He's been dead since Christmas Day, 1948, but on Sept. 24, Mayor Arthur C. Harper will come back from the grave to explain his "open city" policy that allowed legal prostitution and gambling in Los Angeles during the first part of the century.
Harper will be among eight Los Angeles citizens of the past who will come to life at the Rosedale Cemetery during the West Adams Heritage Assn.'s Living History tour. Local actors and actresses will portray historic figures from the city's past on 90-minute walks through the landmark cemetery starting every 20 minutes from 9 a.m. to noon. The tour costs $8.
The tours, sponsored in conjunction with the Los Angeles City Historical Society, have been offered for four years. A California state historian will also be on hand to field questions, said heritage association official Joe Ryan.
"This is the first year that we are going to do portrayals of individuals at individual grave sites," Ryan said.
Harper was often found drunk at the "pleasure houses" of the day, "ostensibly to see if they needed repairs," Ryan said. Few accepted Harper's explanation that he was on a fact-finding mission. In 1909, at the beginning of the reform period, Harper resigned from office amid charges that he was taking payoffs from casinos.
One of the brothels Harper visited was owned by Minnie Wilson and an actress will relate Wilson's experience as a businesswoman at the turn of the century.
Hattie McDaniel, the first African American winner of an Academy Award for her role in "Gone With the Wind," and John Bradbury, who built the Bradbury Building on Broadway in Downtown, will also be portrayed.
Built in 1884 as the first lawn cemetery in the city, Rosedale is at 1831 W. Washington Blvd.
Information: (213) 734-8820.