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Video: The History Of The Ford Theatre And Hollywood's White Cross

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Tom Carroll of Tom Explores Los Angeles is back with a new video on The Ford Ampitheatre and Hollywood's white cross.You may have noticed a glowing white cross visible from Hollywood, and you might have wondered why it's there. Tom Carroll, who uncovers pieces of L.A. history, explores the origins of the cross in his latest short.

The cross has a lot to do with the history of the Ford Ampitheatre, which came about in the 1920s. The cross is a memorial to Christine Stevenson, a wealthy heiress who—along with her "really rich friends"—wanted to put on plays in Hollywood. At the time, no theaters to do so existed, so she and her friends built The Hollywood Bowl. Stevenson loved world religions, but her friends weren't into her ideas for a Jesus play. So, she built another theatre in 1920 called the Pilgrimage Theater.

Her first big hit at the theater was that play about Jesus. Hollywood, when it was founded, was imagined as a Christian community: a far cry from the lingerie shops, bars and Scientology outposts that line the boulevard today.

Interestingly enough, the Jesus play ran all the way into the '60s. At that point, the theatre had been donated to the County and the Jesus play became an issue of the separation of church and state. That's the same reason our city seal no longer has a cross.

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And if you're wondering how the Pilgrimage Theatre became the Ford Ampitheatre, and for whom it was named, check out the video for yourself.