Posted: Wednesday, December 29th, 2021 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

Over the years I have been speaking to audiances around the world on televison, radio talk shows, newspaper interview and at Hollywood Academy Award functions. Many times I have been asked, "How did Hollywood got its name?"  To start with I am going to share with you the way my great-grandmother wrote it in her handwriten memoirs.  While on their honeymoon in 1886 they rode horses out to the foothills of the Cahuega Valley. They dismounted near the top of the hill to look at the view of the entire valley.  Along came a Chinese man riding in a wagon.  He stopped, got out of the wagon and politely bowed.  HJ Whitley asked him what he had been doing.  The man said in broken English, “Up early. Work hard. Hauly wood.”  The man’s was hauling wood.  With that HJ had an epiphany.  He decided to name the new town he planned to build there Hollywood.  Holly would represent his British roots and Wood his Scottish ancestry.

Gigi Whtiley handwriten diary.
The next day he road back to Hollywood (Cahuenga) and obtained a verbal contract to buy the four hundred eighty (480) acres from Mr. Hurd.  A handshake was used to finalize the deal.  A picture of the tract of land (subdivision map) that was purchase is below.  The center of the land is Highland and Hollywood Boulevard.  The square on the bottom right is where the Whitley Estate was located and the location where the first Hollywood Studio filmed on October 26, 1911.

Whitley's house on Prospect Blvd. (Hollywood Blvd)

After securing the land HJ visited with a friend Ivar Weid.  He told Ivar of his plans to build a town named Hollywood. Ivar Weid then told his neighbors Daeida and Harvey Wilcox of Whitley’s plan. 

Many people have been confused by an advertisement printed by the Los Angeles Litho Company which was produced at a later date. It was added to a pamphlet given away by the bank as an advertisment. Many of the futures on the map are inacurrate. Many of the buildings never existed.

Much of the mis-information that is currently circulating comes from Edwin Palmer. Below is a disclaimer written in the front of the book "Hollywood History" by Edwin O Palmer, Edwin O Palmer Publisher 1936. Unfornately much of his misinformation was counted as a reliable source by authors who published in the 1950's onward.

PEdwin O. Palmer Disclaimer

The following letter addresses issues that HJ Whitley had with Doctor Palmer an employee of Mrs. Wilcox. He was concerned that history was being incorrectly recorded. Appears to be something we need to watch out for. History is history. We can learn from it.

The truth is, H J Whitley named Hollywood in 1886.  

Posted: Wednesday, December 1st, 2021 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

I just wanted to send a little Christmas Cheer and say Happy New Year 2022. It will be the year for you. Many changes will becoming that we hardly believe will be possible. 2022 is the year for you!

Posted: Sunday, October 24th, 2021 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

On October 26, 1911 HJ Whitley allowed David Horsley to have a test run filming on his property. Not only did HJ Whitley bring the movie studios to Hollywood, he also left his personal footprint throughout the entire town. The first movie studio in the Hollywood area was Nestor Studios, opened October 27, 1911 by David Horsley and Al Christie. Nestor Studios leased the Blondeu Tavern for thirty dollars a month. The film studio was located on the northwest corner of Sunset and Gower.

In the same year, another 15 independents settled in Hollywood. Early movie producers relocated to Hollywood to escape Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company, which controlled almost all the patents relevant to movie production at the time. The first movie studio in the Hollywood run by David Horsley was fortunate enough to have invented his own camera so he was not dependent on Edison’s Patents.

Another reason the movie studios settled in Hollywood was HJ Whitley’s creation. The city of Hollywood rapidly developed into a 'movie colony'. The city had a distinctive carefree lifestyle for its film-makers and actors. It would soon become the film capital of the world.

Read more: October 26, 1911 Hollywood's Having it's 110th Anniversary

Posted: Monday, November 1st, 2021 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

See…the video here is the Whitley Building in Disney’s….California Adventure. I want to give you a little of its history. The Disney Corporation wanted to expand Disneyland after 50 years of phenomenal success. Disneyland wanted to offer the world a bit of California history from Walt Disney’s perspective. We all know that Walt Disney was one of the early pioneers of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

The Disney designers selected the building on the corner of Hollywood Blvd and Whitley Ave because of its art deco design ….and because it is sitting on the very spot where the first Hollywood Movie Studio filmed. The building was given the name the Whitley Building to honor HJ Whitley, the father of Hollywood. HJ had invited William Horsley and his crew to stay at his Hotel Hollywood. The next day Nestor Studio used the Whitley property that was located at 6601 Hollywood Blvd to do a film test.

You can find the Whitley Building near the entrance of Hollywood Studios in Disney California Adventure.

Posted: Wednesday, September 29th, 2021 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

Johnstone Whitley, the grandson of HJ and Gigi Whitley and Irene Whitley, Johnstone's mother are standing at the far right.