This Day in College Football History – May 14th

Tommy Prothro  (July 20, 1920 – May 14, 1995) was a coach. He was the head football coach at Oregon State University from 1955 to 1964 and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) from 1965 to 1970, compiling a career college football record of 104–55–5 (.634). Prothro moved to the professional ranks of the National Football League (NFL) in 1971 as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, a position he held for two seasons. He then coached and the San Diego Chargers from 1974 to 1978, tallying a career NFL mark of 35–51–2 (.409). Prothro was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1991. A Southerner from Memphis, Tennessee, he spent most of his coaching career on the West Coast.Tommy Prothro was a winner all the way. He played quarterback under Hall of Famer Wallace Wade at Duke, and in 1941 won the Jacobs Award as the best blocker in the Southern Conference. In 10 years at Oregon State he had a 63-37-2 record, the best on the west coast. Moving to UCLA in 1965, he coached there six years and went 41- 18-3. That made his overall record 104-55-5. He had two Heisman winners, Terry Baker at Oregon State, 1962, and Gary Beban at UCLA, 1967. After UCLA he moved to the pros, with the Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers. Prothro attended Central High School in Memphis and Riverside Military Academy. He competed in football, baseball, and lacrosse at Duke and graduated in 1942 with a degree in political science. In the fall of 1942 he was line coach at Western Kentucky. Prothro served 39 months in the Navy; he was a lieutenant on an aircraft carrier. He joined the staff of Red Sanders and was his assistant at Vanderbilt 1946-48 and UCLA 1949-1954. When he became head coach at Oregon State in 1955, the school had just finished a 1-8 season, its worst in history. His first team went 6-3. His next team was 7-3-1 and went to the Rose Bowl. Prothro’s 1962 team finished 9-2 and won the Liberty Bowl from Villanova 6-0 on Terry Baker’s 99-yard run. He moved to UCLA in 1965, went 8-2-1, and was Coach of the Year. That team lost to Michigan State 13-3 in September, met Michigan State in a rematch in the Rose Bowl, and won 14-12. Prothro was born July 20, 1920, in Dyersburg, TN and died May 14, 1995, in Memphis. He was the son of Thompson “Doc” Prothro, a major league baseball manager, and a nephew of General Clifton Cates, commandant of the US Marine Corps.

 

John Ferraro (May 14th 1924–2001) was the longest-serving Los Angeles City Council member in the history of the city—thirty-five years, from 1966 until his death in 2001—and the president of the council for fourteen of them. He had been an all-American football player at the University of Southern California. Ferraro was born May 24, 1924, in the working class suburb of Cudahy, California, just south of Los Angeles, “the youngest son of a family of eight children whose Italian immigrant parents ran a macaroni factory before going broke during the Depression.” He attended Bell High School in Bell, California, where he graduated in 1942, and he earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University of Southern California after World War II. Ferraro enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was commissioned as an ensign in 1945. He served on a tanker with Warren Christopher, later the Secretary of State under Bill Clinton. “Christopher got Ferraro interested in politics during long, early morning discussions when they were stationed in the Bay Area.”

His excellence on the football field at Bell High—he was a unanimous choice for the All-City team—led to his receiving a scholarship at USC, where he earned All-American honors in 1944 and 1947 and played as a tackle in three Rose Bowls. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1974. As an adult he stood 6 feet, 4¼ inches tall and weighed 245 pounds, earning him the nickname “Big John.”

Ferraro was an insurance broker with the John Ferraro Company, beginning in 1951, and he invested shrewdly in stocks and real estate that made him a millionaire. He was married to Julie Marie Luckey, daughter of Democratic State Senator E. George Luckey, and they had a son, Luckeygian, or Lucky, born about 1956. The Ferraros were divorced in 1972. His second wife was Bridget Margaret Hart, widely known as exotic dancer and stripteaser Margie Hart in the 1940s—and then as a legitimate actress who even later made money through real-estate investments. They met at a reception in support of Democrat Pierre Salinger’s unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign in 1964, and they were married in 1982. She died in 2000.

Ferraro was diagnosed with cancer of the spleen in August 1999 and underwent chemotherapy. Mayor Richard Riordan was at his side, along with family members, when he died at the age of 76 in Santa Monica on April 17, 2001. A crowd of nearly a thousand filled St. Brendan Catholic Church, Ferraro’s parish, for a funeral mass conducted by Cardinal Roger Mahony. Family present included Ferraro’s brother, Steve, sisters Mary and Rose and his son, Gianni Luckey.

He entered government service in 1953, when Mayor Norris Poulson appointed him to the city Police Commission, where he served for thirteen years. During that period, he advocated more-stringent gun laws and backed African-American John Roseboro, former Los Angeles Dodgers star, to do community relations work for the Police Department after the 1965 Watts riots. Supported by Mayor Sam Yorty and seen as a “product of the old guard of conservative if nominally Democratic politicians who used to dominate local politics,” he was appointed in May 1966 from among thirteen applicants to represent Los Angeles City Council District 4 after the death of incumbent Harold A. Henry. Because of his height, when he took office carpenters had to remove a drawer from his desk so that his legs could fit under it.

During his term, which at thirty-five years was the longest in City Council history, the 4th District covered (in 1955) much of the Wilshire district and in general was bounded by Fountain Avenue, Wilshire Boulevard, Fairfax Avenue and Catalina Street[ and (in 1975) Central Los Angeles from Fairfax and Highland Avenues on the west, to Santa Monica Boulevard on the north, the Pasadena Freeway on the east and Olympic Boulevard on the south (1945). In 1986 it was considered a contorted district that included the old areas as well as Atwater, Griffith Park, Forest Lawn Drive and parts of the central San Fernando Valley to Colfax Avenue and Victory Boulevard. In 1989 the district stretched from Hancock Park to Studio City. In 1974, Ferraro ran unsuccessfully against fellow Councilman Edmund D. Edelman for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and in 1985, he made a futile run against Tom Bradley for mayor. In 1999, he was fined $3,300 by the Los Angeles Ethics Commission for receiving campaign contributions in 1997 above a newly established limit. It and penalties levied against Councilmen Mike Hernandez and Mark Ridley-Thomas were the first to be made under a law effective in 1985.

Ferraro was elected to the board of the National League of Cities in 1995, and in March 1996 the Los Angeles Marathon named him Citizen of the Year, the University of Southern California gave him its Asa V. Call Achievement Award and the National Council of Young Israel gave him a community-service award. For his contribution to sports in Los Angeles, he was honored with a Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum “Court of Honor” plaque by the Coliseum commissioners. The John Ferraro Building in Downtown Los Angeles. On November 16, 2000, in honor of his more than five decades of public service, the City of Los Angeles renamed the landmark Department of Water and Power’s General Office Building to the John Ferraro Building. The building was designed by the architects AC Martin Partners, Inc. and opened in 1964. The Margaret and John Ferraro Chair in Effective Local Government was established at the School of Policy, Planning and Development of the University of Southern California.

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