Posted on May 1, 2020
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.
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.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 5 out of 5.
View from Arbolada Drive is spectacular as is the original building itself.
Posted on April 29, 2020
Robert M. Cotterell was 23 and Donna LaRocca 19 when they were married in 1940.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Donna LaRocca Cotterell files for divorce against Robert Morgan Cotterell.
1947 The Cotterell’s divorce is finalized.
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.
Category: 1940s, LA Locations, Robert Morgan Cotterell Tagged: #3710 Arbolada, #Family, Chateau Marmont, Donna Cotterell, Douglas Aircraft, Garden of Allah, German POW Camp, Hollywood History, Hollywood Wedding Chapel, Los Angeles History, Los Feliz, Paige Young, Players, post WW2 divorce rate, POW, Preston Sturges, Robert Morgan Cotterell, SFV, Sunset Blvd., Sunset Strip, WW2