the smiling men of pasadena 1: introduction and the composite smile of f.w. kellogg


Pasadena Evening Post, December 31, 1920.

Some newspapers end a year with reflections on the previous 12 months. Other express their hopes for the next 12. As 1920 gave way to 1921, the Pasadena Evening Post decided what would really cheer readers up (and keep advertisers happy) was to publish in its New Year's Eve edition a ton of ads and photos depicting grinning members of the paper's staff and the local business community. While some of those depicted look relaxed and friendly to talk shop with, others have strange expressions generally associated with membership in cults.

Originally this post was going to be a long image dump, but I couldn't resist digging deeper, finding out more about the gentlemen featured in these ads. has a decent selection of Pasadena papers, which to led to a two-day research adventure which yielded some interesting stories.

I'll admit that I've developed a soft spot for Pasadena (and neighbouring Altadena) in recent years. My wife's family has made it a welcoming place, especially on our most recent trip last winter, which turned out to be our last pre-COVID adventure. It's a great city to explore, with an easily walkable downtown, and a good base for roaming around Los Angeles. Though I've only visited southern California three times in my life, it's one of those places that just feels right, where I could spend plenty of time and come away refreshed, recharged, and inspired. 

(In short: this is a warning that this series won't be the end of Pasadena-related material. If you're from there and reading this, I apologize for any goofs.)


The parade of smiles began on the front page with publisher Frederick William Kellogg, setting the tone for the rest of this New Year's Eve edition. Born in Norwalk, Ohio in 1866, Kellogg’s journalistic career began as a newsie in Cleveland. By age 21 he was ad manager for the Detroit News, then joined the Scripps newspaper organization, which he had married into in 1890.During the first decade of the 20th century Kellogg was a partner in a chain of newspapers published in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska. 

Los Angeles Times, March 8, 1908.

By 1906 the Los Angeles Times reported that he owned a winter home in Altadena, and was “so deeply interested in the success of the State, and so firm a believer in Los Angeles and its marvelous future.” In 1908 Kellogg moved into a three-storey, 23-room Spanish-style mansion in Altadena, which included servants quarters and a basement billiard room. The house stood until 1960, when the property off of Mariposa Drive was subdivided. 

For much of the 1910s, Kellogg was publisher of the San Francisco Call, then returned to Los Angeles in 1919 as general manager of the Evening Express. At the same time, he began building a network of community papers around Los Angeles, including the Pasadena Post. Here is his opening statement from that paper’s debut on September 1, 1919:

Kellogg sold his 15 Los Angeles community papers in 1928 to Illinois-based publisher Ira Copley. He spent more time further south in La Jolla, where he co-founded the La Jolla Beach & Yacht Club. He bought the club from its other investors in 1935. The property evolved into the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, drawing some of the top tennis players in the world for decades to come, and is still run by Kellogg's descendants.

Kellogg died in 1940 while aboard an ocean liner heading into Yokohama, a voyage which doctors had recommended to help him recover from a recent stroke. A Los Angeles Times editorial summed up Kellogg’s career:

Mr. Kellogg was a good example of the journalistic aphorism that if you once get printer’s ink into your blood you can never get it out. His newspaper career started while he was in short trousers and was vigorously pursued, in a wide variety of settings and capacities for half-a-century…Sometimes known as a one-man newspaper staff, there were not many posts about a newspaper office, particularly on the business side, which he had not filled successfully, after rising to them by his own efforts. He began as a newsboy and, at the time of his retirement, had been associated with more than 25 newspapers, big and little, mostly as manager, owner or publisher. He found time as well to identify himself with civic, social, political and church activities, and community enterprise generally found in him an able supporter. He will be missed.

Next: The Eternal Smile of "Uncle Bill" Haas

Sources: the November 10, 1906, April 3, 1908, September 6, 1940, and March 24, 1960 editions of the Los Angeles Times.


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