Posted: Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

Gigi Whitley was born with a caulk over her face. This symbolized that she was chosen to be a dreamer. Throughout her life she would have dreams of events before they happened. One of her most eventful dreams saved the life of H. J. Whitley, Harry Chandler and H. G. Otis. They had planned to meet at the Times Building but because of Gigi’s dream the meeting was canceled. Instead they went to see a play with the ladies. The bombing happened October 1, 1910. A union member belonging to the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers planted the dynamite. The explosion started a fire which killed 21 newspaper employees and injured 100 more.

Her dreams gave her a close connection to God. Perhaps that is why Gigi Whitley planned the first Easter Sunrise Service in Hollywood. Few people know that the very first Hollywood Easter sunrise service took place in 1919 atop Whitley Heights in an open space at 6675 Whitley Terrace. It was the site of a Mission-style pavilion used for band concerts to attract prospective buyers to the new residential development.

That first Easter Sunrise Service, organized by Gigi Whitley, wife of Whitley Heights founder H.J. Whitley, was more of a block party, the kind of event that draws a community together. It was so successful that more space was needed to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend. The following year, the services were held on Olive Hill, now called Barnsdall Park. Because that venue lacked the acoustics needed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, a new location was sought. The Hollywood Bowl is famous for its Easter sunrise service held every year since 1921 in the outdoor theater nestled in a canyon enveloped by brush-shrouded hills.

And the site of that first Easter sunrise service in Whitley Heights is now occupied by a house built in 1951 and once occupied by actor Donald O’Connor, famous for starring in the movie “Singin’ in the Rain” with Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly. Wishing all of you a blesed Easter.

Posted: Friday, March 12th, 2021 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

H J Whitley had one major concern when bringing the movie industry to Hollywood. He realized the power words had over others. He was often heard saying, “Those who think they can and those who don’t, are both right. Be the one who says you can.” Movie moguls and actors need to decide if they are showing their audience how to overcome a test or trail or leading them down a path of temptation. Test and trials are learning experiences to overcome adversity. Temptation leads to corruption and ultimately downfall. What would HJ think of Hollywood today? Are the movies the studios produce helping us overcome and come together for the betterment of mankind? H J Whitley always encouraged others to work together. He set an example for others to follow. He even bought out the remaining assets of the Suburban Home Company to keep his business partners from foreclosing on homeowners who were experiencing difficult times because of a turn in the economy. How is Hollywood faring today? Let me know what you think. Tell me the good things you have heard.

Posted: Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

Rudolph Valentino was a neighbor of HJ and Gigi Whitley. They all lived in Whitley Heights and would often run into each other on walks. Grace Whitley enjoyed taking dancing lessons from Valentino. One of Valentinp's most popular romantic movies starred the controversial Italian actor in a new sexy way. A sex symbol at the time, Valentino was typified by his alternative look. He was the complete opposite of the macho masculinity expected of American men at the time and was rejected by American men, who were also jealous of his popularity with women.

A hit with women, Valentino played exotic parts of men in power, like Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan in The Sheik. The conventional plot follows a headstrong independent woman who falls in love with a traditional man who denies his attraction to her wildness. A typical romantic film, The Sheik (and Valentino), however, revealed a longing by American women to be seen by society.

Posted: Monday, March 8th, 2021 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

Many years ago the Whitley Family talked to Disneyland about H. J. Whitley being the "Father of Hollywood." It was very kind of Disneyland to include the Whitley Building in California Adventure. It is on the corner of Hollywood and Sunset Blvds.

It appears that Disneyland may be opening again April 1, 2021. This might be a good time for you to visit the Whitley Building and share a piece of history with the Father of Hollywood.

Posted: Thursday, February 18th, 2021 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

On December 18, 1902 a banquet was held to celebrate the opening of the Hotel Hollywood. H. J. Whitley was the president of the Hotel Hollywood. Below is the program from the event and some historical postcards of the Hotel Hollywood.