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.


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.


Family History#2 Great Depression. Arrival In LA. 1940s Radio Row. Radio City. Sunset and Vine. KNX. CBS. Tom Breneman. NBC Building.

Part of an ad for the historic Avon theater, where Frank LaRocca worked in the 1920s.

Frank LaRocca was a violinist and music director in Decatur, Illinois.

Decatur Daily Review Aug. 23, 1925

My research shows that Frank, along with his wife Rose, moved to Los Angeles in about 1930. The couple resided at 2303 Gatewood.

  1934, Frank’s brother Ned, his wife Virginia LaRocca and their 9 year old Donna, joined Frank and Rose in Los Angeles. The family moved into a house located at 2234 Shoredale Ave. about two blocks away from Frank and Rose on Gatewood.

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

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

 Brothers Frank and Ned are listed as “music teachers” in the LA phone directory in the mid-1930s. 

1937: 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 was buried in his home town of Peoria, Illinois. Per Frank LaRocca’s LA death certificate I purchased.

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

1938: NBC Radio aka “Radio City” opens their new location in a sensational Streamline Moderne building on Sunset and Vine.

1940s NBC building on Sunset & Vine Architect John C. Austin Note the “RADIO CITY NBC” moniker
Austin was also the architect for the Griffith Observatory.

Ned LaRocca is employed at Radio City NBC and Columbia Square CBS in early 1942

  There is a need for music, of course, in all types of radio shows: comedy, drama, singing, symphony, advertisements, theatrical presentations, news, public service announcement, etc.

Nearby Hollywood and Vine had the Pantages Theatre (1930) and El Capitan (1926).

1940s. Tom Breneman broadcast his popular show “Breakfast In Hollywood” from his restaurant on Vine off of Sunset Blvd. I’ve listened to a few saved radio broadcasts and Breneman asks “where are you from?” it seems like a combination of locals and tourists.

Tom Breneman’s Hollywood Restaurant and hotels.

Night shot of Sunset & Vine. NBC on the right side. 1940s

Still from footage shot in front of the Radio Room 1940s.

1948 Taken from NBC No more Tom Brenamen! I don’t know when it became a TV station KECA but it must be 1948 is quite early in the entrance of Television into American homes and the revolution that occured with Television set purchasing and viewing at home in the 1950s.

CBS radio aka “Columbia Square” opens just down the street. It’s the new home to KNX Radio.

Architect is Swiss-born William Lescase. CBS Columbia Square

 A veteran performing harpist, Ned LaRocca was able to find a steady paycheck at both NBC and CBS.

He was at the right place at the right time with the right qualifications.

He probably felt lucky as I’m sure it was a competitive environment during the Great Depression.

This article dated July 7, 1938 from the San Fernando Valley Times. Note the mention of future Warner Bros. starlet Jane Harker, niece by marriage to Donna LaRocca’s Father Ned.

Ned LaRocca continued to work at NBC and CBS throughout the 1940s and made an important contact with Leith Stevens, conductor and composer. Stevens would give Ned employment in the growing LA album recording industry when radio changes: it went from offering popular entertainment programs to “music listening radio stations.” Radio comedies and dramas went to the new popular medium of Television.

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


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

Could the harpist in this photo be Ned LaRocca?

From the book “Commercial Los Angeles 1925-1947” Photos by the “Dick” Whittington Studio. Photo is distorted from the original. Collection of the author.

Old postcard when these spectacular buildings were brand new. Ned LaRocca worked at both networks in radio and later early TV.
Description on back of postcard.

*Thank you Raul Morena for his online video “Great Tour of Radio Row in Hollywood.” His website is Eyes of a Generation*

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.

Front yard of 3834 Evans St. with a huge beautiful tree. 2016

Ned LaRocca permit to build a garage.
City of LA building permit for garage 1938

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

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.

Walt Roy Disney lived in the Los Feliz neighborhood for several years in the days when they had 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.