photo: inside Room 501, showcasing a variety of different displays
Crimson Chronicle Reporter
As some people already know, the library’s foyer, as well as room 502, is filled with many old photos of the school and former classes, a vintage electric organ, and other neat oldies. Something you might not know, however, is that hidden in plain sight is another room, room 501, that houses even more memorabilia.
These locations in the library make up three-quarters of the Hollywood High School Museum, first developed by members of the Hollywood High Alumni Association way back in 1991. When I had learned about this specific room, I also quickly learned that it’s rarely visited by students, which, in turn, made me realize that I had to check it out. So, I had to ask to be let in there, and was greeted with a room no larger than your average classroom. Its contents, however, were much more grand. I spent almost the entire period walking around the compact space that is the celebrity museum.
There was a plethora of displays that included pictures of many successful alumni, biographies listing only their biggest achievements, as well as documents and items that pertained to them, all organized in such an elaborate way for such a tiny space. There was a respectable range of fields represented by the alumni featured, spanning from actors and filmmakers to musicians and artists.
Some of the featured alumni that stuck out to me personally were Betty Hall Jones, a boogie-woogie pianist who graduated from the school in 1926 and, for a time, was actually a part of Louis Armstrong’s backing band, and Marge Champion, a professional dancer from the class of 1936 who went on to become a model dancer for Walt Disney Studios during her early career. She would help make possible the unreal animation in movies like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Pinocchio. Her display prominently features her signature dance shoes.
For good measure, I also revisited the other parts of the museum, located in room 502 and the library balcony. The balcony is of particular interest, as it holds a space dedicated to Sheik veterans and war heroes, many of whom were killed fighting for the country. Looking at room 502 a bit closer, I looked at the closet housing a bunch of awards for the Alumni Association, some of which are, funnily enough, modeled after Oscars. There were more of these in the celebrity museum as well.
All this Sheik history was first brought to my attention after I, along with other fellow Chronicle reporters, were invited to a meeting with Principal Samuel Dovlatian and Bob and Ann Curran, who graduated in the classes of 1956 and 1955 respectively and had brought along a box full of memorabilia that they plan on donating to the museum. The memorabilia was owned by Ted Olsen, another alum who had recently passed away.
One thing that I felt the museum as a whole was lacking were more documents that portrayed student life rather than the lives of the students post-Hollywood High, and this is why. The memorabilia they brought was a lot more down-to-earth, with photos from senior getaways, club events, and sports games, all dating back to the 1950s. One photo that stood out to me was one of a drawing class that was being taught in the quad that day, long before the iconic Hash House was built.
During the meeting, there were talks of archiving the contents of the museum digitally, expanding the Alumni Association’s reach through articles about alumni events in the Crimson Chronicle, and overall, further educating students on the rich history of this century old school. Whatever may come out of it, I’m glad that I’ve gotten the opportunity to be able to check out these beautiful Sheik artifacts.