In 1992, the state issued its first IOUs since the Great Depression and held its first execution in 25 years--putting to death Robert Alton Harris, a 39-year-old murderer. The first captive California condors were reintroduced into the wild, 10 years after the breeding program began. The Dodgers finished last for the first time in 87 years. The 310 area code made its official debut. And Los Angeles got its first commuter rail line--Metrolink.
Californians were in the vanguard of what political pundits had dubbed the Year of the Woman, simultaneously sending Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to Washington, making California the first state ever to elect two women to the U.S. Senate. Voters found the Green Party on their ballots for the first time. And two Los Angeles residents, Bob Hattoy and Elizabeth Glaser, became the first people infected with the AIDS virus to address a national political convention during prime time.
Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen took the helm of the L.A. Philharmonic. Willie L. Williams became the first black chief of the Los Angeles Police Department--and the first chief to be hired from outside the department since 1949. Voters made Yvonne Brathwaite Burke the first elected African-American Los Angeles County supervisor. And Leticia Quezada became the first Latina president of the Los Angeles Board of Education.
The Los Angeles County Public Library signed up its one-millionth cardholder--a kindergartner from Bellflower. The Pasadena City Council, upset about litter at the Doo Dah Parade, passed its first ban on tortilla throwing. Santa Monica High School became the first in Los Angeles County to hand out condoms on campus. And a 52-year-old Ventura woman became the oldest American to give birth to an in-vitro fertilized baby.
It was a year full of farewells. Earvin (Magic) Johnson, who retired in November, 1991, after learning that he tested positive for the AIDS virus, rejoined the Lakers in September, 1992. But two months later, Johnson retired again after some players voiced concerns about playing against him.
Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner withdrew from his race for reelection. Police Chief Daryl F. Gates retired and Los Angeles schools chief Bill Anton resigned. County Administrative Officer Richard B. Dixon and Airport Manager Clifton A. Moore retired. Kenneth Hahn retired after serving four decades as county supervisor, and Mayor Tom Bradley announced that he will step down in June after serving longer than any mayor in city history.
Congressman Edward R. Roybal--the dean of Los Angeles Latino politics--retired, but his daughter, Assemblywoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, won a congressional seat.
After six years as pastor of the poorest parish in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Father Gregory J. (G-Dog) Boyle said goodby to his homeboys to undertake a yearlong spiritual retreat required of all Jesuits.
Brandon Tartikoff, the Wunderkind of prime time television, resigned his job as chairman of Paramount Pictures. Barry Diller, the volatile but innovative chairman of Fox Inc., did the same. And comedian Johnny Carson ended his 30-year reign on NBC's "Tonight Show."
Robinson's department store and the California May Co. merged. Superman was killed off after 50 years of invincibility. The Spruce Goose--the world's largest aircraft--was shipped to Oregon after the Walt Disney Co. decided not to renew its lease. And Hannibal, the Los Angeles Zoo's rowdy, five-ton African bull elephant, died after officials failed in their effort to load the drug-sedated pachyderm onto a truck bound for Mexico.
A partial list of celebrities who died in 1992: Stella Adler, actress and acting teacher, 91. Lyle Alzado, former L.A. Raider, 43 Dame Judith Anderson, actress, 93 Isaac Asimov, science fiction writer, 72 Francis Bacon, British painter, 82 Red Barber, baseball broadcaster, 84 Menachem Begin, Israeli leader, 78 Sandy Dennis, Oscar-winning actress, 54 Marlene Dietrich, femme fatale, 90 Willie Dixon, blues musician, 76 Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick, the "conscience" of the House of Representatives, 82 M.F.K. Fisher, food writer, 83 William Gaines, founder of Mad magazine, 70 Jim Garrison, district attorney who challenged JFK assassination report, 70 "Mother" Clara Hale, advocate for children with AIDS, 87. Alex Haley, author of "Autobiography of Malcolm X," "Roots," 70 S.I. Hayakawa, semanticist and former senator, 85 Benny Hill, the "King Leer" of television, 67 Albert King, blues guitarist, 69. Sam Kinison, shock comedian, 38 Cleavon Little, actor, 53 Barbara McClintock, Nobel-winning geneticist, 90 Wilbur Mills, Arkansas lawmaker, 82 Bert Parks, former Miss America host, 77 Anthony Perkins, actor, 60 Satyajit Ray, Indian film director, 70 Hal Roach, film pioneer, 100 Eric Sevareid, commentator, 79 William Shawn, New Yorker editor, 85 John J. Sirica, Watergate case judge, 88 Lawrence Welk, bandleader, 89 Mary Wells, Motown star, 49 Nick B. Williams, newspaper editor, 85