On December 16, Inez H. Mogul passed away, having just turned 96 years old. While on one hand we rejoice in her long life, her loss leaves the world a less kind, gracious, and interesting place. She was my mother, so you might expect me to speak of her in exalted terms, but those who knew her understand that my description is actually inadequate. She was a modest woman—more interested in others than herself—so perhaps she would be a bit astonished by such honorific words. But they are all true.
My mother was born in New York City to immigrant parents. Her childhood experiences included being witness to things that we now take for granted—she watched the building of the 8th Avenue subway, the Chrysler and Empire State buildings, Rudolph Valentino’s death, Jack Dempsey’s triumph, and the Hindenberg burning. She (along with everyone else) watched the Hindenburg fly over NY on its way to Lakewood, NJ, where the disaster occurred. Indeed, every time an aircraft flew over, it was an event that drew people to look up and marvel. When Charles Lindberg made his famous flight he returned to a hero’s welcome and my mother sat on her father’s shoulder’s to watch the parade and get a glimpse of Lindy. She was blessed with an extraordinary memory as well as parents who made her aware of the world around her.
During the Depression, one of the WPA Writer’s Project programs was a series of books on each of the States. At a lecture, she met a writer who was impressed with her enthusiasm and interest. He was one of the writers working on the book about Alaska and asked if she was interested in doing some research for him—sort of a sub-contractor for the WPA, only they didn’t pay her, he did (it was a secret, because he could get fired for that). She was 17 years old when they met; by the end of the project, she was 18—no longer jailbait—and that’s when he made his move! Perhaps he wasn’t so much impressed by her enthusiasm as he was by some of her other attributes. When she told him she didn’t like men with beards, he shaved! That was the end of the relationship, professional or otherwise.
Through a mutual friend she met my father, who was appearing at a cocktail lounge on West 58th Street (NYC) in July 1942. Their meeting was love at first sight—like a scene from a movie—as both were with other dates that night, but by the next day, my father had obtained her phone number along with assurance that she was not “taken.” They married the following May.
Albert Mogul had a special gift—the capacity to read people’s thoughts and to see their future’s. By “seeing the future” we don’t mean a side show trick or “reading tea leaves.” Having ESP to an extraordinary degree as he did meant that he could see the ultimate result of a person’s actions. People came to him with their questions and dilemmas and he could advise and inform them of what he saw as the consequences of their behavior.
Inez became his professional helpmate as well as his wife, keeping track of engagements and sometimes running interference with the public during appearances. For them, going to work meant evening clothes, and her sense of style was understated elegance. There are many stories about where they went and who they met, but perhaps the best one is when, in 1949, my father was asked to amuse a very sophisticated crowd at a Christmas party at the Park Ave apartment of Mrs. Millicent (William Randolph) Hearst. Among the guests were Cole Porter, Salvador Dali, author Erich Maria Remarque, actors Rex Harrison and Lilly Palmer, and columnist/professional hostess Elsa Maxwell. A week later Elsa Maxwell called and told Mogul that she would like him to repeat what he had done at Mrs. Hearst’s. The occasion was the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor who were making their periodic visit. Many of the guests from Mrs. Hearst’s were also there, but what impressed her most was when she entered the room, Cole Porter recognized her and although largely crippled, struggled to his feet to greet her.
When my parents came to Los Angeles in 1953 they settled in West Hollywood, which is where I was born and raised. They opened an office furniture store at the corner of La Cienega and Santa Monica Blvds and their customers ran the gamut from young lawyers opening their first office to celebrities and noted companies. Among their regular customers were Dick and Tommy Smothers, Marty Ingels, Rock Hudson, Frank Zappa, and James Earl Jones. During that time she also organized and ran the Life Models Agency, which provided models for artists to train and refine their drawing skills. She successfully fought City Hall when the City Council wanted the models to “register” in case they might also be doubling as prostitutes. She also worked for many years for Mary Bran, a concert manager who booked shows for such performers as Andre Segovia, Gregor Piatigorsky, Marais & Miranda, Jose Greco, and others.
Although she did not live in West Adams until the last three years, she was a full participant in the activities of West Adams Heritage Association and historic preservation. She was already familiar with the community from years past and appreciated its rich history.
She was extremely well-read and almost always did crossword puzzles in pen, had a facility for languages, a passion for the arts, a good sense of humor, and most significantly, a loving heart.
Inez Mogul was interested in everyone, regardless of their pedigree. She treated all with the same respect and thoughtfulness and made friends wherever she went in the world. Her interest in their lives was genuine; she found their experiences informative and unique. She enjoyed every interaction, appreciated every relationship. She adored children.
To say that her death leaves a void is an understatement. Of course her children and those who knew her well will miss her company, her advice, and her love. But she also represented an era that is largely gone, and the world is a lesser place for it.
Established in August of 2008 by writer, artist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.