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.