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Click for a BIGGER Image Fleishhacker Pool was a gift to San Francisco by financier and city Parks Commissioner Herbert Fleishhacker. He also made the initial donations of land and money for the playground and zoo. The pool was built to attract athletic competition to the city and because the waters off Ocean Beach are consistently cold year around. John McLaren, designer of Golden Gate Park and park superintendent, conceived the plan, receiving strong backing from the Parks Commission and Mr. Fleishhacker, its President.

The Fleishhacker Municipal Swimming Pool opened on April 22, 1925, as host to a national A.A.U. Swim Meet with five thousand attending the event to watch the competition. Johnny Weissmuller, the world champion freestyle swimmer, represented the Illinois Athletic Club. He later went on to a career in action films — Tarzan being his most notable role. Weissmuller made a number of later appearances at Fleishhacker, always drawing a crowd. San Francisco adopted him as one of their own. Other celebrities appearing often at Fleishhacker Pool included Ann Curtis, who set a number of world records, and movie star Esther Williams. She first appeared in Billy Rose's Aquacade opposite Weissmuller in the 1940 Golden Gate International Exposition at Treasure Island. (Read More)

A life-saving crew arrived on the scene, but with no one to save, Captain Kroeger, the chief, put two members, Henry Smith and John Wilson, on watch. The crowd that gathered slowly dispersed, leaving just Smith and Wilson. At 12:34 a.m., grinding against the rocks, the cask of dynamite caps detonated, touching off the black powder and kerosene. The ship exploded in a deafening blast, shooting a great wall of flame and debris up the cliff. The explosion catapulted Smith and Wilson 200 feet back from their position at the cliff edge. The sound of the blast carried all the way to Oakland and San Jose. The shock wave struck the ship Commodore 15 miles off the Golden Gate. Its crew scrambled to their stations thinking they had struck a reef. Sutro's mansion took considerable damage, and houses nearby were nearly torn apart. (Read More)

Half an hour before the fourth and last show was to start, Mrs. Finocchio's sister Maria ran upstairs toward our dressing rooms and shouted to Emcee Carroll Wallace that we had no one in the audience and she was going to cancel the fourth show and to announce it to the cast. To Carroll's delight, since we worked very hard on the three previous shows, he blew the whistle and told us to get ready to go home early. Meanwhile, my Finocchio roommate, comedian Russell Reed looked at me slyly and said in a whisper, "David, don't believe a word from Carroll Wallace. Don't you dare take your makeup off. Carroll is trying to get us in trouble with the house!" The house meant Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Finocchio.

A few minutes passed by and Maria ran upstairs again and shouted, "Carroll, three people just walked in and we have to do the last show after all! "Carroll blew the whistle again, shouted, "Showtime!" and announced the bad news to the cast who, including Carroll, had already removed their wigs and part of their stage makeup. (Read More)

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