I've lived in Studio City for six years now and I frequently cross a bridge at Colfax Ave. and Ventura Blvd. that spans the L.A. River flood control channel. I've never thought to stop and read the plaque that sits on the bridge until just a few weeks ago. I just about fell over when I did so:
|Click to enlarge.
NORWOOD CHEEK BRIDGE -Norwood was a silent movie star, vaudevillian magician, and escape artist. His most notable films were, "And In Bluebird", "Manchild", and "Bamboo Huts". His career flourished despite being eclipsed by Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini. No prints of his films remain. They were lost in a studio fire in 1919.
Norwood passed away on this bridge while attempting and upside down straight jacket escape. During the stunt, a sudden flash flood rushed through the Los Angeles river and he was struck by a boulder. He was able to release himself from the jacket, but his body was swept away and never found.
I've never heard of Norwood Cheek, nor have I ever heard of any escape artist being killed doing a suspended straitjacket escape, let alone in my own backyard! I've searched Ask Alexander, MagicPedia, and even IMDb and could find nothing on his films, magic career, nor his fatal accident. Nevertheless, there is his story written, literally, in stone. Wild.
UPDATE: Alerted to the possibility that this could be a fake by friends far less gullible than me, I went back and had a closer look. Indeed, it is a fake plaque glued over the real one. What the purpose of this prank was I have no idea (I doubt it was done just to fool me). I also don't know how long this remained in place. But it's gone now. The great Norwood Cheek hoax plaque is now part of my collection.