Hollywood is the centre of the American film industry. While New York makes a good number of films and television shows, so many more are made in or near Hollywood that “Hollywood” often means the American film industry as a whole and not a place in California.
Hollywood is just north of the centre of Los Angeles in California. It is right next to Beverly Hills, where famous actors live.
The film industry started in New York, but the early directors liked Hollywood so much that after shooting films there they began to stay. By 1920 it was the film capital of the world. Los Angeles was not yet a big city: Hollywood is part of why it became one.
Bollywood in India now makes more films than Hollywood, but even now more people across the world see Hollywood ones and know the Hollywood stars.
Along the main street in Hollywood you see large pink stars in the black pavement. Inside each star is a name of the actor or singer or someone famous in Hollywood. The first star appeared in 1960 to honour Joanne Woodward.
In front of a Chinese theatre on that street you can see where actors and actresses have put their handprints in the pavement and signed their names. The first ones were made in 1927 by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, the two biggest stars of the time.
Many Americans grow up reading about Hollywood and dream of going there someday to become rich and famous. Most never go and most who go never make it big, but some do. Sad to say it is not always talent that wins out.
On a hill north of Hollywood huge white letters spell out “HOLLYWOOD”. They have stood there since 1923. The H is maintained by Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine.
Hollywood lives in a world of its own. The rules of ordinary life do not seem to apply there – like being faithful to your wife or not doing cocaine. Hollywood marriages are famously short. Homosexuals seem to have a good deal of power behind the scenes.
Some say that Hollywood, like a fast-living uncle, has been lowering the morals of the country. The sex and violence you see in films now in the 2000s would have been shocking back in the 1950s.
But as liberal as Hollywood is about some things, it is not liberal about everything. Like skin colour.
Most films with a black leading character are either all black or have the lead paired with a white actor, as in the “buddy films”.
Thandie Newton, who grew up in Africa and England, was shocked by Hollywood. Everyone, both black and white, saw her not as an actress who could play any part, but only parts for “black women” – and for those she was not “black enough”!
But that is another story.
- New York
- black actresses
- race and crime and poverty and television
- Those who have lived or worked there (I had no idea I had written about so many!):