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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Fifty Famous and Fascinating Altadenans



Fifty famous and fascinating Altadenans–movie stars, artists, authors, scientists, athletes and more–are highlighted in a new exhibit at the Altadena Historical Society.

“We’ve had great fun researching and producing this exhibit,” said Jane Brackman, Society president. “The trouble has been choosing those to include, as we have far more than our gallery can accommodate.”

The show is in both the Historical Society’s gallery and in the lobby of the Altadena Community Center, 730 E. Altadena Drive, just west of the Sheriff’s Station.

It is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, and by appointment for groups and others, (626) 797-8016. It is free of charge, but donations toward the Society’s work are welcomed.

“Many of the people featured are our current neighbors and gave their kind permission for us to include them, while others have passed on,” Brackman said. “In fact, we didn’t include several Altadena residents who are major stars in their fields, but cherish the privacy they have by living here.“

Current or former Altadenans included in the new exhibit include:

*The Smothers Brothers. Singers, musicians, comedians and television stars; as boys, Tom and Dick Smothers lived with relatives on Santa Anita Avenue.

*Noted contemporary authors Miles Corwin, Naomi Hirahara, Jervey Tervalon and Michelle Huneven; deceased best-seller Zane Grey.

*Entrepreneur Horace Dobbins. Dobbins proposed an elevated bikeway between Pasadena and Los Angeles, some of which was built. His beautiful and innovative home was near the top of Lincoln Avenue.

*Tennis great Stan Smith, who trained at the Altadena Town and Country Club, winner of the 1971 U.S. Open and 1972 Wimbledon, and LPGA golfer Mo Martin, winner of the 2014 Women’s British Open.

*Mary Colter. One of America’s first and most celebrated female architects, designing and overseeing construction of iconic tourist attractions and hotels at the Grand Canyon and throughout the Southwest.

*Famed seismologist Charles Richter; legendary astronomer George Ellery Hale; and brilliant physicist, exuberant adventurer and best-selling author Richard Feynman.

*Octavia Butler. A science fiction writer who received a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant in 1995 and was a PEN Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Butler’s work is still selling.

*Johnny Otis. Called “The King of Rock and Roll” and “Godfather of Rhythm and Blues,” he was a singer, musician, composer, arranger, bandleader, talent scout, disk jockey, record producer, television show host, artist, author, journalist, minister and impresario.

Society President Jane Brackman said the most frequent comments overheard from people viewing the exhibit are “No kidding!,” “Oh, really!,” and “Come look at this!,” which is her invitation to the public: “Come look at this!”

The Altadena Historical Society was founded in 1935 and is a tax-exempt non-profit whose mission is to gather, preserve and present information about the people, places and events that have shaped the community.

It’s office, archives and galleries are located in the Altadena Community Center, 730 E. Altadena Drive, 91001.

The Society’s website is, and its popular blog is

Groups of all ages are welcomed for docent-led tours of exhibits and archives; they can be arranged by phoning the Society at (626) 797-8016.

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