Star School

A mural along Highland Avenue features some of the famous alumni of Hollywood High.

Countless kids have been admonished to stay in school and out of show business. For the students of Hollywood High, staying in school was often the best way to get into show business.

Hollywood High School, at the corner of Highland and Sunset, has been around since the days when Hollywood had more orange trees than people. When the stars arrived in the early part of the twentieth century, Hollywood High became the school for their kids.

In recent years, the school, like the rest of Hollywood, has seen better days, and few celebrities still live in the area, or send their kids to public schools. But the high school’s legacy can still be witnessed in a huge mural which pays homage to many of the stars who once cheered on the “Sheiks.”

Hollywood High, the home of the "Sheiks," which references the Rudolph Valentino film.

It’s difficult to turn on the TV and not see alumni of the school appear on screen. Over the years a veritable who’s-who of Hollywood have passed through its doors, including Mickey Rooney, John Ritter, Laurence Fishburne, Joel McCrea, Judy Garland, John Huston, Carol Burnett, Carole Lombard, James Garner, Alan Ladd, Chuck Jones, Fay Wray, and Ricky Nelson.

Some Hollywood careers actually began at the school.

Actress and producer Rita Wilson (Mrs. Tom Hanks) was spotted by a photographer at the school, which led to her film career.

The most famous Hollywood High discovery, Judy Turner – better known by her stage name, Lana – cut class one day and went across the street to the Top Hat Malt Shop for a Coke. The publisher of The Hollywood Reporter happened to notice the 15-year-old cutie and launched her on the path to stardom.

So, the obvious moral is to stay in school and your dreams of bright lights may come true. But just to be safe, remember to cut class from time to time.

About deadwrite

Freelance writer, film historian, taphophile View all posts by deadwrite

One response to “Star School

  • deadwrite

    Another great post!

    Fun to think that while they were attending HHS, these future celebrities’ classmates had no idea these people would be famous. Reminds me of being in high school with Kurt Rambis (he was in my Geometry class) – he was on the school basketball team and was really good, though was just another popular high school athlete. Who knew he would be The Lakers’ Kurt Rambis in less than 5 years? Food for thought, that’s for sure.

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