1950s #2 Diana Cotterell in the SFV. Grade School. Horses. Sepulveda Stables. Van Nuys Junior High.

Diana started grade school in about 1950. From 1950s #1, it appears she lived in Gardena in 1950. per the 1950 census. It’s unknown where she did start grade school in Gardena.

Grandmother Virginia LaRocca is listed in an online Gardena 1951 phone directory as a Christian Science practitioner. Husband Joseph is not listed.

The family probably moved to the location 13055 Moorpark St between 1952-1954.

Riverside Drive Elementary is located at 13061 Riverside Drive, very close to the Moorpark house.a12333ef-762c-4bfd-9ab3-2b376db1a416_1_201_a

If the Cotterell girls walked to school from their house on Moorpark, all they had to do was turn north on Ethel Ave. and walk straight to the school. It could have only taken a few minutes.

There would have been no Ventura Freeway to walk under along the way.  I think that came in 1959.

UPDATE 5-20-20 I found this article only recently.

Both Dixie Canyon and Riverside Drive elementary schools are the same distance to the Moorpark/Ethel house where Diana lived with her mother, sister and grandparents through much of the 1950s. Their house was basically right in the center between the two schools.

But Diana was definitely at Dixie Canyon in the 6th grade

It can be confirmed that she attended Van Nuys Junior High for the 7th and 9th grades.

This photo below is one of the first articles I found that showed me Diana Cotterell and Paige Young were the same person.

Valley News April 7, 1957
Diana Cotterell Age 15/16

1959 The above photo is from the Van Nuys Junior High yearbook. Diana Cotterell was in the 9th grade. Her grandfather Jospeh Ned LaRocca would die later that year. (separate post) I found these photos in the VNJH school library with the librarian standing over me as lunch was about to start. There were several, yearbooks, more like paper notebooks, in a jumble. This was the only photo I could find of Diana on that day. I haven’t found a photo of her 8th grade year.

I have reason to believe that Diana Cotterell dropped out of school after the 9th grade.

Here is the photo in a larger context.

Yearbooks from 1956 & 1958 Van Nuys Junior High . Diana Cotterell attended here from 1957-1959. She is not in the 58′ yearbook that I can see, but is in the 59′ edition as shown above
Van Nuys News June 18, 1959.
Many SFV schools had graduation ceremonies, mid June 1959, including Van Nuys Junior High shown in the 3rd column. Diana Lee Cotterell would have been among the graduates that day.
Image I took of a hallway at VNJH 2016

1953-1959 Like many kids living in 1950s San Fernando Valley, Diana Lee Cotterell is obsessed with horses. Diana rides and boards her horse at Sepulveda Stables, located at 5763 Sepulveda Blvd, on the corner of Hatteras.

Equestrian shows were held almost every weekend in the Los Angeles area in the 1950s.

There were commercial horse stables and riding trails all over the SFV in the 50s and 60s.

Horse husbandry was considered a wholesome activity for youth and thought to produce responsible America citizens.

Valley News and Green Sheet June 18, 1959

And probably most importantly, it would keep kids and teens busy and thus away from the bad influences of “juvenile delinquency,” a growing social concern of the 1950s. 

source: Making the San Fernando Valley: Rural Landscapes, Urban Development and White Privilege by Laura R. Barraclough

Diana owned a horse named Hamish from junior high, 1957-1959, to at least 1964 when she was married to Mark Segal and living at his house at 4133 Crisp Canyon Rd. .

It is unknown if Diana ever participated in the many equestrienne shows performed by her fellow riders at Sepulveda Stables. 

Early 1960s and earlier The future Mrs. John Huston and friend to Paige Young, Celeste Shane, (see chapters on her) also boards a horse at Sepulveda Stable as does actress Donna Reed and actress Jill St. John (a good friend of Cici’s)

Sepulvedastables.net where I got much of this information seems to have been removed. I spoke with the owner of the website a few years earlier who remembered Paige. This woman was 12 or 13 and Paige was probably 19 or 20 living with Mark Segal in Crisp Canyon. Paige invited this girl up for lemonade to this address.

1950s #1 Updated 06/16/22: 1950 Census. Gardena. Move to San Fernando Valley. Ned LaRocca & Virginia. Recording Industry LA. Leith Stevens.

San Fernando Valley abbreviated SFV.

The newly released 1950 census gives us

Aerial view of Sherman Oaks in 1950 around the time Diana Cotterell and her family moved to this area.

more information about the LaRocca/Cotterell family unit: listed at a residence in Gardena. Joseph’s occupation, Radio Orchestra Manager, Virginia, Christian Science Practitioner, Donna has an empty box for occupation, Head of House granddaughters Constance S is listed as 7 years and Diana L as 5 years.

An online Gardena phone directory from

With this new information I now have to ask:

When did Diana and family leave Los Feliz? late 1940s?

How long did they live in Gardena?

And when did Diana and her family move to 13055 Moorpark St?

I first connected the family to 13055 Moorpark St. address by an online city building permit dated in Dec. of 1952.

The LaRoccas are requesting a house alteration to make more rooms and a seperate entrance for a “rental unit.” Was the family living in Gardena and waiting for this construction work to be completed in Studio City?

This house was located on the west side of Studio City close to the eastern border with Sherman Oaks. Specifically, off of the intersection of Coldwater Canyon and Ventura Blvd.

The Los Angeles River is nearby as is Sportsman’s Lodge; a classic Hollywood and SFV landmark. Apparently you could fish there.

The family knew about the area for some time because Joseph’s only sister Kathryn Marinello, and her husband Anthony. opened a food store at 13251 Moorpark in 1947.

Entitled “New Business Filings in the Valley” Van Nuys News Oct. 10, 1947

There is a 1947 City document I have been unable to download; indicating a “food store” at 13251 Moorpark St. The building was not owned by the Marinellos.

This 1950s image below the Hughes Market that stood on the intersection of Ventura Blvd. and Coldwater Canyon Blvd. I believe it is the southeast corner.

From the facebook page “SFV in the 50, 60s, 70s. Very close to where Paige/Diana lived with her family for at least a few years in the mid-1950s.

Meanwhile..Diana’s father Robert Morgan Cotterell also moved to the SFV around this time, but further west of his daughters and ex-wife. His current wife Patricia/Pat and their two children, born in 1950 and 1951, (while his first 2 daughters were in Gardena according to the 1950 census) start out in the Canoga Park/Winnetka area on Lurline Ave.  

It’s the first of many moves for them around Los Angeles due to Bob Cotterell Sr.’s career at Douglas Aircraft.

It is unknown exactly why the The LaRocca/Cotterell family moved to the SFV, but we do know that they were part of a massive migration to the area after World War 2, from both inside and outside of Los Angeles.

“The end of WW2 transformed the Valley and vastly accelerated its growth: vast tracts of suburban housing, shopping centers and industrial parks where chicken ranches, orchards and cattle ranches and wheat fields once existed. The 1940s and 50s, when I was growing up, the Valley was full of movie cowboys, beautiful ranches and fine horses.”  

Jerry England at cowboyup.com

“In the five years after the war, the population (of SFV) more than doubled to 402,538 residents-the pastoral San Fernando Valley was suddenly the ninth-busiest urban area in the nation. Valley society was a mix of young suburbanites, older families who had come west to try their luck as engineers, animators, or pioneers in the new field of television, and ranchers trying to hang on in the face of the new hordes.”

The San Fernando Valley: America’s Suburb by Kevin Roderick

 I discovered that Ned LaRocca spent most of the 1950s working as an orchestra manager for composer/conductor Leith Stevens, through Ned’s death certificate.

Ned La Rocca death certificate. Indicates working for Leith Stevens; conductor composer for TV and Movies.

I can confirm two Leith Stevens projects that have a credit as “contractor” for Ned LaRocca: A Doris Day album recorded in 1951 at 1032 Sycamore Street; a studio known at that time as “The Annex.” Found on youtube.

The website careerexplorer.com defines an orchestra contractor is:  “He or she has the job of finding the appropriate musicians for Broadway shows, television episodes and commercials.”

Ned had experience adapting to a new mass medium, when his first industry Vaudeville, died in the early 1930s during the Great Depression.

One significant factor that changed the popularity of radio programming was the rise of TV in the 1950s. Drama and comedy and musical variety shows moved to TV.

In 1950, just under 20 percent of American homes contained a TV set. Ten years later, nearly 90 percent of homes contained a TV—and some even had color TVs. The number of TV stations, channels, and programs all grew to meet this surging demand.

encyclopedia.com

Ned LaRocca also has a credit on Leith Stevens 1953 score to the Marlon Brando movie “The Wild One.”  

This record was a hit; released by Decca records, it remains Leith Stevens most well-known and well-regarded creation.  J. Ned LaRocca is credited as “Contractor” on the project. Per Discogs.com.

Besides composing and conducting “The Wild One” soundtrack, Leith Stevens composed numerous scores for radio shows, movies and  T.V. from the 1930s until his death in 1970.

 IMDB indicates that many of Stevens’ compositions go uncredited.

More on Virginia Young LaRocca,

Diana’s grandmother. She started out life as a Mormon in Utah, but somewhere along the way became a Christian Scientist. She is listed as “Chr. Sci.pr.” (Christian Science Practitioner) in Los Angeles telephone directories in the 40 and 50s, and listed with her own telephone line. Read about her early years as a vaudeville performer in the family history chapters 19 teens and 1920s

Christian Science practitioner is an individual who prays for others according to the teachings of Christian Science. Treatment is non-medical, rather it is based on the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (1875) by Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910), who said she discovered Christian Science in 1866 and founded the Christian Science church in 1879. According to the church, Christian Science practitioners address physical conditions, as well as relationship or financial difficulties and any other problem or crisis.

wikipedia

A 1955, an LA telephone directory lists a Ned J. LaRocca at 4414 N. Ethel and a Virginia Young LaRocca with the same address.

Donna Cotterell is listed with the 13055 Moorpark address. 13055 Moorpark is on a corner with Ethel St.

4114 Ethel St. doesn’t seem to be an “real” address;  I don’t find a record of it anywhere besides the phone directory. This could be a result of the house modification for Donna, Diana and Constance.

1957 Virginia Young LaRocca is listed in the phone directory at 4414 N. Ethel State 4-7052 North Hollywood. Cr. Sci. Pr.

The Christian Science Church won the right to accept insurance for their practitioners, but I have been unable to find exactly what year.

I can’t tell how much income Virginia made from her vocation as a CSP.

Evidence of 2 seperate address for what was really one house.
1950s directory. Notice Donna’s middle name Virginia is used. She still uses the name of ex-husband (common practice then as now.) who is listed right above her name, at a Canoga Park address where he lived with Mrs. Patricia Cotterell and their two children.

It is probable that grandfather Ned LaRocca was the primary breadwinner of the household.

I’m sure Donna received child support and likely alimony as this was the norm of the era.

Family History#2. Great Depression. Move To LA. Frank & Rose. Radio Row. Radio City. Sunset and Vine. KNX. CBS. Tom Breneman. NBC Building. Jane Harker. Warner Brothers. Updated 6/8/2022

Frank LaRocca, brother of Diana’s grandfather and defacto father Ned, was a violinist and music director in Decatur, Illinois.

Decatur Daily Review Aug. 23, 1925
Part of an ad for the historic Avon theater in Decatur, Ill, where Frank LaRocca worked in the 1920s.

1930

Ned and Virginia are listed in the census as living in Peoria, Ill. Ned a musician and Virginia a housewife.

Phone directories list a Frank LaRocca and wife Rose in Los Angeles. The couple resided at 2303 Gatewood. Frank was a violinist and conductor.

  1934

Ned, his wife Virginia LaRocca and their 9-year-old daughter Donna, join Frank and Rose in Los Angeles. The family moved into a house located at 2234 Shoredale Ave. located about two blocks away from Frank and Rose on Gatewood.

Ned and Virginia had performed their vaudeville acts in the Los Angeles area many times in the teens and 20s, so they had familiarity with the area.

(Per LA phone directories seen in the LAPL and voter registration ancestry.com)

This neighborhood is very close to Elysian Park, the LA River and Riverside Drive, well before “the 5” freeway was built.

 Brothers Frank and Ned LaRocca are listed as “music teachers” in the LA phone directory in the mid1930s. 

1937: According to his death certificate, Frank is admitted to Methodist Hospital with peritonitis/perforated duodena. After one week in the hospital, Frank dies, having contracted pneumonia two day previous.

He is buried in his home town of Peoria, Illinois.

Frank’s find-a-grave page includes an obituary. It states that brother Ned LaRocca lives in LA and is a harpist in a Hollywood radio orchestra.

  In the late 1930s, A “Radio Row,” was forming along the section of Vine Street between Hollywood Blvd. and Sunset Blvd.

This sensational streamline moderne building was the new west coast headquarters of NBC radio and opened in 1938. Architect was John C. Austin. Austin was also architect of the Griffith Park Observatory along with Frederick M. Ashley.

The National Broadcasting Company originally used the phrase Radio City to describe their studios at Rockefeller Center in New York City.  When NBC opened their new Hollywood studios at Sunset and Vine in 1938, they placed the words  Radio City prominently on the front of their new building.  However, the area between Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard on Vine Street became known as Radio City for tourists and locals alike who visited the many radio studios and radio themed cocktail lounges and businesses in the area.

radiocityhollywood.com

Veteran performing artist Ned LaRocca found a steady paycheck at both NBC and CBS as I discovered from this document found on ancestry.

Ned LaRocca is employed by NBC and CBS radio in Radio City Hollywood, as seen on this “Old Man’s Draft card” WW2 There are many documents showing Ned with this address.

The website radiocityhollywood.com describes vividly what must have been a fascinating “scene”overflowing with human activity; many types of people who had a requirement,a desire, or both, to be there: from Radio City employees, to ticket holders to tourists from near and far.

Radio Room cocktail lounge on Radio Row in Radio City Hollywood 1940s. Bowling alley and coffee shop next door.

The National Broadcasting Company, after moving from New York to San Francisco, opened its’ new Moderne studios at the intersection of Sunset and Vine in Hollywood, California.

A block away, the Columbia Broadcasting System opened it’s new modern studios at Columbia Square.  Across the street, on December 26, Earl Carroll opened his premier nightclub and restaurant, with the glamorous neon sign proclaiming, “Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world.”

The Hollywood Palladium opened two years later between NBC and CBS, with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, featuring band singer Frank Sinatra. Across Vine Street, on the northwest corner of Sunset and Vine, sat Music City and Capitol Records, operated by bothers Glenn and Clyde Wallich.

radiocityhollywood.com

The radio industry in Los Angeles, and the world I imagine, was at its’ zenith from the late 30s through the 1940s. This era was short lived. Television would soon replace radio as the mass entertainment medium of choice. (1950s)

CBS radio aka “Columbia Square” opens just down the street from NBC. Also opened in 1938.

It’s the new home to KNX Radio, where Ned LaRocca performed.


Architect is Swiss-born William Lescase. CBS Columbia Square is the name. The legendary Brittingham’s Restaurant existed in Columbia Square.

Film-noirish look at Sunset & Vine. found on the internet. NBC on the right. 1940s. Capitol Records on the left, before the iconic new location (the “stack of records” building) was built at 1750 Vine St. by Welton Becket and Assoc. (Opened in 1956)

Vintage postcard. Famous Earl Carroll theatre across the street.
Back of above postcard
Old postcard when these spectacular buildings were brand new. Ned LaRocca worked at both.
Description on back of postcard.

The American Broadcasting Corporation set up shop a few doors north on Vine Street.  Up the street was the Radio Room, Club Morocco, Mike Lyman’s and the famous Tom Breneman’s Breakfast in Hollywood restaurant. Even further up Vine, just before Hollywood Boulevard, Clara Bow operated her restaurant, the It Cafe.  Across the street,  south of the Boulevard, was the world famous Vine Street Brown Derby, more restaurants and bars, and at Selma Avenue, the RCA building. Further south, at the end of the block, at the intersection of Vine Street and Sunset Boulevard stood the radio flagship studio, NBC Radio City.

It was a glorious year, 1938, for Hollywood and for radio. And, while NBC called their new studios Radio City, the entire area became famous across America and around the world.

Radio City Hollywood website.
Tom Breneman’s Hollywood Restaurant.

1940s.

Tom Breneman broadcast his popular show “Breakfast In Hollywood” from his restaurant on Vine off Sunset Blvd. I’ve listened to a few radio broadcasts and Breneman asks the audience members”where are you from?” It seems like the are a combination of locals and out of town visitors.

Known as the “Mayor of Encino,” Tom’s family in the 1940s.
1948 Taken from NBC No more Tom Brenamen! Sadly he died suddenly in 1947. KECA TV moved in. Television explosion into American homes would happen soon but not quite yet in 1948.

Ned LaRocca continued to work at NBC and CBS throughout the 1940s and made an important contact with Leith Stevens, conductor and composer.

Studio 1 CBS Close up of harpist in the Wilbur Hatch Orchestra 1940-41 Photo by “Dick” Whittington Studio Could the harpist be Ned LaRocca?

San Fernando Valley Times July 1938


Salt Lake City Tribune July 19, 1945. Paige Young’s 2nd cousin. Name would eventually get shortened to Jane

. Jane Harker was the daughter of Josephine and George Truman Harker and a first cousin to Donna LaRocca, Diana/Paige’s mother. I write more about them in Family History Part #1.

From a Scandinavian ? Hollywood stars and starlets were promoted overseas through these type of magazines.

The information about Jane Harker that you see on websites like imdb is incorrect. I’m attempting to correct it.

I have a lot of material collected about Jane Harker if anyone would like to collaborate on this project contact me.

.

Daily Calumet, Chicago. May 18, 1946.

Warner Brothers Starlet Jane Harker in a publicity pinup shot by Hollywood photographer Wellbourne.
Jane Harker in a publicity pinup shot by Hollywood photographer Wellbourne.

Family History#1: Teens, 1920s Vaudeville. Joseph And Roxy LaRocca. Peoria, Ill. Virginia Young. Salt Lake City. The Great Depression. Jane Harker. Warner Bros.

Roxy LaRocca is Diana/Paige’s great uncle. Roxy used this as his passport photo. Postcard found on e-bay.

Family Background In Vaudeville:

Census records, military records and local directories show that Joseph Ned LaRocca (Diana/Paige’s grandfather) was born in 1894 in Peoria, Illinois and grew up there.

Known as “Ned,” he was a harpist in a family of several brothers, oldest brother Roxy show above and below. The brothers were all musicians and many of them toured with the major vaudeville circuits like Orpheum and Pantages.

The LaRocca brothers supported their widowed mother in Peoria, after their professional musician-harpist father, Salvatore LaRocca, died at around age 40 in 1905?

Salvatore LaRocca, was from Italy and settled in Chicago before raising a family in Peoria with Rose Ann, born Dunufrio. The couple moved to Peoria when Salvatore was offered the leadership of a local Italian band.

The oldest brother Roxy, became a “famous-at-the-time” vaudeville harpist, known affectionately as the “Wizard of the Harp.”

I read literally of dozens of articles from the era about Roxy’s talent on the harp and his many performances. Two examples follow:

WIZARD OF THE HARP
Late 1920s. Vaudeville acts appeared with moving pictures at this time, one popular entertainment form was replacing another.

Joseph Ned LaRocca, Diana Cotterell’s grandfather and younger brother of Roxy, often used the professional name Ned Argo or just plain Argo, for his harp act. The ad below from 1925, performing for broadcast radio.

Sacramento paper 1925 Diana/Paige’s grandfather.

Ned was to have a future in performing for radio broadcasts in Los Angeles.

RCA corp. did a study in 1925 and found that 19% of homes had a radio. In 1930, it was 40%. Vaudeville was beginning to slide as a mass-media entertainment form. “Moving pictures” continued to be a reason for the lessening popularity of vaudeville.

Diana Cotterell/Paige’s Young’s maternal grandmother. Salt Lake Tribune March 28, 1915

Ned’s wife, Virginia Young was born in 1898 in Salt Lake City, was also a vaudeville performer. Her grandfather was Brigham Young and grandmother one of his many wives: Emily Partridge Young. If you google Emily Partridge Young, you will see she and her sister Eliza hold an interesting place in Mormon history as two of Joseph Smith’s first “plural wives.” Virginia, seen at right, met Ned LaRocca on a Pantages tour where Virginia and her sister Josephine were performing in “The Wrong Bird,” a very successful Utah production that toured North America. I have saved dozens of articles on Virginia Young and her sister Josephine. The sisters toured together in The Wrong Bird and eventually had their own act with Virginia’s husband Ned Argo LaRocca. I hope to post some of these articles soon. These folks had a minor kind of fame in vaudeville.

Marriage in 1918 Paige Young’s maternal grandparents.

The married couple form a vaudeville act and tour the US in the late teens and most, if not all, of the 1920s. Ned continues to use the name Ned Argo or Argo.

Sometimes Virginia’s sister and fellow vaudeville performer Josephine, is part of the act. The girls went by the name “The Virginia Sisters” as seen in the ad from The Daily Oklahoman Oct. 25 1919.

(When this was published, Josephine had already been married one month to San Francisco businessman George Truman Harker)

Los Angeles Daily Times Sept. 15, 1919 Josephine is Diana/Paige’s great aunt.

1920 approx. Josephine quit touring with her sister and brother-in-law and moved to San Francisco with her husband George Truman Harker.

The couple had a son, Jack Truman Harker in 1921, and a daughter, Mary Jane, in 1923 .

Josephine married George Truman Harker a year after her sister married Joseph Ned LaRocca. The marriage ceremony of Josephine and George took place backstage at LA’s Pantages theatre.

Ned and Virginia continued to tour vaudeville throughout the 1920s.

Charlotte, NC June 27, 1929

In the 1940s, Mary Jane Harker was known as Jane Harker, Warner Brothers starlet. Harker had small parts in movies with stars such as Joan Crawford, Ann Sheridan, John Garfield, Jack Carson, Errol Flynn, Eleanor Parker and more.

This is the true background of Jane Harker, short lived Warner Bros. pin-up and starlet.

I will be working on a video about Mary Jane Harker soon. She is misidentified on the internet.

Halloween Cheesecake. The Signal, Santa Clarita, 1946.

In the mid 1920s, The Harker family moved to South Pasadena, an affluent area then as now.

After Vaudeville died out in the early 1930s, the Great Depression was already in full swing.

Roxy LaRocca retired about this time to the LaRocca family hometown of Peoria, Illinois, where he started a magazine stand.

Frank and Rose, Ned and Virginia, moved to LA during the Depression early/mid 1930s.

Please see my next chapter Family History #2 for their history in the 1920s, move to Los Angeles in the 1930s, Radio City from 1938 through the 1940s and more on Jane Harker, model/starlet, who worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. She appears in an obscure Noir film: The Unfaithful with Ann Sheridan and footage of Angels Flight. This film has been shown on TCM a few times.

imdb has Harker’s filmography correct, but the biographical information described is someone else. A “Jane Ellen Harker” for starters. It’s wrong.

.

1942-1947 #1 3710 Arbolada Rd. LaRoccas. Cotterells. WW2.

 Virginia LaRocca is named owner the “double” house at 3710/12 Arbolada Rd. on an LA building permit. This house is only one mile from the home on Evans St.

Donna has a voter registration record with this address in 1944. (seen in ancestry.com)

Robert Morgan Cotterell name is listed as a POW with this address in 44. Joseph LaRocca is listed in the LA telephone directory with this address in 1948.

Arbolada Rd. is a dead end street. It’s high on a hill with an incredible panoramic view of the area. It’s close to their Evans St. home and near famous Griffith Park.

Coincidentally, 3710/12 Arbolada is about 5 minutes by car from 3311 Waverly drive, home of Manson “family” victims Rosemary and Leno LaBianca. 

Antonio LaBianca, father of Leno LaBianca, bought the Waverly house in 1940.  So the 2 Italian families,(Joseph’s wife Virginia was not Italian but Mormon with English ancestry) were neighbors at one point, even if they never met.

Ned and Virginia LaRocca may have purchased the Arbolada double house to accommodate the extended family members who occasionally stayed or lived with them here, per directories, voter registrations and marriage notices.

 This includes: Joseph’s niece Mildred Marinell who moved out from Peoria, Ill.

LAT May 25, 1938
Van Nuys News and Valley Green Sheet Dec. 4, 1942

Virginia’s sister Josephine Harker, her sometimes singing/dancing partner back in the days of vaudeville, their daughter Donna, their son-in-law Robert, and granddaughters Constance and Diana Cotterell.

All these names (except for the girls)  were linked to the Evans address from 1938 through around 1947, per records.

It’s easy to imagine the Evans house ( by Marshall High School ) was too small to fit all those family members comfortably. I have seen city documents of the original house plan.

Donna and Robert’s divorce was final in 1947.

Virginia LaRocca had been a full time Christian Science Practitioner by the 1940s and a Christian Science Reader at some point.  Her income from this is unknown. She had her own phone per listing in LA phone books for many years for this purpose.

The city of Los Angeles experienced a housing shortage during the post-war years. More so than usual.

This fact caused me to wonder as to how the LaRoccas could afford the 2 houses in the early 1940s. 

I didn’t find an exact answer but the next several chapters may shed some light on the upwardly mobile direction of the LaRocca/Cotterell family.

3710/12 Arbolada

Rating: 5 out of 5.

View from Arbolada Drive is spectacular as is the original building itself.

1940s #2 PARENTS’ Marriage. Hollywood Wedding Chapel. Honeymoon. WW2. P.O.W. Divorce. Arbolada Rd. Updated 6/10/2022

Robert M. Cotterell was 23 and Donna LaRocca 19 when they were married in 1940.

Certificate of marriage for Robert M. Cotterell and Donna Virginia LaRocca. Mildred K. Marinell signature listed on next to last line. Mildred is the daughter of Joseph LaRocca’s only sister Kathryn LaRocca Marinell. Mildred and Donna are first cousins.

Below is the Hollywood Wedding Chapel where Robert and Donna were married as stated on the marriage certificate. The location is on the Sunset Strip, about one block from the infamous and historic Chateau Marmont hotel. 

Located a stone’s throw to Chateau Marmont. Found on the internet.

The famed Garden of Allah apartment building was across the street.

This Hollywood Wedding Chapel building was purchased by famous director/writer Preston Sturges in 1940; he transformed it into “Players” restaurant, a movie business watering hole.

Players has its’ own interesting Hollywood and LA history.

Hollywood Citizen Nov. 15, 1940 Miss Penny Pepper???

Donna and Robert must have been one of the last couples to marry at the chapel before Sturges took over.

Currently this location is a Pink Taco restaurant. 

Diana’s father Robert Morgan Cotterell was born around 1917 in Algon, Iowa. He moved to Los Angeles around 1938 to follow his interest in aviation.

Donna’s parents Ned and Virginia LaRocca, were musical vaudevillians who travelled the Pantages, Orpheum and other vaudeville circuits for about the first 10 years of her life.

Diana’s mother Donna Virginia LaRocca was born in 1921, in Peoria, Illinois, hometown of her father. 

Donna LaRocca moved with her parents to Los Angeles around 1934.

 1944 Second Lieutenant Army Air Corps Heavy Bomber Robert M. Cotterell was captured on May 27th and imprisoned in a German POW camp.

Recently found article: Robert Cotterell goes from MIA to POW.

Los Angeles Citizen News July 29 1944

His address is listed as 3712 Arbolada as seen in the cutout below.

 (Robert Cotterell is listed with the Evans address on his daughter Diana Lee’s birth certificate.)

LAT Aug. 19, 1944

Robert Cotterell’s daughter Constance is 2 years old, and Diana only 5 months, on the date the POW announcement was published.  

1945 Robert Cotterell is liberated from the German Camp.

Public military record found online.

1947

Donna LaRocca Cotterell files for divorce against Robert Morgan Cotterell.

Los Angeles Times September 16, 1947

1947 The Cotterell’s divorce is finalized.

Los Angeles Times Novemeber 6, 1947

Historic Context: Robert and Donna Cotterell were one couple out of thousands who made up a nation-wide spike in divorce rates after WW2.

Statistics show that in 1946 one in four US marriages ended in divorce.

A 1946 article written on the subject in the New York Times:

“More than half of America’s 1,500,000 war-wed G.I.s have returned. Already one out of every four of these 800,000 men is entangled in divorce proceedings. Experts are predicting that by 1950, 1,000,000 of these wartime marriages-or two out of three-will end in divorce.”

 Robert Cotterell remarried in approximately 1949 to Patricia Frick and the couple had two children in 1950 and 51.

 He had a job after the war working for Douglas Aircraft. The job took his family all over the San Fernando Valley and Laguna Beach.

I would imagine Robert paid alimony to Donna as was common at the time, as well as child support for Constance and Diana.

1938-1944 3834 Evans St. Grandparents Home. Address on Diana Cotterell’s Birth Certificate. Hyperion Studio. Marshall High.

3834 Evans St. Home of Ned and Virginia LaRocca

We do know that by 1938 Ned LaRocca and his wife Virginia, Diana’s grandparents, were living at 3834 Evans, along with their daughter and Diana’s mother, Donna Virginia LaRocca. It’s also the address recorded on Diana’s birth certificate in 1944.

Ned LaRocca permit to build a garage.
City of LA building permit for garage 1938 Mr. LaRocca listed as owner.

Tree in front yard of 3834 Evans St 2016

Disney Hyperion Studios in the foreground of this 1931 photo. Marshall High in the background. Ned and Virginia LaRocca would be living right around the corner from the High School by 1938. photo findingwalt.com

This studio is where Snow White, the first full-length animated feature, was produced. Its’ success made Walt Disney enough money to build a larger studio in Burbank, which was up and running by January of 1940.   The Burbank Disney studio is still the location of Disney to this day.

 3834 Evans is located just a few blocks from the famous John Marshall High School.  

Walt and his brother/partner Roy Disney lived in the Los Feliz neighborhood for several years in the days when they first moved to Los Angeles.

A Ralph’s now stands at the old Hyperion location.

View at Los Feliz Blvd and Rowena looking east. 1930s. Close to 3834 Evans St, the LaRocca’s home from about the late 1930s to the mid-40s. Found on the internet.

This 1942 registration card of  Joseph Ned LaRocca’s was nicknamed the “Old Man’s Draft Card.” It was required by a Selective Service Act (after Pearl Harbor) and used to acquire information. It was likened to a “snapshot of American males age 45-64 years old.

Found on ancestry.com

This document shows us that Joseph Ned LaRocca lived at 3834 Evans St and that he worked at NBC and CBS on Radio Row, Sunset and Vine.

1944. Birth. Los Angeles.

The woman who most of us recognize as Paige Young, Playboy Playmate of November 1968, was born Diana Lee Cotterell on March 16, 1944, at the Griffith Park Maternity Home located at 1933 Griffith Park Boulevard.  Her birth certificate records the area as “Hollywood.”

Diana’s older sister Constance Susan Cotterell was born at the same maternity center in 1942. It was designed as a “birthing center” for mothers of the Christian Science religion aka Church of Christ Science.

The birthing center was well established by 1931 and continued in that capacity for decades.

It became a senior center in the 50s or 60s and was demolished in 2016 on the day of my visit.

1933 Griffith Park Blvd.

Diana’s birth certificate says her home address is 3834 Evans. Location is close to the CS Maternity Center Griffith Park Blvd.