Marilyn Brant Chandler DeYoung will present a short illustrated talk about her book, “Remarkable Women of California,” at 6:30 p.m. on Wed., Aug. 24 at Chevalier’s Books at 126 N. Larchmont Blvd. Mrs. DeYoung will stay to sign books. For further information, call Chevalier’s at 323-465-1334.
Several prominent local women grace the pages of new book
By Brooke Stewart
Several prominent and local women grace the pages of the new book, “Remarkable Women of California,” written by Marilyn Brant Chandler DeYoung, who grew up on June St. in Hancock Park. Mmes. Ahmanson, Duque and Toberman all lived in Hancock Park. In Windsor Square, Princess Pignatelli was happily ensconced for decades on Arden Blvd., and Mrs. Chandler reigned over “Los Tiempos” on Lorraine Blvd.
Caroline Leonetti Ahmanson
Caroline Ahmanson was an entrepreneur, businesswoman, and philanthropist. She began her entrepreneurial career by opening a charm school, House of Charm, in San Francisco. After moving to Los Angeles, she opened another charm school, Caroline Leonetti Ltd., on Sunset Blvd.
Many of Caroline’s charitable leadership positions were assumed after the death of her husband, Howard Ahmanson. She took up many of Howard’s directorships on many prestigious boards like the Los Angeles County Art Museum. She also was on the board of The Walt Disney Company for many years.
Caroline’s leadership extended to ambassadorial roles between China and the U.S. during the Nixon administration. She created museum exchanges between the two countries as well as entertained numerous Chinese dignitaries who visited Los Angeles.
Dorothy Buffum Chandler
Born and raised in Long Beach, she married future “Los Angeles Times” publisher Norman Chandler in 1922. When they married, “The Times” was under the firm control of Norman’s father, Harry Chandler. “Buff’s” volunteer career kicked off when her two children were in their pre-teens in the 1930s, when she began working at the Home for Convalescent Children at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the initial project of the Junior League of Los Angeles.
Norman became publisher of the paper in 1945, and his wife developed an important role there, changing the Society and other sections. In 1951, she was one of the leaders of the successful effort to save the Hollywood Bowl. In the early 1960s, she organized the Music Center Fund that resulted in building the cultural facilities at the top of what is now Grand Park, including the building subsequently named in her honor, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Mary McAlister Duque
Mary Duque’s spirit of volunteerism helped grow Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). Raised in Los Angeles, Mary was recruited to volunteer during World War II at a Downtown officers’ service club through the CHLA support group, Las Madrinas. Mary soon realized her love of volunteerism and then rallied 102 volunteers to work for CHLA on everything from patient care to facilities. She founded 22 auxiliaries for the hospital and, when it faced financial troubles in 1960, she and H. Russell Smith raised an endowment of $100 million to ensure its survival.
Born into the prominent Sepulveda family, Conchita was raised among California’s elite. She received a worldly education, studying in Mexico, New York and Paris, and she was fluent in six languages. Her second marriage to Italian Prince Valerio Pignatelli resulted in the birth of three daughters. She moved from Rome back to Los Angeles for the birth of her youngest, and she never returned to her husband or Rome.
Conchita’s good friend, William Randolph Hearst, persuaded her to write the society column of the “Los Angeles Examiner.”
Spanning 33 years, her thrice-weekly column gained Conchita a huge following of admirers who loved to read her interviews and stories of socialites, royalty, Popes and presidents.
Lucy Montague Quirk Toberman is known for founding and nurturing 32 philanthropic organizations, all of which are still operating. Her philanthropic work spanned her lifetime.
She worked for the Girl Scouts in the beginning of her career. Later on, she thrived on the junior board of the Hollywood Bowl and created many auxiliaries for different organizations.
Her career as a columnist at the “Los Angeles Times” as well as the “Daily News” allowed her to travel across the country and to Europe during and after World War II. She also taught journalism at Los Angeles City College.
She worked for Mayor Sam Yorty, serving on both the Social Services Commission and the City Planning Commission.
In later years, she was the society columnist for the Larchmont Chronicle.
New book is on ‘Remarkable Women’
Fourth generation Californian, Marilyn Brant Chandler DeYoung, chronicles the lives of 84 influential California women in her new book, “Remarkable Women of California.”
Raised in Hancock Park, an alumna of Marlborough School, Stanford, and UCLA, as well as wife of 30 years to “Los Angeles Times” publisher Otis Chandler, DeYoung has especially strong ties to Los Angeles.
As she states in the introduction to the book, the project began with a desire to chronicle the lives of several influential Los Angeles women who DeYoung knew personally. The project grew to include more women after years of research but was put aside for nearly two decades. With the help of her son, Harry Chandler, she was able to complete the manuscript, creating the book as it is today.
The book categorizes women based on occupations, covering national figures like tennis icon Billy Jean King, and famous authors like Joan Didion. Each woman has contributed to California and its history.
The first woman covered in the book, Arcadia Bandini de Stearns de Baker, was an influential landowner during the 1800s. She owned land stretching from Tijuana to Santa Maria. She and Sen. John P. Jones set aside land for veterans, now the 387-acre Westwood / Brentwood Veterans’ Hospital and grounds. Her great-grand-niece, Carolina Winston Barrie, has spent a lifetime working to ensure that Arcadia’s gift of the property will always serve veterans.
The women in the book are remarkable based on their many accomplishments in their communities and their careers. Despite differences in occupations or ages, all of these remarkable women share a sense of independence and self-confidence, which allowed each of them to succeed in their endeavors.
DeYoung attributes these women’s independence to California history, which has been particularly liberal compared to the rest of the U.S. When California became a state in 1850, the original Spanish laws, which granted women the right to own property and investments in their own names, were carried over, giving California women more freedom than their East Coast counterparts. DeYoung notes in her introduction, “California allowed women to do as they wished. At least in the bounds of their times.”
This fascinating social history reveals how each woman, (as well as women as a whole), shaped the Golden State. Women were highly influential in its creation, for they were the ones who founded communities by building homes, starting schools, and getting involved in politics. In addition to running households, women ran newspapers and businesses, and as early as the 1870s, women were elected to the California State Legislature. As historian Lou Buscaglia wrote, “[Women were] the ones who were the force behind what became the great state of California.”
“Remarkable Women of California” is incredibly informative. Despite having been born and raised in California, I was never aware of the historic independence of California women. This book presents an important perspective of California history that is often neglected — a perspective from the lives of the women who shaped California.
Published by Dream City, Inc. and 311 pages long, the book is available at Chevalier’s Books on Larchmont Blvd.