Clifford Clinton (l) with his son Edmond (r) - Feeding Los Angeles and raking muck, all at the same time.
Clifford Clinton (l) with his son Edmond (r) – Feeding Los Angeles and raking muck, all at the same time.

The Peoples Voice with Clifford E. Clinton – KEHE, Los Angeles – March 11-April 4, 1939 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

Los Angeles has had no shortage of colorful and controversial figures throughout its history; more than its fair share of famous and infamous characters who became embedded in the story of Los Angeles for a wide range of reasons.

Although the name Clifford Clinton doesn’t ring too many bells, aside from the legendary Clifton’s Cafeteria which has long been a landmark in L.A. history, and the founder of Meals For Millions – few actually realize Clifford Clinton was also a political activist and muckraker who rubbed just as many people the wrong way as fed them.

The history of Los Angeles during the early years of the 20th century was laced with corruption, scandal and political backstabbing – as much, if not more so than many of its Eastern counterparts.

In the 1920s and 30s Los Angeles was a boomtown – a land of opportunity. And corruption around the offices of the Mayor and City Council and other elected officials were the stuff of detective novels and movies.

But there were those people who campaigned against that corruption, who stood up for the average Joe, the people who were simply trying to eek out a living. They became the crusaders – they were also targets for assassinations and intimidations. And Clifford Clinton was no stranger to intimidation tactics. From smears to bombs, Clinton weathered a steady barrage of both during the 1930s.

In the 1930s Clinton bought air time on local Los Angeles station KEHE and broadcast 4 times a daily his tales of injustice, corruption, intimidation and slander leveled at him and at people Clinton supported, including Mayoral Candidate Fletcher Bowron whom Clinton campaigned for.

To give you some idea of the political climate in Los Angeles during the 1930s, here are four broadcasts which aired between March 11 and April 4, 1939 featuring Clifford Clinton, his son Edmond and an assortment of political hopefuls.

Sometimes the actual events are way more strange than the fictionalized ones. It certainly was the case as far as Los Angeles was concerned. Perhaps it still is.

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