HOLLYWOOD HIGH: The History of America's Most Famous Public School by John Blumenthal

HOLLYWOOD HIGH: The History of America's Most Famous Public School

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Hollywood High may well be America's biggest education factory for celebrities, but Blumenthal's Andy Hardy gloss makes it Dullsville High. He has read every issue of the student newspaper from 1918 to the present day, as well as yearbooks dating back to 1906. The newspaper's ""voice,"" he tells us, ""though often prim and righteous, provides us with an accurate chronicle of the high jinks of seven decades of American youth."" By and large, however, Blumenthal's interviews with various celebrity grads yield quotes unable to quicken an otherwise pale page--in a book that will appeal mainly to a Hollywood High student. Founded in 1903 in the little cow-town of Hollywood, the school was surrounded by acres of farmland. Its first big celebrity, class of 1910, was Adela Rogers St. John, who wrote her class's three-act musical comedy and went from high school straight to the sports desk of Hearst's Sam Francisco Examiner, where she was a vivid sportswriter indeed. She's soon followed by Fay Wray, who played minor parts in school plays, never landed a lead, but left Hollywood High in her junior year to go directly into the movies (""I didn't realize then that King Kong and I were going to live together for the rest of our lives and longer""). Jason Robards excelled at track. Ricky Nelson was so famous and successful in his senior year that he had to graduate later via tutors. Lana Turner thought that going to Hollywood High was like going into the movies. ""Bigger 'n life,"" says Carol Burnett, adding, ""The most famous high school in the whole wide world. And all I had to do was get up in the morning and walk to it."" Carol says more in that sentence than Blumenthal gets into a chapter.

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 1988
Publisher: Ballantine