Landmarks of L.A.
As a chronicler of Los Angeles, Smith focused often on its history and landmarks. Whether writing about Clifton’s Cafeteria, the Hollywood sign, the Hollywood Hotel, or such constructions as an intricately coiled freeway interchange, Smith delighted in exploring the edifices that give Los Angeles its unique heart and soul, and, in the case of the mighty freeway system, determine much of the cadence of Angelenos’ daily lives.
Views of Clifton’s, promotional booklet, 1956; and postcard depicting Clifton’s Cafeteria, undated.
A favorite landmark of Los Angeles since 1931, Clifton’s Cafeteria featured a South Seas décor and singing waiters and waitresses. The original Clifton’s Pacific Seas closed in 1960, but the second restaurant, Clifton’s Brookdale, which opened in 1935, is still operating.
Jack Smith. Notebook, undated.
This is one of many notebooks in which Smith jotted down notes ranging from ideas for columns to favorite quotations to phone numbers and names of contacts for interviews. On this page, he records some random thoughts about driving and freeways – topics that are never far from the minds of Angelenos.
Jack Smith. Note cards, undated.
These two items are from Smith’s extensive file of cards containing notes on topics of interest. They explore Smith’s thoughts about the physical spaces and landmarks of Los Angeles, and how those features exert their influence on the city’s inhabitants. He writes that the lack of a recognizable look makes L.A. hard to characterize or photograph, but that the open spaces of the city, make for a freer, more tolerant way of life than might be found in other cities.
Robert Cameron. Photograph from Above Los Angeles, San Francisco: Cameron and Co., 1990.
All rights reserved. Displayed by permission.(Image not available)
Jack Smith captioned this photograph: “Four-level interchange near downtown Los Angeles, ‘The Stack,’ where Pasadena, Harbor, Santa Ana and Hollywood freeways intertwine – maybe the city’s greatest work of art.”
Jack Smith. Introduction for Above Los Angeles, original typescript, 1990.(Image not available)
Jack Smith collaborated with photographer Robert Cameron on a large-format volume entitled Above Los Angeles
. Cameron, who has produced a series of “Above” books featuring a number of cities, captured stunning images of the City of Angels.
Smith, well known as a bard of L.A., was the perfect choice to provide the accompanying texts for the photographs. In his introduction, Smith records with humorous appreciation the efforts by outside critics to capture in words the essence of the city.
Jack Smith. “L.A. Landmarks: Then, Now and . . . Tomorrow?” August 8, 1990.
Copyright , 1990, Los Angeles Times. Displayed with permission.(Image not available)
In this column, Smith pays tribute to some of L.A.’s most famous and beloved landmarks, while lamenting that many of them have been demolished.
Hollywood Hotel brochure, undated.
Francis J. Weber. Hollywood, San Fernando: Junipero Serra Press, 1981.(Image not available)
The red miniature book Hollywood
tells the story of the Hollywood sign. This little volume, one of just 300 copies printed, is a collector’s item, designed by Francis Braun, with title page design by Anthony Kroll.
Monsignor Francis Weber is a noted collector of miniature books and donated his collection to The Huntington Library. The book displayed here is from Jack Smith’s subject files.
Robert Lawrence Balzer. Letter to Jack Smith, December 26, 1974.(Image not available)
This letter records Balzer’s memories of a magical evening at the landmark Montmartre Restaurant, where the twelve-year-old Balzer and his girlfriend dined, danced alongside Joan Crawford and other Hollywood stars, and ultimately won the evening’s dance contest.
Balzer was the food and beverage editor for Holiday
magazine and could also be heard for many years on the classical radio station KFAC, with his daily “Word on Wine.”