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Hollywood Bowl tidbits

Some memorable moments and fun facts about the famed amphitheater, whose 90th season begins Friday.

June 15, 2011|By Karen Wada, Special to the Los Angeles Times

The Hollywood Bowl begins its 90th season on Friday and to celebrate the occasion Culture Monster discovered memorable moments and fun facts about the storied amphitheater. The 17,400-seat venue has become such a symbol of L.A. life and culture that it has been immortalized both on the Los Angeles County seal and in a 47,000-piece replica at Legoland California. Here's our Bowl-nanza of tidbits:

$47,500: Amount the Theatre Arts Alliance paid in 1919 for the Bowl's original home — 59 acres off Highland Avenue. (The site is now 88 acres.) The group later reorganized as the Community Park and Art Assn., whose secretary, Artie Mason Carter, became known as "the mother of the Bowl."

25 cents: Cost of a ticket to the July 11, 1922, concert; Alfred Hertz and the Los Angeles Philharmonic opened the Bowl's first official season. (Today, you can still buy a ticket to some shows for $1.)

150: Number of boxes initially built in 1923. (There now are 664.) The front width of a four-person box averages about 50 inches, the rear 55 inches and the length 71 inches.

The Bowl's mortgage: Burned on stage in 1923 after the debt was paid off. The property was deeded to the county in 1924.

"Jazz Mad": The 1928 silent film was the first of dozens of movies and TV shows filmed or taped at the Bowl.

One season: That's how long each of the Bowl's first three shells lasted. Allied Architects' arched proscenium went up in 1926. Architect Lloyd Wright, Frank's son, designed a pyramidal shell in 1927 and one with concentric arches in 1928. (Architect Myron Hunt's 1926 balloon-shaped seating layout is still in use.)

55 tons: Weight of the iconic 1929 shell that stood for more than seven decades. The structure — a creation of Allied Architects and Elliott, Bowen and Walz — originally was mounted on rails so it could be moved to make room for scenery.

Benny Goodman: Clarinetist who brought jazz to the Bowl in 1936.

Lily Pons: Soprano who set a Bowl attendance record of 26,410 in 1936.

Valkyries on horseback: Riders descended from the surrounding hills for a production of Wagner's "Die Walküre" in 1938.

9: Age at which Lorin Maazel made his Bowl conducting debut in 1939.

Buried treasure: What a shepherd allegedly hid in the 1860s — prompting (unsuccessful) attempts over the years to find the cache by digging up parts of a Bowl parking lot.

Muse of Music: Name of the granite figure by George Stanley (sculptor of the Oscar statuette) featured in the fountain built at the Bowl's entrance in 1940.

Frank Sinatra: Singer who became the first pop artist to star in a concert with the Phil when he made his Bowl debut in 1943.

Dorothy Buffum Chandler: Civic leader whose emergency fundraising helped reopen the Bowl after a financial crisis closed it for nearly two weeks during the 1951 season. Chandler also is credited with beginning the tradition of in-seat picnicking in 1952.

100,000 gallons: Capacity of the reflecting pool installed near the stage in 1953 and later outfitted with a fountain, lights and other effects to produce water shows. The pool was drained in 1972 and has been replaced by seating.

Brink's truck: One of the vehicles reportedly used to transport the Beatles, who played the Bowl in 1964 and 1965.

"1812 Overture": Finale of the 1969 Tchaikovsky concert at which fireworks were introduced to the Bowl by then-general director Ernest Fleischmann. Now a popular feature of every season.

Paper panties: Dropped by helicopter onto the crowd at shock rocker Alice Cooper's 1972 concert.

20,000 ponchos: What the Bowl keeps on hand in case of rain. Weather has forced cancellation of about half a dozen shows. Judy Garland famously entertained a full house during a 1961 downpour.

Fifth shell: Current structure –— created by design architects Hodgetts+Fung and executive architects Gruen Associates — that was unveiled along with an acoustic canopy and four viewing screens in 2004.

''¡Bienvenido Gustavo!": Free 2009 concert that marked Gustavo Dudamel's first appearance on the podium as the Phil's music director. (He made his U.S. debut at the Bowl in 2005.)

Harry Connick Jr. and Gloria Estefan: Performers who will be inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame at the 2011 season-opening concert.

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