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Local author spotlights Hollywood beginnings

By: Laura Newell Telegraph staff writer
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One El Dorado Hills author is casting a spotlight on her Hollywood roots. Gaelyn Whitley Keith, 57, moved to El Dorado Hills 20 years ago, but her family history back in Hollywood never left her mind. In her newly published biography, “The Father of Hollywood,” Keith wrote about her great-grandfather, HJ Whitley, and why he is called the “The Father of Hollywood.” “There are not any books written on this time,” she said. “I don’t think people really know about why people came to Hollywood.” She wrote about the development of the famous community, Whitley Heights, and how the famous Hollywood sign came to be with the help of her family. “As you age, you start to look at things differently,” Keith said. “I value family history and want to pass it down. This man (Whitley), he just did it all.” She said Whitley was a workaholic who built 140 towns in his lifetime, including Hollywood. “This book is written chronologically, but also topically because he was doing so much all at the same time,” Keith said. “It’s truthful. It reads like a novel, but it is a true story.” She said most of the resources used to write the book were kept in the UCLA library including diaries and other paperwork. “My great-grandmother wrote the words in her ... diaries,” Keith said. “So it made it more personal, and gives flavor to the book.” She said this book is very important for her personal family history, but is also important for society. “Because of all the saga of my family, my mother always said someone should write a book,” Keith said. “My mother forever has said that someone needs to record this story or it will be lost.” Keith graduated college in business marketing and said she has worked various jobs in her lifetime. She said she became a writer because she liked to try different things. “I wrote down a list of goals I wanted to do in my lifetime and writing a book was one goal,” Keith said. “I wrote the book to eventually be made into a movie, because one of my goals is to make it to the Academy Awards.” Keith said another goal is to get Whitley into the California Hall of Fame. “He not only became successful, he helped make other people successful,” she said. “I think if he gets into the Hall of Fame, the history won’t be lost and it gives him the honor he deserves.” For more information on Keith and to nominate Whitley as a remarkable Californian at the California Museum, visit thefatherofhollywood.com.