If hearing this telephone number doesn't make neurons flicker deep in your brain -- say it aloud, Richmond 9-5171 -- you might want to move on and skip this item. But for many Angelenos who watched television here in the 1960s and '70s, those digits are permanently loaded in memory.
It was the box office number for the Olympic Auditorium, repeated over and over -- and over and over, incessantly -- on broadcasts of wrestling, boxing and roller derby. I watched my share of the latter and almost none of the formers -- and have yet to see the inside of the Olympic, so never bought tickets -- but no matter. RI 9-5171 is the only phone number from my childhood that I remember other than my own, and I'm not alone.
Blame my neighbor, Jeff Walton, at least partly. He was a wrestling fan and friend of legendary L.A. wrestler Freddie Blassie (above), then worked as the publicist of matches at the Olympic. He was also a manager, promoter and announcer. Now Jeff has self-published his account of that time as Richmond 9-5171, A Wrestling Story.
He had a big signing last Sunday at Hollywood Book and Poster.