My Memories of
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By Jo Ann
Class of 1974
In 1971, I was about to enter
10th grade; I was overwhelmed because I was a
competitive figure skater who was on the ice six to eight hours a
day. I was very worried about how I would fit all that I wanted
to do into a twenty-four hour day. As the summer ended, and the
school year approached I begged my dad to allow me to attend
Hollywood Professional School, a school that many skaters
attended due to their heavy skating schedules. Somehow I talked
him into it, and Daddy called the school and set up an
appointment for an interview with Bertha Mann, the executive
director and owner of the famous school.
I still remember the day my dad
took me to HPS to register. I was wearing one of my favorite
dresses, a turquoise peasant dress I had made myself with puffy
sleeves and elastic right under the bust area (in the style of
the late 60s, early 70s)-- what made the dress my favorite is
that it barely covered my underwear! Mini-skirts were in then!
Mrs. Mann asked me that day if I was wearing a skating dress, and
told me that the dress code was three inches above the knee, and
to NOT wear that dress to school.
I remember buying books that day and I also remember Mrs. Mann
giving me an Annual from the year before. There were pictures in
it of very famous people who had attended HPS: I noticed right
away that Peggy Fleming was an alumna and so was Mickey Rooney!
School started a week later,
and I fell in love with the school. During the hours of
8:45ó12:45, five periods were squeezed in, and that gave me
plenty of time to skate two hours before school in the morning
from 6:00ó8:00 AM, and then from 1:45ó8:00 PM. I did
all my studying in the car as we drove between ice rinks in Los
My dad insisted I take college
preparatory classes; my schedule was filled with English,
Geometry, Biology and Drivers Education, Typing, History, and
French. Although this course load sounds difficult, much of our
work at HPS was done in class, so I was able to get most of my
homework done between 8:45ó12:45, and my life as a skater
and teen was manageable.
The sophomore class all came
together during English, which I seem to remember was during 3rd
period with Miss Mary Anderssen, the schoolís principal. She
was a red haired lady who didnít walk very well. When she
came to work each day, she would hold on to the walls as she
walked towards her classroom and to her big desk that sat there.
Her classroom was the best looking and largest in the school, and
class was also combined with homeroom. Once she arrived at her desk, she did
not move from it until school ended at 12:45.
The entire tenth grade probably
consisted of a group of 25 students, and so we became very close.
Kids were really nice to each other; my previous years of mean
kids in a public junior high school were still in my memory, but
at HPS, everyone was kind. I loved the atmosphere, and developed
enough confidence to run for sophomore class secretary. I won!
Sophomore Class Officers
Rose, Vice-President John Alsobrook, Secretary Jo Ann Schneider,
Treasurer David Gordon
I finished my sophomore year as
a happy teen, and was so sad when my parents told me that they
just couldnít manage the drive out to Hollywood for my
junior year. Our family moved to Arcadia from Belair in early
1972, so, during the 1972ó73 school year, I attended Arcadia
High School as a junior, and combined a half-day schedule from
9:00 AM until 12 noon there with correspondence courses from the
University of California so I could skate. At the end of my
junior year, I was behind since the correspondence courses were
terribly difficult, and pleaded with my dad to allow me to attend
HPS once again as a senior. He gave in, as long as I agreed to
drive myself to Hollywood.
I was so happy to return to
HPS! Most of my friends from 10th grade were still
there. I remember Leon Fromkess Jr., John Alsobrook,
Randy Rose-- all were leaders. They were so happy to see me
return, and encouraged me to get involved with the school as much
as my skating schedule allowed, so during my senior year, I ran
for class President. I lost to a boy; I lost to Leon Fromkess. It
was my first experience of there being a bias against a woman; I
didnít have a chance. The way school elections worked at
HPS, was that if you lost for President, you could run for
Vice-President. I lost the election for VP, and was allowed to
run for class Secretary, and won once again.
I had a shorter schedule during
that year: I only had classes from 8:45 AM Ė 12 noon. I was
excused from the last period so I could get to the rink earlier.
I remember I had Ethics with Mr. Joseph Squigna during first period, followed by
Advanced Algebra, English, and Chemistry, and I think
Trigonometry too. I got P.E. credit for Skating. Since my skating
sometimes ended late in the morning, I was late almost every day
to Ethics. (To this day, I really have no idea what that class
was about since I was late so much, but somehow I got a
"A" in that class!) I was also always late since I was
so cold when I left the ice rink, that I would sometimes stop and
eat breakfast before I went to class. I found many good breakfast
places in Hollywood!
Since I had to drive to and
from school myself, I could no longer do my homework in the car,
so it was very important to me to get as much work done as
possible while I was in the classroom. Advanced Algebra class was
the only class where I could get everything done though. The
teacher would put the homework assignment on the board, and then
would spend the entire class going over the problems from
yesterdayís assignment. I discovered, along with everyone
else, that you just had to be alert when she came to you, and she
went around the room from desk to desk. When it was my turn, I
would go through the problem out loud and as soon as I gave the
correct answer, she called on the person that sat next to me. I
would then return to getting tomorrowís homework done. Every
day I finished before the period was over.
There are many distinct things
I remember about HPS:
1) The entire school, even the
floors, ceilings, and desks, were painted at the beginning of the
school year with a dark gray paint. The schoolís
custodianís name was Sam. He did a great job painting the
school and keeping it clean.
Sam, the school
I seem to remember things being
scrubbed clean every single day! Most of the classrooms did not
have windows. The chemistry classroom, library, and auditorium
were entered from Hollywood Blvd.; I remember climbing a steep
set of stairs to get to that part of the school. Mrs. Mannís
office was at the front of the school and did have a window.
2) Lockers were outside in the
back of the school in a little yard. To get to the lockers, you
had to walk outside, pass an auto repair garage that seemed to be
in the same building, and go into an area surrounded by a chain
link fence that was near the pre-school classrooms. A concession
truck would come to that area after 2nd or 3rd
period, and students would have a chance to purchase a snack
during that time. I remember having to rent a locker for the
3) During my senior year, I was
too lazy to use the lockers, since my lock never worked right, so
I kept my books in my car. This was before backpacks, so I
couldnít possibly carry all my books around from
8:45óNoon. One day I couldnít find a parking place on
Serrano Street, the street on the side of the school. I parked on
the other side of Hollywood Blvd., and walked across Hollywood
Blvd. during break time to drop off some books, and get the ones
I need for the following classes. Laura (Mackenzie) Phillips (who
was already famous for being in American Graffiti) was also
crossing the street at the same time as me. Vice-Principal Mr.
Lawrence Stuppy, stopped both of us as we returned into the
building, and I discovered that I was in trouble for crossing the
street during school hours. (Until this day, I tell people I
still remember getting in trouble with MacKenzie Phillips!) I
still remember Laura telling me her dad (John Phillips, of
"The Mamas And The Papas") was going to kill her. She
had crossed the street to visit with a boyfriend.
Brenda Smith, Vice-President Karl Jones, Treasurer Danae Shivers,
"MacKenzie" Phillips far right was Secretary
4) I remember the special
assemblies (AUD CALLs) we had once in awhile, and that the kids
that were in the arts would perform for us. Some of the students
were already famous and very talented. I was good friends with a
girl named Pepa Hoffman
(a young singer; I donít believe she became famous) during
my sophomore year. I still remember her singing a Carole King
song for us. I remember there was a tradition around Christmas of
the foreign students reciting "A Partridge in a Pear
Tree." It took forever, but was quite interesting to see so
many countries represented.
5) I remember visits to the
schoolís library upstairs. It was a room filled with dusty
old books that no on ever read!
6) The teachers were really
old. I think most were retired and enjoyed having a part-time
morning teaching job. I heard from someone once that the math
teacher (Ella Musser) dropped dead and her body wasnít
discovered for two weeks!
7) Melanie Griffith, graduated
with me in 1974. She was a really sweet person. None of us had
any idea she would become so famous. I remember she and Laura
Phillips were good friends. At graduation, I donít remember
Melanieís family attending, but I do remember Laura taking
pictures of Melanie. I also remember Melanie using the phone in
Mrs. Mannís office one day. Her mother (Tippi Hedren, famous
for Alfred Hitchcockís THE BIRDS) was on the phone telling
Melanie she had just got a part and I remember Mrs. Mann and
Melanie were so excited. (I have no idea why I was in Mrs.
Mannís office during the call.)
Griffith, at graduation, 1974
8) For graduation, Miss
Anderssen had us all write a thesis and get it professionally
bound. I wrote mine on skating, of course. It was called Figure
Skating, Love it or Leave It! Miss Anderssen gave a special
pen to the student who completed their thesis first. I still have
the pen since I was the first to finish! We carried our thesis in
9) I got to give a speech at
graduation: "The Americanís Creed." I memorized
the speech word for word. When I went up in front of the audience
at graduation and took a look at the crowd in front of me, stage
fright set in, and I almost forgot the speech entirely. I stared
at the microphone and made it through!
10) One funny memory is that
long hair and beards were NOT part of the dress code. The school
annual was filled with photos of boys with their hair and beard
chopped off in the photo!
11) Coats and ties were
required on Friday. One guy named David Gordon always wore a
jeans jacket and a bandana on Friday to follow the dress code! I
think Randy Rose and John Alsobrook did the same.
12) In tenth grade, Nina Behar,
our French teacher tried hard to have a class that involved
student participation. We kids were used to doing work in class
and never quite cooperated. I once studied in advance so I could
recite a paragraph in French fluently. Mrs. Behar was impressed,
but someone told on me, and I ended up getting in trouble. Oh
well, it was worth a try!
13) I remember a day when a
bunch of us ditched school and went to Griffith Park. Pepa
Hoffman got away with being 21 years old (donít ask me how
she managed, but she was probably also an actress), and went in a
liquor store and purchased some liquor. We had a great time in
the park; I think we had a picnic and all felt so grown-up. I did
not drink anything since I knew I had to be on the ice in the
afternoon. I remember seeing a bunch of friends getting drunk in
the park and talking with a long-haired hippie about school and
skating. What an adventure for a fifteen year old! At 12:45, my
mom picked me up, and took me to the rink like nothing happened.
Years later, my dad told me that Mr. Stuppy had called him and
told him I had ditched school, and my dad had answered,
"Sir, my daughter would not do such a thing!" Little
did I know that day that my parents were on to me.
14) On the Serrano side of the
school was where most of us entered the building. There was a
ramp we walked up. I did not like to walk in at the front door
since I had to pass Mrs. Mannís office. Everyone knew not to
bother Mrs. Mann. In 1994, I visited Hollywood with my husband,
and found a vacant lot
where the school stood, but the ramp was still on the lot.
15) There were only 2 restrooms
(only 2 or 3 toilets) in the building for the high school girls.
There were probably other bathrooms somewhere, but I just
remember the two restrooms.
16) Biology and History were
taught by a very old lady named Marian Fetterly. She also taught
Drivers Ed. She had us outline our entire Biology and History
books and put the outlines in a folder. That was all that was
required in Biology and History. No tests, no homework, just an
outline. We were given the class time to make the outline.
17) I learned to type at HPS.
Typing class met in a tiny noisy room equipped with ancient
manual typewriters. I loved typing class. I would open up sort of
a teach-yourself -to-type book, teach
myself a bit everyday, and listen as Mrs. Fichman would stop us
and give us a typing test once in awhile. Iím not sure if I
would have learned to type if it hadnít been for Hollywood
18) Leon Fromkess had quite an unusual name. I remember
going out to eat with Leon once. When he gave his name to the
restaurant host, the host didnít believe Leon that his name
was real! Later on, I found out Leon was the grandson of a famous
budget film producer. I wonder what happened to Leon?
19) The Chemistry teacher, Mrs.
Garland called us all by our last names and didnít use our
first names. I was "Schneider." I remember causing a
small fire in Chemistry class during an experiment!
20) Seniors had class sweaters.
It was blue and with gold trim and had a large badge sewn on it
with our names embroidered on the front. I loved my sweater, and
wore it all the time. I still have it somewhere; it kind of
looked like a lettermanís jacket.
Graduating Seniors 1975 in HPS Sweaters
(I recognize Carol Christensen, David
Gruner, Patricia Sempertequi, Teri Elliott, Willis Collier)
Now, it is the year 2000.
Hollywood Professional School has been in my memory for over 25
years. When Iíve told people about the school, Iíve
only had the school yearbooks to prove that such a place existed.
I have always treasured those yearbooks, and have enjoyed showing
people pictures of the schoolís famous alumni. How many can
boast that Betty Grable, Mickey Rooney, The Brady Bunch, "Eddie Munster," Peggy
Fleming, Melanie Griffith, and MacKenzie Phillips attended where
we went to school?
I have realized I know little
about the schoolís history. Iím sure alumni from
earlier years, from the schoolís hey day, know how the
school began. Was Maurice Mann a friend of Louis Mayer of MGM?
Did the school begin because of a need to educate Judy Garland?
I know Mrs. Mann, in the 70s,
was already a widow, and she was desperately trying to keep the
school going on a budget. I remember my dad saying once that the
tuition was so cheap and that Mrs. Mann never raised your tuition
once it was set. I believe my parents paid something around $300
Also, the school had no
physical education program. I got credit for skating. I think
everyone was responsible for fulfilling the physical education
requirement on his own. At the time, I thought that was great
since I needed a short school day, but I think only a school on a
budget would have sacrificed sports.
In addition, no lunch was
served because of the short school day. Again, this had to be a
way to cut costs. No eating area was required since school was
over by lunchtime, so no personnel were needed to supervise
children or to run a cafeteria. Again, this cost cutting measure
was disguised by the fact that HPS was there to help those who
were busy pursuing professional endeavors.
I do remember that electives
such as drama were offered, but I donít remember any art
classes or music classes or field trips. Mrs. Mann did her best
though. I remember the Presidentís Dinner, the Annual Dinner, the Senior Bruncheon and the Senior
Prom, the display of awards in the hallway, and the caring
attitude towards the schoolís students. I remember Miss
Anderssen, Mr. Stuppy, and Mrs. Mann always calling me "The
Little One." I was special in their hearts.
There was a commitment to being
an accredited institution. I was very proud that I was going on
to Colorado College, and I know the schoolís staff was
pleased that many of its graduates went on to the University of
California and other schools of higher learning.
I returned to HPS during the
summer of 1978 and worked there part-time as an assistant. I
remember the school had changed. Very few students were from the
entertainment industry, and much of the schoolís population
was made up of adult foreign students. What happened?
the school close its doors? When did it close? What happened to Mrs. Mann? What happened to Mr. Stuppy? How did he end up getting involved with
the school in the first place?
I remember the drama teacher, Celeste Rush. She was such an interesting
individual. I wonder if she inspired future stars in the acting
In the early 80s, I ran into
Miss Behar, the French teacher. I heard from someone that she
passed away soon after that. Are any of the teachers from HPS
still alive? I remember my dad couldnít believe his eyes
when he saw how old Marian Fetterly, the Biology/History teacher
Iíve been disappointed
that no alumni network has existed for HPS, and have been out of
contact with anyone from the school since 1978. It is really
exciting to think that a reunion for 2000 could happen!
I am now a skating coach and
skating director, and Iím the author of the book How to Jump and Spin on In-Line Skates. I have been married for over twenty
years and am the mother of three children. I live in Colorado
What happened to some of the
other graduates of Hollywood Professional School? It will be
great to find out! It would be interesting to hear stories from
students from other eras. I bet in the 40s and 50s, and even in
the 60s, the school was quite different from what I describe from
the 70s. What was Mr. Mann like? Also, why did parents send their
young children to HPS? Is there an alumna out there who attended
from first through 12th grade? It would be great to
hear about that individualís experiences.
JO ANN SCHNEIDER FARRIS
(This is a photo of me in 2000 with
my daughter, Rebekah Abigail Farris)
Class of 1974
February 6, 2000
about my life since I graduated from HPS in 1974
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