter A.M. Rocklin, Fred Goodcell, C. Zook Sutton, and fellow pilot Norman W. Potter. Their homebase was cited as "Western Air Express." They landed at 10:00AM, remained on the ground until noon, and continued westbound from El Paso, TX to Los Angeles, CA.
Muir was on the front lines in her reportorial style. She appeared to have had a touch and go reporting relationship with the Los Angeles police, especially the vice squad. In July, 1949, she was trying to get a story from local gangster Mickey Cohen (she was confidant of Cohen) when he was shotgunned in front of a cafe on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles. She was wounded, too, taking, "...a pellet in her hindquarter." Fortunately the buckshot pellet was a ricochet, so she was only bruised and no blood flowed. The LA Times article linked above has photographs of the shooting scene, as well as several of Cohen and his cohorts.
Besides news reporting, Muir wrote magazine articles, one autobiographical book in 1950, "Headline Happy," right, and at least one screenplay, "Fighting Youth," 1935.
One review of "Fighting Youth" published in The New York Times of November 2, 1935 stated, "Submerging the romance between Charles Farrell, the all-American quarterback, and June Martel, 'Fighting Youth' earnestly crusades against the spread of radical student organizations in our universities. According to the new film, Left Wing agents, disguised as students, are actively advocating the overthrow of the existing social order in favor of communism. ... Withal, State's radicals seem to be namby-pamby, and the football issue is a nebulous one. In short, 'Fighting Youth' is neither impressive in its stand for Americanism nor as an exposé of the extra-curricular activities of Left Wing students."
Florabel Muir Grave Marker, Culver City, CA (Source: FindaGrave)
Another review of "Headline Happy" states, "Sex and sadism, gals and gangsters were molded into the author's news stories for New York and Los Angeles tabloids, and Miss Muir licks the dish with reminiscent gusto in her autobiography."
Muir was married to Denis A. Morrison until his death (Nov. 1, 1890 - Sep. 24, 1966). He wrote for the Saturday Evening Post. Muir died April 27, 1970 in Los Angeles, CA. She has an excellent Web presence, which I will leave you to explore.
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