Posted on April 29, 2020
Robert M. Cotterell was 23 and Donna LaRocca 19 when they were married in 1940.
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.
Diana’s mother Donna Virginia LaRocca was born in 1921, in Peoria, Illinois.
Donna’s parents were Ned and Virginia LaRocca, vaudevillians who travelled the Pantages, Orpheum and other vaudeville circuits for about the first 10 years of her life.
Donna LaRocca moved with her parents to Los Angeles around 1934.
Below is the Hollywood Wedding Chapel where Robert and Donna were married as stated on the marriage certificate. The location is 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, 8225 Sunset Blvd is a Pink Taco restaurant.
1944 Second Lieutenant Army Air Corps Heavy Bomber Robert M. Cotterell was captured on May 27th and imprisoned in a German POW camp. 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.
1944 Mother Donna Cotterell is listed as living at 3710/12 Arbolada address on her voter registration this year. Seen on ancestry.com
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
Posted on April 27, 2020
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.
3834 Evans is located just a few blocks from the famous John Marshall High School.
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.
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.
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.
Category: 1940s, LA Locations, Peoria, Illinois, Popular Culture, Radio City, CBS, NBC Tagged: 3834 Evans, Burbank, Disney Hyperion Studio, Frank LaRocca, Franklin Hills, John Marshall High School, Joseph Ned LaRocca, LA City Permit, Los Angeles History, Los Feliz, Rowena St., Snow White, Walt Disney
Posted on April 27, 2020
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.
Diana’s birth certificate says her home address is 3834 Evans. Location is close to the CS Maternity Center where she was born: 1933 Griffith Park Blvd.