1958-1962 Donna Cotterell remarries. Ned LaRocca dies. A New Decade.

Donna Virginia LaRocca Cotterell marries John “Jack” Holroyd in Las Vegas on October 3, 1958, per online Vegas wedding records difficult to decipher. Found on ancestry.com.

Patriarch Joseph Ned LaRocca dies of lung cancer (death cert.) towards the end of 1959.

LAT November 18, 1959.

Below are closeups of Ned LaRocca’s death certificate. It looks like he spent about a year in a sanitarium located on Foothill Blvd. in the Tujunga/Sunland area. I have been unable to learn if this was specifically a Christian Science sanitarium, (his wife was a CSP) but I have learned that the Tujunga area was considered to have cleaner air than other parts of the San Fernando Valley.

Ned LaRocca’s grave is in Glen Haven Memorial Park in Sylmar.

 Note the name of last employer: Leith Stevens.

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The 1960s Begin

In 1960 and 62, Virginia LaRocca is listed in the phone directory at 13204 Riverside Drive, about 2 miles from Grant High School at 13000 Oxford Ave.  This is also the address listed on Joseph Ned LaRocca’s death cert. above.

Donna and Jack Holroyd are registered Republicans in 1960 and 62 per ancestry.com voting records. Their listed address is a 6-plex apartment building on Oxford Ave. The building location is easy walking distance to Grant High School.

Diana’s photo does not appear in any Grant High School or Van Nuys High School yearbook during the years she would have attended and graduated from high school. This would have been 60, 61 and 62.

1962 would have been Diana’s graduation year and turning 18 in March.

 

1950s #3 Diana Cotterell. SFV. Grade School. Horses. Sepulveda Stables. Van Nuys Junior High.

Diana started grade school in about 1950. She attended Riverside Dr. Elementary. A schoolmate of Diana’s at Riverside confirmed this for me–Robbyn Samuels.

I visited in 2016. Located at 13061 Riverside Drive.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.

I don’t know if Robbyn Samuels remembered incorrectly or if Diana went to both grade schools. But she was definitely at Dixie Canyon in the 6th grade

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. Their house was basically in the dead center between the two schools

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 hope to return and check more thoroughly. 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.
Image I took of a hallway at VNJH

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.

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. 

Valley News and Green Sheet June 18, 1959

Early 1960s and earlier The future Mrs. John Huston and friend to Paige Young, Celeste Shane, also boards a horse at Sepulveda Stable as does actress Donna Reed and actress Jill St. John.

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.

1950s #1 Move to San Fernando Valley. Recording Industry LA. Celebrity Connections. Leith Stevens.

Hereafter known as SFV.

1950

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

Around this year Diana and her family move to 13055 Moorpark St., 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.

This image shows the Hughes Market that stood on that intersection. I believe it is the southeast corner.

From the facebook page “SFV in the 50, 60s, 70s.

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

I first connected the family to 13055 Moorpark St. address by an online city building permit:

The LaRoccas are requesting a house alteration to make more rooms and a seperate entrance for a “rental unit.”

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 Pat and their two children, 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 SFV 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

Patriarch Joseph Ned LaRocca to adapted to the waning popularity of radio programs by working for Leith Stevens as an orchestra manager in the growing LA recording industry.

Ned already had experience with “adapting”to a new mass medium, when his first industry, vaudeville, died out in the early 30s during the Great Depression.

One significant factor that changed radio was the rise of TV in the 1950s. Drama and comedy serials 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

And

The importance of television for the film industry during the 1950s cannot be overstated. It has been argued that television was the primary factor affecting the dramatic plunge in ticket sales, box-office receipts, and company profits in Hollywood between 1947 and 1957.

encyclopedia.com

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

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.”

Secondly, the 1953 score to the Marlon Brando movie “The Wild One.”  This became a successful album released by Decca records and remains Leith Stevens most well-known and well-regarded creation.  J. Ned LaRocca is credited as “Contractor” on the project. Per Discogs.com.

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.”

Besides composing the popular “The Wild One” soundtrack and album, Leith Stevens composed numerous scores used for stock music in radio shows, movies and  TV.

 IMDB says many of his compositions go uncredited. Stevens had a  diverse career; in the 1950s, he composed music used in films and TV series such as the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Ma and Pa Kettle, Earth vs. Flying Saucers, Crusader Rabbit (a T.V. series), the Ann Sothern Show, and the Twilight Zone.

More on Leith Stevens soon.