Glendale never has been a site for professional boxing matches, but it
has been a residential draw for world champions Jimmy McLarnin, Jess
Willard and Primo Carnera.
Jim Jeffries was a boxing impresario in Burbank and Jack Dempsey lived
in the Los Feliz area. Another Glendale resident was Fidel La Barba, who
defeated three featherweight champions in non-title bouts, but lost a
15-rounder for the title.
Then there were the Dundee brothers, the first siblings to hold world
titles. Joe won the welterweight championship in 1927 and Vince held the
middleweight title in 1933 and 1934.
By coincidence, Vince was champ at the time that Carnera wore the
A lengthy conversation with La Canada Flintridge's Vince Dundee, Jr.
included these observations:
Chuck Benedict: Both your Dad and Joe were born in Italy. When and
where were you born?
Vince Dundee: In 1931 in Baltimore. My dad posthumously was enshrined
in the University of Maryland Hall of Fame in the same ceremony as Dr.
Jonas Salk and baseball's Lefty Grove, in 1956. Dad and Joe are in many
Halls of Fame.
CB: What brought you to Glendale?
VD: I had an uncle in the movie business and my mother visited him.
She wanted to stay, so we moved here in 1940. Dad opened up the original
Vince Dundee Cafe on West Colorado.
CB: Wasn't it a hangout for celebrities?
VD: Immediately. Later, I had an annual boxers day and many current
and former champs came, including Jess Willard, excepting when Dempsey
was there. They had a feud after Jack took the heavyweight title from
CB: Were there many feuds?
VD: In those days, boxing animosity was rare, and was quietly
personal. Today, boxers often show phony hatred for each other. It's
mostly for hype.
CB: Wasn't your dad very popular? Did he need fake hypes?
VD: No. I have scrapbooks that tell how much everyone loved him.
CB: What about the cafe?
VD: It was the first of many restaurants that the family and I have
owned, including the Kona Kai Inn, Christopher's, some in the desert and
in Glendale. I sold or dismantled them all, in many cases keeping the
CB: Did you get into boxing?
VD: Only as a great fan. I liked writing, and got my degree in
journalism at USC. I have had many articles published.
CB: Is yours a career family?
VD: I met Rita when she was reigning orchid princess of the nation. We
both graduated from USC and were married in La Canada in 1953. Our sons,
Vince III and Scott, own VER, a very large Glendale company with
operating locations in seven other distant sites. VER rents anything and
everything needed in equipment for shooting movies, commercials, TV shows
and documentaries, and that's only part of its scope.
Another son is Dr. Mark Wayne Dundee, who holds nine degrees from
nationally recognized universities. He is a high-level attorney, and this
year he was named by Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill as West Coast
Chairman of the U.S. Savings Bond Committee. My daughter, Erin, is VER's
national marketing director.
CB: VER is a huge outfit. Do you have part of the action?
VD: Not by investment, but the boys made me a consultant with a big
office. However, as each new expansion comes along at the executive
level, I have given up my space to make room. But I have a nice, handy
office at home. I still have a great association with Vince and Scott.
CB: You seem to be vitally active in Glendale's city and charitable
VD: Many of them. I love people, being associated with them and
helping them where that is needed. I also still write occasionally. Love
CB: Were you ever associated with the News-Press?
VD: Yes. I was a stringer when Charlie Park was sports editor. I was
sports editor of the Hoover High School paper and I played basketball
there. My four kids, by the way, all went to high school in La Canada,
where all of them still live, near us.
CB: They certainly have done well. Were they good kids?
VD: I worked them so hard in restaurants they never wanted to work in
one again. But Rita and I loved them and they knew it.
CB: Tough love can pay off.
VD: (smiling) Apparently.
CHUCK BENEDICT can be reached at 637-3200 (voice mail 974), by fax at
549-9191 or by E-mail at BChuckbenedict@aol.com.