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Mr. and Mrs. American Citizen of the Year award at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub
Alternative Title
Los Angeles Photographers Photo Collection;
Curtis, Rolland J
Made accessible through a grant from the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation
Date Created and/or Issued
Contributing Institution
Los Angeles Public Library
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Rights Information
Images available for reproduction and use. Please see the Ordering & Use page at for additional information.
Title supplied by cataloger.
Rolland Joseph 'Speedy' Curtis was born in Louisiana in 1922. After serving three years in the Marines during World War II, he and his wife, Gloria, relocated from New Orleans to Los Angeles in 1946. Curtis served four years with the Los Angeles Police Department, but resigned from the force in order to pursue both a Bachelor's and Master's degree from USC. He later became involved in city politics, as an associate of Sam Yorty, and later a field deputy to City Council members Billy Mills and Tom Bradley. He was briefly director of the Model Cities program in 1973. Rolland J. Curtis died in his home in 1979, the victim of a homicide. An affordable housing complex on Exposition Blvd. near Vermont Ave. was named in his honor in 1981, along with a nearby street and park.; Leslie Shaw (1922-1985) was named the postmaster of Los Angeles in 1963, under the direction of President John F. Kennedy. He was the first African American postmaster of Los Angeles, and the first black male to be appointed Postmaster of a major US City. He was preceded only by Nancy Avery, who was appointed Postmaster of Pacoima in 1961 and was the first African American Postmaster of a major office in California.; The massive 500-room Ambassador Hotel, designed by renowned architect Myron Hunt, opened for business in 1921 on the site of a former dairy farm. It occupied 23.7 acres at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard, bordered by 8th Street, Catalina Street, and nearly to Mariposa Avenue. The hotel served as the stomping grounds for a staggering list of Hollywood legends, heads of state, and an endless list of famous personalities from the 20th Century. It was also home of The Cocoanut Grove nightclub, which was 'the' West Coast hot spot for live entertainment where people like Bing Crosby and Barbra Streisand got their start, and Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and many others came to perform. It is said that as many as seven U.S. Presidents stayed at the Ambassador, from Hoover to Nixon, along with heads of state from around the world. A pivotal moment in world history happened in 1968, when Robert F. Kennedy was shot in a pantry off of the Embassy Room (and died 25 hours later), following his California Primary victory speech. The death of RFK coincided with the beginning of the hotel's demise. The Schine family had owned the Ambassador for about 50 years, until its doors were closed on January 3, 1989 after 68 years of service, selling for $64 million. The landmark hotel was eventually demolished between late 2005 and early 2006.; The B'nai B'rith is the largest and oldest Jewish service organization in the world, rooted in defending human rights, intercultural relations, public policy, the position of Israel, Senior advocacy and housing, etc. Established in 1843 in New York's Lower East Side by 12 German-Jewish immigrants in response to "the deplorable condition of Jews" in the United States. The name translates to "Children of the Covenant", orignally named "Bundes-Bruder" (German for "Brothers of the Covenant"), which is made up of fraternal lodges, women chapters and youth chapters in countries all over the world. The organization serves as a vital voice in advocating for global Jewry and promoting Jewish unity and continuity by conferring with government leaders on issues affecting Jews throughout the world. Their headquarters is located in Lafayette Centre at 1120 20th St NW, #300n, Washington, DC 20036.
Photograph depicts guests of the 'Mr. and Mrs. American Citizen of the Year' award from B'nai B'rith - Los Angeles Lodge No. 487, at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub inside the Ambassador Hotel. Pictured from left to right are: Assembly Member Jesse Unruh smiling and shaking hands with Los Angeles Postmaster Leslie Shaw, his wife Ann Shaw, and Judge Sherman Smith. The award was presented to both Eugene L. Wyman and City Councilwoman Rosalind Wiener Wyman. Photograph dated April 12, 1964. See images 00119191; 00119774 through 00119777; 00134147, 00134148; and 00138641 through 0013680 for additional photos in this series.
1 negative : safety ; 10 x 13 cm.
Photographic safety negatives
Rolland J. Curtis Collection
Unruh, Jesse,--1922-1987
Shaw, Leslie N.,--1985
Ambassador Hotel
Cocoanut Grove (Los Angeles, Calif.)
B'nai B'rith.--Los Angeles Lodge No. 487
Lost architecture
Associations, institutions, etc
Award presentations
Fur coats
Husband and wife
African American men
African American women
Los Angeles (Calif.)
Time Period
Curtis, Gloria

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