Local myths of Fontana that are quite real....

We often hear rumors about who or what might have lived, or died or has family in an area.. Below are some figures, some most noticeable and others not so notorious that once had something to do with the city of Fontana.

Gangster Al Capone once had a home in Fontana, which was notable for the initial "C" displayed on one of the home's chimneys. It was rumored that Capone had secret passageways or tunnels built under the house that led out into the back yard making for a quick escape in case his place was ever surrounded by the fuzz. No tunnels were ever found though after the home was torn down. And we all know what happened to Al after he left Fontana.

The Crlenica Brothers, a local Slavic "Tamburitza" musical group, lived in Fontana, had a music store on Arrow Blvd., and played music locally for Fontana's large Slavic population. Unbeknownst to most Fontana residents, they also did some movie work in Hollywood, performing on the soundtrack of "Dr. Zhivago", and also in the movie "Patton," near the end of the movie in the Russian dance scene.

Shelton Brooks, legendary songwriter and bandleader of the early 20th century, spent several decades in his later years living in Fontana. The writer of such hits as "Darktown Strutters’ Ball" and "Some of These Days," he would buy a new Cadillac every year with his songwriter royalties.. As a leader of his own successful big band, he hobnobbed with the Hollywood elite and became especially close to torch singer Sophie Tucker, known as The Last of the Red Hot Mammas.
Whitman Mayo, the actor who played Shady Grady in the TV series "Sanford and Son," moved with his family from New York City to Fontana in 1967, when he was 37. While living in Fontana he attended Chaffey College in nearby Cucamonga.. He once served as the Grand Marshall in the Fontana Days parade.

Legendary motorcycle builder Denver Mullins was from Fontana.. He started a bike shop, Denver’s Choppers, in San Bernardino in 1967, where he was the first to toy in the building of custom bikes and replacement bike parts. The shop later moved to Henderson, Nevada, just outside Las Vegas, where it still operates to this day. Denver died in a racing boat accident in 1992.

Henry Kaiser’s steel mill in Fontana was the only steel mill west of the Mississippi River.. During WWII Kaiser shipbuilding contributed hundreds of naval and merchant vessels.. The steel mill scene in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie "Terminator 2" was filmed in the abandoned Kaiser Steel Mill. Robo Cop was also filmed at the old steel mill as well as many sci-fi and police movies.

What ever happened to Ro-Val’s automobile museum, located on Foothill Blvd on the western outskirts between Fontana and Cucamonga? It was for a while the home for many classic automobiles of the 20’s and 30’s, including a huge vehicle once owned by screen actor Fatty Arbuckle. When the Ro-Val museum closed, the vehicles were sold to Bill Harrah, a Nevada casino owner and automobile collector, who placed them on display in the museum located at his casino.

In the 1950’s and 60’s Fontana was home to a famous drag racing strip that was a significant venue in the NHRA circuit. Known officially as Mickey Thompson’s Fontana International Dragway, it was also referred to as Fontana Drag City or just plain old Fontana Drag Strip. The original Fontana strip closed after several serous accidents and deaths to the drivers ad the NHRA deemed the track to short and narrow for safe racing.

Comments

I know years ago a guy parked his boat on a hill that is now Fontana. Today the boat though very old is still there. If by chance you see it, The owner still wants it but he can not find it. So if you do, please contact Noah.

I owned the property that had the address of 17587 Randall Ave. from the late 70's to early 80's. When we purchased it there were 3 homes on 5 acres. This included an underground 4 car garage, 3 all rock swimming pools, basements, a workshop, a grape arbor, and lots of trees. It was sold to the church of Later Day Saints to build a church. I was told that the homes and everything else was torn down when they built the church. We were told from the historical society at that time that there were several underground tunnels that connected to Al Capone's house. Evidently Mickey Cohen(another notorious gangster) owned this property at some point in time. We never explored the tunnels, but it was obvious that there were walls that had been cemented over in a couple of the underground areas. It was a shame that we did not keep the main house and have it moved to another piece of land. It was such a unique place. Three bedroom, 2 baths in the main house with a sunporch that was the entire length of the house. There was not a painted wall inside, there was beautiful wood throughout. A fireplace, window seats, built in china cabinets, a sunroof in the main bathroom, lots of special details. I have a lot of fond memories about living there. Too bad it was not preserved somehow to retain its place in Fontana history.

I grew up on Merrill just down the street from the Capone home which is absolutely still there. The Hells Angels were founded in Fontana, Sammy Hagar went to Fontana High, and Travis Barker from Blink 182 and the Aquabats grew up there as well.

I went to church with a family who owned a home across from the Capone house. The found a passage way in a closet to a tunnel to Al Capone's house. They filled it in. I was also friends with some of the past owner of Capone house, they told me about hidden rooms in the house.

The Al Capone house and KKK house is right next t oeach other. Go down Anastasia look to the left you see the Al Capone house my mom had a friend there and said that they been in the tunnels.

Sure thing Fontana has seen a lot of changes in the past recent years (18 yrs living here), I can only imagine those that were born here in the 50s and lived here for many yrs. I would like to thank you all who have shared your memories with us all. Fontana is,not as bad as it was in the late 90s early 2000s back then going out for a walk was risky specially at night. I personally got shot at in 3 occasions. Now I go out for walks late at night without or at any giving time and to me seems kind of boring. (not that I've missed any altercations) I've hardly experienced any racism from Fontana residents, though more than a few times while in high school the black vs brown tension did occurred.
I have seen the Al Capone's house, haven't seen the kkk house.
But Fontana has so many other things to be talked about other than those two homes and illegals/undocumented/aliens or white supremacist. As a community or former residents we should appreciate and respect one another, help eachother on keeping this city a safe place for our children.

Cheers and peace.

Wow! And Wow again! I can't believe the comments I have just read. I grew up in Fontana, first in South Fontana near the end of WW2, then, after a few years in LA, in North Fontana. We lived in a modest house my father built on Miller Ave. I had many Mexican friends, which I used to exchange lunches with at school. They wanted my sandwiches and I wanted their frijoles. In all my life there I never heard of the KKK. I did hear rumors of Al Capone and the Hells Angels, but that was all very distant from normal life. I did not go to Fontana High School, but to Chaffey High School in Ontario (I guess it is now in Cucamonga). I also went to Chaffey College. In the late forties and in the fifties it was pure heaven! I have nothing but fond memories of my years in Fontana. How much anger and hate and spite seems to exist in this modern world!

yah i'm sure it was nice 50 years ago. It's changed.. Now the Mexicans are gang members and will start a fight or kill you just to impress their friends and the white redneck shitbags are no better.
It's changed everywhere, but Fontana seems to attract the bad ones.. Probably because these bad ones are too stupid to get good jobs and the housing costs are low in Fontana.
Of course not ALL of Fontana is bad, there are some nice areas.. But don't forget you'll have to drive to the grocery store once in a while and you'll run into these loosers.

They say the house was torn down. This is NOT TRUE. It is still there with the C on the chimney. See my video on YouTube.

My husbands family owned the famous house and it was never torn down. The property was subdivided and sold but the house still stands with a little less land but that's all. It was purchased by our family in 1972 per the chain of title on file at the San Bernadino court house, and also in my possession. I own a lot of antiques from the house and wanted to learn more. Your article is completely inaccurate regarding the Fontana home however.

Pages

Add new comment