Members of the San Luigi Orders: Hon. Sam Yorty

samyortyThe Hon. Samuel William “Sam” Yorty (1909-98) (pictured center above) was admitted to the San Luigi Orders by Prince-Abbot Edmond II on 28 January 1977, at a champagne reception in honor of Distinguished Humanitarians at the residence of Lady Patte Barham in Los Angeles. He was the 37th Mayor of Los Angeles, serving for twelve years between 1961 and 1973.

Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, Sam Yorty was educated at Southwestern University and the University of California at Los Angeles, being admitted to the Bar in 1939. He was elected to the California State Assembly in 1936 and served during World War II as a Captain in the Intelligence Branch of the United States Army Air Corps. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1950 and again in 1952. However, his two bids to be elected to the Senate, in 1940 and again in 1954, were unsuccessful.

His mayoralty was populist in its platform and was characterized by some successes, notably in the emergence of Los Angeles as a major city, the cutting of taxes, the streamlining of bureaucracy and the improvement of garbage pick-ups. He was known for his anti-communism, anti-feminism and criticism of the Civil Rights movement. Despite this, he was the first mayor to have a female deputy, and also the first to have a racially mixed staff.

In 1965, the Watts Riots showed that he had failed to gain widespread support amongst African-Americans in Los Angeles, and after this his politics shifted increasingly to the Right. In 1966 he challenged incumbent E.G. “Pat” Brown (also a member of the San Luigi Orders) in the gubernatorial primary, coming a respectable second. He was re-elected mayor in 1969 but was increasingly bored with the position and spent much of his time out of Los Angeles. In 1972 he ran for the Democratic nomination for President, but gained little ground in his campaign, and after its failure began to express open support for the Republicans.

After retiring from office, Yorty hosted a talk show on KCOP-TV for five years, and then in 1980-81 attempted a political comeback, which was not successful. Thereafter he retired from public life.