Tom LaBonge

by Richard Bogy, past president of the Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce

On January 7th Toluca Lake lost a great friend, supporter, leader and cheerleader with the passing of Councilmember Tom LaBonge. Tom was a man of limitless energy and passion, who possessed a huge heart. He loved people. He loved Los Angeles. He loved Toluca Lake.

Tom’s contributions to our community are simply too long to list here, but suffice to say that Toluca Lake continues to be a very special place thanks to Tom LaBonge.

Continue reading “Tom LaBonge”

A Sweltering Day in Toluca Lake

by Ron Babbini

It’s HOT in Toluca Lake, so a Toluca Lake story to make us feel cooler.:

In July, 1945, Mel Torme went to his song writing partner Bob Wells‘ home in Toluca Lake. There he saw Wells playing a catchy new tune on the piano.

It was a sweltering day, and they decided to write lyrics to the tune that would make them feel cool. Hence, they wrote one of the most popular ever Christmas songs (in my mind, a quintessential Manhattan song) in the heat of summer in Toluca Lake:

Watch Nat King Cole – “The Christmas Song” (1961)” on YouTube

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight

They know that Santa’s on his way
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother’s child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer really know how to fly

So I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you

So I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas to you

Songwriters: Mel Torme / Robert Wells

Remembering Toluca Lake

The China Trader

The location of the Trader is now partially a public green space, partially Garry Marshall’s Falcon Theater and partially a retail space. You can find some souvenirs from the China Trader on e-bay.

China Trader 300The China Trader was owned by Jack Webb, creator of Dragnet, Adam 12 and Emergency. Jack’s ex-wife was Julie London – who married Bobby Troup after she and Jack divorced. It was, however, a “friendly” divorce – and all three remained close friends, which is why Bobby (and Julie) were often found performing at the China Trader. The China Trader was opened when both Trader Vic’s (Beverly Hills) and Don the Beachcomber (Hollywood) were all the rage, and The Trader filled that themed South Pacific lounge/restaurant niche in the San Fernando Vallley. Continue reading “Remembering Toluca Lake”

Jack Ritter Photo Albums

Thank You to Jack Ritter for preserving these photo albums and memories.

Thank You to Peter Generales for sharing the albums with us.

Thank You to Steve Hampar for having some of the pages of this photo album scanned so everyone can see them.


These photos seem to have been taken in the 1980s and show the year each business was established. Notice the Bogy Company dating back to 1910. Please share with us any memories these people and stores bring to mind, and let us know if you would like to see more from these albums. Continue reading “Jack Ritter Photo Albums”

1969 Chamber Installation of Officers

1969 Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce Installation
James Potter, Dorothy Lamour, Ed Reinecke, Ann Blythe, John and June Broughton

Thank you to Richard Bogy who has preserved this photo sent to him by
Rickie Stambaugh. It was taken at the Chamber’s installation of officers banquet on February 15, 1969.

From left to right are James Potter (City Councilman), Dorothy Lamour (“movie queen” and co-star of the Hope-Crosby “Road Pictures”), Ed Reinecke (Lt. Governor of California), Ann Blythe (Movie Queen – Oscar nominee for Mildred Pierce), Chamber President John Broughton and his wife June.

Ann Blythe served as Honorary Sheriff and Dorothy Lamour was our “Ambassador of Goodwill.” Both lived in Toluca Lake; Dorothy on Placidia Avenue and Ann on Toluca Estates Drive.

Village View – Jane Kean

by Jon Molin

Jane Kean

Did You Know???

…we have a star in our midst, and her name is Jane Kean? She has chosen Toluca Lake for her home town and has lived here for over a decade.

I had the pleasure of first meeting her several years ago when she asked me for help. While escorting her small dog out of the elevator for a leisurely walk, the leash had somehow managed to jam itself in the elevator door. I was doubly amazed. First by the fact that I was able to free the leash from it’s tether, and that I was face to face with a true Hollywood icon. Jane smiled, thanked me three times and was on her way. Continue reading “Village View – Jane Kean”

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