On the Romenesko letters page today, former L.A. journalist Jane Birnbaum refers to the legend of Victor Frisbee, a fictitious character who used to show up in Rose Parade stories every January. USC professor Ed Cray picks up the tale:
Jane Birnbaum has the general biography of the late Victor Frisbee more or less correct. Frisbee appeared each January 2 in the Los Angeles Examiner's lead story about the annual Rose Parade, furnishing great quotes cooked by whatever poor sumbitch drew rewrite on New Year's Day. Frisbee, various identified as a visitor from Iowa, a plumber(?), and, as Jane recalled, a world traveler, died on Monday, January 8, 1962. (On that day Hearst folded the morning Examiner, founded in 1903, into his afternoon Herald-Express in an unacknowledged arrangement with the Los Angeles Times' Chandler family.) At the bottom of column eight on page 1, in bold face type, the make-up editor tapped out a one-line obit. Memory serving, it read something like: "LOS ANGELES (Jan. 8): Victor Frisbee, noted world traveler and bon-vivant, died here today. He was 59."
One of my favorite irreverent Rose Parade tales was the time an LAT science writer pressed into parade duty calculated the route area and concluded there was no way a million people -- the figure always used -- could fit. I'm pretty certain he wasn't invited to cover the parade again.