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The Father of Hollywood [Kindle Edition]

Gaelyn Whitley Keith
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The world has been fascinated by Hollywood, California, for years. The glamour, the sophistication, the scandal--the world can't help but follow the happenings of this incredible city. It is a city where stories are created, stories that come to life on a screen and allow viewers the chance to escape their everyday lives for a bit. But few people know the story of how Hollywood came to be. In this beautifully written biography, author Gaelyn Whitley Keith introduces readers to her great-grandfather, HJ Whitley, The Father of Hollywood. Keith uses her research and her great-grandmother Gigi's journal and memoir to recreate the story of HJ's life, a story as captivating as any film. You'll travel to the Midwest, interacting with cowboys and Native Americans. You'll cruise around the world. But most importantly, you'll watch the development of an unforgettable community. You'll witness the creation of Whitley Heights. You'll learn how the famous Hollywood sign came to be. And you'll discover just what brought the movie industry to its home. One man was behind it all. It's time to meet The Father of Hollywood.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This biography of early Hollywood developer H.J. Whitley by his adoring great-granddaughter, Keith, paints a rosy, selective portrait of the man who named the Hollywood Hills. Told primarily through the imagined eyes of Whitley's second wife, Gigi Ross, we follow Whitley from his birth in 1847 Canada, through the death of his six siblings (from cholera) and his parents (a buggy accident), to the United States, where he worked his way west from Chicago to California. Honeymooning in L.A. with Ross—his first wife and infant died in a fire—Whitley resolved to develop the fertile farming area and surrounding Cahuenga and San Fernando valleys. The couple gradually galvanized interest in Hollywood, attracting railroads, street cars, electricity, and an all-important cultural life, epitomized by the first movie studios. As a civil engineer, Whitley created Sunset Boulevard, Ridge Route, the Whitley Heights, and other iconic locales. Keith drops scarcely a critical remark and includes much imagined dialogue; readers may want to consult a history of the era in the interests of objectivity.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3127 KB
  • Print Length: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Tate Publishing (August 31, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003ZHU93S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,240,739 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! Real people who made real history. October 31, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
I want to begin by explaining that this is NOT a book about Hollywood, but Hollywood is a big part of this man's story. This 345 page book from 2010 brings us the story of the visionary land developer who developed towns along the midwest railroad and later developed Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley. Set primarily in the times surrounding 1870 to 1931, we touch a lot of history while reading about H.J., his wife Gigi, their children, and their friends, Teddy Roosevelt, Sid Grauman -- Grauman's Chinese Theater, and many others. As we follow H.J. Whitley's phenomenal drive to push forward in developing towns along the railroad, we touch on Indian uprisings in the undeveloped lands, bank robbers in lawless towns, and women's struggles to be independent. We look at how towns were begun with hotels, banks, schools and how highways were graded and built. It was a very interesting read of a visionary's life and legacy that began well before we were all born, a loving tribute by his great-granddaughter. This book was built from family stories, old family photos, old business records, personal family correspondences, as well as Gigi's journals and diaries. Many stories also came directly from Gaelyn's father who lived with Gigi during the last 20 years of her life. This book is dedicated to Hobart Johnstone (H.J.) Whitley and Gigi.

H.J. was born in Toronto, Canada in 1847. The early years of his life saw much tragedy in losing 4 of 6 siblings to cholera. His parents were killed in a buggy accident when he was 18. Later, he lost his first wife and child to a fire. Alone, he moved to Chicago and began a successful grocery and mercantile business with his inheritance. At 23, he sold the business and headed west.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Perfect Paperback
Hobart Johnstone Whitley was a young man who had faced tragedy time and time again. Four of his six siblings perished during a cholera epidemic when he was a boy and his parents died in a tragic accident when he was barely eighteen years of age. The unwieldly hand of fate touched once again to take his young wife and infant daughter. Anyone of lesser character would have fallen into an abyss of depression or lost their way in life, but somehow misfortune made him stronger and more determined than ever to forge through life leaving only good in his wake. He was a true gentleman and "refused to move, read, or speak unless he considered the impact it would have on others. In the true spirit of the era [Victorian], he learned to respect men of superior social standing. He felt that thoughtless laughter and stories that relayed idle gossip were unacceptable." (p. 22) HJ was not one to let tears conquer him. There was much to be done in life and he had little time for self pity.

HJ was born in Toronto in 1847, but by the time he was twenty-three he was heading West to make his fortune in the United States. He was a visionary genius. It was an astonishingly rare type of genius that would enable him to put "over a hundred and forty-one towns on the map," (p. 334) including his own special creation, Hollywood. Even as a young man he inspired faith in others and his leadership abilities enabled others to shine equally in the limelight of his creations. Some later attempted to take credit for his accomplishments, but he merely shrugged it off, inately knowing that charlatan-like behavior would eventually be uncovered. There was only one thing that he hestitated to attempt once again and that was to love, but a special young woman caught his eye.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And So Much More September 8, 2010
Format:Perfect Paperback
Gaelyn Whitley's soaring, compelling and inspiring "The Father Of Hollywood", heralds the life and time of her paternal grandparents. I find it difficult to describe the impact this astounding memoir had on me; I can honestly tell you that I have never wept over the pages of a book as I did while reading "The Father Of Hollywood. This work contains more raw material on what life should mean to us and how to live that life than most undergraduate educations. Through handsomely crafted anecdotes, Keith has constructed a unique homage -- to a person, place and time which have passed from the American scene. As we learn who HJ Whitley was, what motivated him and how deeply he influenced those who loved and respected him, we discover a genuine American archtype by which we can measure our own lives. A memoir Americans will treasure for decades to come, its author has now elevated herself to the highest level of our national letters.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And So Much More September 8, 2010
Format:Perfect Paperback
It is hard to tell which I liked most; the story itself or the style in which it was written. Although it is a non-fiction account it has the characteristics of good fiction. Her grandfather came through as a believable character because his honorable traits were balanced out by his endearing faults.

I came to know H J Whitley just as sure as if I meant him walking down Hollywood Boulevard. Taking ink and paper and crafting a living breathing person is an art, and Keith succeeds at it beautifully.
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