ON THE TOWN:

The Alex Theatre screened “Sparrows” on Sunday in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Mary Pickford’s first year in film. The matinee screening, which included two Pickford shorts, marked the only Los Angeles showing of the film. The 1926 silent film was just restored by specialists from the Library of Congress, represented at the screening by Crystal SchmidtCrystal Schmidt.

Local residents had surprising ties to the film. Film society board member Dean Briggs showed off a letter sent from Pickford to his grandmother in 1916. Both were 23 years old. In fading blue type, Pickford said, “I wish I could see little Channing [Briggs’s father] . . .  When I hear that anyone loves children, I know that they are the sort of people I like.” Briggs’s grandmother was a fan who struck up a pen pal relationship with Pickford.

Burbank resident Louise Paziak had another connection to Pickford. When her mother was 18 months old, she starred with Pickford in “Sparrows.” And Paziak had the photo to prove it. Paziak grew up listening to stories about her mother’s career that included films in which she acted with Clara Bow, Gary Cooper and even Rin Tin Tin.

Before the screening, some 250 fans took a look at Pickford’s blond curls, displayed in the Alex lobby from a collection housed at the Natural History Museum. In fact, the Alex Theatre had to take out an expensive insurance rider to display the curls. Museum Collections Manager Beth Werling brought the curls and other Pickford memorabilia to the Alex. Werling is also a film society board member and producer of the screening.

Mimicking the organists of old, Dan Redfeld played an electric keyboard during “Sparrows.” He was a last minute substitute for the recently deceased Bob Mitchell, who had been considered the last surviving organist from the silent movie period. He died at 96 years old on July 4.

Film Society President Randy Carter reminded fans that “The King and I” will be the next film society screening at the Alex on July 25.

The city of Glendale teamed with Glendale Healthy Kids to present “A USO Show,” also on Sunday on the back lawn of the Doctors’ House Museum in Brand Park. The audience, about 50 fans strong, sat on the lawn on blankets and folding chairs as they enjoyed song and dance numbers from the 1930s to the ’80s for a $5 suggested donation.

Fifth row, center, was Her Honor, former Glendale Mayor Eileen Givens and husband Jim Givens. They were joined by News-Press columnist Katherine Yamada and husband Glenn Yamada. Community activist Marilyn Gunnell came solo.

The show’s trumpeter was none other than Larry Johnson, who is the chaplain at Glendale Memorial Hospital, when he’s not performing with the cast from Show of Support Productions, that is.

The next Glendale Healthy Kids fundraiser will be “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner!” on Sept. 19 and 20.

There’s a new Glendale YMCA chief executive in town. Tyler Wright was welcomed as the Y’s brand new chief executive at a reception at the Phoencia Restaurant on Thursday. Host Ara Kalfayan wore two hats — he’s the debonair owner of Phoencia as well as a member of the YMCA Board of Directors.

This is a second welcome to the Glendale area for Wright. Born and raised in Indiana, Wright was senior program director of the Crescenta Cañada YMCA from 1989 through 1993. He spent the last eight years as chief executive of the Helena YMCA in Helena, Mont., before his new appointment.

“It’s like coming home,” Wright said of his homecoming. “It feels good.”

YMCA board members who showed up early to celebrate Wright’s new job included Jim Wilke, Charles Moore, Greg Grande and Glendale Adventist’s Foundation President Morre Dean. Glendale Arts and Alex Theatre Executive Director Barry McComb said he was there to welcome “the new guy back to town.”

All enjoyed the white wine and iced Coca-Cola that flowed generously.

South Pasadena author Kay Mouradian made her first appearance in Glendale at the Central Library on Thursday to present the history of the Armenian deportations in 1915. Most riveting were the deportation experiences of her mother’s family. Mouradian described them in power point and photos as she followed the genocide route from Hadjin, Turkey, to the Syrian deserts of Deir Zor.

Mouradian is the author of “A Gift in the Sunlight,” a fictionalized account of her family’s deportation experiences. Following the lecture, Mouradian autographed copies during a brief reception. At the front of the line for their signed copies were students from Glendale Community College, who were at the library for their advanced composition class field trip. The 36-member college contingent represented a healthy portion of Mouradian’s audience, more than 80 book lovers strong.

The Friends of the Library presented Mouradian’s lecture. Vice President of Community Events Leon Mayer was the genial host of the evening.


 RUTH SOWBY may be reached at ruthsowby@msn.com.

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