If you’ve ever wondered how the birthplace of Hollywood American film earned its name, you’ve probably heard a multitude of theories, each claiming to represent the truth. We’re here to help you cut through the rumours and get to the bottom of how such a storied name came to be.
H. J. Whitley negotiated to purchase 500 acres of what is today known as Hollywood once upon a time. Whitley was already a renowned landowner, having founded a number of western communities, and he is now recognised as the ‘Father of Hollywood.’ Harvey H. Wilcox later created the term ‘Hollywood’ when he filed it on the land’s deed in 1887.
Things tend to get a little foggy in the period in between two incidents. One of the most widely circulated theories today would be that the name was chosen to reflect the city’s conspicuous presence of a magnificent, holly-like shrub. The plant was what became known as Christmas holly, and it grew wild in the Santa Monica Mountains as well as surrounding places. According to legend, Whitley was inspired by the holly therefore proposed name the town ‘Hollywood.’ His 500 acres were purchased from E. C. Hurd, who was married to the woman who was acquaintances with Daeida Wilcox, Harvey H. Wilcox’s wife, as well as the name allegedly went down the line until Wilcox himself.
According to another version of the tale, Whitley has nothing to with its name, and Daeida Wilcox got it from her friend Ivar Weid, who resided in ‘Holly Canyon’ at the time, and gave it to her husband. Another account tells that Daeida met a stranger on such a train who lived inside an Illinois mansion known as ‘Hollywood,’ and that’s how she came up with the name. Nevertheless, there is next to no proof that any of these myths is correct about the name’s origins.