PACKMAN, Harold “Whitey”

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Harold "Whitey" Packman

PACKMAN, Harold “Whitie” B. (c. 1906-1931), born of English parents who moved to Avalon, Santa Catalina Island where they ran the Catalina Island Bath House. As a young man, Whitie became a diver on the glass-bottom boats. A 1920s post card lists his diving achievement as 3 minutes 19 seconds diving to 57 feet! It has been said he was also the youngest ship’s captain ever licensed in California. Whitie Packman married Edyth L. “Gladys” Stone, who had attended school in the basement of the Catalina Island Casino, and after graduation worked at the St. Catherine’s Hotel. The Packmans had one daughter, Carolyn Doreen “Mimi” (1929-2007), born on the island, who later became an ice skater in Sonja Henning’s Ice Follies. On August 29, 1951, Mimi married Donald Neff Bagley (1927-2012), who played in the Paul Whitman band in the island’s casino. Daughter Tiffani was born April April 1, 1953. Whitie Packman died an early death in Los Angeles on March 30, 1931. He is buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Altadena, California.

In the News~

August 20, 1924 [TI/Avalon]: “Yes — some of the best divers known in American waters, who dive down deep into the clear water in full view of the spectators who are looking through the glass bottoms of the several boats.” They are clad only in ordinary bathing suits, as there are no dangerous fish in California waters. Probably the peer of the present force of divers is E. M. Harrison, who has a record of fifty-eight feet in depth and a stay beneath the water of three minutes and forty-eight seconds. Try to hold your breath for a minute — then you can better understand what his record means. Other divers from the power boats of the Wilmington Transportation Company are Everett Adargo, Oscar Griffith, Francis McGrath and Harold (Whitie) Packman.”

November 3, 1938 [TI/Avalon]: “Married, November 4, in Avalon, Harold B. Packman and Miss Edythe Stone, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Stone.”

March 30, 1931 [PSN]: “Harold B. (Whitey) Packman of Avalon, Catalina, died Saturday night in Los Angeles. He is survived by his wife, Edythe Packman, and a daughter, Carolyn Doreen Packman. The body is at the chapel of Ivy H. Overholtzer, 1719 South Flower Street, Los Angeles. Funeral services will be held at the chapel of Mountain View Cemetery, North Fair Oaks Avenue, Tuesday at 12:30 P.M.”

July 24, 2007 [Deseret News, Salt Lake City]: “Mimi Bagley 1929-2007, 77, passed away July 16, 2007 in Northridge, CA. Mimi was born Carolyn Doreen Packman, a native Catalinanian (a rarity even among Californians) on November 12, 1929, to ‘Whitey’ Packman and Edythe Stone. Her grandparents ran the Catalina Bathhouse, Whitey was the diver on the glass-bottom boat, the youngest ship’s captain ever licensed in California, and a former USC football star. Edythe attended school in the basement of the Catalina Casino, and, after graduation, worked at the St. Catherine Hotel for the exclusive Hollywood yachting crowd. Mimi attended high school in Huntington Beach, was on the swimming team, water ballet team, and the beach all summer. She studied music at Orange Coast College, San Diego State College and UCLA. But her life-long commitment was to ice-skating…”