Hollywood, California, Usa
From Canada and Alaska we continue down North America’s west coast to California, for the surprising story behind one of the most familiar words on our entire list: Hollywood.
Originally little more than a vacant collection of rural homesteads and orchards, during a real-estate boom in the late 1880s local ranch owners H. H. Wilcox and his wife Daeida began selling off acres of their land in the Hollywood area to investors and developers. The Wilcoxes made vast profits on each sale, and began channelling the money back into their own redevelopment projects in the area. Chiefly under Daeida’s guidance, a fully functioning town soon emerged: a bank, post office, high school, police station, library, city hall and even a tennis club were all built in and around the burgeoning town of Hollywood, which despite a downturn in real-estate projects at the turn of the century – and the death of Daeida’s husband in 1891 – continued to grow apace long into the early 1900s.
Where is Hollywood, California, Usa? – Hollywood, California, Usa Map – Hollywood, California, Usa Map Download Free Photo Gallery
In 1911, the first of many film companies started operating in the area, and not long afterwards the iconic Hollywood sign was erected in the hills overlooking the town. Originally an advertisement for a new hilltop real-estate venture, the sign initially read ‘hollywoodland’ and was intended to remain standing for only a year. Nevertheless it soon established itself as an iconic fixture of the town’s landscape, and as the local film industry flourished in the 1910s and 1920s, both the name and the sign – and the town itself – became increasingly attached to the world of cinema in general.
The name Hollywood has consequently been used as a catchall term for the entire American film industryt since the early 1920s. But the name has also gone on to act as the inspiration for an array of phrases and expressions directly derived from it.
So the first Hollywood ending (an overly sentimental or unrealistic one) was described in 1929. The word Hollywoodese was coined in 1920, to refer to the jargony language of the filmmakers and creators of the Hollywood area, while the verb Hollywoodise first appeared in 1923 to mean ‘to render glamorous’.
During the Second World War, the B-17 Flying Fortress appeared in so many movies that it became known as the Hollywood bomber in 1940s slang. A car’s rolling stop at a stop sign or red light has been known as a Hollywood stop since the early 1980s – a reference to the way drivers in Hollywood movies rarely seem to stop or be held up in traffic on screen. And alluding to the ruthlessly uncompromising behaviour of Hollywood’s agents and producers, a Hollywood no is a negative answer implied by an unreturned or unanswered telephone call.
Precisely why Hollywood is called Hollywood is a mystery. Perhaps the most outlandish, and certainly the most popular, explanation is that given by local real-estate developer and ‘Father of Hollywood’ H. J. Whitley. According to Whitley, while honeymooning in the hills around Los Angeles in 1886, he happened across a Chinese man who was collecting timber. When the two struck up a conversation and Whitley asked him what he was doing, the man replied, ‘Hauling wood’ – which, to Whitley’s ears, sounded like ‘Hollywood’. The combination of holly and wood, he reasoned, would make a fitting name for one of his developments, as he felt it neatly embodied both his English and Scottish heritage. Whitley was one of the earliest developers to take an interest in the Hollywood area, and, according to legend, his choice of name stuck. As compelling as Whitley’s anecdote is, however, a more likely explanation is that the name was merely local landowner Daeida Wilcox’s choice. She reportedly took inspiration from a lady she had a chance conversation with on a train one day, whose summer home was named ‘Hollywood’.
The use of a word (in this case Hollywood) to represent the entirety of something of which it is merely an associated part (in this case, the film industry en masse) is called metonymy. The same rhetorical process accounts for the likes of Wall Street being used to represent the entire US financial market; Broadway being applied to the entire theatrical industry; and New York’s Madison Avenue representing the city’s entire advertising industry.
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