Meade McClanahan (1894?–1959) was an industrial engineer and businessman who was elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 1945 but was ousted by voters in 1946 based upon his support for controversial preacher and political organizer Gerald L.K. Smith.
A native of Ohio, McClanahan was married to Beulah McClanahan on January 1, 1914, in Chillicothe, Ohio, and moved to Southern California around 1930, where, as an industrial engineer, he operated a foundry at 1423 Riverside Drive. The two separated in October 1954 and were divorced in January 1955 after Beulah McClanahan testified her husband used a "judo cut" on the back of her neck after watching wrestling on television. Mrs. McClanahan got the family home at 2325 Riverside Terrace at Riverside Drive, and her husband kept his business, the Ace Tank and Boiler Company of Maywood, California, which he operated with a son, Bernard.
He died at the age of 65 on October 5, 1959 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) after a long illness, in Glendale, leaving a wife, Alice Moore, an attorney; two sons, Bernard E. McClanahan of Whittier and Thomas Meade McClanahan of Los Angeles; and a daughter, Beverly N. Cabral of Los Angeles. Burial was at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale.
McClanahan ran for the Los Angeles School Board in 1939. At that time he was sponsoring a radio program, "Los Angeles Speaks," which opposed the political activities of political figure Clifford E. Clinton.
In February 1939, McClanahan was president of the Riverside Drive District Business Men's Association. In that year he was sued, along with two others, by Clifford E. Clinton on a charge of criminal libel for having sponsored a radio program that attacked Clinton and for helping to publish a booklet that referred to Clinton as "Der Los Angeles Fuehrer." He and the other defendants were acquitted in a jury trial. Clinton also filed a civil suit for defamation; it was dismissed in 1945 because Clinton did not proceed with the action.
McClanahan first ran for the City Council in 1943, but finished third in the primary that year. He was elected in 1946 over Joseph W. Aldlin, who had labor backing, to represent Los Angeles City Council District 13, succeeding Ned R. Healy, who had resigned to go to the U.S. Congress. In those days the district represented Silver Lake and an area west of downtown to Vermont Avenue and south to Valley Boulevard.
Tax, 1945. As chairman of the City Council revenue and taxation committee, McClanahan proposed a 5% tax on theater tickets and a 10% tax on athletic contests as a way to avoid a planned garbage-collection charge or to help finance the Hyperion outfall sewer.
Pickets, 1945. He submitted a resolution advocating new legislation giving the mayor and police more authority to deal with picket lines being used by union workers in a Hollywood film strike. He claimed that pickets in front of theaters "had forced women and children to walk in the street to get past them" and that efforts were made to "prevent servicemen from buying tickets." He later urged a "no" vote on his own resolution to avoid embarrassing any other council member.
Americanism, 1945. He made a suggestion that children being cared for in public day-care center be taught "Americanism" and be shielded from "subversive foreign ideologies." The idea was defeated largely because other council members deemed the wording to be too general.
A recall movement against McClanahan was based upon his association at public meetings with controversial political organizer Gerald L.K. Smith, founder of the America First party. McClanahan issued a statement saying that he disagreed with Smith "on many points" but that he participated in the meetings because of "my belief in free speech and free assembly." On March 19, 1946, McClanahan was recalled from office by a vote of 12,394 to 8,913, and John R. Roden was elected in his place.
McClanahan ran anew for reelection in 1947 but finished third in a field of four. He also ran for election to the US House of Representatives in 1952.
Access to the Los Angeles Times links may require the use of a library card.
- Location of the McClanahan home on Mapping L.A.
- "Thirty-Three in Race for Board of Education," Los Angeles Times, March 26, 1939, page 14
- "Wife Divorces Former City Councilman," Los Angeles Times, January 5, 1955, page 2
- "Obituaries," Los Angeles Times, October 9, 1959, page 32
- "Meade McClanahan, 65, Ex-Councilman, Dies," Los Angeles Times, October 7, 1959, page 4
- "Mayor Officiates as Riverside Drive Reopens to Auto Traffic," Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1939, page A-1
- "Clinton Suing Radio Company," Los Angeles Times, March 24, 1939, page 10
- "Jury Acquits Pair Accused by Clinton," Los Angeles Times, June 10, 1939, page 1
- "Suit of Clinton Dismissed by Court," Los Angeles Times, January 30, 1945, page 1
- "Injunction Sought Against Proposed Parking Meter Plan," Los Angeles City Council, September 18, 1942, page 1
- "Proposed New Alignment for City Voting Precincts," Los Angeles Times, November 30, 1940, page A-3 Includes a map.
- "City Theater Tax Proposal to Go Before Council," Los Angeles Times, August 14, 1945, page A-1
- "New Row Adds 100 workers to Studio Strikers," Los Angeles Times, August 29, 1945, page A--2
- "Council Defeats Plans for New Picketing Bill," Los Angeles Times, September 15, 1945, page A-1
- "Child Care Funds Asked," Los Angeles Times, October 5, 1945, page A-3
- "Councilman Sues Pamphleteers," Los Angeles Times, February 22, 1946, page A-2
- "Voters Recall Councilman McClanahan," Los Angeles Times, March 20, 1946, page 1
- Founding of the Ajax and Ace Boiler companies by Meade McClanahan Perhaps a relative, or a mistake in the date.
- Tom Sitton, "Direct Democracy vs. Free Speech: Gerald L.K. Smith and the Recall Election of 1946 in Los Angeles," Pacific Historical Review, August 1968, p. 285+ Library access required.
- David J. Leonard, "The 'Little Fuehrer' Invades Los Angeles," Free Library Includes reference to McClanahan at a Gerald L.K. Smith rally.
Ned R. Healy
|Los Angeles City Council
John R. Roden