January 2020 General Meeting: The Assault Trial of Alexander Pantages, 1929-1931

It seems there’s a sensational “trial of the century” about every ten years or so. And from the Overell Trial to O. J. Simpson, Orange County has played a role in a surprising number of these nationally covered legal dramas. Among these is the attack by powerful theater impresario Alexander Pantages on 17-year-old Eunice Pringle of Garden Grove. The stories of Pringle, Pantages, and the famous trial will be the subject of the next Orange County Historical Society meeting. Historian Paul R. Spitzzeri and Pringle’s daughter, Marcy Worthington, will present “The Value of a Girl’s Honor: The Assault Trial of Alexander Pantages, 1929-1931” on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. The event is free and open to the public.

When wealthy entertainment tycoon Alexander Pantages attacked a young dancer at his opulent Pantages Theater in Los Angeles, two criminal trials were held with polar opposite outcomes. Both trials emphasized discussion of the teen’s image and honor. The story has special resonance in this era of Harvey Weinstein and the “Me Too” movement.

Spitzzeri will focus on the story of the assault and trials, and Worthington will talk about her mother’s life before and after the attack. Eunice Pringle’s resilience in the face of relentless public exposure and courtroom grilling from the theater mogul’s attorneys was truly remarkable. She went on to live a full life which lasted almost 70 years beyond the incident.

Paul R. Spitzzeri, who grew up in Orange County, is the director at the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum in City of Industry, California, where he was worked since 1988. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from California State University, Fullerton. He has published extensively on California and regional history, including a biography of the Workman and Temple families which won an award from a national history association. Paul has given presentations to the historical society on several topics in the past, including on Carbon Canyon and the killing of Los Angeles County Sheriff James R. Barton and posse by the Flores-Daniel gang.

Marcy Worthington is the only child of Eunice Pringle-Worthington and Richard Worthington. She is a professional photographer and teaches photography, forensics, and criminal justice at the regional police and sheriff’s academy in San Diego and at a local community college. She has a M.A. in Forensic Science and B.A. in Behavioral Science, with an emphasis in Criminal Justice. Worthington has served as a reserve police officer and is a member of the San Diego Police Chief’s Advisory Board for the Disabled Community. She is writing a book about her mother which “will set the record straight, and show her to be a lady… of great character and intelligence.”